Ahoy followers! We’ve got some exciting news! Captain Yannick, whom we crossed the Atlantic Ocean with in 2016 on his 46’ Soubise Freydis s/v Andanza, just launched his own YouTube channel, sharing he and his family’s adventures aboard Andanza. I made a movie from our crossing in 2016 that has garnered quite a viewing. 1.7 million … still blows my mind just a bit. If you haven’t seen that movie (and since many of us are home now with time on our hands – you have no excuse not to!), go watch that first!
Then, you’ll have a lot of fun context for the launch of Yannick and his family’s adventure. “Life + Kids + Gear = Breaking and Fixing Stuff” Yannick has cleverly coined it! The Piart crew has sailed in northern Europe, crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and explored the Caribbean islands on their way to the States. Warning: the kids are beyond cute! Pop up some popcorn, go check it out, subscribe, and enjoy the show!
There were! Everywhere we went. More than we expected. Geckos here. Geckos there. Geckos extraordinaire! You’re right, not real geckos. I’ll admit I know not the native local habitat of geckos. The desert, I would imagine? This was—as I mentioned—a different breed of geckos. The cruising kind! Of all the fun, exciting things we were expecting to find in the Keys, a gecko overload was not one. But that’s the beauty of chance and fate. He stopped me by the pool in Stock Island with a sentiment I’ve heard often: “I know you from YouTube,” and there it happened. We had stumbled upon a pair of newbie cruisers who were about to purchase, splash and move onto their first liveaboard sailboat the next day and it just so happened they had bought the s/v Lazy Gecko. It’s amazing the happenstances that can happen out there and it is a constant reminder how truly small the cruising world is. Fun video for you all of the lazy splash below and a surprise visit from a rather famous cruising couple. But first, let’s get back to our Bahamas-Bound saga.
If you caught the video from our five-day voyage across the Gulf, you’ll know I got rather sick on that voyage. The sickest, I can easily say, I have been in my adult life. In true Annie-style, I spent the first few days of our trip trying to hide it from Phillip, telling him it was “just a sore throat,” “a little head cold, it’s almost gone.” But every time I swallowed, it felt like a fresh layer of skin was ripped off of my throat and swallowed down, leaving it raw and seething. Day three my voice began to go out so there was no more hiding it. I sounded like Patty and Zelma from the Simpsons. You remember this fun clip:
That’s one sexy rasp! Day four, my throat having been way more than “just sore” now for almost a full ninety-six hours, Phillip and I were both pretty sure I had strep throat. And every day began with a clattering cough trying to hack phlegm up and swallow it down. Appetizing, right? Just wait. Day seven, I woke in the middle of the night to the odd sensation of my eyes oozing. I would wipe some gook out of my tear ducts, but then I could feel it puff back up under my lids, ooze out of my duct, pool up on my nose and literally drip off the bridge of my nose onto my pillow. Nice. Several hours in I could mash it out of my eyes by running a thumb across my puffy lids and squeezing it out like a tube of toothpaste. Did I find it odd my eyes were oozing? Sure! Worrisome? Nah. All told, my sore throat had healed and my morning cough wasn’t too taxing. I figured whatever nasty shit was in my head was finally making its way out—albeit out my eyeballs—and I chalked the drainage up to be a good sign. Annie didn’t take a lot of selfies during that phase, but here was one pic Phillip snapped of me my first red-eye morning and you can see it’s not pretty.
Waiters and waitresses seemed to be afraid to serve me, or at least touch anything I had touched. Probably smart. While waking up several mornings in a row with lashes caked so heavily with snot clusters I had to manually pry my lids open was not fun, it did prove to be the last of my wicked strep-bronchinus-infection (we called it) and finally, somewhere around Day Ten, the Captain considered me fully-healed. Hooray!
