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23 June 2017

Bloggy Encounters On Boats


I've said it before and I'll say it again - blogging is a great way to meet (either in person or virtually) some really amazing people who share your same interests and passions.

Blogging is also a great way to procrastinate chores that you should be doing, but don't want to do, like cleaning out the bilge, raking the leaves or doing the dishes.

Fortunately, we live on a boat and not in a house, so I don't have to rake leaves. But there's a huge pile of dishes piled up in the galley and water and hair in the bilge which I really should be taking care of. So guess what I'm doing right now. Yep, you guessed it, writing blog posts.

{Random questions: Why do I shed so much hair? Why does all of it end up in the bilge? Should I start shaving my head like Scott does?}

After crossing the Gulf Stream from the Bahamas, we slowly made our way back to Indiantown Marina. We lazed about for a couple of days watching shows on the laptop, did a lot of cooking and spent a lot of time on the internet.

That's when I discovered that some folks I know through blogging were actually anchored near us. I've been in touch with Chris from Mangoes, Marley and Mermaids for a while now and she ad her husband actually keep their boat at Indiantown Marina, but we'd never actually met in person.

We had out dinghy up on deck and were too lazy to get it down and go over and visit, so instead of saying hello properly, we ended up "meeting" them on the water as we passed them heading up the ICW on our way back to Indiantown.

Saying hello while standing on deck was kind of a fun way to introduce ourselves and sort of exemplifies the cruising lifestyle to me - random encounters with fascinating people in the most unexpected locations.
 
 
Cruising Log | Thursday, 4 May 2017 – Sunday, 7 May 2017

4 MAY
Watched Empire Strikes Back in honor of May the 4th Be With You day. Tidied up boat. Cooked up a storm – hummus, curry chicken salad, onion bread and cookies. Bread not rising in oven. What’s the deal? Yeast proofed fine. First and second rising fine. Put it in the oven and you get something resembling hard tack at the end. S/V Radio Waves from Indiantown Marina came into the anchorage with their buddy boat, S/V Spirit. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine = Nil. Spending = Nil.

5 MAY
Rainy day. Binge watched Lost. Had to run the engine to power the batteries. Nautical miles = Nil, Engine = 1 hour 30 mins. Spending = Nil

6 MAY
Anchor up at 7:45 AM. S/V Radio Waves and S/V Spirit ahead of us. Noticed mysterious black ooze under one of the engine mounts. Reminded me of the X-Files. Anchored briefly in Peck Lake to check it out. Everything seemed okay, so we carried on. Checked out Manatee Pocket. Lots of boats and skinny water so we left. Anchor down at Pendarvis Cove at 3:30 PM. Made bread and cookies. Nautical miles = 37. Engine = 7 hours 45 mins. Spending = Nil.

7 MAY
Anchor up 9:10 AM. Good timing on St Lucie Lock – got there when they were just about to start lock. Anchor down on west side of the lock at 11:00 AM. Gas can started leaking in dinghy. Swell. Had to clean spill up and transfer gas to other containers. Made bread. Nautical miles = 6. Engine = 2 hours 15 mins. Spending = Nil.

Have you ever met a fellow blogger/vlogger/tweeter etc.? What was that like? Did you celebrate "May the 4th Be With You" day?

Internet connection has been really scarce lately while we've been cruising in the Bahamas, so apologies if it takes a while before we're able to respond to your comments and/or visit your blog.
 
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21 June 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Boo Boo Hill, Exuma Land & Sea Park



Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - Cruisers make signs out of driftwood with their boat names and leave them on top of Boo Boo Hill at the Exuma Land & Sea Park in the Bahamas.

2 - We recognized a few of the boat names, like S/V Banyan

3 - Some people put a lot of effort into their signs (like Banyan). Some people put for zero effort and don't even bother making a sign (that'd be us).

   
What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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19 June 2017

Sailing In The Dark | Bright Lights & Stormy Weather


Those of you who have followed our blog for a while will know I'm a bit of a scaredy-cat. Alligators, sharks, being abducted by aliens, running out of chocolate chip cookies and sailing in the dark all freak me out.

Unfortunately, when you live on a sailboat and you want to get from the Bahamas to Florida or vice versa, inevitably you're going to have to do some night sailing.

You'd think I'd be used to this whole sailing in the dark thing by now. I did a bit when we cruised in New Zealand, I've crossed the Gulf Stream five times now and we've done some night passages in the Bahamas. But each and every time the sun starts to set, I start to get a wee bit worried.

Will a freighter run into us? Will a whale come up alongside our boat and capsize us? Will we run out of cookies before the sun comes up?

When we crossed back to Florida from the Bahamas to sort out our whole dinghy davit saga, things started out okay. The sun was shining, there weren't too many freighters in our path and I had enough snacks to keep going.

I bet you're thinking, this all sounds too good to be true. Hopefully, something exciting happened or this is going to be a very boring blog post to read.

Well, you're in luck. We did have a bit of excitement in the form of stormy weather and bright lights.

First, the weather gods had some fun with us. We started to hear all sorts of warnings about severe storms over our VHF when we were about 28 miles away from Lake Worth (our entry point into Florida).

We really didn't need to hear the warnings because we could see dark skies and a huge bank of lightening crackling across the water. It seriously was huge - a giant horizontal swath of lightening across the horizon.

Did I mention that lightening freaks me out? Especially when I'm on a boat with a giant metal rod sticking out of it. Sailors call it a mast, but we all know what it really is - a lightening attraction device.

We had to divert south to avoid the storm, adding hours to our passage. Good times.

Then the sun went down. Scott told me to go down into the aft cabin and try to take a nap. It's possible he was tired of me hanging out in the cockpit complaining about the lack of cookies on board. Regardless, if someone offers to keep watch while I take a nap, I'm going to say yes.

I settled in down below and had just closed my eyes, when a bright white light shone through the portlights.

This was a seriously bright light. Not moonlight or starlight or the lights from a passing boat. No, this was the kind of light that alien spaceships shine down on you right before they abduct you.

You'd be proud of me. I didn't scream. At least not out loud.

I ran up into the cockpit. After all, if they had abducted Scott, someone had to steer the boat.

Turns out it wasn't aliens. It was the Coast Guard. They sneaked up behind us without any running lights and then turned their giant spotlight on us.

Scott figured it was the Coast Guard. For some reason, he doesn't share my fear of alien abduction. I guess it's true, opposites do attract.

