20 February 2017

Canadians: They'll Restore Your Faith In Humanity

Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

During the winter season at Indiantown Marina, Canadians probably outnumber Americans by a sizable margin. It's quite a popular place for Canadians to store their boats during hurricane season. Once the snow starts to fly, they make their way down south to Indiantown and get their boats ready to head out cruising or just hang out here at the marina for the season enjoying the sunshine and palm trees.

You've heard all of the stereotypes about Canadians before. They say "eh" a lot (true for some), they have unibrows (no comment), they say "a-boot" and not "about" (yes, and it's adorable), they live off a diet of maple syrup and Tim Horton's donuts (sounds good to me), they're all lumberjacks (uh, no) and they're super nice (very true).

I can't emphasize how much that last one is true. Canadians are some of the nicest, helpful and most generous people you'll ever meet. They're all around good eggs. Okay, maybe there's some bad Canadians out there, but you won't find them at Indiantown Marina.

Honestly, they've restored my faith in humanity. After a bruising and divisive election cycle (no matter what side you were on), I kind of started to lose hope in the basic goodness in humanity. You know, the "do unto others, as you would have them do unto you" way of approaching each other. It seemed like it was becoming more of a "who cares about you, it's all about me" kind of a place.

Then along came the Canadians with their help, support and "pay it forward" mentality. Don't get me wrong, the Americans here are wonderful too and we'd be lost without the support and help of our dear Yankee friends (not to mention their "tool shed" and acrylic expertise). That just goes without saying.

But this is about the Canadians and how much they've been instrumental in getting our boat ready to go cruising. (I should say "somewhat ready to go cruising" just in case I jinx things and more stuff breaks.) These guys might not be lumberjacks, but they sure are geniuses when it comes to electrical systems, engines, solar arrays, you name it. And they share their knowledge freely. They even come poke around in the murky depths of our engine room or in the confines of the lazarette to help us chase down issues and sort out problems.

And when you apologize for taking up so much of their time and pestering them with annoying questions, they just shrug their shoulders and say, "Don't worry. Just pay it forward."

I always knew I loved Canadians. But now I love them even more because they've reminded me that humans (at least most of them) are good at heart and genuinely want to do unto others as they would have them do unto them.

What's your favorite things about Canada or Canadians? And for a more controversial question - only 100% genuine maple syrup on your pancakes or will Mrs. Butterworth's do?

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17 February 2017

Going For A Walk | Anna Maria Island, Florida

It's been ages since I've done a <<Going for a Walk>> post. Probably because it's been ages since I've gone on anything which even remotely resembles an interesting walk.

When we do go for a walk these days, it's here in Indiantown, which is interesting the first few times you do it, but after that it's more of the same old, ho-hum kind of walk. Except when we're walking to Taco Tuesday or to the bakery for Guatemalan cookies. Tacos and cookies are never ho-hum. The best kind of walks are those in search of food.

But I digress. Thinking about food does that to me. I completely lose my train of thought until my belly is full.

So, what was I talking about? Oh, yeah. Interesting walks. We had some great ones when were were on vacation at Anna Maria Island on the Gulf Coast of Florida, which seems way too long ago now. The kind of walks that are so full of interesting things that you almost forget that your stomach is growling.

Like the funky and retro Pines Trailer Court all decorated for the holidays.

We walked through there on our way to the Bridge Street Pier at Bradenton Beach.

It's fascinating to watch the fisher folk in action with their nets.

The birds seemed interested in what the guys were fishing for too.

It's an island, so there's boats everywhere. This is the way sailboats should look.

This isn't how you want your sailboat to look - derelict and sinking into the water.

Some people even turn boats into bars.

We managed to work in some nautical history on our walk when we stopped off at the Florida Maritime Museum in nearby Cortez. It's a fascinating little museum with some really knowledgeable and friendly volunteers. And best of all, it's free. We like free.

After the museum, it was time to look at more nautical stuff - this time at the commercial fisher folk bringing in their haul.

And of course the best way to end a day - a sunset stroll on the beach.

What about you - have you been on any interesting walks lately?

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15 February 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Salvaging Old Sails


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 - The headsail on our Moody 346 sailboat is probably the original one. That makes it 30 years old. 

2 - We need to buy a new one, but we're putting off the purchase until next season. They're expensive.

3 - The previous owners had the headsail repaired before, but it needs some more help. Time to break out my trusty Sailrite sewing machine and do some restitching.  

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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10 February 2017

Is It 2020 Yet? Our Cruising Plan

Tickety Boo happy at anchor in the Bahamas

My friends, Matt and Lucy from The Larks of Independence, and I had been joking that, given our respective boat issues and projects, we'd see each other in the Bahamas in 2020. Scott and I certainly haven't been feeling like we'll ever make it out of Indiantown Marina this year before hurricane season starts up again. 2020 was starting to seem like a sadly realistic target.

But at least we were in good company. Matt and Lucy were stuck here in Florida too.

Then I saw on their Facebook page that they had broken free from the Sunshine State and made it to Bimini.

My first thought was:

"Yay! Way to go Matt and Lucy!"

