24 June 2016

Flashback Friday | Is It Dolphin Snot Or Dolphin Spit?

Today is the Flashback Friday blog hop over at A Life Examined. 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 almost three years ago and have many more followers now then we did back then. I figure that there are probably a number of our earlier blog posts that some of you haven't seen before which might be of interest.

Like this one about our time cruising in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand on our 26' sailboat. We had a fabulous dolphin encounter on one of our sails, but it did raise a serious point of discussion about what it is that dolphins spray. Is it dolphin snot or dolphin spit?  

This blog post is a good example of the ones I used to do chronicling what we got up to when we were out cruising - kind of a day by day recap. If you're not a sailor or boating type, you still might find it interesting to get some insight into what it's like living on a boat out there on the water. 

{This post originally appeared in April 2014 - you can find the original post and comments here.}


Is the spray you see on the camera lens dolphin snot or dolphin spit?

I'm hoping you can settle a little argument Scott and I have been having. When the dolphin pictured above was swimming alongside our boat in the Bay of Islands, it sprayed us with something. I think it was dolphin spit and Scott thinks it was dolphin snot. Scott's theory is that because the liquid in question came out of the dolphin's blowhole, it has to be snot. But I would much prefer to think the dolphin spit on us - it seems marginally better than having a dolphin blow his nose all over you. Has this ever happened to you and was it snot or spit?

This dolphin was one of very large group that came up and started swimming and playing around our boat as we were leaving the Bay of Islands. There must have been at least 30 of them and I even saw a little baby dolphin among them. It was a fantastic send-off and the most amazing dolphin encounter we have had. They were incredibly close to our boat and at times we couldn't move the rudder as the dolphins were swimming right up against it. We were both jumping up and down with excitement and Scott was madly trying to capture all the action with his camera. And then, just like that, it was over and they all turned and headed off in another direction. We hadn't seen too many dolphins this year and especially not up this close and personal - it was incredible experience that I won't soon forget. 

Here's the rest of the scoop on our time up in the Bay of Islands. We've chartered up there previously (which you can read about here and here), but we focused more on sailing on those trips. This time we got a chance to do more exploring of the islands and had some great walks.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Paradise Bay, Urupukapuka Island

We left Whangamumu at 9:30 am and anchored at Paradise Bay, Urupukapuka Island in the beautiful Bay of Islands at 1:30 pm. Right after we dropped the hook, the local gang of kingfish came around to pay us a visit. I wonder if kingfish wish they were dolphins as they always seem to "play" around our boat. Except their form of "play" seems to involve smashing into the hull and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Scott tried to get one of them, but they seemed less interested in his lure and more interested in our boat. Eventually they left and we dinghied over to the island and went for a hike. Urupukapuka is probably one of the nicest islands I have been to in New Zealand and they have some fantastic trails. Highly recommended if you are ever out this way! 

We rarely swim in New Zealand as we find the water way too cold, but after our long and sweaty hike, we had a nice swim before heading back to our boat. Strangely, we were the only boat in the anchorage that night which was a pleasant surprise as we're so used to having other boats around, many of whom like to anchor way to close to us for comfort. Unfortunately, the wind kicked up during the night and the bay ended up getting quite roly-poly over night, so it wasn't the most restful sleep. You would think I would be used to that by now - I'm not.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Parorenui Bay

The next day we focused on some sail training running through our tacking routine but then the winds got to be too much of a nuisance to practice anything else. So, we took the sails down and headed into Parorenui Bay around lunchtime and anchored there for the night. I needed a shower pretty badly by this point, but I decided that it was too windy and cold to be stripping down and washing up in the cockpit. I'm setting a new standard of personal hygiene and it is getting to be a pretty low one. 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Waiwhapuku Bay, Moturua Island

On Tuesday, we planned to do some more sail training, but we were only able to get in a short session of tacking and man overboard drills before we got hit by a squall and decided to call it a day. We anchored at Waiwhapuku Bay, Moturua Island and then went for a nice walk on the island after lunch.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Waipiro Bay

It was another wind warning day with gusts of 35+ forecast, so we moved over to Waipiro Bay where we would get better protection. We had planned to head up to Whangaroa, but the weather kind of ruled that out for us. So instead, we dinghied over to the mainland to try to find the trail to Whangamumu where we had anchored a couple of nights ago. We walked along the road for a while but eventually gave up and headed back. If you've ever walked along roads in New Zealand, you'll know that sidewalks are rare, there are often blind curves and you always wonder if a car is going to hit you. It was one of those days where the walk along the road didn't seem worth it.  So instead, we headed back to the boat and got ready for an early start the next day to continue our adventures up north. 