They told us to maintain our current course and speed and asked us the usual questions you'd expect - how many people on board (two), are you US citizens (yes), do you have any weapons on board (no), where are you going (Lake Worth), do you have any cookies (no), what was your last port of call (Mangrove Cay), are you going to clear in with Customs & Border Protection when you get to Lake Worth (yep) etc.

After following us for a while, checking out our details and shining their bright light on us a few more times, they slipped away into the night.

Eventually, we made it to Lake Worth after a very long passage and I added 7.5 hour of night sailing to my log book.
 
Cruising Log | Saturday, 29 April 2017 – Wednesday, 3 May 2017
 
29 APRIL
Woke up to find four charter cats hovering nearby. Think we anchored in their usual spot where they take the punters. Anchor up 9:00 AM. Anchor down at 2:00 PM at Allans-Pensacola Cay. Anchorage bigger than I remembered. Nautical miles = 26. Engine = 45 mins. Spending = Nil.

30 APRIL
Our dinghy, Boo Boo, kept crashing into our boat all night long. Very annoying of her. Anchor up at 9:00 AM. Anchor down at 3:00 PM at Great Sale Cay. Nautical miles = 35. Engine = 1 hour. Spending = Nil.

1 MAY
Anchor up at 8:00 AM. Anchor down at 12:00 PM at Mangrove Cay. Put Boo Boo up on deck for the Gulf Stream Crossing. She’s a heavy girl and a real pain to maneuver into place, but we got her there in the end. Sure makes you appreciate having functional dinghy davits. Nautical miles = 22. Engine = 1 hour. Spending = Nil.

2-3 MAY
Anchor up at 8:30 AM. Very lumpy once we got past Memory Rock, but settled down later. Saw a few freighters during the day. About 28 nautical miles from Lake Worth started seen dark clouds to north and west. Storm warnings for hail, tornados, gusts up to 70 MPH onshore. Continued on course for a while, then saw a bank of extensive lightening stretching out over the water. Diverted south and then gradually back west once saw storm breaking up. Lots of freighters at night. Some seemed to come very close to us. Coast Guard encounter about 7 nautical miles from Lake Worth. Anchor down in Lake Worth at 3:15 AM. Cracked open a couple of beers (yes, beer at 3:15 AM), called Customs & Border Protection to clear in and then off to sleep. Moved over to North Lake Work later that afternoon. Ordered new dinghy davit from Kato Marine and arranged for slip at Indiantown Marina. Nautical miles = 90. Engine = 11 hours. Spending = Nil. Crossing time = 18 hours 45 mins. Night sailing = 7.5 hours.

Have you ever been stopped by the Coast Guard or other law enforcement officer? What was your experience like? Have you ever been abducted by aliens? What was that like?


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16 June 2017

Fixing Things In Exotic Places | The Never-Ending Dinghy Davit Saga

There’s a saying that fixing things in exotic places is what cruising on a sailboat is all about. Being in exotic places is somehow supposed to make up for the fact that stuff on your boat always breaks.

Remember how our dinghy davit broke while we were cruising in the Bahamas? Remember how we were stuck in Marsh Harbour waiting to see if we could get it repaired?

No? Can't say that I blame you. I've been trying to forget about our never-ending dinghy davit saga too.

Here’s a little picture to remind you. This is the thing we needed welded.



So, here’s what I want to know – is Marsh Harbour considered an exotic place?
  
After hanging about there for a week, it sure didn't feel exotic. Just another town that happens to be in the Bahamas.

The roads weren't all that exotic. Sure, they drive on the left-hand side of the road, but we're used to that having lived in Scotland and New Zealand. It seemed normal.


The ice cream bars were delicious, but nothing out of the ordinary.


The local boatyard and marina looked like...well, like a boatyard and marina you might find in Florida.


Upcoming elections meant that there were signs everywhere. Similar to the political signs you might find in during election season back in the States.


Trying to get a quote on the welding work we needed done took forever. That definitely didn't feel exotic. Just like back home, trying to chase up people and have them get back to you.

It kind of reminded me of our expat days. When we first moved to Scotland and then to New Zealand, we'd be in awe of everything. It was all so exotic, different, fascinating, new etc. at the beginning. Then after a while, it all became routine.

That's what sitting and waiting in Marsh Harbour for a week started to become - nothing exciting, just routine. Get up, send some emails, binge watch some shows, eat some food and go snorkeling. Okay, that last part's pretty cool - being able to snorkel off of a beach at Marsh Habour. You might even say exotic.

For those of you on the edge of your seat wanting to know what happened with the dinghy davit, we did find a welder in the end, but then the base sheared off, more damage was found on the davit and it didn't make sense to repair it. More details below in the Cruising Log.

 
Cruising Log | Wednesday, 26 April 2017 – Friday, 28 April 2017

26 APRIL
More emails about the davit situation. Went snorkeling at Mermaid Reef. Made bread. Had Carl from Northern Star over for sundowners. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine hours = Nil. Spending = Nil.

27 APRIL
Walked up to the welder’s. Finally managed to get a quote. Higher than expected, plus can’t fit us in right away. Got ice cream sandwiches at Maxwell’s to console ourselves. Only 81 cents each! Full of chemicals, but oh so delicious. Went to the hardware store, got tip about another welder, the Prop Shop. Got quote on the spot and they’re able to start right away. Things are looking up! More snorkeling at Mermaid Reef. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine hours = Nil. Spending = $5.12

28 APRIL
Took solar panel off. Tried to get davit off, then pin on base sheared off. Discovered more damage on davit. Welding it now out of the question, given the extent of repair of required. Now, not only do we need a new davit, but we also need a new base. Shipping cost prohibitive to the Bahamas, not to mention a pain to get through customs. Made decision to head back to the States and replace davit and base there. Jerry-rigged the davit back on. Put solar panel back up. Stowed outboard in lazarette. Anchor up at 2:00 PM. Sailed through Whale Cay Cut and anchored at No Name Cay at 6:00 PM. Nautical miles = 21. Engine hours = .75. Spending = Nil.

What do you consider to be exotic? Have you ever become jaded and blase about your surroundings? What's the most exotic place you've been to or would like to go to?

Internet connection has been really scarce lately while we've been cruising in the Bahamas, so apologies if it takes a while before we're able to respond to your comments and/or visit your blog.
 
