A Year Off the Beaten Path by Christine

The year we decided to stray off the beaten path and sail the Bahamas, as a family, will forever stand out as an incredible year in our memories.

fam done really

When we were mulling over the thought of taking a trip, we had several wise sailors tell us, cruising would teach our kids more than we could imagine and that the boys were at the perfect age to go now.  We were at a point in our lives where we were ready to change careers, so we took the first step by making the commitment, and eight months later we were gone.

There is no way to sum up what spending a year teaching your kids and sharing the experience together as a family was like.  How much we learned throughout the year, and the caliber of people we met, was far beyond what we could have possibly imagined.

We worked hard to make it happen, but we also received a river of support from so many people.  We often said that the planets were aligning for us to go now.  Whenever we needed help or encouragement, someone was there for us.

Now that our year is over, we look back at all the experiences we had and can hardly believe we accomplished so much.  Was it easy?  No.  Was it worth it?  Yes, and we will all be forever changed by the journey.

The opportunity to spend a year with our kids was priceless, and homeschooling is something every parent should be able to experience.  Half the time they were getting an education and didn’t even know it.  There is an opportunity to school your kids at every moment of the day.  It is up to the parent as to how far to take it and how in-depth they want to teach.  Those of you that have been following the blog this past year know how Logan and Cole have learned about engines, weather, charting, knots, navigation, engineering, snorkeling, fishing, nature and history, all in a classroom where every day was a field trip.

“How will the kids adjust to ‘normal life’ and going back into a school again?” is a question many people ask.  They have experienced so many different situations this last year and moved fluidly through it all that returning has been easy.

Even after a night of sleeping in the cockpit on a rough crossing, the kids obviously adjust just fine.

Even after a night of sleeping in the cockpit on a rough crossing, the kids obviously adjusted just fine.

Field trip exploring a plane wreck.

Field trip exploring a sunken plane wreck.

Reef exploration field trip.

Reef exploration.

Learning and they do not even know it.

Learning and they do not even know it.

Cole PE class.

Cole in PE class.

PE class.

Team sports.

The only reason I would not do it again is that there are too many other adventures to be had!  There are places to see and things to do that I am not even aware of yet.  The wider path I travel, the more open my view of the world becomes.

Most kids do not learn about engines until shop class in high school or at a tech college.

Can kids get their schoolwork done while a lizard is crawling across their paper?  Absolutely.

Can kids get their schoolwork done while a lizard is crawling across their paper? Absolutely.

Weather kept us anchored in Black Point for a week so the boys went to the local school.

Weather kept us anchored in Black Point for a week so the boys went to the local school.

Did the kids miss their friends and family?  Sure they did but we did our best to keep in touch with everybody via email and Skype so the boys still felt connected.

Were holidays the same?  Definitely not, but we still had them, we were all together and we will never forget them.

Were holidays the same? No, nor did we expect or want them to be.   We still celebrated the holidays, we were all together and we will never forget them.

Our favorite activities were snorkeling and spending time on the islands and beaches.  As part of my closing, I want to share a few of those photos with you.

One of the many beautiful snorkeling trips.

One of the many beautiful snorkeling trips.

One of the many beautiful beaches we were on.

Beaches abound in the Bahamas.

Cole gathering coconuts for a snack.

Cole gathering coconuts for a snack.

Logan spearing lobster for supper.

Logan spearing lobster for supper.

Another question people ask or comment they make is, “How much did the year cost?  I don’t have enough money to take a year off.  My employer won’t give me the time off”.   How much it costs varies considerably with the level of comfort you want and your expectations.  We adjusted our wants and needs many times until it met our budget.  We decided to do with less and do without.  You have to get creative with money, insurance, etc.  You have to want to make it happen and diligently work towards that goal.  The more you look into finances and the more creative you get, you will find options that you never knew existed.  As for getting a year off from your job, we quit ours knowing we wanted to do something different when we returned.  Opportunities and doors may open to you on a trip like this that you would never have known existed.

The learning curve on this trip was steep but it was doable.  We all put in lots of hard work and planning and things just kept moving along and working out for us.  As you followers know, there were so many instances where things just worked out for us.  ‘Whatever happens was meant to be’ became our motto.  There were several times when what we needed just came our way.  Literally.  Some of these moments gave me goosebumps when I realized what the odds were of the situation working out.

Farewell Truansea!

Farewell Truansea!  Thank you for a year to remember.

Fair winds and farewell everyone!

Fair winds and farewell everyone!

Sailing into the sunset.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Sailing into the sunset. Who knows what the next adventure will be?

What an experience this past year has been…  I have always loved trying new things, traveling to different places and pushing the ‘normal’ envelope.  Even though I spent a good deal of time preparing for this trip, I was pushed to my physical and mental limits a number of times.  Nothing makes you feel more alive than surviving what I call a throw-up scary night in the ocean.  There were a few times when I wished I could push the easy button, but I knew when we set off on this trip that there is no easy button on a sailboat.  I experienced a wide range of emotions throughout the journey from serenity to sadness,  happy to miserable, and from elated to melancholy, sometimes all in the span of one day.  Mother Nature dishes out a lot and garners a whole new level of respect when you are living on a boat!