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Dolphins, dolphins, dolphins! This was the day of the great dolphin send-off as we left the Bay of Islands and, as if the up close and personal encounter wasn't enough, we also got to see a group of dolphins a bit further out once we left the Bay of Islands and started heading up north. I think it was the dolphins way of trying to make it up to us for the bad weather we had while visiting their playground.  

  • Total nautical miles = 27
  • Number of dolphins playing around our boat = 30+ (plus another group later on!)
  • Number of walks = 3
  • Number of days impacted by the wind = 3 (damn you wind, damn you!)

Chart of Bay of Islands showing the bays where we anchored. Sourced from LINZ. Crown Copyright reserved.

So, what do you think? Was it dolphin snot or dolphin spit? Have you ever had any close encounters with dolphins or other wildlife?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi! 

You can find more Flashback Friday fun at A Life Examined.

22 June 2016

Wordless Wednesday | Soylent Green


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 - Yes, the water has really been that green at Indiantown Marina thanks to Algal bloom. Ick.

2 - Reminds me of the 1973 dystopian movie Soylent Green which depicted what the world would be like in the far off future of 2022. Maybe this isn't algal bloom, but something far more sinister.

3 - The alligators have to be loving it. Perfect camouflage.

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

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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20 June 2016

Around The World In 80 Books | Update #8

I've just finished up another month of the Around the World in 80 Books challenge. The idea of the challenge is to read books set in 80 different countries, effectively exploring the world from the comfort of your armchair. Since my last update, I've read books set in five more countries –
Czech Republic, Djibouti, Estonia, France and Jamaica.

That makes a total of 40 books since I started the challenge. I'm at the halfway mark - only 40 more to go!

You can read more about the challenge here, as well as check out Update #1, Update #2, Update #3, Update #4, Update #5, Update #6 and Update #7.


KEEPING BEDLAM AT BAY IN THE PRAGUE CAFE by M. Henderson Ellis | Czech Republic (2013)

Keeping Bedlam at Bay in the Prague Cafe is a bizarre book, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The main character, John Shirting, moved from Chicago, where he worked as a barista at the Capo Coffee Family, to Prague, where he dreams of expanding Capo's footprint into the post-communist Czech Republic. There's a couple of problems with his plan - he was fired by his beloved Capo Coffee and he's a bit of a nutcase who regularly self-medicates. The book has some truly hilarious moments and is chock full of strange and amusing characters. One of the moments I laughed out loud was this description of writing advice. It's good to know someone is looking out for the much maligned adverbs.
"Most writing manuals discourage the use of adverbs, so perhaps I'll edit out that 'precariously'" said Abe, scratching the word from his notebook. "No, retain them and catalogue them. I'll build a castle of adverbs and watch them try to knock it down with their bombastic manuals. Girish Patel bows to no style maven. I love my adverbs like children and will put out the call to collect orphaned, unwanted adverbs from across the world. There is no such thing as an unwanted adverb in God's eyes, do you comprehend? I won't stand for this abuse."

You can find out more about Keeping Bedlam at Bay in the Prague Cafe on Goodreads and find a copy on Amazon.

DJIBOUTI by Elmore Leonard | Djibouti (2010)

Let's just cut to the chase - I didn't like Djibouti. I was pretty excited to read it as I had never read anything by Elmore Leonard before. Leonard wrote the books that the movies Get Shorty and Jackie Brown and the TV series Justified were based on. I loved those, so this had to be good, didn't it? Nope, not for me. Djibouti is about a documentary filmmaker who heads to Djibouti to film Somali pirates hijacking ships. It's an interesting idea for a book, but the characters didn't grab me and I found how the book was structured to be a bit confusing. I didn't really learn much about Djibouti itself, but apparently the nightlife is great.
They followed the Rue de Paris to the Place Menelik to sit at a street cafe. "Have a cup of coffee and watch Djibouti nightlife," Xavier said. "Cup of coffee and sip some cognac. Watch the tourists cuttin up. Off a cruise ship come down from the Suez. They sayin, 'Ain't Africa fun?' They could be in Marseilles doin the same thing."