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14 June 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Strange Mail








Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - When we were back at Indiantown Marina, we got the strangest letter in the mail.

2 - It was sent anonymously. I think I know who it's from. At least I hope so. It's one thing to get strange mail from people you know and quite another to get it from people you don't.

3 - I can't remember the last time I got something in the mail that wasn't junk or a bill.

   
What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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12 June 2017

Morning Coffee | Random Thoughts & Oddities



Paul at Lat43 does these hysterical Morning Tea blog posts which are a brain dump of whatever pops into his head while he's writing them. I decided to steal his idea. Except, I'm drinking coffee while I write this and he drinks tea, so it isn't really stealing, is it?

So, here we go - all of the random nonsense floating through my head while I sip on my morning coffee.

  • My legs are always covered with bruises from banging into things on the boat. Scott never bruises, but he always seems to be cutting himself. He’s completely oblivious to the fact that there’s blood running down his arm or leg. “Uh, dude, there’s blood dripping on the floor.” He’ll look down, shrug his shoulders and grab a paper towel to stop the bleeding. Does this happen with other couples – one person bruises and the other bleeds?
 
  • We’ve been carrying trash around in our v-berth for three weeks now. It’s starting to smell despite the lavender-scented garbage bags I used. Seriously, who knew you could get scented garbage bags? What will they think of next? By the way, the combination of lavender and rotting trash, not so good.
 
  • I finally used the butternut squash that’s been stored in our v-berth for months. It was still good and made a nutritious addition to some chipotle lentil and red pepper soup I was making. The trash could learn a lot from the squash about how to put up with being stored in the v-berth without making a big stink about it. 
 
  • The weather has been great while we’ve been cruising in the Exumas. I probably shouldn’t have said that. The weather gods have heard me and are probably hatching up evil plans having to do with high winds and torrential downpours. Quick, find some wood to knock on before I completely jinx us. Come on everyone, all at the same time - knock, knock, knock. Hopefully that will do the trick.
 
  • We snorkeled over a sunken plane the other day. I thought the fish swimming around inside it and the coral growing on top of it was pretty neat until Scott told me that there was a shark nearby. To my credit, I didn’t do my usual flapping around and screaming routine. I guess that’s some sort of progress in the whole shark paranoia thing I have going on. Although, in my books, sharks = justifiable paranoia. 
 
  • Some friends of ours had a rat swim over and board their boat during a big squall up in the Abacos. That would be my worst nightmare. No, actually, my worst nightmare would be a shark giving a ride on his back to a rat and ferrying him over to our boat. 
 
  • I only have two books left to read on board. I need to find a book exchange pronto and trade out some of my paperbacks for new ones. 
 
  • I love our wind scoop. It was a gift from some friends. One of the best gifts ever. {For those not in the know, and why should you be, I didn’t know what a wind scoop was until we got into boating, a wind scoop is made out of nylon fabric which you tie up over your hatch and which directs the wind down and into your cabin and keeps you from getting hot, sweaty and cranky at night when you’re trying to sleep.}
 
  • We’ve gotten a little blasé about homemade bread. Who would have thought that freshly baked bread would become so routine?
 
  • We’re out of crackers. 
 
  • If you take a can of chicken salad, doctor it up with minced onion, garlic and curry powder, Scott will eat it. He’s not a big chicken salad fan, so I consider this a victory. It’s good on crackers.
 
  • Did I mention that we’re out of crackers?
 
  • Someone underestimated how many crackers we would go through.
 
  • On the bright side, we have more than enough coffee to last us for the next few months. Coffee is probably more important than crackers.
 
  • Speaking of which, it’s time for a coffee refill, so I’ll leave you with one last thought…buy more crackers than you think you’ll need. 

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09 June 2017

Killing Time In Marsh Harbour, Bahamas


How do you kill time when you’re waiting for something? Do you twiddle your thumbs? Do you stare out the window? Do you binge watch TV? Do you take a lot of long naps? Do you read? Do you make treats?

We did all of the above while we waited in Marsh Harbour in the hopes of getting our broken dinghy davit sorted. Well, except the thumb twiddling. I never did get the point of that. It’s a lot like thumb wrestling, except without the satisfaction of winning something. Or the distraction of getting your thumb squashed.

It’s fair to say that Marsh Harbour isn’t our favorite spot in the Abacos. It’s a great place to stock up on groceries, propane, supplies and, theoretically, get some welding done. But other than that, there aren’t a lot of distractions, especially when the weather is crappy.

So we binge watched some Lost, read some books, stared at other boats and took naps when the excitement of it all got too overwhelming.

Those of you who live on land probably binge watch TV without a care in the world. You press a button on the remote and the TV comes on. Occasionally, you press the pause button and go to the fridge to get a snack. You watch episode after episode without worrying about whether electricity is going to stop flowing from the plug to the TV.

It’s a little different on our sailboat. When we watch TV shows, we have to check out battery monitor periodically to make sure we have enough power to watch the next episode and find out whether Kate chooses Jack or Sawyer.

When the sun is shining and our solar panel is mounted on our dinghy davit, we gets lots of juicy amps flowing freely to our batteries. We get up from time to time to adjust the angle of the panel to follow the sun as it moves from east to west.

Sadly, with our broken dinghy davit, we had to temporarily mount our solar panel on top of our aft cabin.



Two problems with this:

1 - It covered the hatch which meant we couldn’t get air freely flowing into the cabin. Heat makes some of us cranky.

2 - We couldn’t angle the panel to get maximum sun exposure. Less juicy amps flowing in meant making difficult choices – run the fridge or watch Lost.

Then things got worse. The clouds and rain moved in and cut off our supply of sunshine. This was getting serious. Were we going to be stuck with a fridge full of warm beer and rotting meat and never find out why Desmond kept pushing that button?!

Fortunately, our handy Honda generator came to the rescue.


We got it this year for exactly this reason. We knew a day would come when the sun would stop shining. We plugged it in to our shore power and charged our batteries. More Lost! More cold beer! Less chance of dying from eating tainted meat! It’s the little things that count.

****

Cruising Log | Saturday, 22 April 2017 – Tuesday, 25 April 2017
 
22 APRIL
Dropped my breakfast burrito on the floor. Had to settle for a granola bar instead. Did some baking. Limited solar power, so ran generator for a while. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine hours = Nil. Spending = Nil.

