30 January 2017

Q&A Time | The Sunshine Blogger Award


Viki from Astrolabe Sailing nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. The Sunshine Blogger Award is given from one blogger to others who are “positive, creative and inspiring." Once you have been nominated you are given a set of questions to answer and then you get to “pass it on” to other bloggers that you admire and find positive, creative and inspiring.

Viki is a really cool sailor from New Zealand who blogs about all things nautical, as well as travel in New Zealand and abroad (check out her Destinations page). Even though I lived in New Zealand for five years, I never got to meet her in person. I really hope our paths will cross on the water one day.

Here are my answers to Viki's questions.


1 - What is the best part about traveling and/or sailing for you? 

Experiencing new stuff, meeting new people and learning about different ways of life.

2 - What are the most challenging aspects of your adventurous lifestyle? 

I'm not sure our lifestyle is really adventurous as much as it is different from how many people live.

The thing I find most challenging about living on a sailboat are things that scare the crap out of me.

Like when the boat is heeled over so much that I think we're going to tip over and drown even though I know that the laws of physics promise that we won't. Or sailing at night and panicking that we're going to hit something or run aground. Or bad weather. Or running out of chocolate chip cookies.

I've written a number of posts on my sailing fears such as holding my breath underwater, sailing in the dark and feeling tippy, not tipsy.

3 - How do you fund your sailing and travels, and what advice would you give to others wanting to do the same? 

This is probably the #1 question people who are considering becoming full-time cruisers want to know - how do you afford it? For us, it's a combination of having saved up and living frugally. I was lucky enough to have been made redundant from my job in New Zealand and was given a lovely parting gift in the form of a check. That chunk of change pushed us to go for it now, rather than wait until normal retirement age. We moved onto our 26' sailboat in New Zealand for a season and decided to make the cruising lifestyle a permanent one.

Both of us have worked on and off since then to top up the cruising kitty, but our plan is to try to cruise as long as we can off of our savings and meager investments.
When we went to buy our next sailboat (Tickety Boo), we looked for an older one that we could afford and try to do as much work on her ourselves to save money.

We document how much we spend each month and things we do to live cheaply on this page.

I wouldn't even try to give advice to others on how to fund their sailing and travels. There's no one right answer and no one answer that fits all. Everyone needs to look at their own financial situation, consider their appetite for risk (in terms of quitting the full-time rat race) and think about what their long-term priorities are.

4 - What is the one off-beaten path location you'd recommend that we visit? 

Ray, North Dakota. Or anyplace in North Dakota really. Scott is from North Dakota and, to be honest, I probably would have never visited the Peace Garden State if it wasn't for him. I joke that I would never move to North Dakota because it's too cold there. Okay, that's probably not a joke. But I have enjoyed visiting there.

When people think about visiting the States, they think of big cities (like New York, Las Vegas or LA) or well know tourist attractions (like the Grand Canyon or Disney World). They don't always visit the heartland of America - places like Ray, North Dakota (population 729), where Scott's family is from and where he spent his early years.

If you happen to find yourself in North Dakota, be sure to make your way to the Northern Unit of the Badlands. The first time I ever went camping in my life was there. It rained 5" in one night and this is a state that gets less than 15" a year. I saw my first rattlesnake up close. I woke one morning to a bison snorting outside of our tent. And we saw about six 10-12 point mule deer bucks one night, followed by a dozen of them the next.

5 - If you have a book you re-read often, what is it? If not, what's your favorite book? 

It's kind of impossible to narrow down to just one book. I do find that the books that I have re-read are those I originally read  when I was younger which really made an impact on me, such as Frank Herbert's Dune, Isaac Asimov's Foundation series and C.S. Lewis' Narnia series. I definitely read them differently as an adult and take away new things from them. I've also re-read all of Octavia Butler's books multiple times, as well as Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Iain Banks - let's put him on the list too (both mainstream and sci-fi). Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers' mysteries are always fun to re-read too. Okay, that's probably enough.

6 - What is the strangest thing you've eaten or drunk while traveling? 

Dracula's Blood in a tiny bar in Berlin. I don't think it was actual blood, but since I don't speak any German, I can't be sure.

7 - What do you enjoy most about blogging?

I enjoy three things about blogging: (1) documenting our adventures so that we have something to look back at when we're older; (2) using it as a creative outlet; and (3) "meeting" people virtually. I would have never met wonderful people like Viki if it hadn't been for blogging.

I've written a number of posts about blogging on topics such as monetizing your blog, the mistakes I made when I first set up this blog, what makes blog posts popular etc., which you can find on this page.