My second thought was:

"I hate you guys. Why are we stuck in Florida and you're in the Bahamas?"

My third thought was:

"Ellen, you're a terrible person for thinking such things. You should be happy for them." 

Then I punished myself by not eating any chocolate for a full 20 minutes. Yes, I went without chocolate for 20 whole minutes. I know, hard to believe. But I deserved it.

After I had some chocolate, I felt much better about things. After all, we've only been working on boat projects for less than seven weeks. We've got friends that have been stuck here at Indiantown Marina for way longer than that working on their boats.

And we've actually ticked a number of things off of the list. Like new hatches.

We've also dealt with a number of things that weren't on the list. Like hydrolocking our engine.

All in all, we're not doing too bad. {She says frantically stuffing chocolate in her mouth in an effort to feel better about the rate of progress.}

The whole situation got me thinking about cruising plans. There's a saying among cruisers that plans are written in sand at low tide. When the tide comes in, your plans just wash away as though they never existed.

It was all a good reminder not to have too firm of plans and to just go with the flow. Easy to say, sometimes it's hard to do.

So while we do have a cruising plan of a sort, we're trying to keep it kind of vague because life has a way of keeping you on your toes. Sometimes, it seems like life is just getting in your way. Usually though, it's just presenting you with new opportunities that are cleverly disguised as boat projects.

If you are curious what our vague cruising plan is, it's to go to the Bahamas for the rest of this season, then bring the boat back to Indiantown where we'll haul out and work on some major boat projects. We'll probably head off to the Western Caribbean next season (November 2017) and putter around over there for a couple of years. After that who knows - although we are toying with the idea of crossing the Atlantic in a few years. But we'll see what life brings us.

What about you? What are your plans for the next few years?

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08 February 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Murder Is Everywhere!

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

1 - When we were on holiday at Anna Maria Island, we went out for a walk to the beach one morning. Along the way, we saw a large knife.

2 - Then we stumbled across this scene. Clearly it was the scene of a murder. A fight over a skateboard, perhaps? The murderer must have run away and dropped the knife.

3 - I'm not sure what they did with the body. Maybe it washed out to sea.  

4 - It's possible I have an overactive imagination. 

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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06 February 2017

Cost Of Living Aboard Tickety Boo | December 2016 & January 2017

It’s time for our regular cost of living update, which I do every two months. We've been tracking how much it costs to live aboard our Moody 346 sailboat, S/V Tickety Boo, at Indiantown Marina in southern Florida, where we were initially laid up during last hurricane season and where we're currently living while we finish up some boat projects before we head off to the Bahamas for the season.

 You can find links to other cost updates from ourselves and others on this page, as well as on The Monkey's Fist. If you want to know the details of how much we spent over the past two months, have a look below.

Cost of Living Aboard | December 2016 & January 2017

Overall, we spent $9,983.39 during December and January which is a lot of money, but isn't all that surprising given our long list of boat projects.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of what we spent, here are a few things to note:

1 - All costs are in US dollars.

2 - Not all expenses are included - here's what we've left out:

(a) We don't report how much we spend on alcohol. I remember reading some horrible, judgy comments in a blog post a few years back about how much someone spent on booze, so I left it out when we first started tracking our cruising costs back in New Zealand. For consistency's sake, I've continued to leave it out when tracking our cruising and RV costs.
(b) We haven't included costs related to storing our Scamp travel trailer ($21 per month) because we track the cost of our RV and cruising adventures separately.
(c) We've also left out our costs for medical insurance. We didn't think it made sense to include insurance costs as they can vary so widely depending upon your nationality, where you cruise, what level of coverage you want and can afford etc. In case you are curious, while we're back in the States, we do have insurance through the health insurance marketplace (aka ACA/Obamacare), primarily to protect our assets and cover us in case of a catastrophic medical condition. We renewed our policy for 2017, but as things are up in the air following the election, we'll have to wait and see what happens with coverage this year.
 3 - I've included any shipping and taxes we've paid in what we report. Florida has a 6% sales tax. Boo.

GROCERIES | Total = $1,206.36

This category includes everything we put in our bodies in terms of food and drink (excluding booze) that we prepare ourselves. It doesn't include things like paper towels and ziploc bags, which I know some people would classify as groceries. Sure, you could probably eat them, but they wouldn't taste very good.

Our costs have been a little higher over the past couple of months due to provisioning for our trip to the Bahamas. We found groceries to be really expensive last time we were there, so we're trying to stock up on as much as we can.

PERSONAL & HOUSEHOLD | Total = $100.06

This is the category where we include household things (like paper towels and ziploc bags) and personal hygiene items (like soap and shampoo). We also capture items for the "home" here - like bug spray.

ENTERTAINMENT | Total = $209.36

One of the great things about hanging out in Indiantown is that there really isn't all that much to spend your entertainment dollars on.

In terms of drinks and eating out, this includes everything we don't prepare ourselves, even if we get something to go and eat it back on the boat. We also track how much we spend on books, magazines, DVD rentals and going to the movies in this category, as well as the occasional lottery ticket.


