Good-bye, Vero Beach

23 days. That’s how long it takes for me to go insane, apparently.

It happened slowly; probably while we were tearing apart our boat to run endless wires behind cupboards and floorboards to our battery bank (more on that project later). Or shaving the cats to keep their shedding fur from clogging up our bilge as well as our nostrils. Or maybe it happened while I was scratching my skin off in an effort to quash the incessant itch of a million miniscule no-see-um bites.

I hadn’t even realized we’d been in Vero Beach Florida for 23 days until we paid our mooring fees on our way out. We stopped at the fuel dock to get diesel, water and a pump-out and discovered that we’d been in “Velcro Beach” for so long that 1) We couldn’t even find our Skipper Bob ICW Anchorage guide, it’d been so long since we’d looked at it, and 2) We didn’t even need fuel since we hadn’t moved since the last time we filled up. Which apparently was in Vero Beach.

It’s just we’d lost our minds since then, so we couldn’t remember.

In fairness, 10 of those 23 days were spent in New York for Christmas, so really it was only 13 days in Vero Beach, but still… I’d understand the long stay if I’d actually fallen head-over-heels in love with this must-stop cruisers’ port we’d heard so much about on our way south. But, in all honesty, if it weren’t for the opportunity to catch up with friends we’d made on our way down the Intracoastal Waterway, I’d have been happier to forgo Vero for a less sleepy Florida port. And preferably one lacking in an itchy no-see-um infestation.

But we’d met so many cruisers who recommended the place, saying, “They don’t call it ‘Velcro Beach’ for nothing.” So we just had to find out if we, too, would find ourselves getting stuck there. But instead of Velcro, it turned out to be more like Hotel California… “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

I even tried to pay the marina for our mooring on three different occasions, and each time the Harbormaster shrugged and said, “Just pay when you leave.” As if he knew we’d never leave.

I have to wonder, now that I’ve experienced “Velcro Beach” myself, if cruisers find it hard to pull themselves away, not so much because the town is so amazing, but because it’s convenient to sit in Vero and get some boat work done. I mean, for $15-a-day moorings you get a dinghy dock, hot showers, laundry and a community room where you can watch Jeopardy in the evenings, if you so choose. And there’s a free shuttle bus that takes you to and from the West Marine and the Publix grocery store, or the beach, if you didn’t want to walk the mile and a half to get there. There are also more potluck dinners and happy hours in the marina courtyard than anyone could possibly attend. Not that we didn’t attend some. It just got hard to fit the potlucks in between wiring and drilling and siliconing.

So, maybe it’s not Vero Beach’s fault I was so thrilled to see the back of it today when we left.

Maybe it’s just that, for me, memories of Vero Beach are a mash-up of the endless work needed to get ready for the Bahamas; wearing knee socks in 100-degree weather to keep the bugs off; sundowners inside the safety of Anne-Teak’s enclosed, bug-repelling cockpit; our first New Year’s Eve as cruisers, and a hungover New Year’s Day walking along the beach — the one day we could take off from worrying about boat projects.

Don’t get me wrong: Vero Beach isn’t the worst place to spend 23 days (unless you’re allergic to bugs). But I did wonder, if we weren’t working on our boat every day, what would we do in this sleepy retirement town, where dinner is collectively eaten at 6:00 and the lights go out at 9:00?

vero beach marina facilities

The plentiful marina facilities (hot showers, laundry room and WiFi) almost made up for the bugs.

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Charlie, helping Ryan install our new Shurflo fresh water pump (one of many Vero Beach jobs).

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So many dinghies in Vero Beach!

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Tasha, finally getting a taste of the beach on her 23rd day in Vero Beach.

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Cheeseburgers in Paradise? Soaking up our hangovers on New Year’s Day at Mulligan’s.

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Our reward for finally leaving Vero Beach: Dolphins!

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“Quick, Ryan! Look at the dolphins!”

What if money was no object?

What if money was no object?

“It’s so important to consider this question: What do I desire?” – Alan Watts

While you’re nursing your New Year hangover, I thought I’d hit you with some head-twisting inspiration to kick off 2013.

You’re welcome.

-Tasha

P.S. – What makes you itch?

Happy New Year from Turf to Surf

Ryan and I are thrilled to be back on our boat in Vero Beach, Florida, as we get ready to ring in the New Year and prepare for crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas in the next week or two.