23 APRIL
Rained all day. Read and binge watched Lost. Had to run generator again. Made soup and bread. The soup was awful. The bread wasn’t awful. Big squall came through late at night. Gusts around 50 knots. Turned on engine and prepared to take action if we dragged anchor. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine hours = 2.75. Spending = Nil.

24 APRIL
Contacted welder and Kato Marine regarding broken dinghy davit. Watched a guy get his bitch wings on while someone anchored next to them. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine hours = Nil. Spending = Nil.

25 APRIL
Figured out way to put solar panel back up on broken davit. So nice to be able to get lots of juicy amps from the sun. More emails about davit. Checked out an Asian market run by a guy names Johnny Cash. Went to Maxwell’s. Tried to make Bahamian mac n’cheese. Failed experiment. Very disappointing. Got an email from a blog follower anchored next to us. Made plans to meet up. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine hours = Nil. Spending = $18.04 (ground beef, carrots, cheese, tonic water, milk)

Do you ever worry about having enough power for your needs? What’s the last show you binge watched? Do you like thumb wrestling?

Internet connection has been really scarce lately while we've been cruising in the Bahamas, so apologies if it takes a while before we're able to respond to your comments and/or visit your blog.
 

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07 June 2017

Simon The Time Traveling Cat Plays Monopoly | IWSG


The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It's a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day.

Every month there's an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they're struggling with what to say.

This month's question is:

"Did you ever say 'I quit'? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?"

Check out how people have answered this month's question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list here. If you want to see how I answered the question, have a look below.


****


Simon the Time Traveling Cat batted at the dice with his large gray paws and pushed them off of the table. He peered down at the floor waiting for me to pick them up.

“Looks like you rolled a seven,” I said as I placed the dice back on the table next to Monopoly board.
Simon growled. “Lady, you’re blind as a bat. I rolled an eight.”

“Simon, it was not a eight,” I said firmly. “You’re trying to cheat again. Go on, move the wheelbarrow seven places.”

“How’d I get stuck with this stupid wheelbarrow anyway,” Simon said. “You knew I wanted the top hat, but no, you had to go and grab it first.”

“It’s not my problem you were busy lapping up milk while I was setting up the board,” I said as I watched Simon nudge the wheelbarrow down the board towards Park Place and Boardwalk. I just happened to own both properties, complete with three hotels each.

Simon’s tail started to swish back and forth furiously as he realized the wheelbarrow was about to land on Boardwalk.

I rubbed my hands together. “Excellent. That’ll be…”

Before I could finish, Simon shoved the hotels onto the floor and then lay in the middle of the board glaring at me.

“There’s no way, I’m paying you another dime, lady” he hissed. “I quit!”

“Hey, calm down Simon. It’s just a game. Nobody likes a quitter.”

Simon stared at me coldly. “Go get me some more milk, lady. And make it full-fat. No more of that stupid skim milk crap you keep trying to make me drink.”

As I rummaged through the fridge, Simon furiously sharpened his claws on the board, scattering Monopoly money around the room in the process.

“Sorry, Simon, two percent is the best I can do,” I said carefully placing a saucer in front of him. “Are you sure you want to quit? Why don’t we set the board up again and play?”

“You’re the quitter, lady, not me.” Simon sniffed at the milk with disdain. “You’re constantly quitting working on that book of yours.”

“I’m not quitting writing it,” I said. “I just take breaks from time to time when I get writer’s block.”
Simon started to shove the saucer towards the edge of the table. I grabbed it before it could land on the floor with the rest of the Monopoly pieces.

“Is that what we’re calling it - taking a break?” he snarled. “Face it, you’re a quitter.”

“Am not.”

“Are too.”

“No, I’m not!”

“Well then, prove it. Open up that stupid laptop of yours and start writing again.” Simon turned his back to me and started washing behind his ears.

There’s nothing worse than knowing a cat might be right about something. They get so smug about that sort of thing. But was it possible that taking a break was the same thing as quitting?

I sighed and opened up my laptop. I suppose I might as well try to do some writing since Monopoly was out of the question.

Before I could open up the file, Simon landed with a plop on the keyboard.

“Haven’t you forgotten something, lady?” he asked as he rolled onto his back. “You need to go to the store and get some full-fat milk, pronto. Then you can get back to your writing. That is if you don’t quit again by the time you get back.”

****

Have you ever quit working on something? Did it start out as just taking a break, but then you never ended up going back to it? What’s your favorite board game?

Internet connection has been really scarce lately while we've been cruising in the Bahamas, so apologies if it takes a while before I'm able to respond to your comments and/or visit your blog.
 
Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

02 June 2017

May In Numbers

Clockwise from upper left: (1) Tickety Boo back at Indiantown Marina for repairs; (2) Our new water pump; (3) Our friends on Wind Spirit, anchored at Peck Lake; (4) Anchored at Ginn sur Mer in the Abacos waiting out weather; (5) Relaxing over sundowners; (6) Tickety Boo anchored in the Berry Islands.

It's time for our monthly recap by the numbers. We crossed back from the Bahamas at the beginning of the month in order to replace our broken dinghy davit. We ended up spending a lot longer than we hoped back at Indiantown Marina when we discovered that our water pump needed to be replaced. It took a bit of time to source the part, have it delivered and install it. We left Indiantown on May 20th and crossed back to the Bahamas on May 22nd. We hopped our way down from the Abacos, to the Berry Islands, over to the Nassau area and then to the Exuma Islands, where we plan on spending most of June.

Here's some tidbits about how the month went by the numbers:


