Go On, Judge This Book By Its …

COVER!!  Check it out!

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Judging by its cover, is this is a book you would like to read?

While I had a fantastic time writing the entertaining tale of our first Gulf adventure in Salt of a Sailor, I had many friends and followers tell me they wanted to know more of the story─more about me.  How does a young lawyer come to quit her job, leave her home, her husband, her former life to what?  Jump on a sailboat and travel the world?  Well, it’s not quick.  It’s not easy.  But, turns out, it was my biggest adventure of all.

We are just a few weeks out from the release date now and I cannot WAIT for you all to get a glimpse of her.  What do you think of the cover art?

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I had a great time writing it, a horrible time editing it (I hate editing!) and I’m ready to share a part of the book now with you.  I will be sending out a FREE PREVIEW of Keys to the Kingdom (the first four chapters) to all of my followers via the blog next week.  If you can’t wait that long (I mean, really, who can?) jump on Patreon to get your Patrons-first copy this Friday.  You don’t want to miss this!  Sign up today!

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Thanks to my Patrons who help me share the journey.  Get inspired.  Get on board.

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Chapter Five – Great Light in the Gulf

AC on a boat … I’m still not sure that sits right with me.  It just de-acclimates you.  It took me a good ten minutes to thaw out topside after our first night on Tanglefoot.  My toes prickled as I walked the deck, leaving my first dewey footprints on the boat.  

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Mitch must have slept about as soundly as I did because he wasn’t long behind me.  6:12 a.m. and the man is up, fiddling with things, looking again for his flashlight.  I’ve never seen Mitch up so early but I’ve never seen him so excited either.  He would ask me a question: “What was that last thing we needed from the store?”  I would respond: “Trash bags.  I already added it to the list.”  And not five minutes later it had already slipped his mind: “Oh, here’s the list.  What was that thing we needed?”  He was like a kid with a new train set.  He couldn’t wait to get the track all laid out and watch her go!  But he would always forget the batteries.

Our plan that morning was to get the dinghy off the davits and secure her on the foredeck.  We’d learned a hard and expensive lesson, the first time the three of us crossed the Gulf in our Niagara, in not securing our dinghy to the foredeck for offshore passages.  There would be no clanging davits this trip, no hacking off of the dinghy mid-Gulf.  Not again.  While davits are a convenient, easy way to lower and raise a dinghy on a boat that’s cruising around in protected waters, they are not─in our opinion─secure enough to hold a dinghy for an offshore passage, no matter how heavy duty they may claim to be.  The dinghy that came with the Nonsuch was an eight foot Walker Bay with a 2.5 hp outboard.  Although an eight foot dinghy would generally seem plenty big enough for a 30-foot boat, for some reason, it still didn’t seem big enough for Mitch.  But he got in there anyway, ass-up, and cleaned out the rainwater so we could flip her over on the deck.  

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I have to admit, at this point I was thoroughly impressed with Mitch.  It had been an early rise, with some pretty hefty chores to conquer before 7:00 a.m. and Mitch was taking them all on with a smile, some light-hearted jokes and only the occasional “Okay, now hang on a minute.”  So far, he was really stepping up … until it was time to check the fluids.  I have said many times how glad I am that our Niagara is laid out and designed the way that it is─with the easy pull-back sink compartment that allows impressive access to the engine and all fluid check-points:

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But when we began to tinker around the Nonsuch and locate all of her fluid bins, I was reminded yet again.  

To check the fluids on Mitch’s boat, we had to access three different tight compartments.  You have to remove the companionway stairs to access and check the transmission fluid.

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The oil must be checked (not re-filled, though, mind you, just checked), by opening a storage compartment on the starboard side of the companionway stairs and then opening another access door in that compartment that allows you to reach the oil dipstick.  But wait, there’s more!  Once you’ve buttoned up all that mess, head up to the cockpit and the coolant bin is located down in the starboard lazarette.  It can be checked (not filled) by leaning in upside down with a flashlight.  

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Filling it requires you─or your trained monkey─get all the way down in the lazarette and be sitting upright in order to pour coolant in.  

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I won’t say it was ridiculously inaccessible, but the fluid check-points were a bit tedious, particularly for a large man like Mitch.  While he and Phillip were checking the fluids, I broke down all of our provisions (taking food and products out of their cardboard boxes and packaging) and took a load of trash up to the marina trash can.  That whole process took about forty-five minutes and when I came back, Mitch was still checking the fluids.  I’m sure he’ll get quicker at it over time.  But─like I said─he did impress me by crawling into every tight hole, albeit it with some grunting, moaning and just a few more snaps: “Now, hang on a minute.”  But he did it.  

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Once the fluids were checked, we headed out to make our store runs and grab those “last few items” we had jotted down while inventorying the boat the night before.  The plan was ACE hardware for all that kind of trash bag-type stuff (cleaning brushes, sponges, shop towels, dust pan, hand-held broom, etc. along with propane), Publix for our perishable food items and West Marine for some back-up fuel filters.  We had planned to grab our store goods and just eat breakfast back on the boat and go.  I mean, why else had we hassled Mitch about buying all of that food the week before?  But, it started to become comical when every store we pulled up to (ACE, Target, Publix) didn’t open until 8:00 a.m.  It was just a few minutes after seven then so we deemed it a sign: Breakfast Break!  We drove the main Ft. Myers strip a time or two looking for a Starbucks or Bagelheads or something easily recognizable as a standard commercial breakfast and, surprisingly, came up empty-handed.  Our inability to find a Starbucks in a three-mile radius particularly surprised me.  What kind of Americans are we?  But each time we made a pass we kept eyeing this greasy-spoon diner with a packed-out parking lot and the savory scent of sausage enticing us in.  “Marko’s Diner,” Mitch read the sign aloud as we pulled in.  Being a traveler and an adventurer like us, Mitch loves to check out the local stuff when he’s in a new place.  He wants to eat where the regulars eat, shop where they shop and do what they do.  And, it always feels good to support local businesses, so Phillip and I were on board.  “Marko’s it is,” we agreed.

I don’t know if she was in fact Mrs. Marko but this plump, vivacious, loud Greek woman clad in a shoulder-padded bedazzeled sweatshirt, her hair sprayed out on either side in sticky, jut-out wings was greeting customers the minute the bell on the door dinged.  Most folks she greeted by name: “Hey Jim.”  “Morning Claire.”  But the newbies you could tell she spotted immediately and really put on a show for them.  

“Well aren’t you a tall drink of water,” she said when Mitch walked in.  “That’s what they tell me,” Mitch said running a hand through some pretend James Dean hair.  That was all she needed to pull the rug out from under him.  “Is it now?  Well I’m glad you’re here Big-and-Tall.  You made it just in time for the early bird senior special!” she said as she laughed, pulled one of many-a-pen from her hair and nudged her way by him with a pot of coffee in hand.  