Contrary to custom, though, I’m not making any resolutions; I realized this year that I hate New Year’s resolutions. To me, resolutions are a list of lofty goals, half of which I might achieve, the rest of which I’ll just feel guilty about when I look back on them at the end of the year and realize I failed miserably at checking them off. Why put that kind of pressure on myself?

So, on this eve of 2013, my one resolution is to not make any resolutions. Instead, I’m looking back on 2012 with pride in the great strides we’ve made to transform our lives in a way that will guarantee a life of adventure in 2013.

For the last two years, I’ve had the photo below as my screensaver to remind me that there was a different kind of life out there from the one we were living. I took this photo on our bareboat charter vacation in the BVIs and it’s served its purpose in nudging me to pursue this life.

peter island BVI turf to surf

Peter Island, British Virgin Isles (January 2010).

On October 16th, 2012, we finally made that life our own and left New York City on Hideaway, feeling tired and stressed about all the responsibilities and routines we’d built around our lives. And since then, we’ve done everything in our power to shed as many of those responsibilities and routines as possible, so we could live on a boat and pursue a simpler, more adventurous life.

Our families worried about us (though I think they’re used to our hair-brained plans by now), and wondered out loud if we’d be safe, and if we’d taken enough precautions. They often said things like, “Don’t you worry about pirates?” or “I admire your courage.”

Which brings to mind this quote by Paulo Coelho. For us, this life isn’t about being courageous because, frankly, we crave anything but routine. If anything, living in New York City for six years when we’d previously moved countries every two years, was the bravest thing we’d ever done. We held fast to that city because we were solely responsible for the businesses we’d built there. And therefore we had to override any urge we felt to pick up and move at a moment’s notice.

So, courageous? Hardly. Dangerous? As Paulo Coelho said, “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it’s lethal.”

With that, I wish all of you and yours a Happy New Year from the happy crew of Hideaway.

May 2013 be chock full of adventures.

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Be social with Turf to Surf on their Facebook Page. Follow along as we sail to the Caribbean.

When life gives you snow…go skiing!

One of the things I love about cruising is that it forces you to let go of schedules and go with the flow. Planning, of course, is key to cruising comfortably, since you need to look ahead at the weather so you can sail when conditions are ideal. But it’s just as important to keep an open mind about changing course if conditions change, an opportunity for adventure comes up, or you hear your friends are meeting somewhere interesting you hadn’t planned to go.

I’ve always loved this about backpacking, and now I’m starting to see that cruising is kind of like traveling with a way more versatile “backpack.” Namely, one you can live in.

So, when we found ourselves in Newark Airport on Boxing Day, packed up and ready to head back to Hideaway in Vero Beach, Florida, and our flight was delayed for the third time because of a Nor’easter howling outside, we wondered if we should persevere with the flight delays or if we should change course and take advantage of the two feet of snow about to drop, and squeeze in a few more days of skiing while the storm blew over.

When I first blurted out the idea, I thought it was too silly and last-minute to be sensible. After all, the sooner we got back to Vero Beach, the sooner we could get going to our next big stop: the Bahamas. But Ryan began to think it over and check the weather, which seemed to say we wouldn’t be able to make the trip across the Gulf Stream from Florida for at least another 10 days. So the question became, should we go back to Florida now and get eaten by no-see-ums for 10 days? Or should we take advantage of the fresh powder and ski now and worry about that weather window later?

I love sailing as much as any sport, but the chance to hit the ski slopes after a big snowstorm is one of those rare things that makes me giddy enough to throw myself face-down in a snow bank and make snow angels like a 3-year-old. So, once we confirmed that United Airlines would change our flights without charge and we remembered we had two free passes to Hunter Mountain, we dropped our plans, rented a car and drove back to the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York, where I could throw myself at as many snowbanks as I wanted.

With our mountain lodge cleaned and packed up for future renters, and with no more chores to be taken on, those cheekily gained 48 extra hours meant we could completely relax and just have fun (after surviving the grueling drive through the snow).

And boy did we have fun. I may not have found a way to combine sailing with skiing yet, but for now I was happy to settle for the impromptu chance to tear up the mountains one last time before heading back to my life aquatic.

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Ryan, hoping these rental car tires can handle Hunter Mountain roads.

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View of winter wonderland from the chairlift.

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Notice how versatile my sailing jacket is? (wink, wink, Helly Hansen: how ’bout a ski/sail sponsorship?!)