Thanks to all of you for following along and for your support.  Your comments, emails and messages meant a great deal to me.  The support I received from all of you meant more than you know.  I did not always get the time to reply and sometimes did not have internet access for long periods of time but when I did get the messages, I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Fair winds and farewell,

Christine

Homeward Bound by Mark

At our last post we were leaving the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada.  Back on the road again, we headed north until we reached the St. Lawrence Seaway.  We camped at Park National Du Bic in Quebec walking trails and exploring the seashore.  Only one lonely sailboat was anchored in the bay, clearly the sailors were thinning out the further north we traveled.

Covered bridge over river between New Brunswick and Quebec.

Covered bridge over river between New Brunswick and Quebec.

One of several freight canoes we saw in Canada.

One of several wooden freight canoes we saw in Canada.

Overlooking the St. Lawrence seaway.  Not a palm tree in sight.

Overlooking the St. Lawrence seaway. Not a palm tree in sight.

We turned east at the St. Lawrence and made it to Ottawa where we visited our friends Laura and Graeme from Sweet Chariot Too.  Coincidently, they were the first cruisers we met when our trip started and they were now our last cruising friends to visit before we headed home.  Ottawa, Canada’s capital, is a beautiful city with bike paths everywhere and many exceptional museums as well.

Rock art on the Ottawa river.

Rock art on the Ottawa river.

The Fairmont Chateau Laurier over the Rideau Canal in Ottawa.

The Fairmont Chateau Laurier over the Rideau Canal in Ottawa.

We took a tour of parliament and went back one night to watch a phenomenal light show projected onto the parliament building that told the history of Canada.

http://www.canadascapital.gc.ca/celebrate/mosaic

Windows at the War Museum in Ottawa are morse code, can you read the message?

Windows at the War Museum in Ottawa are morse code, can you read the message?

Visiting the Canadian War Museum with Laura and Graeme.

Visiting the Canadian War Museum with Laura and Graeme.

Our visit with Graeme and Laura drew to a close, and as much as I begged and pleaded with the family to keep heading north, I was vetoed by the majority.  Everyone was ready to go home.  School had already started in Boise and the boys didn’t want to miss more than the first week of classes.

Years ago I had driven semi along the great lakes and had seen where iron ore was loaded onto ships destined for the steel mills near Chicago.  More recently I gave a speech for toastmasters on the subject while still working at Micron.  So, knowing a little about the process, I took the first opportunity I saw near Duluth, Minnesota to visit one of the piers used to load the ore called taconite into ships.

As we drove down towards the docks we were greeted by a by a strikingly tall man wearing a pair of well worn overhauls.  He listened to our quest, took about five steps to a bucket he had sitting next to the dock and produced a handful of musket ball sized iron marbles.  “Is this what you’re looking for?”  he said.  Years ago taconite, which is once processed iron ore, was loaded on this very dock.  He told us that while the dock was no longer used for that purpose, the area had just set an all time record for production of iron ore.  Not being in too much of a rush, he invited us all to see his tugboat which was built in 1903.  Drawing 9 ft he said he occasionally has run aground with such a deep draft but never lacked for enough thrust to get himself back off again.

Handfull of taconite pellets.

Handfull of taconite pellets.

Lake Superior tugboat.

Lake Superior tugboat.

The wheel took 24 rotations to move the rudder from stop to stop.  The reduction gears in the steering mechanism looked like a bulletproof system of gears connecting to chains that disappeared into the hull, somehow finding their way to the rudder.  In addition to the tour of his tugboat we were also given a short history of shipping on the great lakes and a handful of taconite souvenirs before going on our way.

Back in the car we continued on towards South Dakota, crossing the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, making it all the way to the badlands before calling it a day.  We knew we had arrived back in the west when we were serenaded to sleep by several coyotes that evening.

Sunset over the Missouri river.

Sunset over the Missouri river.

Sunrise in the badlands SD.

Sunrise in the badlands SD.

Badland bighorns.

Badlands bighorns.

At first light we broke camp and enjoyed the sunrise over the badlands and ate our Cheerios out of a bowl on the side of the road.  Next stop Mt. Rushmore.  It was a good experience to see Mt. Rushmore, and an even better one, because we had just visited the homes of Washington and Jefferson.   Lincoln was familiar because of his involvement in the civil war sites we had also driven past.  What we didn’t know was that Roosevelt had declared our next stop the United States first national monument.  Any guesses?  It’s Devil’s Tower, WY.  We circumnavigated the tower on foot before moving on again for what the boys were beginning to call a little night truckin’.

Mt. Rushmore SD.

Mt. Rushmore SD.

Devils Tower WY.

Devils Tower, WY.

Our parting shot.

Our parting shot.

The next day we crossed the Idaho state line with a hip-hip-hurray and by 7pm were pulling into our friends driveway, The Reynolds, back home in Boise.  We had been gone 365 days to the day, and what a year it has been!  Ironically, these friends were the last people we saw when we left Idaho too.