Why am I sharing all of this with you? Because gross bodily stuff is really cool and interesting. At least I think so. But, really, I wanted to share all of this to pass along another important cruising lesson on first aid and medication: ANTIBIOTICS. When Phillip and I shove off on an extended cruise, we like to try to get a couple of rounds of preventative antibiotics prescribed so we can have them on-board in case one of us gets a wicked infection in a location where we are not close to a clinic … like 100 miles offshore in the Gulf. Did we have antibiotics aboard to treat Annie’s wicked illness? Yes. Points for us. But, was Annie too stubborn and stupid during the first four days of her illness to take them? Yes. Take back those points. I hate taking medication and I really thought it was just a pretty bad cold that was I was just about to overcome. So, I waited. I felt like taking antibiotics for “just a head cold” would be a waste. I usually have them prescribed for a UTI, which I am known to get every couple of years and I wanted to be sure I had them for that if one of those flared up while we were crossing. I would much rather have the gnarly shit I did than days and days of an untreated, raging UTI. Any ladies out there who know the feeling would probably totally agree. But when Phillip finally won out and I did start taking the antibiotics, I made another mistake. (Me? Stubborn? Noooo … ).
I am always a ball of sunshine!
You can probably guess what it was. Obviously, I’m trying to spare as much medication as possible and I still believed I could kick that thing on my own. So, I did what I often do when taking antibiotics: stop-mid dose and save the rest. That has often proved helpful. Here, it proved decidedly detrimental. I took the antibiotics for two days (the last two of our voyage), and I started to feel better, so I stopped. “Must save the rest now for a burning bladder, Annie,” I told myself. Then what happened? My eyes started oozing and my morning cough began and my illness lasted an extra five days. As Phillip later pointed out, if you stop an antibiotics regimen too early, the illness isn’t eliminated but, rather, educated on how to fight that particular antibiotic and it rears back twice as strong. Mine certainly did. So, two lessons for you here fellow cruisers (all lessons are free today): 1) carry preventative antibiotics aboard on long passages (as I mentioned, my ob/gyn nurse prescribes them for me for potential UTIs); and 2) take the whole damn dose. Don’t pull an Annie. Oozing eyes are not sexy.
But, back to our saga. We made it to Key West! Stock Island, rather, as this was the marina where we kept our boat most of the spring last year after returning from Cuba while we flew back and forth to work in Pensacola and play in Key West and we were very pleased with the security, cleanliness and efficiency of the marina at Stock Island Village. While it is a little pricey, it is also a fabulous facility, now with a completed hotel and nice pool, lounge and bar area available for free to all marina residents that we highly recommend.
We heart Stock Island!
And, we were so glad to see it had not been damaged or wiped out entirely by Irma! One of the really fun things we discovered about this marina, immediately after our return from Cuba, was that there is a little Cuban restaurant within walking distance that everyone claimed was “very authentic.” Having just sailed 90 miles from that wonderful island last December, with plenty of Cuban ropa vieja, picadillo and plantains still making their way through our tummies, we were highly skeptical, but definitely intrigued. And the little Cuban gal that runs that tight ship at Deluna’s did not disappoint. We got a mojo pork, with beans, rice and fried plantains that definitely held its own up against our high Cuban standards. And, when we came back to Stock Island this time, we were pleasantly surprised once again by this little Cuban cuisine gem.
“We’re having a little dock party tonight over at Deluna’s to announce our Christmas parade winners,” one of our new boat neighbors told us after he helped us dock and tie-up. “Ahh … cool. Maybe we’ll check it out,” Phillip and I said, not knowing whether we would in fact as we had been planning (and talking, and dreaming, and drooling) about it for days. Our first dinner ashore after crossing the Gulf we had both agreed would be Roostica, a fabulously-decadent little pizzeria bistro in Stock Island that makes delicious wood-fired thin-crust pizzas with names like The Diablo, The Island Pie, Truffle & Mushroom. Are you getting hungry yet? We were. Phillip and I—splayed out wet, exhausted and salty in our stinky foul weather gear sloshing around on passage—had been daydreaming about every oily, buttery, cheesy bite for four days. After our first hot shore shower, it was the first place we were planning to go. But then our dock neighbor said:
“They’re serving food and drinks, too. For free.”
Free?! That’s “cruiser” for “We’re going.” So we did.
And turns out by “food” they meant a tantalizing Cuban feast! Braised pork shoulder, black beans, succulent yellow rice, yucas (Cuban-style mashed potatoes), fresh Cuban bread (“Pre-buttered? Shit yeah,” Phillip said) and sweet, fried plantains. As much as you could eat, with a full wine glass coming every 15 minutes? All for free?! The decision was immediate and mutual. Sorry Roostica. We knew it would be there for us another evening. The Delunas folks had tip jars out and we gave generously then hopped in line to fill a heaping plate.