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My lovely skis, just hanging out, waiting for me.

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Ryan, feeling good about our flight delays.

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Tasha, over looking Hunter Mountain Base Lodge at the end of a fabulous day skiing.

Of Mice and Men

Christmas morning I found myself squatting in a snowy ditch on a mountain road wearing running shorts, slippers and a pink hat shaped like a frosted cupcake. With tears in my eyes, I was trying slowly and carefully to use the corner of a metal dustpan to free a squirming, squeaking mouse from a glue trap while Ryan stood across the road watching and explaining to curious passersby carrying snowboards, “My wife’s trying to save a mouse.”

“Right on,” one guy said, nodding. “Maybe you should try those Have-A-Heart traps, or whatever they’re called?”

“Thanks,” Ryan said, while I whimpered in the background, “Just lift your little paw so I get can you off. You can do it.”

We’d gone to our log cabin in Hunter, New York, in the Catskill Mountains, a few days before Christmas so we could see my family and, most importantly, visit my 92-year-old grandparents, who seemed to be growing more frail with each visit.

And during this brief vacation from cruising, I came to realize how many “land burdens” we still have and how much more sensible it would be to rent out our cabin than let it sit empty, devouring its weight in cash while the taxes and heating bills pile up. So, we called an agency to come give us an estimate on vacation rental rates, hoping we might even be fortunate enough to make a little money on the deal. And as soon as the decision was made to rent, we got down to the task of purging junk from every room, tidying cupboards and packing away our personal items in an effort to make the house feel like a marketable blend of “loved” and “lightly used.”

Which is, of course, how we found the tell-tale chocolate sprinkles in the corners of our closets, drawers and cabinets. And it’s how we ended up setting glue traps in every corner of the house that night, imagining there would be a few dead mice somewhere along the way (but surely not until after we got to Florida).

But it turns out those darned traps work fast! Which is why Ryan ended up as my roadside cheerleader while I pulled this little mouse’s legs free from the glue trap, one by one with my dustpan (I felt bad, but not bad enough to touch it), until the mouse finally broke free and kind of stumble-squirmed towards the woods. I watched him crawl, hoping he’d survive, while Ryan pulled me towards the house and assured me the mouse would find his family and that he definitely would not fare better in our house.

Now, I knew full-well how crazy I must have looked. And I was completely on board with getting rid of all the mice in our house so they wouldn’t destroy it. That’s why we set traps, Ryan kept telling me. But I also, inexplicably, felt suddenly protective of this rodent I’d just cursed to hell only a few hours before.

So, in the spirit of saving mice on Christmas Day, Ryan helped me remove all the remaining traps in the house so we wouldn’t have to endure another life-saving ordeal. And once that was done, we spruced ourselves up to go see my family.

Normally, Christmas Day in my family involves a lot of jovial house-hopping between my parents’, my cousins’, my aunt and uncle’s, and my grandparents’ so that by the end of the night, I’m so full of home-made cookies, egg nog, Christmas movies, Scrabble and late-night jigsaw puzzles, that I’m sweating sugar and my eyes can’t focus anymore.

But this year, instead of Grandpa breaking out the “high balls” after dinner, (what he calls cocktails), he didn’t eat or even get out of bed, he was so weak. My parents had warned me of his deteriorating health before I came, but even still, I broke down in tears for the second time that day. Being faced with the pending loss of my grandfather, who I loved so much, was despairing. There was nothing I could do to slow down time or make my grandfather well.

And it occurred to me — looking back at my looney-tunes reaction to trapping a rodent that morning — that maybe I lost my marbles because I was faced with a live mouse, rather than a dead one. I knew I’d be killing mice if we set these traps, but I wasn’t prepared to confront a living furry thing, and had no idea what to do when I did. He was completely helpless and struggling to free himself while he stared at me with one eye and squeaked. It was too much.

So, in that moment, I became that half-clothed, crazy-hat lady on the side of the road who just desperately needed to make a dying mouse live a little longer.

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Our cozy cabin in the Catskill Mountains, covered in snow.

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Christmas with the Hacker family dog, Maggie.

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You thought I was kidding about the cupcake hat, didn’t you?

Photo credit (1st photo on page): Boeri extreme sports helmet ad)

It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)

Some thought the world would end today. But from what I could see this morning, the Starbucks-fueled population of New York City barely humored the idea as they streamed into subways and out of yellow cabs with their half-eaten breakfasts in hand. These people were on a mission, and that didn’t involve humoring an ancient Mayan calendar, even for a second.