Last stop before we get to Boise!

Last stop before we get to Boise.  Everybody out.

As if a reminder of what we had accomplished, this truck passed us just before we drove into Boise.

As if a reminder of what we had accomplished, this truck passed us just before we drove into Boise.  You may grab life by the horns but grab your sharks by the tail!

Thank you for following our journey and for all of the positive comments and encouragement along the way.  I’m sure Christine will have her own final comments to make about our trip as well, but for this my final post I would like to leave you with a few of my favorite lines from “Ulysses” by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Fair Winds,
Mark

Couch Cruising by Christine

We have been incredibly fortunate in meeting a number of fantastic cruising friends during our travels and decided that since we still have a month left in our journey it would be the perfect opportunity to work our way up the coast seeing new sights and meeting old friends along the way.  None of us have been up the east coast so we were looking forward to taking in the history and sights.

Being back on land has its challenges and negotiating the rental car system was our first challenge.  We need to get from Lancaster, VA to Fort Lauderdale and could rent a car for a decent daily price, but when I clicked the reserve button, the total price was about $600 higher than it should have been.  In looking at the details, they were going to charge a $600 fee for dropping it off in a different state than we reserved it in.  After a little bit of on-line research, I found we could rent a car airport to airport without the drop off fee.  No problem except that we are 2 hours from the closest airport in Richmond.  What I ended up doing was renting a car from the nearest town (Lancaster) to Richmond, and then renting another car from Richmond to Fort Lauderdale.

After playing the rental car shuffle, we arrived in Fort Lauderdale and went to the storage unit to pick up our vehicle, which was covered in pine needles.  Mark hooked up the battery and it faithfully started right up.  We transferred everything from the rental car into our car, dropped the rental off at the airport, ran a few errands and headed to our friend’s house, Lee & Tina’s, by supper time.  Ross and Astrid had been on their boat in Ft. Lauderdale for the weekend and they met us at Lee & Tina’s for a reunion supper.  What a fantastic evening.

Ross, Astrid, Lee and Tina are two couples that helped make this trip possible.  Thank you!  We couldn't have done it without you.

Ross, Astrid, Lee and Tina are two couples that helped us prepare for the trip. Thank you! We couldn’t have done it without you.

Ross and Astrid’s house was our home base for the next few days.  We love staying with them and were looking forward to relaxing at our home away from home.  When the boys took their bags upstairs, they lay down on the carpet and were talking about how luxurious and soft it felt.  Carpet was something I have taken for granted my whole life.

The following day we ran a few more errands in Fort Lauderdale and dropped some things off at Sailorman to sell on consignment.

Sailorman is a great place to leave gear on consignment.

Sailorman is a great place to leave gear on consignment.

That evening we had arranged to get together with our friends at Riviera where we lived on our boat for a couple months while getting ready for the trip.  It was so good to see everyone again and share a potluck like we had done so many times with them while we lived there.

The dock we stayed at had caved in during a heavy rain a few weeks earlier.

The dock we stayed at had caved in during a heavy rain a few weeks earlier.

We had originally planned on returning to Riviera after the Bahamas but took the cave in as a sign that we had made the right decision in going up the ICW.  We had such a fun evening that I forgot to take a group picture, but I did get a picture of some of the girls enjoying the evening.

Good to see you again Riviera gang.  Looking forward to you all visiting us in Idaho!

Good to see you again Riviera gang. Looking forward to you all visiting us in Idaho!

While Astrid and Ross worked during the day, we went out to play.  We went to a nature preserve and learned more about the flora and fauna of Florida. walk in florida

Another day we went to a dolphin center. dolphin

Florida's trash is turned into a mountain and they also make energy out of it.  Check it out.  http://monarchhill.wm.com

Florida’s trash is turned into a mountain and they also make energy out of it. Check it out. http://monarchhill.wm.com

The trash turned into a hill in the background.  It is the only elevation in the area!

The trash turned into a hill in the background. It is the only elevation in the area!

One of the evenings at their house, we all went to another friend’s for dinner and had a surprise birthday cake for Cole.  His birthday was coming up in a few days, but we wanted to celebrate with our Florida friends too.

Cole's first birthday party-toasting cake with Logan and Ross.

Cole’s birthday party-toasting cake with Logan and Ross.

We enjoyed some down time at their house, spent time planning the next couple stops on our journey, relaxed in their pool, reveled in cooking in a house kitchen again.

Another fantastic dinner with the Hunton's.

Another fantastic dinner with the Hunton’s on their porch

It was hard to say goodbye, but it was time for us to move on to catch our next cruising friends.

Ross and Astrid, thank you for all your support.  We couldn’t have done it without you.

Ross and Astrid, thank you for all your support. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Next stop, Georgia for the cruiser family reunion.  Truansea, Southern Bound and Eleon were the kid boats and we had spent a few months together in the Bahamas.  The boys were so excited to see everyone again that they counted down the miles for what seemed like a hundred miles.  When we arrived, the kids instantly took off together in a pack.  What did they enjoy doing together?  Water activities of course.  We swam in their pool, went to the river to swim and went to a local waterpark.