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You have to love a woman who can hold her own, particularly a hefty, big-hearted Greek one.  Mrs. Marko was great though, making sure us “out-a-towners” got good service, the whole schmorgas board (eggs, tomatoes, biscuits, grits, gravy) and hot piping coffee.  It was just what we needed to fuel us up for the day.  After our Marko’s feast, the store runs were quick and expertly executed.  Three three of us took on ACE then the boys dropped me at Publix while they went to West Marine for the fuel filters.  We were back on the boat and packed for passage by 10:00 a.m.  With the fluids already checked, all we needed to do was crank and go!  This was it.  The big moment.  

“Be sure to hold it 15-20 seconds,” Phillip said to Mitch as he got ready to warm the glow plugs and crank the engine.  I was sitting next to Mitch and had to smile as he pushed the button in and started an actual, audible “one one-thousand, two one-thousand” count.  He was so careful it was almost cute.  But apparently cute wasn’t going to cut it.  The engine tried to turn and sputtered a few times but would not crank.  Mitch tried three times to no avail.  Phillip was worried if he tried to crank one more time without the engine turning over we would pull too much raw water in and it would back up in the engine, so we took a moment to investigate.  I had watched Mitch hold the glow plugs plenty long enough so I knew it wasn’t that.  Phillip looked at the fuel filter which didn’t looked clogged or dirty and the fuel gage read three-quarters of a tank.  Then he asked about the starting battery.  Mitch had thought it was on, but it was clicked only to “house,” not “both.”  Aha!  Always takes a little time to learn a new boat.  Once that adjustment was made and we gave it a bit more gas she fired right up.  The crew let out a collective breath.  For a moment, it had seemed our big adventure was about to putter out at the dock.  

But she was running great now, purring actually.  Mitch was a little anxious about backing out of the dock, but we told him to configure a plan (which lines would be released in what order) and we would execute it.  We were there to help Mitch get the boat home, for sure, but we also wanted to let him get as much hands-on, solo-sailing experience as possible because he would essentially be handling the boat on his own once he got her back to Pensacola.  So, as often as possible, we would have him do everything with us there merely to step in only if he was getting into some real trouble.  Think of it like training wheels that don’t touch unless you start to tip over.  Right out of the gate, Mitch got a great lesson in steering his boat in a tight marina.  

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We wanted to fuel up, pump out and fill the water tanks before jumping out into the Gulf so we planned to stop at the fuel docks.  Of course, as luck would have it, there was a line and Mitch had to circle around a few times, back up, pull forward, turn around again.  It was a great lesson in getting a feel for the boat’s reaction time.  There was a good bit of “easy, gentle, wait for it, slow down!” as Mitch leaned a little too hard on the throttle but─with Phillip’s instruction─handled the whole three-time turn around and first fuel docking himself.  

I set about filling the water tanks and handling the pumpout while the boys fueled her up.  The water was no problem.  While she did take on a good bit, we got the tanks filled to the brim and the caps secured back down.  The waste, however … was causing some real issues.  

“I need a hammer,” I told Phillip as he walked up on the deck to see what I was struggling with.  I could not get the cap off.  No matter how hard I turned and groaned and grunted.  That one little sliver and a boat key was just not going to cut it.  I was starting to imagine what this trip would look like if we started out with a mostly-full holding tank and no way to pump out.  While I was sure they had checked the macerator during the survey/sea trial, I would rather not be the first one to actually try it out.  What if it didn’t work?  What would we do then?  Things could get shitty.  These were the thoughts that were running through my mind as I’m beating on the back end of the screwdriver, the head wedged into that stupid little sliver when the cap finally clicked free.  My guess is the previous owner just never went on the boat (I envy the fact that men can easily piss overboard) or never pumped out at the dock because it felt like the waste cap had not moved in a decade.  Luckily, though, she finally spun free and were able to pump out.  Whew.  While I was glad to help Mitch sail his boat back to Pensacola, I was secretly hoping that offer would in no way involve head repair or maintenance.  

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Finally, with all of our chores done, it was time to get out of the marina and get that boat moving.  As we were making our way through the channel, another boat─Miller Time─came along side us and hollered over: “Is that Wade Alexander’s boat?” (The previous owner).  “Yeah!” Mitch hollered back.  “I just bought her!” he beamed.  “Oh, congrats!” Miller Time shouted back.  “Have a great trip.”  It was clear Mitch was going to get a lot of looks with the cat rig (and that he was totally loving it already).  

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Once we made it out of the channel Phillip decided it was high time we threw up this big ass sail on the Nonsuch.  I stationed myself at the mast, pulling the halyard manually, while Phillip set up on the winch and Mitch held the wheel.  While it was difficult to pull by hand at first, it was moving along until we got to the reef points.  Unfortunately, the last time the boat had been sailed─on the survey/sea-trial─they had practiced reefing her to make sure all the lines worked properly.  Recall Mitch’s eloquent description about the monkey and the football.  That meant the sail was still reefed as we were trying to raise her which always makes it tougher.  Our first time raising the sail, we got a crash course on the reefing lines, which one was reef one and reef two as well as their particular hang-up and pinch points.  Once we got all the reefing lines loosened, though, we still had another three or four feet to go to fully raise the sail.  That’s when the real fun began.  

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I was working the halyard at the mast while Phillip was cranking on the winch back in the cockpit, but I had done all I could do on my end.  The rest of the sail just had to be muscled up using the winch and─my God─that thing shrieked and cried with every turn.  I watched as the halyard grew tauter and visibly thinner before me.  I gave it a light tug a time or two to see if it still had some bend but after five or six cranks on the winch it wouldn’t budge at all.  It was as tight as a steel cable and we still had another two or so feet to go at the top of the mast.  I hollered to Phillip to keep cranking and the winch continued to wail.  I didn’t dare touch the halyard after that, I thought just my light fingers on it and the whole thing might explode.  I couldn’t stand the sight or sound of it anymore.  I backed away from the mast and just stood near the cockpit, my hands ready to come up and protect my face if there was an all-out halyard explosion.  Mitch was watching from the helm, staring at the top of the mast to see when the sail finally made it to the top.  “Keep going,” he shouted to Phillip who looked to me topside for confirmation.  

“It’s still got some bag in the bottom, but who cares?  We’ve got plenty of sail up.”  I was not in any way inclined to push the gear any more than necessary.  I was literally afraid to go anywhere near the mast with that much tension on the halyard.  We had squealed her to her limits.  Phillip gave it just one more crank and said, “That’s good.”  Mitch looked up through the bimini window and started to say something but I heard Phillip’s voice over whatever he tried to mutter out: “It’s good.”  

Thank God, I thought.  This may sound silly, but it’s the truth: raising that sail was frightening.  

But it was now up and we were finally sailing!  Motor sailing but that still counts.  We were making 6.2 knots.  