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Street breakfast in SoHo.

Being in New York this week, I’ve grown somewhat jealous of the cruisers we’ve met who seem to have completely cut ties with their former lives by selling their homes, quitting their jobs, liquidating their assets and — aside from maybe putting a few things in storage — ridding themselves of any excess burden before boarding their boats with little more than their duffel bags, a bunch of tools and a big sense of adventure.

Our situation is a little different in that we essentially retreated from the day-to-day running of our companies (two English language schools and seven-and-counting teacher training schools) to live on our boat and travel as far as we could go. And while we promised and believed we would continue to have some regular involvement with our companies because — 1) we couldn’t wait until “retirement age” to sail away without losing our sanity, and 2) our amazing and enthusiastic staff were more than capable of growing and managing our companies in our absence — it turns out that entrepreneurialism is an increasingly difficult concept to grasp as you drift farther away from land, where life revolves around the wind, the weather, and the next thing on board to fall apart. And there’s always something falling apart.

In fact, sailing south has turned out to be a lot less leisure and a lot more work than we ever imagined. And, therefore, since we’ve left New York, our promised regular check-ins with our staff have become brief monthly sessions by email or Skype. And the longer we’ve been away, the harder it’s been to pencil these infrequent meetings into a calendar writ in water.

Which is why, when we arranged to go back to New York to see my family for Christmas, we also scheduled a two-day work session in Manhattan (which blurred into three days), during which we managed to deal with end-of-year finances, have meetings with our staff, and catch up with the close friends we’d left behind just a few months ago.

And though the world didn’t end today, stepping into the high-octane world of New York City kind of ended the world as we’ve known it on our windward travels south…for a brief moment in time. And I wondered if not having cut our ties to this other world has hindered our metamorphosis into truly carefree cruisers.

Who am I kidding? Of course it’s hindered us.

But then again, the alternative would have been to delay fulfilling a dream. And some dreams are just too important to put on hold. After all, who knows what tomorrow has in store?

If the world had ended today as the Mayans supposedly predicted, I believe I could’ve said with confidence that I harbored few regrets.

The challenge before us, I suppose, is to continue living that way.

teaching house sign

Taking care of business: picking up the new sign for our teacher training school.

international house new york sign

More business: picking up the new sign for our English language school.

international house new york language school

Our lovely school in Chelsea – surviving just fine without us.

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Getting my Christmas cheer on with good friend Toby.

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Ryan sharing red wine and laughs with Toby in his “land galley.”

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Ryan, showing off like he owns the place.

Shaving the Cats: The Barber of Vero Beach

I had two missions when I woke up this morning: 1) shave the cats, and 2) film the process on our new GoPro camera.

Sailing with our cats, Charlie (the “Polar Bear”) and Celia (the “Cow”), has meant putting up with two long-haired fur balls who puff up like sheep in cold weather and, as soon as it gets warm, shed their coats in messy clumps all over the inside of Hideaway and on whatever we’re wearing.

The only way I’ve found to prevent us and our boat from looking like we’ve all grown a heavy coat of chest hair — other than chase the cats around with a vacuum all day — is to shave them. It sounds crazy, I know. And, yes, shaving cats often leads to injury. But I swear it’s worth it. And I figure people shave their dogs, right? Why not cats?

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Charlie before shaving.

charlie after haircut

Charlie after shaving. She looks a little pissed.

Back when I shaved our cats in a miniscule Manhattan apartment, I had an easy time of it because I could trap Charlie and Celia in our tiny bathroom with just me and my clippers. I’d deflect Charlie’s swipes and hisses and buzz the cats each time they walked by until a full haircut was achieved. And when I was done, all the hair was confined to a small space, so I had it vacuumed up in minutes.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to accomplish the same task on the boat deck in the open air, where the cats could easily run away or claw me for trying to hold them still, so I tried to recreate our tiny New York bathroom on Hideaway by trapping the cats in the triangular space on our foredeck. Which made for an entertaining experiment, both for us and our raft-up boat buddies in Vero Beach.

Our new Wahl rechargeable clippers performed well enough (and, it turns out, will cut Ryan’s hair too), and the GoPro seemed to be working swimmingly, so it seemed our first video was well on its way to being entered into Sundance.