Logan, Cole and Nick in the O'Sheill's pool.

Nick, Logan, and Cole in the O’Sheill’s pool.

It was extremely hard to get everyone to hold still for a picture.

It was extremely hard to get everyone to stop for a picture at the local swimming hole in the river.  They were having too much fun and did not want to be bothered to hold still!

Logan, John, Nick and Cole being silly.

Logan, John, Nick and Cole being silly.

We also enjoyed time just hanging out.  The kids did not really want to go anywhere; they just wanted to spend time together.  It was Cole’s birthday while we were there so, of course, we had a party.

Cole's birthday card from Eleon.

Cole’s birthday card from Eleon.

Cole's birthday party in Georgia.

Cole’s birthday party in Georgia.

Being silly at Cole's party.

Everyone being silly at Cole’s party.

Mark, Candi and Chip relaxing on Southern Bound's porch.

Mark, Candi and Chip relaxing on Southern Bound’s porch.

It came time to say goodbye to our friends, again.  We’re looking forward to the next time we see each other.

The cruising families all together.

The cruising families all together.

We all seem to have a hard time controlling ourselves.  I wonder if we’re ever going to get along in normal society again?

We all seem to have a hard time controlling ourselves. I wonder if we’re ever going to get along in normal society again?

Next stop, Charleston, SC to see Moonshadow.

It is so good to see you again Laurie!

It is so good to see you again Laurie!

Rob belongs to a rowing team so he took us out in one of the boats and we rowed across the bay for dinner.

Rob, Logan, Christine, Cole and Laurie ready to row.

Rob, Logan, Cole, Christine and Laurie ready to row.

Aren't they the most beautiful couple?  I am so jealous of their hair.  Vanessa & Paul Brown who we met at the restaurant we rowed over to.

Aren’t they the most beautiful couple? I am so jealous of their hair. Vanessa & Paul Brown who we met at the restaurant we rowed over to.

After dinner we returned to Moonshadow for a game of Gulf with the masters who taught it to us.  The next day we decided to do something non-nautical and went bowling.

Truansea bowling with Moonshadow.

Truansea bowling with Moonshadow.  Yes, we had to wear socks and shoes.

When are you coming to Idaho Laurie?

Bowling babes!

Next evening, on to Mark’s cousin Lori and Steve’s in Charlotte, NC.  We had a fantastic southern BBQ meal at their house and enjoyed a quiet evening together catching up while the kids played Lego’s, Nerf guns and listened to Jake play guitar.  It was fun to hear stories about when Lori and Mark were kids.

Jake and Ashley (second cousins) building Legos with Logan and Cole.

Jake and Ashley (second cousins) building Lego’s with Logan and Cole.

Mark had not seen his cousin Lori for about 20 years.

Mark had not seen his cousin Lori for about 20 years.

Next on to Ruckersville, Virginia to John and Marty’s house (the new owners of Truansea).  We drove part of the way along the beautiful Appalachian Trail.

The Appalachian Trail.

View from the Appalachian Trail.

We have heard so much about their home in the country, neighborhood friends, the band and everything there is to do at ‘Camp Whitlow’ that we could not wait to get there.  We pulled up in their driveway and were greeted by Marty’s smiling face waiting for us on the front porch.

The first day we headed off to Monticello, the home of our third president, Thomas Jefferson.

Us in front of Monticello.  What a day, packed with a months worth of home schooling history for the boys.

Us in front of Monticello. What a day, packed with a months worth of home schooling history for the boys.

That evening John took the boys fishing.  Fish was caught by all, but Logan caught ‘the big one’ and has the picture to prove it.

Logan and John with 'The Big One'.

Logan and John with ‘The Big One’.

Marty fishing with the boys at the Whitlow Pond.

Marty fishing with the boys at the Whitlow’s Pond.

Cole with a bass he caught.

Cole with a bass he caught.

Marty took our boys and the neighbor girl, Maggie, down to another neighbors house swimming the next day where they were met by a few more kids.  After swimming and supper, all the kids rejoined at yet another neighbors house for an evening of flashlight tag.  All we could hear was the sounds of running feet and kids voices in the night.

That evening, John and Marty had arranged a dinner at their house and our very own private concert by Scuffletown.

Friends...

Friends with Marty and John.

John playing accordion with the band.  You're never heard the accordion like John plays it.  Incredible!

John playing accordion with the band. You’re never heard the accordion like John plays it. Incredible!

Logan, Cole and Maggie enjoying the concert.

Logan, Cole and Maggie enjoying the concert in the foreground.

John is playing his harmonica in the following video.

John is playing his accordion in this video.

This is one of the boys favorite songs which John wrote and sings in.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ya4C7ZKSF60&feature=youtu.be 2223 scuffletown song

The song Scuffletown.

The next evening was another group meal at their house with Marty’s sister.  After that we went to yet another neighbors house where one of the kids made balloon creations for everyone, even the adults.  Thanks for the Unicorn Zac!