8 - When did your passion for sailing/traveling start and how did you make it a reality? 

I've always had a passion for travel. I remember reading a book as a little girl about children who lived in other countries. I thought it would be so neat to go visit those far away lands when I grew up. I was always fascinated by different peoples and their cultures (which probably explains why I studied anthropology) and see travel as a way to learn more about the incredible diversity of the human race.

As for sailing, I'm still waiting to develop a passion for it. I see sailing more as a means of travel, kind of like an RV on the water. I do love being on boats, watching dolphins frolic along the bow and sitting at anchor sipping on tropical cocktails while watching the sun go down, but getting excited about the technicalities of sailing and the thrill of racing on a sailboat kind of escapes me.

I've written a number of posts about how I ended up leaving corporate la-la land, getting rid of all of our stuff, moving on to a sailboat and turning our dream of living an alternative lifestyle on the water into reality including 10 Steps to Becoming a Full-Time Cruiser and It's Official - We're Full-Time Cruisers!

9 - What is one item you can't live without when you are sailing/traveling? 

A way to make coffee. A morning without coffee on our boat is a very unpleasant place to be. I drink two cups in the morning. Scott drinks coffee all day long. I can't imagine our life without coffee.

10 - Where are you from and what are some fantastic things to see in that part of the world? 

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. To be honest, I haven't been back there in a zillion years, so I can't really recommend what you should see now. I do have fond memories of the world-class arts and culture on offer, the Metroparks system which provides green spaces throughout the greater Cleveland area and the zoo.

If you're from Cleveland or have visited there, what would you recommend visitors see?

11 - What's the biggest lesson you've learned from your travels? 

 Have an open mind and expect the unexpected.


Now the rules state that I'm supposed to nominate 11 other bloggers for The Sunshine Blogger award. I'm a rule breaker, so I'm not going to do that. The biggest reason why is how can I possibly choose just 11 bloggers? There are so many fabulous blogs I follow that I would never be able to narrow down the list.

So, if you want to play along and answer these questions on your own blog, please go for it and let me know so I can check your blog post out.

If you're a rule follower, here are the official rules:

1 - Thank the person who nominated you. {Thanks Viki!}

2 - Answer the questions set by the person who nominated you. {Go ahead and use the questions above, but feel free to tweak them if you like. For example, replace "sailing" and "traveling" with "writing" or whatever else you have a passion for.}

3 - Nominate 11 other people and given them 11 questions to answer. {Oops, broke that rule.}

4 - Notify your nominees. {If you decide to participate, consider yourself nominated.}

5 - List the rules and display the badge in your post. {It's a nice badge. Well done whoever designed it.}

What about you? Care to answer any of the questions above in the comments?

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27 January 2017

Flashback Friday | On Sausages, Chemical Packets & Generosity

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

We're currently in the process of getting ready to set sail for the Bahamas for the season and I've been putting together a list of what provisions we'll need. Food is super expensive in the Bahamas (understandably as most things have to be shipped over), so we're going to try to bring as much as we can with us. 

As I was trying to figure out exactly how many cans of tomatoes we need to bring with us, I stumbled across this old post that I wrote when we were cruising in New Zealand. It's got a recipe for one of our favorite meals - bangers and mash. Just take some sausages covered in chemical-laden gravy and serve it on equally chemical-laden instant mashed potatoes and you're in heaven.

{This post was originally published in May 2014. You can find it here.}


Friday & Saturday, 28-29 March 2014

Sausages, chemical packets and generosity. Three things you probably never thought you would see stringed together in the title of a blog post. But they basically sum up our time in Waiheke Island, so there you go.

After anchoring in Man O'War Bay on the eastern side of Waiheke the night before, we headed over to Rocky Bay on the southern side to do a walk in the regional park there. {There will be one of my usual rambling "going for a walk" photo posts coming up. You'll want to check it out if you're into zombie wallabies.} Rocky Bay is a bit exposed and was getting roly-poly so we shifted over to Awaawaroa Bay for the night. The next day, we were back at Rocky Bay for another walk and one of our dinghy misadventures.

Next it was off to Putiki Bay to re-provision at the Countdown in Ostend, where we ran into our former boat neighbor at Westhaven Marina. We've run into him several times this summer and love chatting with him. He is retired and spends a lot of time single-handing his boat around the Hauraki Gulf. And this is where the generosity comes in. Not only does he have every imaginable bit and bob squirreled away on his boat which he'll loan you, he also offered to let me crash on his boat when he heard I was going to need a place to stay in between selling the boat and heading back to the States to buy the next one.