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We were surprised the boat pointed as well as it did.  I guess with the massive surface area of the sail that the wind has to travel around, it’s got more suction into the wind than you would think.  I will say, though─just as Mitch had predicted─tacking the boat was astonishingly easy.  What do you do?  You turn the wheel.  That is all.  The sail handles the rest.  Not that letting the Genny out on one side and cranking her in on the other is super exhausting, but it can be a bit of a chore in heavy winds or when you’re trying to kick back, eat grapes and read a book.  On the Nonsuch, though?  You just turn the wheel.  That’s it.  You could tell Mitch was getting a real kick out of that.  He tacked far more than he needed to that morning just because he was having such a good time doing it.  It was fun to watch him enjoy his new boat.  We had a nice day motor sailing.  The sea state was nice and smooth.  It would have been perfect for sailing had the wind not been right on our nose.  For that reason, we kept the iron sail going to make headway but even with the motor running, we were only making 3.8 knots trying to tack into a light headwind.  

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We were still debating whether to point toward Venice for a sooner stop or just push on through to Clearwater.  With the motor running solid and the sail and rigging all fairly tested and proving seaworthy, the crew decided to just keep trucking to Clearwater.  Everyone was in good spirits and enjoying the passage so far.  We figured we might as well capitalize on our fresh morale and cover a good bit of a ground our first offshore passage.  We dropped and secured the sail (a bit of a chore with the cat rig) and throttled her up to 5 knots.  That put us on a heading to reach Clearwater the following afternoon so we divied up the night shifts:  

         Me:   8 p.m. ─ 10 p.m.

         Phillip: 10 p.m. ─ 12 a.m

         Mitch:   12 a.m. ─ 2 a.m.

         Me: 2 a.m. ─ 4 a.m.

         Phillip: 4 a.m. ─ 6 a.m.

         Mitch: 6 a.m. ─ 8 a.m.

With three of us, it was going to be nice to get at least one solid four-hour stint of sleep.  The first and last shifts we called the “gravy shifts” because everyone is usually up with you during those times so you’re not alone at the helm.  Phillip wanted to take the short straw this first leg of the trip and get his two-crap-shifts night over with right out of the gate.  Looking back on it, it was a smart move─take the worst leg while we were all still fresh and excited on our first passage.  But Phillip must have played us well, because Mitch and I happily signed up for one gravy shift and only one solo shift during the night.  With that settled and entered into the log book (so there could be no debate later), we decided to put the bimini down and enjoy the sunset from the cockpit.  We watched the sun turn into a hot pink ball on the horizon.  I love when it does that.  Blazes so bright you can hardly look at it but you can’t look away either, as it drops down beneath a denim blue horizon.  She put on a stunning show.  

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Phillip and I cooked up a hot batch of red beans and rice and salad for dinner and dished out some hearty portions for the crew.  We watched Mitch curiously, though, as he merely pushed a few beans around, ate a sprig or two of lettuce and then said he was full.  We didn’t want to say it (because sometimes just saying it makes it happen) but we suspected Mitch was getting seasick.  Recall during our first offshore passage with Mr. Roberts he got monstrously seasick and was put down for twelve hours after taking some allegedly non-drowsy Dramamine.  Phillip and I were hoping, for our own sakes so we wouldn’t have to man the helm as much, that wasn’t happening this time.  We didn’t want to say it, though.  It’s like a jinx.  We just asked: “You getting tired, buddy?”  

“Yeah, tired.” Mitch said, seemingly thanking us for our courtesy pass and taking it straight to bed.  “I’m just going to get some rest for my shift,” he said as he headed down the companionway stairs.  Phillip and I were hoping we weren’t going to lose him again to seasickness, but if so I certainly wanted to be fueled up for a more trying, two-person only offshore trip.  I grabbed his unfinished bowl of red beans and rice and scarfed it right up.  

Phillip sat up with me during my first night shift.  You see?  Gravy.  Phillip and I were breathing and basking in the feeling of being back out on blue waters with an unfettered horizon, crisp night air coming in.  God it felt good.  But, just as she starts to sense you getting all comfortable and cozy, she likes to remind you whose in charge.  Right after the sun dipped we heard an ominous rumble behind us.  Phillip and I turned around to look out from the stern and saw big, rolling thunderheads on our horizon.  

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We watched in silence for a moment more, expecting our suspicions to be confirmed.  She rumbled a time or two again, then we saw it: a shocking white crack of lightning that branched out and traveled the sky.  There was no denying it now.  But there was no point in saying it aloud either.  It was clear.  We had a massive thunderstorm on our stern, chasing us into the Gulf.  

 

Thanks to my Patrons who help me share the journey.  Get inspired.  Get on board.

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Chapter Three – Amateur Kretschmers

“Now what is this ‘none’ stuff?”

“Naan.”

“Okay, fine. Naan. What is that? A snack?”

He was big on the snacks.

So, no surprise here I’m sure: Mitch got the boat. At 6’4″, if you’re in the market for a boat and you find one you’re, in his words─”comfortable on”─you get it. Not to mention this boat was well-made, by a dependable builder, in fantastic condition, had passed the survey/sea trial with flying colors needing only minimal repairs and was going for half the asking price. Half?! Pssshhh … There’s really no way Mitch could say no. He let the time lapse on rescinding the offer and on June 14, 2015 Mitch became the proud new owner of a 1985 Nonsuch. All he needed to do was sail it home from Ft. Myers, FL.

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All that required was willing crew.

It’s probably no surprise here, either: he asked Phillip and me.

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I don’t know, though. Would you trust these two?

Seems Mitch was keen on cashing in the favor chips he had racked up when he helped us sail our Niagara 35 from Punta Gorda, FL to its new home port in Pensacola back in 2013. But, the irony of it was almost comical. Not only were the three of us about to make just about the same trek again on a sailboat, but (BUT!) we were going to do it again on another 1985 model boat and (AND!) another Hinterhoeller. Shut up. I’m serious. The symmetry of it was kind of wild. Can you say: Salt of a Sailor the sequel! We hoped this time, though, we wouldn’t have to hack off any critical parts of the boat, string a puke bucket around one of the crew member’s necks, suffer a man down to (allegedly) non-drowsy Dramamine or endure any other significant equipment failures like last time. (If you haven’t read Salt yet, I hope you’re intrigued now.)

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We all hoped for a safe and prosperous delivery of Mitch’s new boat from Ft. Myers to its new home port in Pensacola, FL. But─maybe it was just Phillip and I although something tells me Mitch maybe a little too─we were also hoping for a bit of an adventure. You don’t ever want anything to go wrong during a passage across blue waters, but you know it can always happen. No matter how hard you prepare, plan or tread cautiously, a lot of it’s just luck. Sometimes it’s just your time for shit to go wrong. We didn’t want that to happen to Mitch, but if it was going to, we wanted to be there to help─and experience and learn from it.