All the neighbor kids with their balloon creations by Zac.

All the neighbor kids with their balloon creations by Zac.

Marty and Mark enjoying the evening at the neighbors.

Marty and Mark enjoying the evening at the neighbors.

Have you ever tried pickled eggs?  They are quite popular in the south.  Love them!

Have you ever tried pickled eggs? They are quite popular in the south. Love them!  These were pickled in a beet juice.

Mary, Christine, John, Cole and Logan on the front porch at Camp Whitlow.

Mary, Christine, John, Cole and Logan on the front porch at Camp Whitlow.

We reluctantly left Camp Whitlow to see Truansea one last time and get our boat belongings out of storage and put into our vehicle.  We stopped at James Madison’s (4th president) house, Montpelier, on our way.  There seems to be presidential history every 5 miles along the way in Virginia.

Montpellier

Montpellier, the home of James Madison.

Did you know tea used to come in bricks like this?  When you wanted a cup, you would break a piece off and let it brew in your hot water like loose tea.  This is what was dumped in the water at the Boston Tea Party.

Did you know that tea used to be shipped in bricks? When you wanted a cup, you would break a piece off and let it brew in your hot water like loose tea. This is what was dumped in the water at the Boston Tea Party.

We arrived at the marina late morning.  If you look closely inside the car and on the roof rack, we have packed a great deal of gear already.  Do you think it is all going to fit?

Packing the rest of our Truansea gear in our vehicle.

Packing the rest of Truansea gear in our vehicle.

Well, it almost fit.  We shipped 7 boxes of various sizes back to Boise, then we were on our way.  It is truly amazing that you can fit everything you need for a year (minus consumables) in a vehicle.

All our gear (minus 7 boxes) from Truansea fit in our car.

All our gear (minus 7 boxes) from Truansea fit in our car.  I love this shot with our previous ‘home’ for the year behind the car.

The new owners were having a bottom job and a couple other things done on Truansea so she was on the hard.  We said our final goodbye to her and continued on toward Washington DC.

So long Truansea.  Happy voyages for you to come...

So long Truansea. Happy voyages for you to come…

There are a variety of strange sights one sees along the way on a road trip.  This one we just had to take a picture of.

There is a story here to be sure.

There is a story here to be sure.

George Washington’s (1st president) birthplace was along our route so we stopped in.

George Washington's birthplace.  You can see the outline of the foundation of the house which burned down when he was a child.

George Washington’s birthplace. You can see the outline of the foundation of the house which burned down when he was a child.

The house burned down when he was young and the only piece salvaged from the fire that they put in the memorial house for him is this table.

The round table is the only piece of furniture salvaged from his Washington's house he was born in.

The round table is the only piece of furniture salvaged from his Washington’s house he was born in.

Negotiating the DC hotel reservation system proved to be another back-to-land challenge.  What we take for granted as included in most of America’s hotels is not included here.  I had to make sure I was comparing apples to apples in figuring out the best hotel price.  The lowest price hotels did not include parking (extra $45 per day), no continental breakfast, wi-fi was not free and there is no frig in the room.   Access to the Metro (to get to downtown DC) was a long ways away from the less expensive hotels, and no Metro passes were included with the room.  If you included one weekend night in your stay, the price was cheaper and reserving at least 3 days in advance, the price was less.  In the end, we paid more for a room than we wanted but it included free parking, free wi-fi, 2 daily Metro passes and the Metro left from the hotel.

This metro escalator was so steep, it was like a roller coast ride.

This metro escalator was so steep, it was like a roller coast ride.

I had a predetermined vision in my head of what The Smithsonian looked like and thought it was one huge museum that covered a few blocks.  The Smithsonian is actually a bunch of separate museums scattered for blocks around ‘The Mall’.  The National Mall is a threadbare grass area that runs for blocks from the Washington Monument to The White House.

Be prepared to walk – a lot.  Not only do you walk a lot in the museums, but a lot between the museums, the Metro, the hotel room, etc.  Also bring a pack with water bottles and snacks.  There is what I called ‘food truck row’ which you could find just about anything you wanted, but it is a long way from some of the museums.  It was also helpful to be able to stop and take snack breaks whenever we wanted.

Another tip for going to Washington is grocery shop before you get to DC and take a cooler to your room.  We ate breakfast, took our own lunches with us and sometimes made our own supper in the room, which saved a lot.

There was so much to do in DC, we quickly realized we needed to make a priority list.  First on the list were the Air and Space Museum and Museum of Natural History.  The rest was equal to us so our strategy became to see everything we wanted to in each area before moving to the next block.

One day we did take a bus tour to see the monuments.  We could have taken a combination of the underground Metro and Metro buses to get to them but in the interest of efficiency, we took a tour.  The tour bus was not as efficient as we had hoped and it would have been just as fast to use the Metro system to see everything.

What a stark contrast seeing a mounted policeman texting in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

The mounted police in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

The mounted police in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

It was amazing to see the Lincoln Memorial in person.