Then another …
And another. I’m not kidding.
Yes, thirds. We had thirds. I don’t think I’ve had thirds since Thanksgiving 2009. Holy smokes did we eat. But it was the perfect “Welcome back to Stock Island” event. And then we were just stumbling distance from our boat. Our bellies so full we could have rolled home. It was a great way to end our first night ashore.
The next day we were planning to walk or jog to Key West. The beach stretch on the south side of the island is really beautiful and we’ve enjoyed trekking from Stock Island to Key West on foot before.
We wanted to eat at one of our favorite places in Key West, a little French creperia that makes (don’t tell Yannick) better crepes than we had in France. Sorry, but it’s just true. Savory ones with mushrooms, chicken and beschamel sauce. Or sweet ones with dark chocolate and bananas foster. God, can you tell we’re foodies??
Another item on our agenda while in Key West was a reunion visit with an old friend from Pensacola. Our buddy, Russ, who worked at www.PerdidoSailor.com in the shipyard under Brandon for a while, had left Pensacola a few years back on his 1969 42’ Pearson to begin his own cruising adventure and he had landed, as many do, in Key West where we heard he was working on one of the charter schooners there. There are only like a thousand charter schooners in Key West.
But I must share one little secret Russ and I had. Back at the shipyard in Pensacola, Russ and I … we got really close. Physically. I mean it! We did. The two of us were cramped in the bilge of our Niagara 35 for a week together rebuilding our rotten stringers back in the winter of 2015. There’s not a lot of room in there and there was a lot of work to do. We had to get close. Roll that fabulous shipyard footage!
Ahhh … good times with Russ. It was very fun to have a reunion with him and hit up a few of the dive bars and delightfully tacky joints around Key West Harbor. Everyone loves Schooner’s Wharf! Say “Hey!” to Russ! Cheers!
Another item on our to-do list while we were in Key West was give our baby some TLC. Plaintiff’s Rest had worked quite hard chugging us across the Gulf, particularly in those gnarly conditions outside of Tampa, winds of 25 kts and 6-8 foot seas. She had done a fantastic job and definitely deserved some pampering. We gave her a good scrubdown right after we docked, which we usually do every time we make a passage and come into a marina.
Oh, and I did mention that bilge pump in BV1 … we discovered our forward bilge pump, a 500 gph Rule, had gone out. For whatever reason. Just quit working. We figured that probably contributed to the bilge water accumulation I mentioned in BV2. Ahhh … that explains a lot. Good thing we brought a spare! We popped the new one in, not too bad of a chore. Re-wired her and we were in business.
And, Stock Island has a West Marine there so we were able to get another “spare” to replace the now-used spare. Good to keep stock of your spares! We also changed out the oil in Westie. He’d run a good 38 hours bringing us across the Gulf and we usually change the oil every 50 hours, so we figured an early rotation wouldn’t hurt. Our previous owner made a few small modifications to the engine which make it rather easy to change the oil, and a much cleaner process. He rotated the oil filter from sitting horizontal that it now screws up and down vertically (containing the spill) and he put in an extended tube we connect to our manual pump catch-bin to pump the old oil out. All told, this chore only takes about thirty minutes and isn’t too bad at all. Westie certainly deserved it.
Chugging 38 hours across the Gulf had burned a little bit of oil:
And some coolant, which we topped off as well:
Using a mirror to check the gasket around the thermostat in our raw water system to make sure there wasn’t any green ooze around it signifying a leak. “Nope! All dry!” shouted Diesel Mechanic Annie.
And, Stock Island has a nice facility where you can dump your used oil, making this chore even easier. Always good to properly dispose of your nasty fluids.
We also noticed some additional rust that had creeped into our stainless since we last polished (in July) and, while we had time to do it in Pensacola, we literally didn’t have the right weather for it. The Spotless Stainless recommended the product not be used in temps less than 78 degrees. “We’ll do it when we get south then!” the Captain decided and it was done. We gave our gal a beautiful spit shine at the dock in Stock Island and she was glistening!
One thing we would have never expected to happen while we were there in Key West, though, was an unlikely run-in with a pack of geckos! Do geckos run in packs? Perhaps it was a herd, or a flock, but it was way more than we expected to find in one place. FOUR! And, I’m not talking about reptilian geckos. We’re talking about the human kind. Here’s how it went down.