Now this time thankfully I was a bit more sail savvy than last time. I didn’t ask at least─with big, blinking doe eyes: “When are they going to deliver your boat, Mitch?” I knew we were going to have to sail her home, and Phillip and I were excited to head out on another blue water passage. We’re always up for a blue water passage─Phillip especially. That man loves nothing more than to stand behind a helm and look out on a blue horizon.

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Okay, lay.  He likes to lay behind the helm too.

Mitch really didn’t even have to ask. It all seemed a given from the moment he started looking for a boat in south Florida. He had been there for us and he knew we would do the same for him. Hell, we were happy to. We set a date that worked around everyone’s schedule─June 19, 2015─and started planning and provisioning. If everything went well, we were expecting the entire trip to take seven days but we cleared ten just in case. My only concern was the Bahamas. I was set to fly out of Pensacola to Ft. Lauderdale on July 2nd. Honor of a lifetime: I had been asked by a friend’s parents to crew with them on their boat in the Abacos Regatta. After reading Salt, seems they thought I would be helpful to have on board─or entertaining at least. The Bahamas saga will be coming up next on the blog. Be excited!

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So, June 19th to July 1st was the time slot. The Mitch trip was going to be a tight fit, but it did fit. And we figured if something happened and we had to leave the Nonsuch somewhere─like, say, I don’t know … Carrabelle─we could leave her and drive the rest of the way home. We hoped that wouldn’t happen (again this time). We wanted to sail her right into the Pensacola Pass our first time out but there was always the possibility the wind, weather and whatever sailing karma is out there would see otherwise. Whatever the case, we were up for it.

What cracked me up, though, was Mitch. He always does. I love that guy. It’s fun to watch a new friend sort of walk up to the boating ledge, look over, kick a little pebble off then just fall, head-over-heels and tumble all the way down. No matter how many times you tell said friend it’s going to cost a lot, things are going to break often, and then it will cost a lot to repair them, it’s like they just can’t hear you. You continually try to warn them: You’re going to have to buy a lot of boat crap. Then you’ll start using all of that crap and discover what other boat crap you really want and then you’ll have to buy all of that too. It’s just a process. But when you finally get your boat dialed in─just the way you like it─it’s totally worth it. And, after having endured that entire process, you’ll really have fun watching friends go through it after you. I have to admit. I was having a hell of a time watching Mitch.

The naan was the least of his worries. After going through the list Mitch made when he was on the boat for the survey/sea trial of equipment already on board, we made another list of items he would need to purchase for the three of us to safely make the passage on the boat. The amount of stuff baffled him.

“Towels? What kind of towels?” Mitch asked, bewildered.

All kinds dude. Dish towels, bath towels, work towels. The three of us are essentially about to move onto your floating home and live there for a week, while we’re sailing and working on it. We might need to─I don’t know─bathe on occasion. Wash our dishes. Wipe our hands. I mean, maybe. If you don’t think so, though, nix the towels. He was funny. And some of the costs really put a thorn in his side, like the EPIRB.

“Do we really need that?” I remember him asking Phillip. 

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“Only if you want the Coast Guard to come if we’re sinking,” Phillip said.

But, I get it. I mean, those things are like $400. It’s not an easy pill to swallow. I had to laugh, though, when we started talking about a hurricane haul-out plan for his boat. And, again I agree. If $400 for the EPIRB gives you heartburn, you’re really going to take it on the chin with the $1,500 price tag on the haul-out. Mitch was understandably trying to stop the bleed:

“So, it’s $1,500 to haul out, if need be, for a hurricane?” he was trying to get Phillip to confirm.

“Well, it’s $1,500 for the year,” Phillip replied.

“Oh, okay, so if they don’t haul out, then that carries over next time, right?”

“No, it’s $1,500 a year.”

“Even if they don’t haul you out?!”

Sorry buddy. Boats are just expensive. But, like I said, Mitch had got the Nonsuch for an exceptional price so he, thankfully, had a little wiggle room left in his budget. Still doesn’t make it any easier to write those checks. He was a good sport about it, though. Better than I ever expected. Mitch really stepped up. Phillip and I gave him a pretty extensive list of things we would need for the trip─stuff for him to buy, stuff for us to bring and stuff for him to bring. It was good practice for Phillip and I to go back through that thought process of readying a boat for passage, except this time we kind of felt like yacht delivery people, like very amateur Kretschmers. But, some of the tips and tricks Kretschmer had mentioned when we attended his seminar at the Miami Boat Show back in February did seem to trickle through.

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The whole idea of sitting down to make a list of items and equipment we would need to bring a boat across blue waters just gave Phillip and I a little tingle. It was exciting to think we would soon be back out there, in the Gulf of Mexico, looking out on a vast body of water with nothing on the horizon but a sun sinking into blue denim.

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Thankfully, we had kept a digital copy of the list we had made when we were preparing to bring our Niagara 35 back home across the Gulf. We dusted that off and modified it a bit to suit Mitch’s boat and needs. In case any of you find it helpful in preparing for a passage, or a Kretschmer like yacht-delivery (yeah!), here ‘tis: our Provisions List.

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We went through it with Mitch, item by item, making sure he had each one. And he did. He had bought it all, even some extra goodies for the two of us─little treats for us for agreeing to make the passage with him. Like I said, he was big on the snacks.

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We were set to leave the following week and the only thing Mitch got stuck on was the naan.

“It’s not a snack. It’s bread, like a soft fluffy pita. We’ll eat it with the tiki masala.”

“The what?”

“Masala. Tiki masala.”

“Malasalla?”

Yeah that. We’ll get that one buddy. See you in a few days.

 

Thanks to my Patrons who help me share the journey.  Get inspired.  Get on board.

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“Where Are You Sailing to Next?”

Friends, I have another adventure-on-the-high-seas tale to tell you.  We’ve been busy over here.  While I’ve had a lot of fun cranking out the videos for you─sharing our cruising adventures, our struggles, repairs, outings, friends and fun on the water─I still seem to face the same question from many followers: “Where are you sailing to next?”  Well, while we’ve got long-term plans percolating, sometimes unforeseen opportunities arise and you find yourself jumping on board for an unexpected sailing trip or three.  For those of you who have been reading the blog since the beginning or have read my first sailing book─Salt of a Sailor─you know the tale of our seasick saga in crossing the Gulf the first time to bring our Niagara 35 from Punta Gorda to her home port in Pensacola.  You may recall the 4-6 foot seas, the clanging of the davits, the hacking off of the dinghy and the “non-drowsy, my ass” Dramamine.  Such tall tales!  Well, we’ve yet another.  