It was amazing to see the Lincoln Memorial in person.

The Washington Monument in the background.

The Washington Monument in the background.

There is Idaho on the top row of the Lincoln Memorial building.

There is Idaho on the top row of the Lincoln Memorial building.

The Vietnam wall was very moving.  People pay their respects and leave everything from photos to motorcycles to honor those lost in the war.

The Vietnam wall was very moving. People pay their respects and leave everything from photos to motorcycles to honor those lost in the war.

Remember this from the movie Night at the Museum?  This was in the Natural History Museum where part of the film was made.  We also saw the T-Rex that was in the movie as well as a few other artifacts.

Remember this from the movie Night at the Museum?  “You new Dum-dum.  You give me gum-gum.”  This was in the Natural History Museum where part of the film was made. We also saw the T-Rex that was in the movie as well as a few other artifacts.

I found Lucy fascinating.

I found Lucy fascinating.  She was only 3 foot 7 inches tall.

All of you cruisers have had fun watching the flying fish and some of you have had them land in your cockpits.  I thought you would all enjoy the following exhibit about them. flying fish

The capital.

The capital.

One of the beautiful statues in Washington DC.

One of the beautiful statues in Washington DC.

After a whirlwind three days in DC, we were ready to move on.  Next stop, New York City to see a classmate of mine, which I had not seen in 28 years, since high school.  Getting into NYC was an experience in itself.

New York City in the distance.

New York City in the distance.

One of the tolls going in to NYC.  Take plenty of cash with you.  It seems like it cost us about $35 to get into NYC.

One of the tolls going in to NYC. Take plenty of cash with you. It seems like it cost us about $35 to get into NYC.

Kellie, an old high school classmate, shows me the sweater she found in her chest that I knitted for her our senior year in high school.

Kellie, an old high school classmate, shows me the sweater she found in her chest that I knitted for her our senior year in high school.  I had completely forgotten I made this but it came back to me once I saw it.

Kellie, a Pardeeville HIgh School classmate, me, her youngest son Anthony, Logan and Cole.

Kellie, a Pardeeville HIgh School classmate, me, her youngest son Anthony, Logan and Cole.

Splitting lanes in NYC.

Splitting lanes in NYC.

From NYC we went on to Mystic, Connecticut to stay with cruising friends Ginnie and Ted from s/v Firecracker.  Of course, we shared fantastic meals with them, the boys sharpened their pool playing skills, went sightseeing around Mystic, including seeing Mystic Pizza where part of the 1988 film Mystic Pizza was taken, and Ginnie took us on a tour of the last school she set up before retirement, the Marine Science Magnet High School.  Here is a link to the school which you will find quite impressive. http://www.marinesciencemagnet.org

Cole, Logan and Ginnie in front of the Marine Science Magnet High School of Southeast Connecticut.

Cole, Logan and Ginnie in front of the Marine Science Magnet High School of Southeast Connecticut.  What an accomplishment you made Ginnie in building this school from the ground up!

Simulator in the school where students can earn time towards their captains license.

Simulator in the school where students could earn time towards their captains license.

Every last detail was thoroughly thought through, right down to the lighting that represents a sail.

Every last detail was thoroughly thought through, right down to the lighting that has a nautical look with a modern twist.

One of the school's fish labs.

One of the school’s fish labs with the principal (Dr. Spera) giving us a tour.

The common areas in the school were very welcoming and practical.

The common areas in the school were very welcoming.

This common area had very inviting seats.

This common area had inviting seats.

Another common area had seats on the sides that looked like waves, yet were very comfortable and the round lunch tables foster togetherness.

Another area had seats on the sides that looked like waves, yet were very comfortable and the round lunch tables foster togetherness.

Logan, Cole, Mark, Ginnie and Ted from s/v Firecracker.

Logan, Cole, Mark, Ginnie and Ted from s/v Firecracker.

We could have easily stayed longer.  There was so much to see and do in Mystic but it was time to move on.

Next to Boston, to visit Gayle and Julia from s/v Esprit.  Mark originally met them on his first boat-shopping trip in Florida.  They are the most organized people I have ever met and provided us with so much information as we prepared for our trip.  We had been trying to meet up with them in the Bahamas but kept missing each other.  This was another one of those meant-to-be moments.  We called them to find out where they were at in their travels and our paths were essentially crossing that day.

We finally caught up with Gayle and Julia.

We finally caught up with Gayle and Julia.

Boston's double decker bridge.

Boston’s double decker bridge.

Next to visit more Nordhaven friends, Don and Debbie from Valkyrie at their cabin in Maine on beautiful lake Sebec.  Our friends had a few landscaping projects we were able to help with in exchange for a great stay in Maine. Mark also took the opportunity to change the brakes and rotors on our vehicle which had rusted after so many months of sitting in Florida causing the brakes to pulse.

Don not only let the boys take the dinghy out whenever they wanted, but he also let them drive the Bobcat.

Logan running the Bobcat.

Logan running the Bobcat.

Cole running the Bobcat.

Cole running the Bobcat.

A little R&R after work and play!