So generous, so sweet! We don't know him that well, yet he was telling us where he keeps the key and where the blankets are stored. You keep hearing stories about the generosity and kindness of sailors and its true. Whether it is having someone give you heaps of scallops or the offer of a place to stay. Lovely. {Not to worry, we didn't take him up on his offer and have something else sorted out for accommodation.}

Well, now on to the other two words...sausages and chemical packets. If that sounds appetizing to you, here is a simple recipe so you can recreate this delicious meal on your boat.

Recipe: Chemical Smothered Sausages & Potatoes
Step 1 - Mill around the grocery store saying to each other, "I don't know, what do you think we should have for dinner?" Say this back and forth to each other at least 13 times until finally someone says, "Hey, why don't we have bangers and mash?" {Translation tip: "bangers" mean "sausages" in Americano}

Step 2 - Go over to the meat department and hem and haw over the price of sausages. The cheapest ones are going for NZ$7.49 and it seems like a lot of money just to satisfy your need to eat dead animals. To be fair, there are cheaper ones, but they seem contain more fillers than dead animals in them.

Step 3 - Roam around the store and try to think of something else to make which: (a) is cheaper than sausages; (b) takes into account the cooking facilities aboard your boat and (c) involves dead animals.

Step 4 - Give up and put a packet of lamb sausages in your basket.

Step 5 - Try to figure out how to make mash to go with your bangers. Buying potatoes, boiling them and mashing them seems way too hard. Consider buying a packet of instant mashed potatoes, but decide that would be a step too far. It is tricky balance between not wanting to put any effort into cooking a meal and not wanting to feel like a complete failure by using ready-made products.

Step 6 - Remember that you have a can of potatoes on the boat. Decide to fry them up with some onions in lieu of mash. Problem solved. Overall, this will probably take as much time as making mashed potatoes, but opening a can seems so much easier than peeling a potato.

Step 7 - Talk about how gravy makes everything taste better. But of course, who wants to make their own. Remember, you can't even be bothered to make mashed potatoes! So this is where the chemical packets come in. The grocery store has a wide selection of packets and jars of chemical powder that magically turn into gravy with the addition of water. Brilliant. Buy a packet, being careful not to look to closely at the ingredients list.

Step 8 - Lug your groceries back to the dinghy, head back to the boat and move to a new anchorage on Motutapu Island for the night. Drop the hook. Stare at each other for at least 45 minutes until someone breaks down and agrees to make dinner. It was me.

Step 9 - One of you reclines on the settee and offers really "helpful" advice on how to make chemical smothered sausages and potatoes and then claims that they made dinner. That would be Scott.

Step 10 - Eat. Enjoy. Digest.


Total nautical miles =30
Number of dinghy misadventures = 1
Number of chemical packets consumed = 1
Cost of chemical packet = NZ$0.89
Cost of lamb sausages = NZ$7.49
Number of happy people after eating sausages & chemicals = 2

What's your favorite comfort food? Do you like bangers and mash?

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25 January 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Science Experiments On Board

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

1 - We're replacing the seals around our Lewmar portlights to try to stop the leaking.

2 - Scott wanted to try to get the old sealant off of the original seals so that we could reuse them rather than buying new ones. 

3 - He asked me if I had a pot he could use for his little science experiment. Hmm...boiling gross rubber seals with chemicals encrusted on them in our cooking pots? No, I don't think so.

4 - He went with Plan B - using a disposable pie tin.

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

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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23 January 2017

Yikes, How Did This Happen? | Hero Lost Cover Reveal

Well, this is scary. Somehow the short story I entered into the Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) anthology contest got picked by the judges. Yikes!

That means that my story is going to be published in early May by Dancing Lemur Press. And not published like the kind of books I used to "publish" as a child which were made out of construction paper and crayons and held together with ribbon, but like real publishing. You know, the kind of book you can buy on Amazon.

I have to say that I'm freaking out a little bit. After all, it's the very first story that I've ever written.

Sure, I write random nonsense on this blog all the time and I've been working on a cozy murder mystery for ages, but I've never typed "THE END" at the bottom of a page and submitted it to be judged, let alone have it be published for all of the world to read. Yes, I know the whole world isn't going to read it, but a few people might. {Gulp}

Many, many thanks to everyone who supported and encouraged me including members of the IWSG community, my family and my wonderful beta readers - Liesbet of Roaming About and fellow IWSG member, Melissa from Little Cunning Plan and Lucy from The Larks of Independence. And many, many thanks to all of you who read this blog. It's due to your kind comments and feedback that I've had the courage to take a stab at writing real stuff and not just silly blog posts.