  • 12 – Number of nights we spent in a slip at Indiantown Marina fixing things and waiting for parts to arrive.
  • $144.45 – Cost of a new water pump for our Thornycroft diesel engine (including shipping and handling). We had to order this from a tractor supply business. Our engine is based on the Mitsubishi K4D block, which is also used in tractors.
  • 5 – Number of tostadas we had during Taco Tuesday at JR’s Saloon in Indiantown. We were joined by the crews of Radio Waves, Wind Spirit and Blue Wing. Fun and yummy.
  • $16.41 – Our average cost per night during May, which we calculate based upon how much we spend on marina slips or mooring balls (anchoring is free). This is up dramatically from April (we anchored every night so our average cost was $0.00) because of the time we spent at Indiantown Marina. Let’s hope we can get it back down during June.
  • 496 – Number of nautical miles covered during May.
  • 4 – Number of areas of the Bahamas we cruised in – Abacos, Berry Islands, Nassau area and the Exuma Islands.
  • 1 – Number of buddy boats we had.
  • 2 – Number of days we had a buddy boat. Unfortunately, the crew of Wind Spirit had to delay their crossing to the Bahamas, so we parted ways in Lake Worth.
  • 6 – Number of days we spent without getting off of our boat after we left Indiantown to head back to the Bahamas. We finally dropped the dinghy and put the outboard motor on at Hoffman’s Cay in the Berry Island.
  • 2 - Number of times we swam at the Blue Hole on Hoffman's Cay. We liked it so much the first time, we went back again the next day. 
  • 14 – Number of sharks hanging out at Highbourne Cay Marina. I asked the fuel dock attendant what kind they were and he told me that I had to jump in, tickle them under their chins until they opened their mouths and then I’d be able to tell by their teeth. Needless to say, I didn’t follow his suggestion. 
  • $4.38 - Cost per gallon of diesel fuel at Highbourne Cay Marina. We bought 20 gallons. That seemed pricey to me. There was a big boat ahead of us taking on 400 gallons of fuel. I can't even begin to imagine spending that much on fuel.

 In case you missed them, here are some of our favorite posts from last month:

Good Luck, Bad Luck, Coulda-Been-Worse Luck
Cost of Cruising in the Bahamas & Florida
Tickety Boo, Tickety Boo, Barracuda Bob


How did last month go for you? What are you looking forward to this month?

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31 May 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Low Water At Indiantown Marina



Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - When we were at Indiantown Marina fixing our dinghy davit and water pump the water level was really, really low.

2 - See those poles? The top white part normally sits at the waterline. See that dock finger? Normally, the deck of your boat is higher than it and you have to step down onto the dock. When we were there, I had to do some gymnastic like moves to climb up onto it.

3 - People were grounding coming in and out of the marina. Fortunately, its soft mud.

4 - This place sure could do with some rain.

   
What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

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29 May 2017

Bad Luck, Good Luck, Coulda-Been-Worse Luck | Matt Lowe's Cay, Bahamas


I've been thinking about luck lately. When you live and cruise on a sailboat, you experience some real highs and lows. There are days when you have good luck and everything goes to plan, even better than plan. Then there are those days where a cloud of bad luck hovers over you and things go very wrong.

After you have a chance to reflect on those bad luck days, sometimes you realize it wasn't bad luck you experienced as much as it was coulda-been-a-heck-of-a-lot-worse luck. 

Let me tell you about our time anchored at Matt Lowe's Cay so you'll see what I mean.

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It was a beautiful day. Scott decided to take the dinghy (who I affectionately call Boo Boo) and go snorkeling off of a reef on the north side of the island. I'm not sure why I stayed on the boat. I probably had something important to do like read books and eat cookies.

I popped out into the cockpit after a while and saw Boo Boo anchored off of the reef and assumed Scott was snorkeling nearby. I went down below in search of more cookies. I popped back up after a little nap (too many cookies make one sleepy) and noticed that Boo Boo seemed to be anchored pretty far off of the reef. That's odd, I thought to myself. 

After searching for some more cookies, I came back up and noticed the dinghy wasn't anchored as much as she was drifting off across the water towards Treasure Cay. I looked around and saw Scott swimming near the reef. 

I screamed and waved to get his attention and pointed at the dinghy. He yelled back for me to start the engine and started to swim back to the boat.

All of a sudden, a little boat came out of nowhere with two men on it who remarked on the fact that our dinghy seemed to be going off on an adventure without us. They offered to go get it and bring it back to Scott.

Bad luck when the dinghy drug anchor and started drifting away, but good luck when those to guys rescued our dinghy for us. {Thank you mysterious guardian angels.}

Poor Scott. He had actually had the dinghy anchored further up on the reef when he noticed it drifting off. He swam furiously to try to catch it, but Boo Boo is faster than she would lead you to believe.


****

The next day we had what I would characterize as really bad luck. One might even call it holy-crap-can-you-believe-that-happened luck. 

There are ferries that go back and forth between the islands in the Abacos. They go pretty fast, even in anchorages, so when they pass by you can usually expect some sort of wake. Your boat rocks back and forth, but it isn't too bad and you just deal with it.

Then there's the ferry that passed through Matt Lowe's Cay that morning. This wasn't an ordinary ferry wake, this was like a tsunami wake. Important stuff went flying across the cabin, like freshly brewed coffee. 

Scott said a few naughty words and cleaned everything up. Then he went into the cockpit and saw this.


In case you're wondering what this is, it's one of our dinghy davits. They're basically a support system so that you can raise your dinghy out of the water, which is helpful on many fronts - no growth on the bottom of your dinghy, you don't have to worry about it getting swamped or turning over if you tow it behind your boat and less chance someone will steal it at night. We also have our solar panel mounted on top of the davits. 

Actually, this isn't what he saw. What he saw was our dinghy and solar panel hanging off of the broken dinghy davit. We were worried that the whole thing was going to collapse and our dinghy and solar panel would crash into the water. That would not have been good.

We rushed around like crazy to drop the dinghy and remove the solar panel before the next ferry and its tsunami-like wake came through the anchorage.

Much easier said than done. Much, much easier said than done.

We both ended up getting cut. Blood dripped everywhere. Scott probably needed stitches, but we had to keep working. 

Finally, we got everything off the dinghy davits, wiped up the blood and bandaged up Scott's hand, using some handy Gorilla tape to keep the bandage on.


We motored over to nearby Marsh Harbour to try to figure out our next steps. (Marsh Harbour is a relatively large town in the Abacos with all sorts of services.) We rigged up the solar panel temporarily over our aft cabin. Not an ideal solution as we couldn't tilt the panel to get full coverage during the day. But some power is better than no power. Alas, we had to say goodbye to cool sea breezes at night in our aft cabin where we sleep since the hatch was closed.


We walked into town to track down a welder that had been recommended by folks on the Women Who Sail Facebook group. It sounded promising (turns out it wasn't, but that's a sad story for another day) and we went back to the boat kind of hopeful we might be able to get the davit fixed and get the heck out of the Abacos and head down to Eleuthera. 

Later, after a drink or two in the cockpit, we started talking about what had happened and how it coulda-been-so-much-worse. Imagine if this had happened while we were on passage, at night, in high winds with huge waves? What if this had happened when we were anchored at some remote island without any services? 