Except once I finished with Charlie and was half-way through shaving Celia, I realized that somehow the video hadn’t been recording. Doh. Classic novice move, I know. It reminds me of when I was a kid and my parents developed a roll of film from our trip to Washington D.C., only to find that half the photos were close-up shots of my mother’s right eye.

But I was still able to salvage some footage from the rest of the shaving process, which gave me something to work with as I began learning a little bit about video editing.

So here it is: Turf to Surf’s first video attempt.

Fitness Afloat: Balancing meals on board

Tomorrow marks our 2-month cruising anniversary and we’ve learned an extraordinary number of things on this trip so far. We’ve learned new things about mechanics, electrics (more posts to come on this subject), weather, sailing, communication and cooking. And, as a result, our day-to-day lives have changed drastically from our New York life, which seems now like a distant past full of impatience, stress and take-out meals.

One of the many things that surprised me about sailing away was the change from eating all our meals separately and on the run, to home cooking and eating almost three meals a day together. Which has never happened in the eight years Ryan and I have lived together…until now.

Learning to be galley chefs has been a pleasurable challenge for both myself and Ryan, though I dare say Ryan is still the better cook. He’s mastered Thai curries and breakfast burritos, while I’ve largely spruced up Ramen noodles with the odd spring onion and Shitake mushroom and learned to make spaghetti Carbonara.

ramen turf to surf

Tasha’s “specialty” Ramen noodles.

But after two months of sharing all our meals, we started noticing some changes to our bodies: Ryan was losing weight quickly and I was gaining weight slowly.

At first, I attributed this to my not getting off the boat enough to exercise coupled with Ryan’s lack of access to chocolate. But the other day, as we were cooking dinner, Ryan said, “You know, I’m all for equality in relationships, but if you’re gaining weight while I’m losing weight, have you considered that maybe we shouldn’t be splitting our meals in half?”

I stopped and thought it about it, while Ryan proceeded with his theory cautiously, adding, “Not that I’ve noticed you’ve gained any weight…it’s just that you’ve mentioned it.”

More cautious pausing.

“I’m just saying, I weigh about 100 pounds more than you. Maybe you shouldn’t be eating the same portions as me?”

I nodded. It was so simple and logical, and yet it hadn’t actually occurred to me. Of course! Your body weight, aside from genetic factors, is largely dependent on your incoming calories minus your output. And the 100 pounds Ryan has over me would mean that he requires a greater number of calories to maintain his weight than I would require to maintain mine.

So, it’s a new and ongoing experiment, but as of now, when we cook and eat meals together, we divide the portions so that Ryan gets about two-thirds and I get one-third of whatever we’re cooking. This makes total sense to me, though I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. And since I’ll eat whatever anyone puts in front of me, controlling the portions during the serving process is a good idea.

But, of course, we haven’t been counting the calories in the many cocktails we enthusiastically guzzle while watching sunsets in our cockpit, or at BBQs with other cruisers. And from my experience with knocking back half a dozen Starbucks a day in my previous life, I know that liquid calories add up.

In my mind, though, that’s just one more good reason to get off the boat and get running, biking or hiking. I clearly need to be more active, which has been difficult to achieve on our journey south so far, since we’ve been pushing so hard to get the boat ready for our crossing and to outrun the cold.

But I have a vision of the Bahamas: the land where varnish never peels, heads never clog, the bilge pump is always working, and while everything is working so supremely well, I spend my days running along white sand beaches, cooling off in crystalline waters and drinking sundowners while swinging in our hammock.

I realize this optimism may take up more than my one-third portion of daily sustenance. But it’s the thing that keeps me moving forward. I’m happy to just deal with the reality later.

6 Lessons in 24 Hours: Titusville Florida to Vero Beach

save a lot titusville

1. A cheap grocery store is worth the taxi fare

We asked our taxi driver in Titusville to drop us off at some shops by the marina so we could walk through town and pick up a few essentials on the way home.

Which is how we found “Save A Lot,” a down-home local grocery store that was so cheap that apparently they couldn’t afford shelves. Half the store was just stacks of boxes in the aisles with the tops torn open so you could pull out the items yourself.

We tried really hard to leave with just milk and chicken, which was all we needed. But after walking through the store, turning down one great bargain after another because we couldn’t carry it all, we finally just stopped and decided it might be worth the cab fare to load up our boat with cheap goodies.