Our cell phone is actually one of our biggest non-boat related expenses. We have a $60 monthly GoPhone plan with AT&T which includes 8GB of data and unlimited calls and texts.

BOAT FUEL | Total = Nil

Because our boat hasn't left the slip, we haven't needed to spend anything on diesel or gas.

LPG | Total = Nil

I've been primarily using our microwave, an electric burner and crock pot for cooking, so haven't needed to top up the LPG tanks. Electricity is included in the slip fee so it makes sense to use that for cooking.

MARINA COSTS | Total = $1,176.60

Keeping Tickety Boo in a slip is one of our biggest expenses. The monthly cost of a slip with electricity at Indiantown Marina for a 34.5' boat is $572.40. The guys at the marina will also come pump out our holding tank on demand - $5.30 for each visit.

BOAT STUFF | Total = $3,940.53

This category is for all the stuff we've been buying for the boat. And we've bought a lot of stuff over the past couple of months including a generator, LED light bulbs, engine parts (exhaust elbows, impellers, end caps, gaskets, glow plugs etc.), US customs decal, propane cooktop, cup holders for the cockpit, joker valves, PFD re-arming kit, new PFDs for the dinghy, airhorn, used auto-pilot wheel, acrylic for our hatches, screens for our portlights and lots of other miscellaneous bits and bobs.

TRANSPORT | Total = $196.18

This category is for costs related to our vehicle, mostly for gas to keep it going and drive into the nearby "big city" of Stuart for errands. We spent more over the past couple of months than normal due in part to picking up Scott at the airport in Orlando and our holiday on the Gulf Coast.

MEDICAL EXPENSES | Total = $1,887.59

This category includes medical expenses outside of our monthly insurance premium (which aren't included here - see section on exclusions above), like over the counter medications, prescriptions and things for our medical kit. It also includes the costs of doctors visits and medical tests which aren't covered by our insurance.

I finally got the final bill for my hospital stay way back in March of last year, which accounts for the bulk of the expense over the past two months.

OTHER | Total = $1,316.71

In this category, we break out how much we spend on clothes and travel expenses. We also include a catch-all miscellaneous group for stuff that doesn't fit neatly anywhere else - things like laundry ($3.25 for a wash and dry at Indiantown Marina).

The big expense in this category was for our week-long holiday cottage rental on the Gulf Coast ($700). We also bought beach chairs, an Aeropress, salad dressing container, storage containers, dragonfly lights for our cockpit and a computer mouse.

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03 February 2017

January In Numbers

Clockwise from upper left: (1) Our new Caframo fan in the aft cabin; (2) Our alternator; (3) Stubby the Screwdriver; (4) Winches badly in need of servicing; (5) Redoing the hatch lenses; and (6) Scott hard at work on the engine.

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. January was all about boat projects. Endless boat projects. Boat projects without end. Boat projects which take far longer than you think they will. Boat projects that never cease. Boat projects which cause other things to break, requiring more boat projects. You get the idea.

  • 0.24 - Number of amps that our new Caframo fan in our aft cabin draws at high speed. We have to monitor our energy usage carefully when we're away from the dock. This fan works great without having a huge energy draw. It will be essential once we're no longer plugged into A/C.
  • 2 - Number of exhaust elbows we bought for our Thornycroft engine and had shipped over from England.
  • $150 - How much each exhaust elbow costs. 
  • 10 - Number of times we changed the oil after we hydrolocked our engine.
  • 6 - How many cans of tomatoes we ate. 
  • 2 - Number of times we went to Taco Tuesday at JR's Saloon. They raised the price of tostadas from $1.50 to $2.00, but it's still great value and a tasty treat. Theyalso  raised the price of happy hour beer from $1.00 to $1.50. Boo.
  • 2 - Number of times we took the wires off of our alternator and put them back on. Once to tighten the belt and once to get access to the impeller. After each time, something went wrong the engine which was completely unrelated to the alternator. It's like a strange little metal harbinger of doom.
  • 6 - Number of Beddar with Cheddar brats we ate. I've really fallen off the healthy eating wagon lately. They are better with cheddar, but not as good as I remembered.
  • 2+ - Number of weeks Stubby the Screwdriver was trapped inside of a cupboard wall. Scott finally rescued him and we stuck him in some vise grips and put him straight to work on changing out the impeller. 
  • 3/8" - The thickness of the plexiglass we bought to replace the old, cracked plexiglass in our hatches. 
  • 2018 - The year when our flares expire. Yay, they're still good! One less thing to spend money on.
  • 7 - Number of packs of chorizo we bought at Aldi. This stuff doesn't need refrigeration until opened, making it a perfect provisioning choice as we get ready to sail to the Bahamas.
  • ? - Number of days until we finish our boat project list and head off to the Bahamas. Your guess is as good as ours. 
  • 0 - Number of books I read during January. Considering that I usually read 10+ books a month, this will give you an idea of how busy and exhausting things have been.

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

Running Water is for Sissy Babies
Five Frugal Things | The Gorilla Tape Edition
Back from the Brink | Hyrdolocking Our Thornycroft Engine

How was your January? What are you looking forward to in February?

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