I'm not sure it made us feel any better about what happened, but it was helpful to try to shift our frame of reference just a tiny bit and think about how our bad luck was maybe coulda-of-been-worse luck.

Cruising Log | Thursday 20, April 2017 - Friday, 21 April 2017

20 APRIL
Scott went snorkeling with the dinghy. The dinghy got bored, decided to ditch Scott and go out exploring on it’s own. Rescued by two guardian angels. Anchor up at 2:30 PM. Went out for a sail. Checked out anchorage at Man O’War Cay, but too crowded. Headed back to Matt Lowe’s Cay. Anchor down 5:15 PM. Nautical miles = 9. Engine = 1 hr 15 mins. Spending = Nil.

21 APRIL
“The Day of All Days.” After a massive wake by one of the ferries, one of the dinghy davits broke. Nightmare to drop dinghy and remove solar panel while hoping another ferry didn’t wake us.. Cut ourselves. Dripped blood everywhere. No time for first aid. Secured solar panel on deck. Headed to Marsh Habour to figure out next steps. Anchor up at 1:30 PM. Anchor down at 2:30 PM. Set up makeshift solar panel station on top of aft cabin. Limited amps coming in due to not being able to rotate panel, but better than nothing. Walked to the Marsh Habour Boat Yard and found a welder nearby after getting attached by a pack of feral dogs. Nautical miles = 4. Engine = 1 hr 30 mins. Spending = Nil.

Do you believe in luck?  When's the last time you had really good luck and/or back luck?

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26 May 2017

Flashback Friday | Cruising In Ethiopia

Today is Michael d’Agostino’s Flashback Friday. The idea is to republish an old post of yours that maybe didn't get enough attention, or that you're really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc. We started this blog three years ago and have lots more followers now then we did back then (thank you all!) so many folks may not have seen some of our earlier blog posts. 

I originally wrote this post when we were living in New Zealand and had just gone out for Ethiopian food. We love Ethiopian food! While we try to keep from eating out too often, we do make an exception for checking out local Ethiopian restaurants when we travel.

We're currently cruising in the Bahamas and thoughts of doro wat keep dancing through my head, but I'm guessing we won't find an Ethiopian restaurant on any of the islands here.

{This post was originally published in April 2014. You can find the original post here.}

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We've eaten Ethiopian food in a few cities around the world including Oslo, Rome, Ann Arbor, Portland, The Hague, London, Toronto and Washington D.C. Once, we even walked 3-1/2 miles in a torrential downpour in Athens in search of an Ethiopian restaurant the guidebook promised us. Unfortunately, it had closed down so we had gyros instead, but that will give you a sense of our love of Ethiopian food.

We can now add Auckland to our list having now eaten at Cafe Abyssinia in Mt. Roskill. Mt. Roskill is a really interesting part of Auckland and one we hadn't been to before. Not only can you get Ethiopian food there, but you can also stock up on your favorite kind of taro, whether it be from Tonga, Samoa or Fiji.




The Fijian consulate is also nearby. It is conveniently located within a jewelry store so you can sort out your visa issues and buy something sparkly at the same time. Handy!




It was well worth the effort to head down to Mt. Roskill as Cafe Abyssinia is hands down the best Ethiopian restaurant in New Zealand. Well it is actually the only Ethiopian restaurant in New Zealand that we know of, but it was pretty darn tasty! But, if you want to go to our favorite Ethiopian restaurant in the world, head over to Jarra's in the Hawthorne district of Portland. Order the doro wat and the miser wat, one with A and one with B (it will make sense when you see the menu). Also, get a glass of Widmer Hefeweizen beer and tell Mr. Jarra we sent you. If you haven't had Ethiopian food before, it is delicious. You use your hand (right one only please) to scoop up delicious stew like concoctions with injera (Ethiopian bread).

So while we were enjoying our meal at Cafe Abyssinia, I started wondering in my head: "I wonder what it would be like to cruise in Ethiopia? Wouldn't it be great to step off of your boat and eat Ethiopian food right in the heart of the motherland?"

Okay, stop and rewind. What is wrong with this sentence - "I wonder what it would be like to cruise in Ethiopia?" Here is what's wrong - Ethiopia is LANDLOCKED. That's right, LANDLOCKED. You cannot cruise right up to the local Addis Ababa marina and get some doro wat to go. Yes, I am American. You can tell from my ignorance of world geography.

And although I have a passport, in which John Kerry (the current US Secretary of State) kindly requests immigration officers around the world (in three languages no less) to "permit the citizen/national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection", clearly I am not qualified to use said passport due to my woeful lack of geographical knowledge. Immigration officers around the world shake their heads every time they see American tourists making their way towards them clutching their blue passports in their hands. They think to themselves, "Do we really have to let them in?" But then, they read Secretary Kerry's politely worded request and consider all of the tourist dollars we might spend and they reluctantly let us in. Well into most countries anyway.

I also have an Irish passport which I try to use to enter foreign countries whenever possible. I find this works much more smoothly. Immigration officers smile and greet you with open arms when you're clutching an Irish passport in your hands. The think to themselves, "The Irish are here! Yeah! Maybe they have some Guinness in their backpack to share with us!" They never even bother to look at an Irish passport to see if the Minister of Foreign Affairs is kindly requesting entry for the passport holder. They're just happy to see the Irish and let them straight in.

So realizing that embracing a cruising lifestyle requires not only learning about sailing but also about geography, I've done some quick research on the best way to cruise near to Ethiopia. From there, hopefully, we can hitchhike or something from the port to Addis Ababa. I thought I would share my planned route with you in case you too want to go cruising not in, but nearby Ethiopia.

The first step is to look at the handy map of Ethiopia they have hanging up in Cafe Abyssinia. You can see clearly that Ethiopia is LANDLOCKED. Our best bet is to try to sail up to Eritrea, Djibouti or Somalia and then make our way inland to Ethiopia.



So taking each potential landfall in turn, let's see what we can find out:

1.  Djibouti

I read on one website that "Djibouti is popular among sailors of all levels." This website is targeted at captains of super yachts, so I wonder if that is a polite way of saying the riff-raff of the sailing world also hang out in Djibouti? (I think we would be considered riff-raff.) The website does mention that Djibouti is a convenient refueling stop between the Persian Gulf and the Seychelles, Maldives and India. So it looks like we can get diesel there, but it doesn't mention anything about Ethiopian food. After doing some more research, I find out that the Port of Djibouti is the main port for imports and exports to and from Ethiopia. So, if we can't get to Addis Ababa ourselves, perhaps we can crack open one of the containers in the port and find the ingredients to make our own meal.