My co-authors are amazingly talented people and I'm honored to have been selected alongside of them. I'll introduce them to you over the next few months.

In the meantime, this is what the cover is going to look like - pretty cool, huh?

Hero Lost
Mysteries of  Death and Life

An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Can a lost hero find redemption? 

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!
Release date: May 2, 2017

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

Check out these other cover reveal blog posts by my co-authors and others:

Roland Yeomans | Don't You Hate Cover Reveals? IWSG Anthology Cover Reveal
Sarah Foster | Hero Lost Cover Reveal!! 
Jen Chandler | Drum Roll Please
Renee Cheung | The IWSG Anthology Cover Reveal
Yvonne Ventresca | Cover Reveal for Hero Lost 
Erika Beebe | Reflection on a Query Letter Workshop 
L. Diane Wolfe | Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life & The Remnant Book Tour 
Alex J Cavanaugh | Hero Lost Anthology & More

Have you ever tried something new and put yourself out there to be judged by others? Have you ever had anything published?

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20 January 2017

Back From The Brink | Hydrolocking Our Thornycroft Engine

There are certain things you never want to hear. Like when you're wiping crumbs off of your shirt and someone shrieks:

"Who ate the last chocolate chip cookie?"

Or when you hear your mother scream up the stairs using your full name:

"Mary Jane Thomas, get down here right this minute and explain the bruise on your little brother's forehead!"

Or when you start the engine on your sailboat and hear:


As soon as you hear that sound you feel sick to your stomach. That's because it's the unmistakable sound that occurs when your engine seizes. That can result when you hydrolock your engine. I don't know much about boats, but I do know one thing - hydrolocking your engine is never a good thing.

If you don't know much about boats, hydrolocking your engine means that water has gotten into your engine. If you want to get technical about it, water gets into the cylinders which causes your pistons to not be able to complete their rotation. This causes your engine to stop. It can also cause significant damage such as bent or broken rods, blown head gasket, cracked cylinders or cracked block. That kind of thing.

For those of you who aren't into the technical detail, I'll translate. It means that everything is [insert your favorite naughty word].

After your stomach starts to settle down a bit and you've had a very large gin and tonic to calm your nerves, you start to assess the damage this is going to do to your savings account. We're talking big numbers here, at least they're big numbers to us. Potentially something in the order of $10,000. 

Actually, we're probably talking something like $10,250. The extra $250 is for additional gin and chocolate chip cookies. These will be required if you have to repower your engine.

"Repower" sounds innocuous enough. Kind of like eating an energy bar when your stomach starts growling.

What it really means is that you have to buy a new engine. Not only is that expensive, it would be a huge setback to us in terms of our cruising plans.

Besides, I've kind of grown fond of our Thornycroft engine. Sure, he's a bit rough around the edges and snarls at you when you change his glow plugs, but he's got an eccentric quality to him that's kind of endearing.

[Note: Scott just read this and asked me why our engine is a boy. I told him it's because Thorny smells bad.]

Thorny, our eccentric British engine.

Because we didn't have our engine in gear at the time, we had a small glimmer of hope that there might not have been any damage and that Thorny would continue to be part of our crew.

Turns out that we were lucky, which is why this blog post is entitled "Back from the Brink" and not "Goodbye, Savings Account."

Some of you nerdy boatie people are dying to know how the whole hydrolocking thing happened. You're weird, by the way. Turns out I'm kind of weird too because I'm writing blog posts about hydrolocking engines. How did that happen?

It was our exhaust elbow. It gave up on life and water backed into the engine. Fortunately, a spare exhaust elbow, gasket and end cap had just arrived from the UK the day before, so we were able to change it out.

Brand new exhaust elbow imported from England.

We administered TLC to Thorny by removing the glow plugs and draining the water from the cylinders. Then we ended up changing the oil ten times. Luckily, there was only a bit of water in the oil. Thorny really didn't like all of the oil changes. It's kind of like forcing a five year old boy to take ten baths in a row after he's been playing in the mud all day long. There's a lot of whining and screaming going on.

Finally, we got the oil looking the way oil should look - brown, somewhat clear and quickly turning to black. Not the unpleasant gray quality it had when there was water in it.

After that ordeal, here's the sound you do want to hear as Thorny starts up:


We definitely hope we dodged a big bullet here and that Thorny continues to purr when we head off to the Bahamas.

Have you ever hear a noise that made you feel sick to your stomach? What bullets have you dodged?

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18 January 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Manatees, Warm Water & Electricity

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

1 - Tampa Electric discharges warm water into a canal outside of their power plant at Apollo Beach, Florida.