Phillip and I had been lounging by the pool at the Stock Island Marina our second day there (Roostica night! Shit yeah!) and I had a guy stop me by the awesome little tiki bar they built there. “Hey, I know you from YouTube!” he said. I smiled and laughed, because I do get that quite often, and promptly apologized for my Patty-and-Zelma voice. While I did feel and sound like crap most of our Key West days, I never let it stop me from having a good time or meeting fun new cruisers! “I’m Steve,” he said. “My wife and I just bought a boat. We’re going to splash tomorrow then move aboard.”
Super cool, right? Well, wait until you see the boat they bought! This vessel has quite the following.
Steve told me that afternoon at the bar—he and his super cool wife, Ashley were there having their necessary “Holy crap, we just bought a boat” drink—that the boat they bought was the s/v Lazy Gecko, so Phillip and I knew they were getting an awesome 1985 Alberg 37. And, Phillip and I had planned to come watch them splash, hand over a bottle of champagne and enjoy seeing two newbie cruisers launch their cruising dreams. But, what we didn’t know was that the geckos. THE GECKOS. Jeremiah and Brittany were going to be there, too. They had flew in just for the day to finalize the deal, make sure the engine ran for the new geckos and help get Steve and Ashley secure on their new boat and safely off the dock. When Phillip and I were walking toward the shipyard and I saw Brittany pushing Rhys in his little stroller, I jumped for joy!
It was so fun to get a spontaneous surprise visit with the Geckos. We have only been able to connect with them in person on very few occasions. One time they were coming through Pensacola and stopped to get a quick tour of our boat. It was very fun to finally meet them in person.
Then we got to spend another millisecond together when we were all at the Miami Boat Show in February last year. Say Hey to Teddy J with SailLoot!
We had also collaborated remotely doing a virtual tour of their beautiful Alberg, which you can watch here. You’ll see Steve and Ashley are getting one heck of a bluewater boat. In all, we’ve always enjoyed hanging out with them and it was a lot of fun to have a quick impromptu reunion in Key West. We’re very excited for the new geckos, sailing under the name “Bella Vista” and we’re eager to see where their plans take them. Phillip and I had some influence on their first destination. I’ll let some of you guess where we encouraged them to go! For now, meet the new Geckos and say hello to some old friends. Jeremiah, Brittany, we’ll sure miss seeing you guys on the beautiful Alberg, but we’re really excited to see what the sailing future holds for you. I’m sure Bella Vista is going to take the Alberg to many new and exciting places!
Love these crazy sexy two!
“I need an Annie selfie!” Brittany said. “You got it!”
Bon Voyage Bella Vista!
So, tons of fun in Key West, right? We love that quirky little colorful town. Tons of great restaurants and tiki bars, too. Not to mention sunset at Mallory Square. The street performers. Boat parades. Pool parties. All kinds of perks.
But, Phillip and I had our sights set on the Bahamas for a reason. It was time to go! But, one must never be in a hurry when cruising. We knew one of the toughest jumps we might have to make on this journey would be across the Gulf Stream. Pam Wall and so many other experienced cruisers had advised (very harshly but necessarily) against crossing the stream in any kind of north wind. The Gulf Stream is a powerful current that runs south to north along the east coast of the United States and trying to cross it with any kind of north wind we had heard was like trying to run on a treadmill while someone is spraying a fire hose in your face. Very lumpy seas and forceful current-meets-wind conditions.
When Phillip and I left the dock in Pensacola we were prepared to sail straight to the Bahamas if the weather would allow, we figured it was unlikely but possible. When we got the weather data our fourth day of the journey across the Gulf from our router, it showed a front coming through the next couple of days with steady north winds, so a complete Pensacola-to-Bahamas passage was not advised.
We also knew we might be holed up either in Key West, Marathon or some other key (we had heard Rodriguez Key makes a good jumping off point) possibly for weeks waiting for a good window to cross the Gulf Stream, which would not be ideal but totally tolerable. We were thrilled to find, however, that just a few short days after our landfall in Key West, a wonderful weather window was opening up soon that would likely allow us to make the jaunt from Key West all the way up to West End in the Bahamas. Here is the window we were watching:
We checked the GRIBS, checked with friends and confirmed with our weather router this was our window! On Wednesday late-morning, December 20th, we tossed the lines in Key West headed for West End. Next up on the blog, we make the jump! BV4: Crossing the Stream – Key West to West End. Stay tuned!