2.  Eritrea  

According to Noonsite, there are two ports in Eritrea at either end of the country - Massawa and Assab. The daysailing sounds quite pleasant with countless anchorages and offshore islands to explore. (You're not supposed to sail at night as there is a serious lack of navigation aids.) There is also a guy named Mike in Massawa who can help you out with laundry and provisioning. Maybe Mike can also help get us to Addis Ababa to get ourselves some Ethiopian food?

3.  Somalia 

Since Noonsite was so informative about Eritrea, I checked out their section on Somalia. Here is what they said: "Sailing to Somalia is considered far too hazardous in the present circumstances and anyone intending to sail anywhere near Somalia should obtain the latest information on the internal situation before venturing anywhere near a Somali port. Only major ports should be approached and only in serious emergencies." Hmm, I'm not sure that looking for some Ethiopian food constitutes a serious emergency, so I think we'll stick to making our landfall in Djibouti or Eritrea.

But something is niggling away at me about this plan. I can't quite put my finger on it...oh yeah, that's it - pirates! And not the Johnny Depp kind of pirates either. These are the mean kind of pirates who brandish some serious firepower and which even big freighter ships are wary of. They've given the place a bad name. The Gulf of Aden is even known as Pirate Alley. 

So I am now rethinking our plan about sailing near Ethiopia in search of Ethiopian food. Unless I can persuade Harry Potter to lend us his invisibility cloak so that we can sneak through the Gulf of Aden without being spotted by the pirates, I think we'll have to stick to having Ethiopian food in places like Auckland and Portland.

Have you ever had Ethiopian food? Did you like it? If not, would you ever want to try it? Do you know of any Ethiopian restaurants in the Bahamas?

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24 May 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Vernon's Grocery Store, Hope Town, Bahamas



Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - One of the highlights of exploring Hope Town in the Bahamas is a visit to Vernon's grocery store. It's well known for its baked good and its proprietor, Vernon. Vernon is a direct descendant of the original founder of Hope Town. In addition to running the store, Vernon is also a minister at the local Methodist church.

2 - Vernon has inspirational and amusing quotes scribbled on index cards and scraps of paper scattered around the store. Quotes like, "Some days you're the pigeon, some days you're the statue."

3 - This is a picture of the kitchen outside of the store. They make fabulous bread, as well as their famous key lime pie.

   
What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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22 May 2017

Where's Frank?! | Hiding Bodies On Boats At Hope Town, Abacos, Bahamas




“Hey, isn’t that Frank’s boat over there?” Scott said as he pointed at a sailboat dropping the hook a few boats away from us.

I put my book down and squinted in the bright sunlight. "Could be. It looks like a Moody sailboat. But who are all those people on deck? I thought Frank was single handing his boat."

"Good point." Scott got out the binoculars and had a closer look. "Hmm. Maybe it isn't his boat. I don't see him over there."

Scott put the binoculars down and ate some of the spicy pretzels we were having with our sun downers. I grabbed the bowl away before he could finish them off. Sometimes, you have to be proactive if you want your fair share.

"Could you see the boat name?" I asked.

"No, but it sure does look like his boat. But the big question is, if it is Frank's boat, where's Frank?"

"Oh my goodness!" I screamed. "Frank's dead! Those people stole Frank's boat, did away with him and stashed his body somewhere. Poor Frank. He really was such a nice guy."

I ate some spicy pretzels to console myself.

Scott rolled his eyes. "We're going to have to cut you off. No more murder mysteries for you."

I ignored him and looked back over at Frank's boat. "I wonder where they hid the body. On our boat, it would make sense to stash a body in our lazarette."

I noticed Scott looking around for the spicy pretzels. I tucked the bowl down beside me where he wouldn't see it. 

"You remember that whole blog post I wrote about hiding bodies on our boat?" I asked as I quickly put a pretzel in my mouth.

Scott rolled his eyes yet again. "I do. If you keep writing about this kind of stuff, people might start suggesting to the police that they search our boat."

"Good point. The place is a tip. It'd be a real drag if the police came on board. I'd really have to do a good tidy up."

****

We met Frank back at Indiantown Marina. He's a fellow Moody sailboat owner. As they're British boats, you don't run into too many of them all that often in North America, although there are a surprising number of them stored at Indiantown. So, it's always fun to meet someone else who has a Moody.

We ran into Frank again when we were at Marsh Harbour and that might have been him anchored at Hope Town when we were there. But, as our visit was pretty short, we never did have a chance to fully investigate his disappearance. I'm sure he's fine. At least, I hope so.

Hope Town is one of the highlights for cruisers in the Abacos. We really enjoyed it when we visited in 2015 (which you can read about here) and we enjoyed it again this season.

Its iconic red and white striped lighthouse is a must see for visitors. And if you're up for it, climbing up to the top gives you great views of the harbor and surrounding area.


 You'll see images of the lighthouse everywhere.


You'll even find miniature lighthouses. I love tiny things. Everything is better when it's small. Of course, being only 5' tall, I'm bound to say that.


If you manage to wrest yourself away from the lighthouse and go for a walk through the settlement, you'll find lots of lovely brightly colored houses, cute shops, a church, a library, restaurants and a cemetery. Pretty much everything you need can be found in Hope Town.



 Hopetown is on an island, Elbow Cay, which means you're never far from the water.



We brought a picnic lunch with us and ate it at a little memorial garden overlooking the ocean. It wasn't anything exciting, just leftovers from the night before, but the view made up for that.


Afterwards, we dropped off our pop cans at the recycling center. It was refreshing to see recycling in the Bahamas. People don't really recycle in Indiantown which is a bit depressing.


Then it was back to Tickety Boo to keep an eye out on Frank's boat and ponder his disappearance over sun downers in the cockpit. This time, I divided the spicy pretzels up into two bowls - his and hers.