You can find out more about Djibouti on Goodreads and find a copy on Amazon.

PURGE by Sofi Oksanen | Estonia (2010)

This was a great book. An extremely disturbing book at times, but a great book. Purge tells the story of Aliide, an old woman living in rural Estonia, and Zara, a woman who fell victim to a Russian sex trafficking ring, is on the run from her captors and ends up at Aliide's house. The book flashes back and forth between the 1990s when Estonia gained its independence from Russia and the 1940s and 1950s when Estonia was under the control of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Both of their stories and secrets are slowly revealed through fragments, but eventually intertwine as the truth of what happened to Aliide and her family is pieced together.

The author brings Estonian culture to life throughout the book, with rich descriptions of things like food, cooking, courtship, weddings, farming practices, clothing and even superstitions.

It was a shimmering morning, the moving truck rocked back and forth, and Aliide had done everything possible to make sure that nothing would go wrong, careful in her every movement to be sure that she didn't mess anything up. She woke up and put her right foot on the floor first, stepped over the threshold with her right foot, opened doors with her right hand, hurrying to open them before Martin's left hand spoiled their luck. And as soon as they got to the house, she rushed to be the first to take hold of the gate with her right hand, and the door, and to step into the house with her right foot. Everything went well.

You can find out more about Purge on Goodreads and find a copy on Amazon.

DEPTHS OF GLORY by Irving Stone | France (1985)

Depths of Glory is a fictional biography of the Impressionist painter Camille Pissaro. Born to a family of French merchants on St. Thomas in the Caribbean, Pissaro developed an appreciation for art during his time at boarding school in Paris. Upon his return to St. Thomas, Pissaro worked in the family business, but chucked it all in when he came of age and decided to become a full-time painter. He went back to France after spending time in Venezuela. Depths of Glory describes Pissaro's artistic career, including the artists he interacted with, such as Gustave Corbet and Georges Seurat, and his personal and family life.

If you're interested in art, this is a fascinating book to read as it gives you some insight into what goes on in an artist's head and how his circumstances shape his work. I also found the descriptions of Paris during the 1800s intriguing, especially when it showed a less glamorous side of the city.
Learning that the poorest of Paris lived in the Faubourg St. Marcel, he wore his oldest boots, avoiding the cesspools of the ragged alleys, inconspicuously putting on paper the falling hovels. The few inhabitants at the dead ends were pale and haggard of face, dressed in tatters: people between hunger and death. He worked all day. When night fell the remainder of the unfortunates came out of their caves, hunched over the pale lanterns to forage among the discards and alluvial garbage of better neighborhoods...He wondered how such a majestic city as Paris could allow such dehumanizing misery to exist.

You can find out more about Depths of Glory on Goodreads. I believe Depths of Glory is out of print, so look in secondhand bookstores if you want a copy or pop by and say hi and I'll loan you ours.

DON'T GET MAD, GET EVEN by J.L. Campbell | Jamaica (2011)

I discovered J.L. Campbell through the Insecure Writer's Support Group. She, along with the other administrators, do a great job with the group, offering support and encouragement to writers at all levels, including newbies like me. When I saw that she lives in and writes about Jamaica, I thought reading one of her books would be ideal for this challenge.

Don't Get Mad, Get Even is a collection of short stories about what happens when someone is wronged, often in horrifying ways, and how they get even. The stories offer interesting insights into Jamaican culture and there's even a glossary at the end with Jamaican terms. My favorite story was "Entrapment," which describes the practice of obeah, a form of sorcery which was brought to the Caribbean by slaves from West Africa. In the story, Kyle dates and then marries a woman his mother doesn't approve due to her background. Turns out, he should have listened to his mother as the marriage quickly turned sour and then things went from bad to worse.

But what concerned her more than anything was Miriam's roots. According to Mummy, nothing good came from Clarendon. Her prejudices ran deep because she had several bad experiences with people who originated from that parish, including my father. She wouldn't discuss her aversion to Miriam, but stuck to her conviction that Clarendonians were a bunch of obeah workers. Nothing I said convinced her otherwise.