I think we all reach a crossroads in our lives. When somethings strikes you. Bolts through your chest, lights your nerves on fire and smacks you right outside of your skin. Then you’re standing there, completely exposed, wearing your true desires now on the outside rather than in, and you see your life with a new perspective. “Am I really pursuing my dreams?” you ask yourself. “Is this still making me the happiest I can be?” Doubt puts a haunting hand on your cheek and turns your face to the left, then to the right and alternative paths begin to form in your field of vision. They lead to big, frightening dreams, grand adventures, risks, rewards maybe even regrets and failures. There is no right answer and there is no guarantee, but now—for the first time—you see an intersection and you don’t know which way yet to go.
Wow, that sounds pretty dramatic. Sometimes it can feel that way. That big and scary. Some moments in your life are that powerful and the decisions you make afterward are the hardest you have ever faced. I wrote about that moment in my life in my book Keys to the Kingdom and how it led me to quit something I had been very devoted to and to which I had given a great deal of my time and efforts (the practice of law) in order to pursue another path: cruising. I recently had another mini-moment like that. When something slapped the sense out of me and made me see my current situation in a new light, or perhaps I should say in a shadow. A cave.
I was staying on our boat alone down in the Keys for a couple of weeks while Phillip was handling a trial and some other matters in Pensacola and we were gearing up to sail together to the Miami Boat Show on Libra. Many of you know, offshore sailing is one of my most intense passions. To me, there is nothing as beautiful as the sun sinking into a blaze of pink on the Gulf, nothing as soothing as the sway of a floating boat, nothing as entrancing as water cresting off the hull.
So, I love to sail offshore. To reach foreign shores by boat. But—over the last couple of years—in order to do it I have had to complete hours and hours of computer work before-hand so I could unplug and go off the grid, with most of them devoted to making our weekly HaveWindWillTravel YouTube videos and Patreon posts. While I have several marketing clients I do work for—work that I enjoy and am very grateful I can do remotely—I spend about about 1/3 of my time working for them and the other 2/3 working for HaveWind, while also only making a mere fraction of my income. And there is no search for sympathy here. I set this all up myself. I know that. While a fun-loving, swearing sailor I am, a lazy underachiever I am not. You can take the lawyer out of the practice, but … I’m still Type A and I still push myself very hard at times. Too hard sometimes. And I might have continued down that path had I not had been slapped in the face with my own reality. This was my moment:
I’m down in Key West, where the waters are crystal green, the wind is often blowing a perfect 10-15 kts out of the southeast and the sunshine, itself, is bright and warm enough to make you smile within. I’m healthy, working for myself and living on a boat. An amazing, great sailing, loves-to-have-water-moving-under-her-hull boat. And I’m down in the shadowy bowels of her cabin, with probably eleven hours of video work ahead of me, that day, and griping to a very good friend about how much HaveWind work I have to do. You know what he tells me? “That’s dumb. You should take your boat out and go sailing.” And you know what my answer was?
“I can’t! I have to make a video. And, I can’t single-hand the boat.”
You see? SLAP! Did you feel it? I did. My own words coming out of my own mouth sounded so stupid. So unnecessarily defeatist. I knew everything about what I had just said was wrong. I knew my friend was right. I knew a lot of things, but not what to do about it just yet. So, I stayed. In my cave. Squinting at a glowing screen, for about three days straight, making videos. It took some soul-searching, talking with friends—particularly my Phillip who has always guided and steered me to do things that make me happy, even if they seem big and scary and perhaps full of failures—but I finally got there. And I knew which way I wanted to go.
Toward the water. Into the sunshine. Offshore on more adventures. Sometimes with me behind the helm, learning to actually steer and sail and truly single-hand a boat so I would never have to again say “I can’t go sailing because I can’t sail alone.”
Ahhhh … that’s better.
After looking at how many hours I already have on the water and offshore, Phillip and I decided I should go for my Captain’s License. What an amazing thing to pursue at such a young age in my sailing career. I’m a little scared of all the studying and the big test I’ll have to take. I’m a little scared of taking the helm of the boat and bumping into things. And, I’m a little scared to say I’m not going to make weekly full-length YouTube videos anymore because I’m afraid to disappoint people and feel like a quitter. But, I’m saying it anyway dammit! And, I’ve quit something before when it wasn’t right to pursue what I felt was.