2 - Manatees love warm water and come hang out here when the water in Tampa Bay is too cold. 

3 - There's a free viewing center where you can watch tons of manatees swimming about.

4 - Manatees come into our marina occasionally. There was a huge one next to our boat the other day. Such gentle giants.

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

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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16 January 2017

Life Lately At Indiantown Marina

It's been ages since I've done a >>Life Lately<< post. Over the past three weeks our life lately has been consumed with boat projects.

We're trying to plow through our very long list of projects that we need to do before we head to the Bahamas for the season. But for every one item we cross off the list, two or three more seem to take its place. Things haven't been helped by the fact that we had some serious engine issues, which derailed us for a while.

I'll update you on the engine later this week, but in the meantime, here's some of the other things we've been up to lately.

The Sponge Wars

Even after 25 years of marriage, there are things Scott and I still don't agree on. Like sponges. I think they're stinky, vile little creatures. Scott is under some delusion that they're man's best friend.

Let's face it. Sponges smell bad after just a few uses. Especially when you live in a hot climate. While Scott was away, I switched from sponges to these awesome Lunatec scrubbers. They don't smell, food doesn't cling to them and they're safe to use on non-stick pans. When I need to mop up spills, I use a microfiber cloth. Carolyn from the Boat Galley recommended them, so you know they have to be good. Kelley from Sailing Chance agrees and mentions them in her post on must have galley products.

For some reason, Scott hasn't seen the light and insists on using sponges. I hide them from him, but somehow he finds them and puts them back by the sink. {Sigh}

Hello Neighbors, Goodbye Leaks

That's the view of our neighbor's boat from one of the portlights in our aft cabin. There's not a huge amount of privacy when you live in a marina. Fortunately, most cruisers are exceptionally nice and fun people and our boat neighbors are no exception.

One of the things on our project list is stopping our portlights from leaking. That's a new seal you're looking at around the window frame. It took us two hours to take the old one out, remove the old sealant and install the new one.

Two hours is crazy. You can bake multiple batches of chocolate chip cookies in that amount of time. Considering the fact that we have five more portlights, let's hope we get more efficient at this process.

Five A Day

Sometimes you have to take a break from more serious boat projects and do something simple, like hanging up a hammock for fruit. We have very limited space on our boat so this is a great solution to free up storage for other important things, like beer. I figure it's a great reminder to eat our five a day, especially as I have to duck under the hammock whenever I sit down.

Feeling Foolish

This is our propane cooker. For some reason we thought it was a Force 10 model.

It's original to the boat, which makes it 30 years old. While 30 years is young in human terms, it's pretty old for a cooker. We knew we needed to refurbish it, so I sent off emails to various marine suppliers inquiring about what burner replacements were available. As you can see, we really need to replace our burners. One of them has completely rusted out.

I got back a very politely worded email letting me know that it's not a Force 10, but rather a Plastimo Atlantic. How embarrassing. But at least now I know what model of cooker we have, which narrowed down the search for replacement parts. Unfortunately, it looks like you can't get replacement parts anymore which means we may need to buy a new cooker.

Those of you who have boats know what that means - saying goodbye to a big chunk of change. Or maybe we could just embrace some sort of raw diet and stop cooking our food.

What's been happening in your life lately?

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13 January 2017

Five Frugal Things | The Gorilla Tape Edition

Katy at The Non-Consumer Advocate regularly posts about five frugal things she's done. Some things are big, some things are small, but they all help keep her spending down and her savings up. I've shamelessly stolen her idea (as many others have) and started to share my five frugal things on occasion. It's a great way to inspire me to keep looking for ways to top up our cruising kitty (fancy sailing talk for savings). Maybe it will inspire you to find ways you can save for your personal goals and/or stretch your income further.

This edition focuses on the magical properties of Gorilla Tape. Gorilla Tape is like ordinary duct tape on steroids and is a cheapskate's best friend.

1 - Backpack

About a gazillion years ago (okay, maybe just 18 years ago), Scott got a backpack from L.L. Bean. They're best buddies. There's almost a kind of bromance going on. That's the only explanation I have for why he still has this tattered, beat-up, old backpack. I've tried to get him to buy a new one, but he refuses.

One day, he showed me how he fixed the torn strap on the back with gorilla tape. It's almost like it's brand new. Assuming you have really bad eyesight that is. But he's happy and the backpack bromance lives to see another day. And of course we saved money by not buying a new backpack.

2 - Coffee Mug

Then Scott showed me how he used gorilla tape to secure the handle to his beloved coffee mug. This is what we call functional. It sure ain't aesthetically pleasing. But with all the money we saved not buying a new mug, we can invest in Gorilla Tape stock.