You may not have thought the three of us─Phillip, myself and Mitch While-You’re-Down-There Roberts─would have ever set foot on a boat again together to traverse the boisterous waters of the Gulf.  Mitch himself─when we had to leave our boat sad and busted in Carrabelle─said he would never get on a boat with us again to go … well, anywhere.  But I’m here to tell you friends it happened.  We got back on a boat.  We crossed the Gulf again.  And I’m going to take you along for the adventure.  You want to know where we’re going?  Well, let me tell you a little tale of where we’ve been.  You know me … warts and all.   I’m going to share every detail─really build it up, keep you guessing, let you savor every harrowing and hilarious moment, right here on the blog.  We tend to encounter adventures, big and small, every day.  We seize them and savor them and I try─with every bit of my storytelling might─to share them with you.  Here’s yet another.  You want to get back on a boat with us and set sail?  Come aboard!

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Thanks to my Patrons who help me share the journey.  Get inspired.  Get on board.

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“Dinghy Gas” — Is That Different Than Regular Gas?

“Going to the shore in the dinghy is totally free.  Well, like it might cost two cents worth of dinghy gas.  But, if you row!  I guess if you row it’s free.”

Yes, these are the kind of things I say when I’m being interviewed.  Where do I come up with this stuff?  Phillip paused the playback and turned slowly toward me.  “‘Dinghy gas?'” he asked, his eyebrows floating up.  “Is that different than like … regular gas?”

If you’ve been following on Facebook, you may have seen this.  I was recently interviewed by Travis Parsons with 180 Tack for his Adventure Sports Podcasts.  The podcast offers in-depth interviews three days a week from a variety of adventure sports enthusiasts around the globe: outfitters, guides, instructors, authors and many more who live their lives to the fullest. Travis said he reached out to me after seeing my book, Salt of a Sailor, on Amazon and he wanted to do an interview with me about what it’s like to cruise and how others can get out there and do it.   That’s my whole platform, Travis!  “Get inspired.  Get on board.”  Needless to say, I was thrilled to do it and Travis was super easy and fun to talk to.

But I only recently found the time to sit down and seriously listen to the podcast all the way through and there are definitely plenty of little Annie gems in there.  Like the “dinghy gas” for instance. “Yes, Phillip, it is.  Dinghy gas is totally different than regular gas.  It comes out of the dinghy pump at the fuel dock.  You didn’t see it there?”

I’m such a goober sometimes.  Many other nuggets in there for you as well.  I think I mentioned “flapping around like Daffy Duck” at one point, my dad’s long-ago “lady friends” and the notorious “What happen’ was.”  Oh my …   I cringe every time I hear my voice on playback.  Who knows what the hell is going to come out.  If you’re curious, give it a listen.  Enjoy.

Adventure Sports Podcast — Ep. 075: Annie Dike – Life Aboard a Sailboat

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Thanks to my Patrons who help me share the journey.  Get inspired.  Get on board.

Pat4

Instant Pirate — Just Add Rum

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Okay, who are we kidding?  He doesn’t need the rum.  He’s always a pirate.

May 1, 2015:

It’s B!  Our buddy, Bottom-Job Brandon (who has rightfully reminded me anytime I mention his name, I should also mention his company — Perdido Sailor, Inc. — or he’s going to have to re-brand).  He’s all decked out here for the annual Pirate’s Ball, the kick-off for the annual Perdido Wooden Boat Festival at Pirate’s Cove in Josephine (more commonly referred to as Orange Beach), Alabama.

Phillip and I had the event on our calendar for weeks — May 2-3, 2015.  Not just because it’s an awesome pirate party, our friends were planning to sail over for it, too, and we really don’t need an excuse to get that boat out.  No, we were really going for the book signing!  The Point Yacht Club, the self-proclaimed “Little Yacht Club That Could” whose clubhouse-in-progress is right next door to the Cove, invited me over for a Salt of a Sailor book reading and signing before the ball.  Pirate costumes, rum and salty book sales?  Who says ‘no’ to that?  

We were also curious to see how the fridge would perform without power for the weekend after the pancreas-splitting Great Stuff repair.  We turned the fridge on on Wednesday evening to let it start cooling down.  While it did take some time (and several cranks up on the fridge setting), we were pleased to see it finally reach 40 degrees Friday morning on the 6 setting and holding.  We headed out that afternoon, planning to meet up with Brandon and his family on their Gulf Star at the Cove.  But, we were surprised to have him cruise right up next to us in the ICW on our way over.  Good timing.

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That little 17′ sloop rig he’s towing is s/v Ellavday, a wooden boat he and his father-in-law built for Brandon’s daughter, Ella.  Great name, huh?  That thing is a beauty and so much fun to sail.  If you want to really sharpen your sailing skills, test them in a little boat!

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It was great to have Brandon cruising along next to us, too.  I love when we see fellow boat buddies out on the water.  It’s just “boat code” to snap pics of each other under sail.  With s/v 5 O’clock leading the way, we made our way on over to the Cove.

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In the weeks before the ball, Phillip and I had been snatching up some pirate attire and accessories and sending pictures to Brandon and his crew with a little light trash-talking as to whose costumes were going to be better.  It must have worked because the Halls took the prize with their complete family pirate ensemble, from parents to little pirate run-a-mucks, even the gangly photo-bomber in the back.

Nice hat Uncle Russ.

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I would say the doo-rag on their little pirate bundle (Kaitlin) was the cutest, but I just couldn’t.  This little rapscallion (Ella) stole the show, unsheething her cardboard sword at every opportunity and poking the air with a fierce “AAAaarrrggghhh!”

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You know it makes you want to do it, too.  Go on.  Who cares what your co-workers think.  Close your door and unleash your inner pirate — “AAaarrrgghhh!”

The Captain and I came decked out in full costume as well, donning head-to-toe swashbuckler attire:

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Jody Horner with the Yacht Club was instrumental in putting together this whole reading and signing, and I can’t thank her enough.

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She literally dragged people over to my table by force, fished twenties out of their pockets and made them buy my book.  It was awesome!