You can find out more about Don't Get Mad, Get Even on Goodreads and get a copy on Amazon. At the time of writing, it's free on Amazon, which is a great way to check out Campbell's work and learn a little bit about Jamaica.


If you're participating in the challenge too, I'd love to hear what you've been reading. Even if you're not doing the challenge, let us know what books you've been enjoying lately.

COUNTRIES READ TO DATE: Algeria, Australia, Azerbaijan, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Djibouti, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Haiti, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mali, Mexico, Nigeria, North Korea, Norway, Russia, Samoa, Scotland, Slovenia, Sweden, United States, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

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17 June 2016

5 Frugal Things & The Cruising Kitty

I typed this with my free word processing software.

One of the blogs I follow regularly is the Non-Consumer Advocate because it inspires me to embrace frugality. Every penny we don't spend is a penny that stays in our savings, which will allow us to cruise on our sailboat longer before we have to worry about topping the cruising kitty up again. (Don't you just love it that sailing type people call savings a cruising kitty? So cute.)

Leading a frugal life is multi-faceted. It can be about not buying things and doing without, doing something yourself instead of paying someone else to do it or going with a free or cheaper alternative to a product or service. Sometimes the savings are huge, other times it just pocket change. But, it all adds up.

While we regularly share how much we spend, I thought I'd share some of the things we've done recently to save money and keep our cruising kitty happy. Some of the things might seem insignificant in the scheme of things (like not eating fast food), but as Katy at the Non-Consumer Advocate says, "Just like you can nickel and dime yourself into the poorhouse, you can also nickel and dime yourself into financial freedom."

1 - Free OpenOffice Software

When I got my new laptop last month, it came with a 30 day trial version of Microsoft Office 365, after which it would cost $69.99 a year to keep processing my words, crunching numbers in my spreadsheets and making pretty presentations. That's $69.99 each year, not a one-off cost like it used to be.

I needed a better solution. Preferably a free one. Thankfully a friend told me about the open source Apache OpenOffice. It has the same programs, pretty much the same functionality and you can convert files so that they're usable in Microsoft. Sure, it doesn't looks as slick as the Microsoft version, but it's free. By going with OpenOffice, we're saving $69.99 a year which is a decent chunk of change.

2 - Filtering Water For Less

One of the things we need on our boat is a way to filter and purify our water to get rid of the nasties and make it taste better. This will be especially important once we're back out there cruising and filling up our water tanks from possibly questionable sources in other countries.

When I did some research on what system to get, I saw the Purest One and Seagull systems mentioned as being top of the line. They both sound like great systems, but they're really pricey. We're talking hundreds and hundreds of dollars for the system, plus the relatively expensive cost of replacement filters.

I just couldn't wrap my head around spending that much money, so I decided to go with a cheap and cheerful solution using a household water filter housing for less than $50. Filters are also a lot less expensive. (If you want to know more about water filtration on boats, check out The Boat Galley.)

3 - Canceling My Audible Membership

Amazon likes to tell you about all the exciting things you're missing out on - like audio books. They tantalized me with a free 30 day trial of their Audible Gold Membership. During the trial, you get to download two free audio books. If you decide to continue your membership, it will cost you $14.95 a month, which includes one free audio book of your choice each month.

I enjoyed listening to the books while working on sewing projects, but $14.95 seemed like a bit much to pay each month for one audio book, especially considering how many unread books I have lying around my boat. But, that's the great thing about free trials - you get to try a product or service out before you commit. Plus, I got to keep my two audio books which I can listen to again on long, boring passages.

4 - Eating Free Soup

When the lovely Vicky and Ed from Catching the Horizon were at Indiantown Marina storing their sailboat for hurricane season, they gifted me with a lot of food that they didn't want to leave on their boat. I'm not too proud to accept free food that would otherwise go to waste. It's saved me some money and every time I have some of the soup they left me I think of how much fun it was to meet them.

5 - Saying No To Fast Food

Did you ever have one of those days where you didn't want to cook and Burger King was calling your name? A Whopper Jr and fries sounded so good, but I resisted the temptation and ate leftovers instead. Not only did I save money, but I also did my heart a favor. Win-win all around.

What do you do to save money? Any frugal tips you want to share?

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15 June 2016

Wordless Wednesday | Naptime

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

1 - Some people can sleep anywhere.