So just like that, we hauled out 3 large boxes filled with food and another 10 bags, all for a whopping $134. Back in Manhattan, at my local Whole Foods (or Whole Paycheck, as we like to call it), $134 would have bought me a small bag with a few cuts of meat, a block of gourmet cheese, bread and some organic vegetables.

Note to self: Find another “Save A Lot” before heading to the Bahamas.

2. Not all cruisers are friendly

We decided to wait out the morning fog in Titusville before pulling up anchor and heading to Vero Beach, Florida. We thought about delaying the 72-mile trip until the next day, but we’d heard so much about “Velcro Beach” being a party port, that when the fog lifted at 10 am, we decided just to get going. Even if it meant arriving to Vero at 9:00 pm.

In my mind, all cruisers are like Burning Man folk. If you’ve never been to the Burning Man Festival in Nevada (we went for the first time in August), I highly recommend it. It’s basically a week-long camp where no money is exchanged for anything (people just spontaneously “gift” things like food, booze, hugs, drugs and sno-cones), and regular folk like you and me spend the week building art, making music, throwing parties and just hanging out covered in dust. And everyone is so happy to be there that they can’t possibly say or do a mean thing to anyone.

That’s kind of how I thought all cruisers were.

But maybe 9:00 pm was too late to arrive to a mooring.

In Vero Beach, there’s no anchoring, so it’s common practice to raft up 2 or 3 boats to a mooring, depending how busy the marina is. This tends to create a communal party atmosphere, where everyone gets to know each other very quickly.

But instead of pulling up to a party, Hideaway was met by the grumpiest couple I’ve ever met on a boat. And while the couple helped us tie up begrudgingly, they also avoided eye contact and spoke about us in the third person. For example, the wife muttered, “You’d think her husband could help.” While I was standing an arm’s length away. Meanwhile, the husband muttered, “They don’t have the right fenders.”

Ryan and I both looked to our sides, then behind us, then at each other. “I think they’re talking about us,” Ryan mouthed at me, as I tried not to laugh.

The next day, we made the excuse that we’d like to be closer to the dinghy dock, and untied ourselves to find another, more hospitable mooring.

And as we pulled away, I was pretty sure I saw the woman smile.

3. No-see-ums are the devil

My body is covered in patches of hundreds of tiny bites which flare up every few hours, causing me to scratch at my ankles, back and arms constantly.

I’ve used everything possible to repel the no-see-ums – citronella, mosquito spray, Avon Skin-So-Soft, garlic (I know they’re not vampires, but I had to try.) Nothing works. They just keep sneaking under our clothes when we’re trying to sleep, making us fidget like we’re possessed. And apparently the bugs don’t actually bite – they puke on you, and the puke is what causes the itch. I didn’t make that up, I swear.

I look like someone who has a severe tick, I spend so much time slapping at myself and scratching. But, hey, at least it’s warm!

4. The cats don’t like their new litter

I woke up to a funky stench and a damp left foot. In my sleep I thought, “We really need to put more vinegar down the head.”

Then I moved my foot to work out why it felt damp, and there was a cold squish. Which is how I knew: I’d been pooped on.

I’m not sure what time it was, but I jumped up shrieking, cursing Charlie (because only Charlie would do such a thing) and pulling all the sheets off the bed in a frenzy. I was used to Charlie peeing on me when she got mad that her litter box wasn’t clean. But pooping on me was taking her dissatisfaction to a new level.

I had recently changed Charlie and Celia’s litter from the usual gray sand-type litter to an organic corn dust litter that made a terrible mess and caused Charlie to sniff at it suspiciously. One day, she peered into her litter box, looked up at me, then walked into the V-berth and peed in my shoe. Not Ryan’s shoe. My shoe. I guess she knows who cleans her litter. Little bugger.

So, as you can imagine, I’ve gotten rid of the organic longer-lasting corn litter we were trying to get the cats used to. And we’re back to our old, gray “normal” litter.

After all, we’re only here on earth to please our cats.

5. Mold is my enemy

As a result of Charlie pooping on me in bed, I had to pull our water-proof mattress cover (water-proofed for these purposes) off to wash it. That’s when I noticed a disturbing spread of black mold on the underside of the cover.

Upon further inspection, we discovered that the last month of cold air in the V-berth along with our hot sleeping breath made a good environment for mold to grow rampant in…under our bed, on the ceiling, on our clothes and up the sides of our storage baskets.

This discovery led to a full day of taking everything out of storage lockers and hanging lockers and spraying the insides down with mildew killer.