A little R&R after work and play!

Logan running the big boat.

Logan running the big boat.

Cole having fun being pulled on the tube.

Cole having fun being pulled on the tube.

Logan on the tube.

Logan on the tube.

Morning on the back deck of the cabin.

Morning on the back deck of the cabin.

Loons on the lake.  I have not heard loons since I was a kid camping in northern Wisconsin.  If you have never heard one, you need to.   It is indescribable.  It ranks right up there with hearing elk bugling and howler monkeys calling.

Common Loons on Lake Sebec. I have not heard loons since I was a kid camping in northern Wisconsin. Their song ranks right up there with the sounds of elk bugling and howler monkeys calling in the jungle.

Cozy cabin.

Cozy cabin.

Logan with Don and Debbie at a falls on a hike.

Logan with Don and Debbie at a falls on a hike.

Big falls Maine.

Waterfall we hiked to in Maine.

Another sight along side a road that wanted to share with you.

I am glad we lived on a boat and not a yellow submarine for a year!

The birch bark paper canoe Mark made is soon to take it's maiden voyage.

Always the boat builder, Mark made a little birchbark canoe soon to take its maiden voyage.

Logan, Cole, Mark, Christine, Don and Debbie.

Logan, Cole, Mark, Christine, Don and Debbie.

Mark thinking about our journey ending soon.

Mark quite sad seeing fall on the way, thinking about our journey ending soon.

Don and Deb - looking forward to seeing you in Idaho!

Don and Deb – looking forward to seeing you in Idaho!

Sailing their Catalina.

Sailing their Catalina.

Deb had everything for rock painting.  The boys left a few painted rocks around camp.

Deb had everything for rock painting. The boys left a few painted rocks around camp.

Maine lobster is quite different from the Bahamas Spiny Lobster.

Maine lobster is quite different from the Bahamas Spiny Lobster.

What a sunset.

What a sunset.

As always, it is hard to say good-bye but time to move on to our next stop – Canada and The Bay of Fundy.  The Bay of Fundi is known for its extreme tides.  While we were here, the tide range was 35 feet.  I would not want to anchor our sailboat here!

Low tide on the Bay of Fundy.

Low tide on the Bay of Fundy.

Just 6 hours later makes such a difference.  High tide on the bay.

Just 6 hours later makes such a difference. High tide on the bay.

There has been a number of covered bridges in the area.  This one lead to our campground.

One of the many covered bridges we have encountered.

One of several covered bridges we have encountered.

Does the tooth fairy visit Canada?  You bet she does, and yes, she leaves loonies.

Cole's tooth he lost in Canada.

Cole’s tooth he lost in Canada.

His tooth was not taken however and the next night Cole left it under his pillow again to see if he could double his money.  He was left with a note written in French.  We still need to find someone to read it for us.  The only word we could figure out was dente.

There is absolutely beautiful hiking here.

Falls in Maine.

Falls in Canada.

We will continue west across from here.  Next stop, Graeme and Laura’s (s/v Sweet Chariot Too).

Fair Driving ~ Christine

Natural History Museum by Cole

A few days ago we went to the Natural History and Arts Museum.  First, we went to the ocean part of it.  We saw one display about a prehistoric animal that had a very small hipbone.

You can see the hip bone on this animal.

You can see the hip bone on this animal.

Obviously it was evolving from a water animal to a land animal or a land animal to a water animal.  We also saw displays about how apes evolved into humans.

Do you see the resemblance between my dad and the ape?

Do you see the resemblance between my dad and the ape?

 

Then we went to the gems and minerals part of the museum.  We saw the famous Hope Diamond.

Hope diamond.

Hope diamond.

Then we saw all of the other gems.  There was one mineral there that glows when you shine a black light on it.

Phosphorescent rocks at the Natural History Museum.

Phosphorescent rocks at the Natural History Museum.

There were really big gems too. bigThis was also the museum that the movie Night at the Museum was filmed.  My favorite display was the gems and minerals part.  If you ever come to the Smithsonian, don’t forget to see the Hope Diamond.

…Cole

Monticello by Logan

Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States.  When Thomas retired, he made a house in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  This house was named Monticello.  Thomas was an interesting man.  He observed many things like his garden and every morning he would record the date, humidity, pressure, temperature, etc..

MonticelloThomas was asked to write the Declaration of Independence.  Thomas made a lot of good phrases in the Declaration of Independence.  Thomas also founded the College of Virginia.  To wake up in the morning, Thomas Jefferson immediately plunged his feet into a bucket of cold water to wake himself up.  When Jefferson died, he put the three most important things he did on his grave:

  1. Author of the Declaration of American Independence
  2. Father of the University of Virginia.
  3. Author of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom.

ThomasLogan

Lessons Learned by Mark

Now that we are officially back on land and have sold our sailboat, we’ve had some time to reflect on our trip.  We also thought it might be helpful to pass on some of the lessons we learned along the way to others who have similar aspirations or to those who just want to compare notes.  I divided the information into five categories that include buying and selling a boat, equipment and maintenance, safety, provisioning and finally home schooling.