2 - He might actually be more comfortable than folks trying to sleep in cramped economy seats on a long-haul flight. 

3 - I like to take naps, but I'm often groggier when I wake up than I was before I closed my eyes.

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

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here
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13 June 2016

14 Reasons Why The Amish Were Right About Blogging

Sorry. I’m afraid this has nothing to do with the Amish. I’ve lured you here under false pretenses. I’m not really sure that the Amish know all that much about blogging considering they don’t make a habit of using computers, but they sure do make a mean shoofly pie.

I had planned about doing an update on the Fair Maiden’s quest to awaken the Great Machine on the blog today, but it all got a bit too depressing to write about as the Fair Maiden still hasn’t been able to get it sorted. She’s off in Las Vegas just now hoping she can make enough money at the craps table to buy a new diesel engine for her sailboat in the event that the Great Machine never wakens. Either that or she’s going to become a show girl.

While the Fair Maiden is off guzzling down cosmopolitans as she blows on the dice for good luck, I sat here a bit stumped. What should I blog about today? Being at a loss for ideas, I turned off the computer and got some chicken curry cooking away in my Wonderbag for dinner tonight. Next, I thought about doing some boat projects outside but the forecast is for a real feel temp of 111F today. Yep, not going outside today if I can help it.

Then, I remembered this great post by Megan Morgan about blog idea generators so I thought to myself, “Aha! Problem solved. The internet will come to the rescue, providing blogging inspiration, along with other time wasters, like adorable videos of cats using sign language to get food from their humans.”

So, I thought I would share a few of these fun blog idea generators with you. Fellow bloggers might be interested for those times when they get stumped and the rest of you might find their suggestions amusing. Plus, if you stick around all the way to the end of this post, I do have some thoughts on why the Amish were right about blogging.

Portent’s Content Idea Generator

Portent’s Content Idea Generator gave me today’s awesome blog post title. All you do is enter a subject, like blogging or sailing, press the magic button and you get brilliant suggestions like, “Why Blogging is More Tempting than a Cinnabon” and “8 Things Spock Would Say about Sailing.”

Answer the Public

On Answer the Public, you enter a keyword and the Seeker gives you all sorts of blogging prompts like, “Who invented sailing” and “Blogging without showing your face.” The Seeker looks around impatiently if you take to long too ask him a question. It’s pretty funny.

Blog About

Blog About gives you ideas for blog post titles into which you enter your own keywords. I turned “Why [blank] is more about [blank] than [blank]” into “Why blogging is more about procrastinating dull but important boat projects than contributing anything meaningful to the universe.

Reasons Why The Amish Were Right About Blogging

It’s not strictly true that the Amish don’t use computers. They don’t actually reject all new technology, but, if they do adopt new technology, it’s only after they’ve carefully considered it. There probably aren’t a lot of Amish bloggers out there, although I have discovered Lovina’s Amish Kitchen (delicious sounding recipes and glimpses into Amish life), and I really have no idea what the Amish think about blogging, or sailing for that matter, but I imagine the Amish could give us some food for thought.

The Amish are selective about what technology they adopt, not wanting to become slaves to it. Does blogging, social media, surfing the internet for cute catz videos take over our lives at times? Could we survive for a week without our computers or cell phones? Is our technology in control of us or the other way around?

If you’re interested in learning more about the Amish, check out the Amish Studies site.

Have you ever been to Amish country and had shoofly pie? What do you do when you get stuck on what to write or blog about? And, one final question, what do you think about new technology? 

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10 June 2016

Thank You!

We marked a big milestone this week on our Facebook page - over 1,000 likes! Who would have thought so many people would be interested in what we get up to? Not us, that's for sure.

When we started this blog, the intent was to document our crazy journey to quit the rat race, get rid of most of our stuff and lead a life a bit less normal on a sailboat. We did it primarily for ourselves - to capture our adventures so that we would have something to look back on one day when our memories aren't as sharp - as well as to keep our families in the loop.

But, somehow, along the way, all of you joined us for our journey. And, it's been all the more fun because of it! We've loved getting to know so many of you virtually and having the good fortune to even meet some of you in real life too.

It seemed like a good time to say thank you to all of you for following along with us - so, thank you! We're so very glad to have you along for the ride.