Note to self: Add mold checks to our list of monthly maintenance jobs.

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The state of Hideaway when we’re cleaning out mold.

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Celia, inspecting the mold on our storage baskets.

6. Raft-ups are awesome (with friendly people)

When we spotted AnneTeak, a Canadian boat from our hurricane hole at Solomons Island, Maryland, we were pleased to see they didn’t have any raft-up buddies.

We asked if we could come tie up to next to them, and they seemed genuinely happy to have us. They even talked to us while they helped us tie up, which was an incredibly welcome change from our treatment at the previous mooring.

We owe AnneTeak numerous bottles of wine as, so far, they’ve helped us out by loaning us their plunger so we could un-clog our sink, giving us their home-made colloidal “silver water” to use on our bug bites (it’s an amazing and natural cure for everything including itchy bites, apparently), and getting us drunk in their bug-free enclosed cockpit.

And just like that, with a little friendly company, “Velcro Beach” is starting to live up to its reputation.

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So many dinghys in Vero Beach!

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Cruisers’ Happy Hour at Vero Beach City Marina.

Kennedy Space Center: Explore. Dream. Discover.

Our main mission in going to Titusville, Florida was to go to the Kennedy Space Center, which looked in its brochures like a combination space museum and amusement park.

Ryan’s said many times that if he had the wealth of Richard Branson, he wouldn’t hesitate to drop a large fortune on the opportunity to view Earth from Space. So it seemed impossible to be in the same neighborhood where so many historical space shuttles launched, and not visit the Space Center.

I nearly choked on my sweet tea, though, when we arrived to Kennedy Space Center and discovered admission cost $50 a person. But since we’d already paid for the cab ride there, and would have to pay for the ride back regardless, we pushed aside the question of how many Bota Boxes $100 could buy, and went inside.

And it turned out to be a good decision. The Kennedy Space Center wasn’t at all an amusement park, and it was much more than just a museum with a field full of rockets and plaques. It was an inspirational testament to what humans can achieve through extraordinary vision, determination, innovation and the unfaltering belief that anything is possible.

It kind of blew my mind to experience in a small way the historical timeline of what NASA Space Engineers have accomplished. They took barely conceivable concepts and what were Sci-Fi fantasies of the time, applied Physics (and a lot of government funding), and made these concepts a reality. And to give you an example of the dedication required, it took twelve years for the hundreds of thousands of NASA engineers and employees to successfully launch the first space rocket. Twelve years!

There were two quotes in particular that stayed with me throughout the day:

“But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? …We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…” -John F. Kennedy (September 12, 1962)

That idea that we choose to do things “not because they are easy, but because they are hard” kind of epitomizes what I feel is the spirit of adventure and exploration. It’s about finding limits and pushing past them for the reward of stimulation, fascination and new understanding. It’s why I run marathons. And it’s why I want to sail around the world. It will be hard, no doubt, but I will see, learn and experience so much in doing so.

“It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.” – Robert Goddard

It’s hard to fathom the ways incredibly lofty missions like “send a man to the moon” might connect to our everyday lives. But the number of products that have made their way into common use because of Space technology kind of brought that home for me. Things like polarized sunglasses, flat-screen TVs and solar panels were developed because of NASA’s work creating new materials.

And, in fact, we’ve just purchased a state-of-the-art Solbian flexible solar panel for Hideaway, which we are going to sew into the top of our dodger. So, we will soon find out what it’s like to have a modern piece of energy-saving technology on board.

It remains to be seen how well this incredibly thin, very expensive, 125-watt solar panel will work for us, but I’m very optimistic. All I can hope is that it buys us many sunny days floating on anchor without having to start our engine.

And when that happens, I’ll know who to thank: NASA.

What do you think the “reality of tomorrow” is that we have yet to imagine?

Space Shuttle Kennedy Space Center

Tasha standing under a real-life Space Shuttle.

Space Shuttle Rockets

The enormous butt-end of a Space Shuttle.

space center control room

A space shuttle control room, in the 60s. Not a computer in sight.

space shuttle launch simulator

“Houston, we have a problem.”

moon rover kennedy space center

Moon rover test drive – punch it!

Kennedy Space Center Astronaut

One small step for a cruiser.

NASA teddy bear

Can I fit him on the boat?

rocket field kennedy space center

Rocket field at sunset.

solbian flexible solar panel

Hideaway’s new flexible solar panel – trying her on for size.