3 - Sewing Machine Case

I guess the whole Gorilla Tape thing was contagious. I even used some myself on my new sewing machine case for my Sailrite. I was too cheap to buy the special case designed just for this sewing machine ($200, no thank you), so I decided to look around for a relatively inexpensive plastic one instead.

I measured the base of my machine carefully and was over the moon when I found one that fit it perfectly, including the pins that slot into the machine which allow you to tilt it up, for $50.

One tiny problem - I forgot to account for the fact that the motor overhangs the base. When I went to put the lid on the case, it wouldn't fit.

If we returned it, we'd lose a chunk of money due to shipping and restocking fees. So Scott, being the ingenious MacGyver that he is, cut a hole in the side of the cover to accommodate the motor. It obviously isn't ideal, but it will allow us to more easily store the Sailrite once we're underway. Gorilla Tape came into play again as I used it to tidy up the cut edges.

4 - Cooking While On Holiday

One of the non-Gorilla Tape related things we did to save money over the past month was limiting our eating out while on holiday at Anna Maria Island. We had decided to splurge on renting a holiday cottage for a week when Scott came back to the States. We rationalized the expense as we were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. But we decided to minimize how much we spent overall by cooking all of our meals at our cottage except for lunch one day at an Ethiopian restaurant.

Instead of eating out, we created our own fun that didn't cost a dime, like walks on the beach.

5 - DIY Boat Projects

We're trying to do all of the projects on our boat ourselves, rather than pay other people. The obvious advantage of this is that we save money. But we also learn a lot about our boat's systems in the process.

We've got a long list of boat projects that we need to tackle before we head off to the Bahamas, as well as some that we didn't anticipate, like replacing the exhaust elbow on our Thornycroft engine.


This exciting DIY project got added to our list when we hydrolocked our engine. If you don't know what hydrolocking an engine involves, all you need to know is that it's the opposite of a good thing. The thesaurus would tell you that the opposite of good is bad, but that hardly does it justice. We'll do a blog post about the whole disaster at some point. It will either be entitled "Coming Back from the Brink" or "Goodbye Savings Account." Who knows, maybe Gorilla Tape will be involved in this project in some shape or form.

What things have you done to save money lately? Any frugal tips and tricks to share?

You can find more links to blog posts from ourselves and others on how much we spend and how we try to save money on this page.

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11 January 2017

Wordless Wednsday | Bright & Shiny Galley Faucet

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

1 - Our new galley faucet is finally installed. We had to take out a sink to get the job done.

2 - It's bright and shiny. Everything else surrounding it looks old and icky now.

3 - I have to remind myself that we replaced the faucet because it was leaking, not for aesthetic reasons. A total galley makeover isn't on the project list.

4 - Water is a precious commodity when we're out cruising on our sailboat and we can't afford to lose any through leaks. We carry 50 gallons in our water tanks and an additional 20 gallons in jerry cans.

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

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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09 January 2017

Morning Coffee | Random Thoughts & Oddities

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

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

  • I occasionally check the spam comments that Blogger filters out. This one cracked me up - "Unlike other blogs here I am writing a lot of knowledge so tasty I have read and blog in my opinion very well Greetings admin." Greetings to you too, Mr. Spammer. Glad you enjoyed the tasty knowledge on offer here.
  • I hate when you want to leave a comment on someone's blog and you have to go through hurdles to prove you're not a robot, like picking all the pictures with things like cups of coffee or street signs in them. If I'm going to have to spend time doing that, at least have pictures of fun things like kittens.
  • I hate cleaning out our French press coffee maker. Coffee grounds get everywhere and it takes a lot of water to clean the thing out.
  • Coffee tastes much better when someone else makes it for you. It tastes even better if someone cleans the French press too.
  • We're loving Guatemalan cookies lately. They taste like a cross between cinnamon sugar cookies and biscotti. They go great with coffee. 
  • It hadn't occurred to me until recently that Spanish is a second language for many of the Guatemalans in Indiantown. They speak various Mayan languages as their mother tongue. It should make me feel less self-conscious about practicing my Spanish with them, but it doesn't. I need to get over that.
  • There's nothing worse than sewing a really long seam and feeling really proud of yourself because it was so straight only to find out the bobbin thread ran out and you have to do it all over again.
  • I'm in the process of repairing our bimini and dodger (the canvas work over our sailboat's cockpit that keeps rain and sun off of us). I love my Sailrite sewing machine. It just powers through thick layers of sunbrella and strataglass.
  • Who knew I could love a sewing machine so much. Of course if you're going to spend that much money on something, you better love it.
  • It's really cold. I dug out my wool socks and I'm all bundled up. If it wasn't for the palm trees, I would find it hard to believe I'm in Florida right now.
  • We're going to take six cases of beer with us to the Bahamas. I know some people take 20 cases, but we don't have that kind of room aboard our boat. Plus, if we drank 20 cases of beer we'd get really big beer bellies. And we'd need a lot of naps. Beer makes you tired.
  • We're going to go to Trader Joe's and stock up on cheap wine. We'll also get some fun snack foods. The trick will be not to eat all of the snacks up in the first couple of weeks. That's the problem with fun snacks. You want to eat them right away.  
  • I feel like I constantly have dirt, grime and grease underneath my fingernails these days. I find myself checking out the hands of the other ladies at the marina to see if they have the same issue.
  • This blog post is 631 words long. I'm tracking how much I write every day in an effort to make it a daily habit. That's probably more words than you wanted to read.