HaveWind is about inspiring you all to pursue your dreams too. Whether they be cruising or writing or travel or whatever. It is the pursuit of your passion and the courage to make the tough decisions that get you there. It’s not about spending 15-20 hours a week making videos and other content to meet self-imposed deadlines. I am incredibly proud of the videos I did make (I mean … a complete two-hour movie covering our Atlantic crossing! Come the heck on!) and was glad Phillip and I were able to share Cuba with you in that way. But, the filming does take me out of the moment. The time needed to edit and create weekly high-quality videos takes its toll and takes away from our enjoyment of cruising. Nothing about what I do here should ever do that.
And, to be honest—and those of you who have tried it may agree—YouTube can sometimes feel like a hamster wheel, making you chase harder and harder with each video to please people and grow more than you did yesterday. It can be exhausting and frustrating. I’m looking forward to my next voyage where I don’t have to worry about camera angles, lighting, one-sided audio or hard drive storage. I can just sail and breath and read and write. And Phillip and I are getting so much closer to our cruising goals and traveling more. We will be flying down to Key West next week to spend a few weeks sailing our beautiful girl home where I will be taking the helm more, studying for my Captain’s license and accomplishing that and I’m so excited to devote my time to all of those amazing, fulfilling things.
I’m going to spend more time on the water, learning more, challenging myself, and seeing more suns melt into blue horizons over the bow of my boat than the square of my screen.
I also have a desire to challenge myself to write more and try to create scenes, characters and even more powerful emotions in each of you through words as opposed to GoPro footage.
I believe in words. I hope you do too.
And I hope these convey to you the need, motives and excitement about this decision. If you enjoy my writing, it will always be here and will continue to come in a heartfelt, relaxed rhythm when I find something that inspires me to share. Not because it’s Wednesday and I have to get a post out. I also have several articles coming out in the various sailing magazines soon and I can’t wait for you all to read them. I have several more that a handful of editors requested from me while we were at the Miami Boat Show and I’m eager to devote this new-found free time to those as well. Heck, maybe there’s another book in store in 2017 from Author Annie. I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out. Aren’t you?
As far as Patreon goes, we’re going out on top. I know many folks signed up there because of the weekly videos and we would not feel right continuing that when we’re no longer producing full-length videos so we will be closing that chapter after our last giveaway. I struggled with that platform on many levels because it did occasionally feel like begging. And self-promotion is not something I have ever enjoyed. But, Phillip and I have been humbled and honored by the support and our hearts have always been invested in our Gift of Cruising campaign. It’s been awesome watching people follow our footsteps and start cruising on their own. For that reason, we have decided to use the last of our Patreon funds to give away our fourth and final Gift of Cruising: a free voyage on SailLibra. Libra is making her final run of the season this coming May from Key West to Pensacola May 10th – 15th and we want to give that experience to one of our Patrons.
Patrons, if you are available to make that voyage and would like a chance to win free passage for the sail of your lives, email me. We’ll throw your name in the pot and we will draw in one week, on April 14th. Sound good?
Are you kidding me? Sounds freaking awesome! This could be you at the bow!
A big thanks as always to Captain Ryan for partnering with me on this. Y’all need to join a sail on that boat. I’m telling you. It’s life-changing. And, we hope, Patrons, that you all shuffle those weekly donations to a separate bank account of your own (mine is literally called “Cruising Kitty”) and put them toward your own goals and dreams.
While this decision was very hard for me to make and I had to muck through some very muddy emotions to get here, I’m very excited for what the future holds. I hope you all see this as a positive transition and continue to find yourself inspired here and eagerly working toward your own goals. I am incredibly proud of what I have shared in the past, the content I have created and the passion I will continue to share here. I’ll just be doing it now more than filming and editing it. That sounds awesome. Let’s do it.
“Take the boat out and go sailing! Whoo hoo!” says In the Moment Annie.
“And I want to go there, and there, and there, and … ” Ha. Sail on friends! I put a lot of heart into this farewell video. I hope you enjoy it. Get inspired. Get on board.