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At Jody’s request, I read a fun passage from the book that describes our Second Mate for the momentous journey — the infamous MITCH!  This was the passage she chose:

Now, let me take a moment to tell you a little more about our Second Mate–the infamous Mitch.  Where do I begin?  First, I must say, he’s an incredible friend to give up five days to sail across the open Gulf with us and help get the boat back.  As fun as it is, remember what I told you about sailing, it is indeed hard work, and we were out of touch with the rest of the cellular world for days at a time.  That’s a big commitment, and there is no way we could have done it without him.  But, as I mentioned, Mitch is all of six feet, four inches.  While that may seem pretty normal for a guy–on land–it’s a bit much on a 35-foot sailboat.  Mitch lumbered and bumbled around that boat like an elephant going through a carwash.  Each step of his foot on the deck sounded like Neal Armstrong landing on the moon.  Ka-boom.  I honestly felt sorry for him while I watched him bumble up and down the companionway stairs and through the hatch.  He must have felt like he was crawling around on Playskool equipment.   After a while, he decided to give it up altogether.  Instead, each time I got up to go down the stairs, and I mean the minute I merely lifted my ass off of the cockpit seat, he would start in with “While you’re down there.”  Sometimes I just had to screw with him.  “Down where? I was going up on the deck to check the sails,” I would say as I walked up topside, knowing full well I had had every intention of going down below, but whatever it was for was now going to wait another fifteen minutes until the next time Mitch beckoned.  I have to admit, it was fun, and Phillip and I had a good time christening him with the nickname–Mitch, While-You’re-Down-There, Roberts.  But, to be honest, I’m sure it was a lot of work for him to lug that big body up and down those tiny stairs, and he did hold the helm for several shifts that day, so, the teasing was always followed with, “Sure buddy.  What do you need.”  Mitch was a talker and a screamer but he had a heart of gold.  He taught me a great deal about sailing and he was a true asset on the trip.

The reading really was quite an honor and I enjoyed chatting with readers and fans afterward while Jody hustled them out of their hard-earned bills.

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I also donated a few books and bottles of wine as a giveaway to help the Point Yacht Club raise money to finish their clubhouse-in-progress.  They’re getting close!

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After my Sharpie was worn to a nub, it was time for the much-anticipated Pirate’s Ball!  We shuffled our way over to the Cove and stumbled upon this striking figure on the way in:

Lady BlackSquall!!  Yowza!

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And, do know that the bottle she’s holding was chalk full of home-made moonshine which she forced you to take a shot of before you could pass through to the party.  Love that gal.  But, the real treat of the evening?  Mr. While-Your-Down-There himself showing up for the party, dressed in full pirate regalia with his trusty sea-wench at side!

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Clearly we don’t need the rum to act like pirates …

After we petered out from the pirate party, we crashed hard on the boat.  Having it right there docked up at the Cove always makes for an awesome boating weekend.  That way you have easy access to all your amenities (which for us, was still a cold fridge on the 6 setting), yet easy access to the ongoing party at the Cove.

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The next day we toodled around and checked out the exquisite wooden boats on display for the festival.

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I set up a little table as an official “vendor” with my books in tow (Little Author Who Could here) in hopes of selling a few copies at the festival.  Business was slow at first, so I busted out my ukulele and started strumming about in hopes of drawing folks to my sad little tent.  Somehow, I managed to entice this interesting chap.  Meet Gnarly:

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He’s gnarly.  He was also an awesome guitarist.  He gave me his pick and taught me how to (in his words) “spank on the strings.”  I had a great time hanging out with Gnarly.  Life is so full of cool people.

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With Gnarly’s magic touch on the uke, I was able to snag a few folks in my web and sell some books.

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It was enough, at least, to buy us dinner and a few rum drinks that night.  If sales ever start to cover boat repairs and maintenance, I think we’ll be all set.  In all, it was another wild and raucous weekend at the Cove, with great friends and supporters of my author endeavors.  I can’t thank the kind folks at the Point Yacht Club enough for hosting the book signing for me.  It was fun being a celebrity for an hour.  We had a great sail home, too, with the sun setting on our port and the moon rising at the same time to starboard.

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Strange to think it really is the same sun and moon that set and rose back in the pirate heydays.  Heck, I’ll bet some of the crumbling planks that make up the walls at Pirate’s Cove are from the same era.  The swashbuckling behavior there sure hasn’t changed.  They still drink, holler, spit and dance.  I don’t think it’s the rum that makes the pirate, it’s the spirit.

 

Thanks as always, to the many patrons who help make these posts just a little more possible through PATREON.

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Annie’s First Interview – “Get Frugal, Get Friendly”

April 16, 2015:

This may be the shortest blog post I’ve ever written.  Why??  Because you’re about to hear me ramble on for an entire hour, that’s why.  Oh wait, I’m sorry, an hour and fifteen minutes, in my first real, live interview as a … well, an author I suppose, but I think the term “authorpreneuer” © is more appropriate.  It seems these days I’ve got a lot of plates spinning.  But, that’s essentially the message I was trying to convey–get creative with your funding, frugal with your spending and you, too, can get out and spend more time sailing and cruising.  I was humbled and honored to be interviewed recently by Teddy J, the creator of Sail Loot, an innovative and informative website, to try and help Teddy answer the question folks want to ask every person who lives on a boat and cruises around the world — How the heck do you pay for it?  I hope I gave some insight and some inspiration to other budding cruisers out there.

Here ’tis.  Next time you’ve got an hour (and fifteen minutes) to kill.  Click to play:

 

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If you’re short on time, I’d particularly recommend the “how to impress a hot guy” tips.  It’s basically–try anything adventurous and pretend like you know what you’re doing.  Works every time.

Phillip and I have been following Teddy J’s Sail Loot interviews for quite some time.  Teddy has interviewed many cruisers, live-aboards and marine innovaters who have traveled the world and launched a diverse range of cruise-funding endeavors.  One of the first interviews I heard was of the s/v Delos crew.

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Captain Brian’s bio plays out much like my own.  “After years in the IT business Brian dreamt of bigger adventures and more meaning in his life.  He read the book “3 years on a 12-foot boat” and the dream to create his own odyssey and sail around the world was born. Three boats later and endless days of hard work, Brian’s dream became a reality when he bought Delos in Seattle in 2008 and has lived on board ever since.”  You can listen to Teddy’s podcast interviews of the Delos crew here:

Sail Loot Interview of Brian and Karin (Teddy’s podcast numero uno)

Sail Loot Interview of Brady and Josje (pronounced Yaaw-jsuh – beautiful name! – although I prefer her more common alias – Josjerama)

I also found Teddy’s two-part interview of Jeff Siegel, the creator of Active Captain, fascinating.

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Jeff’s mind is always buzzing with new ideas and helpful technology.  He has a very honest and realistic approach to new business endeavors and speaks openly about his own failures and the lessons he learned in developing what is now the fastest-growing, most interactive marine navigational software on the market.

Sail Loot Interview of Jeff Siegel (Part 1)

Sail Loot Interview of Jeff Siegel (Part 2)

These are just two of the dozens of others Teddy has interviewed, all of whom have provided his listeners with some great insight about transitioning to a more balanced life.

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In all, I was incredibly humbled to be added to this eclectic group of creative thinkers.  Thank you, Teddy J, for the experience and the platform to share my passion for cruising and my less-is-more philosophy with others.

While I was happy to talk to Teddy about the various, creative ways I have found to make money remotely, as it always seems, when you give you seem to get more in return.  Through Sail Loot, I was able to connect with several other cruisers Teddy has interviewed and help support them in their endeavors, which encouraged them to, in turn, help to support me.  It was actually the Delos crew who initially turned me on to Patreon.