What random thoughts are going through your head today?

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07 January 2017

Running Water Is For Sissy Babies

I told Scott he was being a big sissy baby yesterday. I think he's gotten soft in his old age. He seems to think running water is important. We've got a lack of it on our boat right now.

Here's why. This is the faucet in our galley. You might notice a distinct lack of handles and a spout. Kind of useful attributes in a faucet.

Things didn't exactly go as planned yesterday - not just with the faucet, but with other things.

What should have been a simple task of changing out our old, leaky faucet for a bright, shiny new one turned to {insert your favorite naughty word here}.

Yes, there were plenty of naughty words yesterday. And some blood. And some bruises.

Scott wanted to persevere late into the night and continue to try to get the old faucet off. I suggested we quit for the day and have a very large drink instead.

"But we don't have any running water," he said.

That's when I called him a sissy boy. We can live without running water. We've done it before. This is what we call role reversal. In the past, I would have been the one complaining about a lack of running water and Scott would have told me to suck it up. It's like Freaky Friday on our boat. Somehow we've switched bodies.

Of course, it wasn't just the faucet that turned to {time for a naughty word again}. The outboard engine on our dinghy started messing with us too.

We had been so happy just a couple of days ago when it started right up. Then we did some routine maintenance on it and it refused to cooperate after that. Stupid outboard.

Remember how excited we were that we got our Thornycroft engine on our boat to work?  We figured out the main issue was with our glow plugs. (Glow plugs heat up the air in the cylinders which allows the fuel to be ignited and makes your engine go vroom vroom.)

We could get it going with the existing glow plugs, but they didn't heat up enough to start the engine quickly. So we decided to order some new ones from the UK which were recommended for our particular engine. (Thornycrofts are British engines.)

They worked as advertised. The engine started lickety split. One tiny problem - a burning smell. The kind of burning smell that makes you look frantically around for the fire extinguisher. Fortunately, we didn't need to put our firefighting skills to the test.

If you were wondering why there wasn't the usual Friday blog post, now you know.

Have you ever had a day where nothing seemed to go right? Could you live without running water?

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04 January 2017

Who Stole My Delete Button? | IWSG

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

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

This month's question prompt is:

"What writing rule do you wish you'd never heard?"

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


After typing away on my laptop for an hour, I sat back, took a sip of coffee and checked my word count. "1,892 words. That's not too shabby," I said to myself smugly.

I read through what I had written. Then I got depressed. It was terrible. It wasn't writing. It was just a lot of typing. "Time to delete and start over," I muttered.

I highlighted everything and went to press the delete key. Except there was one major problem - my delete key had disappeared.

"Scott, Scott, come here!" I screamed as I looked frantically around for the missing key.

A few minutes later, Scott sauntered in munching on a chocolate chip cookie. "You bellowed, my little dumpling?" he said.

"Somebody stole the delete key off of my laptop!"

Scott peered over my shoulder, dropping cookie crumbs on what was left of my keyboard. "Hmm. Isn't that interesting," he said nonchalantly.

"Interesting? That isn't the word I'd use for it," I spluttered. "It's theft! Someone must have swiped it in the middle of the night. Quick, call the police!"

Scott chuckled. "Oh, my little silly bunny, a missing delete key isn't a police matter. Besides, what's the big deal? It's just one key."

"Just one key?! What's wrong with you?" I snapped. "Look at what I just wrote. 1,892 words of rubbish. I need to delete them and start over!"

"Now, now, don't panic, my pretty petunia. Don't you remember that new writing rule you're trying to follow? When you're working on your first draft, you're supposed to just sit down and write whatever comes into your head. It doesn't matter what you write, as long as you're writing."