Cruising Log | Tuesday, 18 April 2017 – Wednesday, 19 April 2017
 
18 APRIL
Walked around Hope Town. Found butane at Vernon’s grocery store for a surprisingly reasonable price. Had had a dream about finding a pack of butane cartridges just like these in a tiny Bahamian store. Eerie. Climbed to top of lighthouse. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine hours = Nil. Spending = $19.89 ($4.89 – carrots & tonic water, $15.00 – 4 butane cartridges)
 
19 APRIL
Anchor up at Hope Town at 12:35 PM. Went out for a sail. Anchor down at Matt Lowe’s Cay at 4:00 PM. Experimented with using dehydrated vegies in a chicken stir fry. Wasn’t too bad. Nautical miles = 12. Engine = 2 hrs 20 mins. Spending = Nil.

Do you recycle? Have you ever hidden a body on your boat or in your basement? Have you ever climbed up to the top of a lighthouse?

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20 May 2017

Hero Lost Anthology | Meet The Authors, Pt 3

Editor's Note: In addition to the usual blog posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday about our eccentric adventures on our sailboat and as my random thoughts and musings about life, I've decided to have the occasional blog post on Saturdays where I focus on things related to writing such as cover reveals, book launches, interviews with authors etc. So if you're into all things related to books, check in on Saturdays - you never know what might pop up.

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This is the third in a series where I get to introduce you to my co-authors of the IWSG anthology <<Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life>>.

I decided to ask them a series of questions about what they're passionate about, lessons learned about writing, the most adventurous thing they've done and, of course the most important question, what their favorite cookie is.

Grab a comfy chair, a cup of cocoa and a handful of your favorite cookies and get to know these wonderfully talented folks.

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Yvonne Ventresca >> Web | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram <<


1 - Other than writing, what's your biggest passion in life?

Besides my family and loved ones, I love genealogy. I find it fascinating to learn about history and the stories of my ancestors.

2 - What has been your biggest lesson learned in your writing career to date?

The biggest thing I’ve learned is to balance my time between creating my stories and marketing them once they’re published. Getting the word out about books can spawn an almost unlimited number of tasks! Over the years, I’ve tried to follow the advice that getting another book published can be the best thing for sales of previous works. To help keep me aware, I track my writing-related time and try to make sure that my creative hours outnumber the marketing and “business” ones.

3 - What's the most adventurous thing you've done?

I began studying Isshinryu karate twelve years ago. Testing for my black belt was a courageous endeavor!

4 - What's your favorite kind of cookie? If you don't eat cookies, why not?

I love almost all cookies, with the exception of thin mints and the technical kind that get left behind on the computer.





L. Nahay >> Web | Blog | Twitter | Instagram  <<

1 - Other than writing, what's your biggest passion in life?

Other than writing, wow. I've been sitting on this question for an extensively long time (sorry!). I think I have several! For the last twenty-two years I've worked in veterinary medicine. At 16, my career path was either a degree in English, or a degree in veterinary technology, and I chose the latter because I wanted to keep the writing part of my life a passion and not a job (because I'd written since I could, and did not want to ever turn it into a chore). I've recently discovered 'medical records' I'd made when I was about 8 or 9 for frogs and turtles and snakes I had caught while romping through Wisconsin, which is where we use to spend our summers. But veterinary medicine, unlike human medicine, is not something kept strictly business. I've brought my patients, injured wildlife, broken cats, and homeless cold-bloodeds home with me a LOT!

I also have a busy creative mind (as most of us writers do) and keep myself occupied with various projects. I can do a little bit of everything, and I love figuring out new things. Over Christmas, I turned old lightbulbs into steampunked hot air balloons. Those turned out awesome! At the moment, I'm setting my attention higher, and am plotting an indoor pond for the bullfrog. This will require new toys/tools (haha!).

Which brings me to another. My goal was always to have a ginormous garden when I 'grew up'. Years of renting and constant moving kept putting that off. The first house I bought didn't have space for it: one yard went to the dogs, the other to the kids, and the third to the turtles. I've always kept house plants, though not in excess. The last house I rented (that was a nightmare), I went all out on outdoor container gardening, and that was beautiful! (because, tea, you know). And then the house failed. My current house is a keeper, and from the day I signed the papers, I've been filling him with house plants until I can get going on the outside. I want a jungle. The monsters think I'm slightly crazy, but it's gonna be great. I've dipped into carnivorous plants in the last couple weeks, and bought three more this morning! Which is hysterical if you factor in that I'm not a carnivore.

2 - What has been your biggest lesson learned in your writing career to date?

No matter how tedious or strenuous or emotionally vampiric it can sometimes become, writing is the easy part. Publishing and trying to get noticed is not.

3 - What's the most adventurous thing you've done?

Mmm. When I realized that I was no longer trapped and had the ability and capability to just go wherever I wanted, and that my car was my wings. I was in Southern Colorado for a festival that turned out to be a bust, and decided to go the opposite direction of home and just drive aimlessly through the Rockies. It was a beautiful, sunny June day and I did not want to go home. The roads were typical twisty turny mountain roads which was just cathartic to drive (it logically should NOT be a cathartic drive, if you've ever driven twisty turny steeply inclining mountain roads). After a few hours, I found myself in a campground. It was Father's Day, a Sunday, so by that time it was empty. I was newly divorced, the boys were with their dad, and I absolutely needed some mountain healing. But the dog was still at home. So I compromised, and drove home to grab the dog and my newly collected camping gear and made it back to the campground late into the night. I set us up and cooked dinner in pitch black. Even though my car was dead in the morning and actually returning home was something of a necessity and an ordeal, it was still the best weekend that sprouted many more. The following weekend I packed up the boys and took them to the same spot. The next month I broadened my wandering and we drove to Mount Rushmore and camped out for a week. I jumped at chances to drive home to Chicago from Colorado whenever possible, until returning permanently. And the first thing I did when a temporary job ended a couple years ago was pack up the boys again for a longer road trip to Florida. I want them to see that the boundaries we see are self made, and no one can tell us where we can or can't go.

4 - What's your favorite kind of cookie? If you don't eat cookies, why not?

Soft ones. Any flavor. I hate crispy cookies.

Mmm. I just delivered a bag of cookie mix to my 15 year old and told him to learn. I want some fresh-made cookies (made by someone other than me)!


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If you're interested in picking up a copy of <<Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life>>, you can find it at these online retailers:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble (print book)
Barnes & Noble (ebook)
iTunes
Kobo

Fantasy (FIC009000) Freedom Fox Press
Print ISBN 9781939844361 eBook ISBN 9781939844378

You can also find out more about the book and my co-authors over at our website and blog.

Now over to you - what's the most adventurous thing you've done?

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