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Patreon is an awesome platform that allows artists of all walks (singers, songwriters, videomakers, bloggers, underwater basket-weavers, whatever!) continue doing what they love by allowing their fans to empower them in a direct and meaningful way.  I’m happy to say I am a proud patron of Delos on Patreon and (even on my tight cruiser’s budget) happily fund each of their wicked worldly videos.  I would highly encourage others to sign up to support them too.  It will be the best two dollars you’ve spent in ages, trust me!

Also, once I heard fellow boat-bum-turned-author, Ed Robinson’s, interview on writing and self-publishing, I reached out to him as well and asked if he would like to read my Salt book to perhaps provide an endorsement for the back cover.  And, look what happened …

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Just goes to show you–when you help people, help tends to find its way back.  So, to answer Sail Loot’s burning question — How do you pay your way to cruise?

You get creative.  You get bold.  You get frugal.  And, you get friendly.

As Teddy would say, it never hurts to ask.  Offer something of value and then ask for support.  Worst that can happen is they say no.

Many thanks to all–my loyal followers (believe it or not – it’s been over two years now since I started this blog!), my supporters, patrons and friends.  I wouldn’t be here without your encouragement and support.  I hope you have found the posts fun, entertaining and inspiring.  Trust me, there’s always a way to make it work.  Get out there before it’s too late!

Enjoy the interview!

 

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Strictly Sail Miami – Day One – A Bitchin View

February 11, 2015:

I know, a blog post in real time?  Modern day 2015?  This is crazy!  But, it was all too exciting to let simmer on the back burner.  While we embarked on plenty of adventures, excursions and (always) more boat projects since our return from the Keys in May of 2014, honestly, they can wait.  From the moment we docked back in May, the next big “sail trip” on the horizon was, for us, the Strictly Sail Miami show in February.

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Their unbiased sponsor, Flo, claims, “It’s the sailing event of the season!”

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Strictly Sail puts on shows in various cities–Chicago, California, etc.–every year and we had been trying to make it to one for a while.  When the show in Miami came up, we booked it months in advance and started scraping our pennies so we could afford, you know, like three drinks in Miami.  The show would also be a great opportunity to check out the latest technologies and developments in boat design, sail accessories, electronics and hardware, as well as attend seminars and hands-on sail classes taught by some of the sailing world’s well-versed and renowned experts–Nigel Calder, Jimmy Cornell, John Kretschmer and the like–real, live sailebrities, if you will.  *sigh*

I also had another more personal goal in mind.  I had been mulling over the idea of polishing and cobbling together a few of my early blog posts into a book for quite some time (I know–surprise, surprise).  But, when the time came to get serious about it, I reached out to the man who published my very first sail story for some guidance.  You may recall this notorious character —

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Bob Bitchin, self-proclaimed “Editor-at-Large” of Cruising Outpost.  Bob has written and published a number of books himself over the course of his colorful career, so I figured he could give me some words of wisdom when it came to publishing my own.  Bob’s recommendation on publishing?  “Self-publish,” he said.  “It’s the best way to go.”  Self-publish, I thought with a huff.  Who’s going to buy my hand-made, self-printed drivel?   But, I pondered it for just a bit before I promptly decided to take his bitchin advice and do it!  Then I got real bold and told Bob I’d bring him a first edition, signed copy at the Miami show!  *gulp*  Now I had a real deadline, but an incredibly motivating goal.

Luckily, I busted my arse, finished Salt of a Sailor in record time and packed the very first hard copy with me on the flight to Miami.  My plan was to corner Bob at the famous Cruising Outpost Party he hosts every year at the show.  I planned to gently saunter up to him at the party, introduce myself in person, book in hand, and thank him for all of his help.  Or, if that didn’t work, spring out from behind a port-a-potty if need be and hold him down until he took the book from me and promised to read it cover to cover.  Either way, I was excited about the Bob encounter.

The book all printed and packed, Phillip and I hustled ourselves to the airport to get on a big jet airliner to Miami the day before the Strictly Sail show began.

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Who’s excited??  

Another really cool part about this trip was that it was our first time to try out this fancy new vacay rental website called Airbnb.  Don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but it’s a fantastic concept.  Anyone, anywhere in the world can list their property (be it their whole house, apartment or studio) or just one room (the guest bedroom, the garage, whatever) on the Airbnb website for rental by total strangers (aka … us!).  We had poked around on the site weeks before the trip and found a one-bedroom condo that looked like it was just a few blocks from the Strictly Sail show, which meant we could walk everywhere – no car rental! Even after taxes and the Airbnb service charge, it was still cheaper than any hotel in the area.  Thank you Airbnb!  We hopped on the Metrorail (a whopping $2.25 a piece to get from the airport to our condo) and headed downtown.

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And, when we got to the condo, the Vizcayne on Biscayne Blvd, we were thrilled to find it was literally right across the street from the show!

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We could literally throw a stone at the Strictly Sail tent from the front door of our condo building!  (That is, if we were inclined to throw stones at it … we opted for embarrassing selfies instead!)

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And, the condo?  Let’s just say we had a bitchin view!

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And, you might think it would be hard to really kick back and get comfortable in someone else’s place?  Trust me, it’s not.

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But, we didn’t stay at the condo long.  We were ready to get out and explore and dig into some authentic Miami cuisine.  Our trusted rigger back home, Rick Zern with Zern Rigging, had recommended an upscale Peruvian restaurant near the marina, which turned out to be about a half block from our condo.  I’m telling you – location, location, location.  So, we went to check it out–CVI.che 105.  And, I’ve had some really great ceviche before, I’m definitely a fan, but every time I’ve had it, it’s always been a mix of tiny little diced up pieces that look a lot like pico de gallo.  Something like this —

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Peruvian ceviche, however?  Looks like this!

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Huge chunks of shrimp, octopus, fresh fish, calamari, mussels, etc.  They’re tart but tender.  And, it comes on a bed of fried corn (which adds great texture), these sweet, plump hominy-looking kernels and sweet potato.  Yes, sweet potato.  I would have never thought to throw in some sweet potato with ceviche, but trust me, the Peruvians know how to do it.  We also tried their grilled octopus with chimichurri and creamy pepper sauce,

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and Phillip ordered the braised beef and beans, both of which were incredibly flavorful.

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Then we were miserable.  Pretty much, anyway.  That was a lot of food.  Way more than we needed at the time, so we knew next time, to order one entree and split there, but it was absolutely divine–best ceviche I have ever had, hands down.  Stuffed to the gills, we decided to go poking around the marina, get a little preview of the boats and decide which ones we wanted to check out first tomorrow.

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Uhhh, yes, I’m looking to upgrade my Niagara 35 to a 74″ Catamaran.”