"What kind of stupid rule is that?" I asked. "Just look at what I wrote. It's awful."

Scott sat down next to me and put his arm around my shoulder as he ate the last bite of his cookie. "It's not a stupid rule. Besides, you were so excited when you read it on one of those writing Facebook groups you're always looking at. You said it was going to transform your creative process."

"The only thing creative about what I just wrote is my use of definite articles." I sighed as I stared at my laptop. "Can I have one of those cookies. I sure could use one."

"Sorry. I ate the last one," Scott said without even the slightest hint of remorse. He pointed at the screen. "You're right. You do have a way with definite articles. That's a very clever use of the word 'the' right there."

"You're just trying to change the subject and make me forget about the fact that you ate the last cookie."

"Of course not, my sweet snickerdoodle," he said. "You're imagining things. Now, why don't I let you get back to your writing. Just go with the flow and don't worry about that delete key."

As he turned to leave, I noticed he was holding something in his hand. "Hey, wait a minute. What do you have there?"

"This?" he said as he shoved an object that looked suspiciously like a computer key into his pocket. "That's nothing."

"It was you! You stole my delete key!" I glared at him. "Not only did you eat the last cookie but you're the reason why I can't delete anything!"

"I'm just trying to be a supportive husband. Didn't you tell me you wanted to lose a few pounds? I saved you from the temptation of the cookies."

Okay, he kind of had a point when it came to my diet. "But what about the delete key? Stealing from someone isn't what I would call supportive."

"I'm your number one fan when it comes to your writing, you know that my little cherub. Stealing your delete key is my way of showing you how much I support you getting your first draft down on paper."

"Okay, fine," I said. "I'll keep writing without deleting. But it's still a stupid rule."

"Tell you what," Scott said as he pulled the delete key out of his pocket. "Once you finish your first draft, I'll give this back to you along with a chocolate chip cookie. Deal?"

"Okay, it's a deal," I agreed reluctantly. "As long as it's a really big cookie with extra chocolate chips."

What rule do you wish you'd never heard? Do you think rules are meant to be broken?

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02 January 2017

December In Numbers

Clockwise from upper left corner: (1) Changing over to LED light bulbs; (2) Picking Scott up at the airport; (3) One last glimpse of our old cottage in Scotland; (4) Finally got our engine to work; (5) Cute ship made out of seashells; and (6) Sunset at Anna Maria Island.

It's time for the monthly recap in numbers - an assortment of odd tidbits and random thoughts that popped into my head when I was reflecting back on the month.

  • 7 - How many days we spent on Anna Maria Island on the Gulf Coast of Florida. It was so nice to be off the boat for a while and stay in a cottage with luxuries like a shower, a full kitchen with plenty of space to cook in, a freezer and a TV. Living on a boat sure does make you appreciate life in a proper house.
  • $131 - How much we spent on gas during December. I usually average less than $30 a month, so this was a big increase, due in part to picking up Scott in Orlando and driving out to the Gulf Coast.
  • 3 - How many days I was sick at the end of the month with a bad cold. I was pretty much useless when it came to boat projects. Thank goodness Scott cheerfully carried on with them while I stayed in bed.
  • 8:00 PM - What time I went to bed on New Year's Eve. Staying up to midnight used to be such a big deal when I was younger. These days, not so much.
  • $11.26 - How much two matinee tickets to Rogue One cost. I loved it. Scott thought it was so-so. 
  • 4 - The number of glow plugs on our Thornycroft engine. Problems with our glow plugs were one of the reasons why the engine wouldn't work.
  • 6 - How many volts the electrical system on our boat is. To be precise, it's a 6 volt positive ground system, which is unusual. You usually find negative ground systems. Don't ask me to explain what any of this means. All I know is that it's important to know this. Don't ask me why it's important to know this. Ask me about Rogue One instead. A much more interesting topic. 
  • $1 - How much a Mega Millions lottery ticket costs. We didn't win. Bummer.
  • $67 - How much Scott spent on clothes. This may not sound like a big deal, but getting Scott to go shopping for clothes is incredibly difficult and excruciating for all concerned. Taking Scott shopping for anything is excruciating. If Walmart was clever, they'd have a bar at the store entrance where you could drop off your husband. He'd have a beer or two while you're shopping and be in a much better mood than if he had to trail behind you pushing the shopping cart.
In case you missed them, here are some of our favorite posts from last month:

Cost of Living Aboard Our Boat | October & November 2016
Finding a Wee Beastie in the Eggs
Making Lists

How was your December? What are you looking forward to in January and the rest of 2017?

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