 
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Not really.  We would never!  We love our Niagara!  But, that’s what we were planning to tell the brokers so they would let us on these big, buoyant monsters just for a look-see.  There were soooo many floating mansions to see!  We spent a couple of hours poking around the boats and the big tent, planning our attack for the next day and eventually worked our appetites back up.  (It really doesn’t take much with us, though).  After some thorough Trip Advisor scouring, Phillip had rooted out this little place called Toro Toro for us to check out.  The bar at Toro Toro was THE happening place in Miami–a modern, swanky atmosphere, finely crafted cocktails and all walks of elegant Miami life.

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We also got incredibly lucky to get in without a reservation (because the place was booked solid the rest of the time we were in Miami) but after a quick sip at the bar, they called us right back.  From the moment we sat down, everyone in the place stopped by to check on us–make sure we had menus, our candle was lit, had the sommelier come by yet?  The service was phenomenal.  And, the food?  So good I forgot to take pictures.  That is … until the highlight.  Their La Bomba dessert.  I’m not sure you can handle this.

Three scoops of vanilla bean and strawberry ice cream, fresh fruit and cookie crumble, complete with an edible flower garnish, are brought to the table in a sculpted chocolate shell bowl.

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The server lays down a clean piece of plastic on the table and then … CRACK!  He drops the bowl onto the table where it shatters into a beautiful, melted chocolate dream.  Slow-churned caramel is then drizzled over the top, almost like a painting.

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It was a true culinary experience.

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That, sadly, among these two ravenous travelers, didn’t last long!

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We sauntered home with visions of caramel drizzle and chocolate shards dancing in our head.  The Strictly Sail show hadn’t even begun yet and we had already sunk our teeth deep into the adventure.  Despite the full bellies and travel fatigue, we found it a bit difficult to lull ourselves into a deep sleep that night.  Perhaps it was the newness of the place, but I suspect it was the excitement of the day to come–the boats we would explore, the fellow cruisers we were going to meet, the sailebrities!

Phillip and I both rustled to before the sun rose the next morning and started checking the seminar schedule and readying the backpack for the day.  This was it!  The Strictly Sail Miami show!  We stopped in at a little coffee shop at the YVE hotel across from the show, where many Strictly Sail folks were staying, ordered up a couple of lattes to sip on before the show and settled in at a window seat.  I was perfectly content, sipping my latte, munching some granola, with a lovely view out of the cafe window.  Phillip, however, had a different view.  He spotted him first.  Over my shoulder.  Sitting there, drinking coffee, eating a bagel, like a totally normal person, not five feet from us.  The man himself … BOB BITCHIN.

I immediately started sweating, fidgeting with my hair, biting my nails, glancing over my shoulder.  It was really him!  Phillip and I debated it a bit.  Should I bust up on him, now, all starry-eyed and stammering, book-in-hand or wait until the Cruising Outpost party on Saturday?  Would it irritate him if I interrupted his breakfast?  What if he held up his hand to cut me off and just said, “Sweetheart, talk to my people?”  I had no idea what this man would do!  I was all hot and clammy and nervous, but ready to get it over with.  Phillip pulled the copy of my Salt book I had signed for Bob out of the backpack, handed it to me and told me to go for it …

 

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SALT OF A SAILOR

There she is!  My first (but certainly not my last) real, live published book about sailing.

Salt of Sailor BUY

Available in hard copy on Amazon HERE or Kindle HERE.

I can’t believe it was only two meager years ago, in February of 2013, that I first set foot on a sailboat and headed out for My First Sail.  Now, here we are, February, 2015, and not only have Phillip and I found the pretty-much-perfect boat for us, but we sailed it all the way down to the Keys and back.  While we have closed the chapter on our first Keys trip, we still have many adventures, boat projects, refits, upgrades and future trips planned to share with you.  This blog has served as such a source of inspiration, support and motivation for me.  Having followers like you thank me for giving them the opportunity to live vicariously has encouraged me to keep traveling, keep collecting stories and keep pursuing this challenging but rewarding craft of writing.

If you have found yourself, even just once, chuckling to yourself while reading this blog (because, let’s face it, in truth, LOL’ing is really quite rare), I, without any hesitation, guarantee you will enjoy this book.  It’s not a shameless plug if it’s an accurate one.  While the blog is a great platform for me to recount our numerous tall (and small) tales, it doesn’t allow me to tell you the full story, with all the necessary details and smells (those are important) that will really put you there, on that salty, swaying boat with us.  You may recall parts of the main story–our first harrowing passage across the Gulf of Mexico in the boat–but you didn’t get the critical back stories–the tobacco wad and the maxi pad, the piss and the pom-poms, the Malt-o-Meal in New Mexico, not to mention Runt and the sunken truck.  My God!  You need these to truly understand what it feels like to be out there and what it takes to make a sailor truly “salty.”  Many a fine book began as merely a fine blog, so you might have seen this coming.  But, I guess you can say, in that regard, that I’ve been sweating and laboring over this for years and I hope it shows.  If you’re inclined, don’t wait.  Buy it.  Read it.  If you like it, write a review and tell others whom you think would enjoy it to pick up a copy, too.  Know that I’m thrilled you enjoyed it, grateful and humbled by your support and that I’m working hard writing the next one for you.

While I still have the stage (I know, I know – thank your parents, your spouse, the Almighty and get off – I’ll be quick, I promise), a big thanks to fellow Amazon publisher and author of many a-riveting sail tale, Ed Robinson, for giving my book an early review, offering some critical editorial insights and providing an endorsement for the back cover:

“If you’re thinking about buying your first sailboat and making it your own, you need to read this refreshingly honest tale.”

— Ed Robinson, author of Poop, Booze & Bikinis.

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I highly recommend Ed’s “Poop” book, along with a roll of toilet paper to dab at the laugh-till-you-cry tears.   Much gratitude to loyal follower, Casey, as well for the thorough manuscript scouring and insightful edits.  And, finally a heartfelt thanks to Amazon for giving budding little doe-eyed authors like myself the opportunity to self-publish.  Anyone can write anything and put it out there for anyone in the world to read.  What a fantastic concept.

Without further adieu–imagine this with some great Hollywood score playing in the background and dramatic, captivating sail footage, like a kickass movie trailer …

“Had I ever sailed?  No.  Did I think that mattered?  No.  I had endured enough uncomfortable and arguably dire situations that I felt I had whatever grit and guile I needed to handle this silly sailing stuff.  I parachuted with a sheet, drove a car that started with a screwdriver, swished with hydrogen peroxide.  I rode horses, climbed rocks, leapt off cliffs.  I spent summers in the sleeper of a big rig.  I ate Malt-o-Meal.  Surely these were excellent traits of a sailor.  Surely I was salty enough.  I fancied I was.  Either way, we were going to find out.  The time to go was now.  All we needed was a boat.”

SALT OF A SAILOR, by Annie Dike

I hope you enjoy it.

 

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