Buying and selling the boat:  While there has already been volumes written about purchasing and selling a boat, what was unique about our experience was that we never expected to purchase the boat we eventually bought. To make a long story short, I had been searching for a more blue water boat.  Unfortunately, many of the boats of that caliber in our price range needed too much work and we would have never left the dock.  Our Hunter 37 which is considered a coastal cruiser was found by a friend in Florida who was convinced that this was the boat for us.  Our Hunter really hadn’t been sailed very much by the pervious owner, which isn’t exactly a good thing, but it had spent most of its life on a fresh water lake, which is. Consequently, even though the rigging was old, it was still in good condition.

When we considered what we were going to do with the boat, we concluded that we weren’t really going to be crossing a big ocean anyway so why not buy the coastal cruiser?  It was ten years newer than anything else I had looked at, it was beamy for spaciousness below deck, and it even had an aft cabin, something that would be a real advantage to a family of four!

Of all the items that can need work on a boat, I was mostly concerned with the following four:  sails, engine, rigging, and delamination in the deck or hull.  While our boat wasn’t perfect, it was in extremely good shape for its age.  Any problems that were found in the survey were reasons to further negotiate the price.  She was a diamond in the rough for sure, but we were able to negotiate the price a little lower because of it.  That being said, I ended up having to do more to the boat than I expected to get it ready for our trip, but it’s my understanding that is almost always the case!

Along the way we continued making improvements to the boat, straightening out the running rigging, fixing all the wiring, adding LED and replacing the faucets, many of the improvements weren’t expensive but the result was a boat that showed well.  The biggest project was sanding and refinishing the floors which took time but made the boat look 10 years younger.

Refinishing floors one section at a time.

Refinishing floors one section at a time.

Sanded floors were later finished using a satin finish polyurethane.

Sanded floors were later finished using a satin finish polyurethane.

When we moved onto the boat, several thru hulls were leaking.  Replacing the sea cocks, hoses and installing a new prop and shaft as well as bottom paint were the biggest expenses in part because it required 2 haul outs.

When the handle falls off your seacock you might want to replace it!

When the handle falls off your seacock you might want to replace it!

In the end, we had a boat that was in much better condition than when we started.  At the end of our trip, when we made it back to Florida, we advertised the boat on Craigslist and on sailboatlisting.com.  We priced the boat just slightly less than similar boats on the market and felt confident that ours looked better and was better equipped than any of the other boats on-line.  Finally we took an entire day cleaning out a room at a time and took the best pictures we could, using a wide-angle lens.  We sold the boat to the first couple that came to look at her which was fortuitous but it is important to add, I think, that we were able to pass on a good deal on the boat to the new owners because of what we saved when we bought a boat that needed a little work.

Main salon.

Main salon.

ll6

Vberth

Aft cabin.

Aft cabin.

ll8

Head

Equipment and Maintenance:  It’s safe to say that every piece of equipment on a boat has a certain life expectancy.  Usually the surveyor on a boat will inspect the sails and rigging for signs of fatigue but my experience on Truansea taught me to pay close attention to all of the hoses and engine components too.  During our trip, I replaced both water pumps and the lift pump.  I replaced the heater hoses that ran to the hot water heater because they had nearly chaffed completely through.  The exhaust hose was nearly rotted through, and I replaced the raw water hose to the head because of excessive cracking.  Boat U.S. states that any hose over ten years old should be suspect.  Finally when replacing your hoses, always double clamp beneath the waterline using high quality hose clamps.

indented rather than stamped hose clamps are less prone to failure and corrosion.

Indented rather than stamped hose clamps are less prone to failure and corrosion.

hose clammp fail2

Failed hose clamp

Don’t forget to inspect the mixing elbow on the exhaust system as well.  It is constantly exposed to high temperatures and saltwater, a recipe for corrosion!

When it came to maintenance of the engine, I opened and inspected the heat exchanger before we left the dock.  I replaced the raw water impeller, belts and fuel filters.  The fuel tank was polished to remove any sediment that might get stirred up in high seas.  In retrospect, some of the fuel in the Bahamas was dirty and it would have been nice to have a baja filter for fueling.  Because my fuel filter was rather small, I changed the primary filter every 100 hours along with the oil.  In place of a Baha filter, I sacrificed an old t-shirt to filter the fuel going into the tank.

Replacing the fuel filter when you buy a boat is clearly a good idea.

Replacing the fuel filter when you buy a boat is clearly a good idea.

Unless I had already just replaced the pumps on a marine engine, I would now keep spares on the boat if I was going to venture very far offshore.

Safety:  By far the most useful safety item we had on the boat besides our life jackets was our satellite phone. When our water pump failed in the middle of our crossing back to the states our sat phone was our only link in contacting Boat US and notifying the Coast Guard of our position.  Of course, we had an EPIRB as well, but the main advantage of the sat phone is the ability for two-way communication.

http://www.explorersatellite.com

We always kept a ditch bag handy.  In it were flares for nighttime, smoke flares for daytime, signal mirror, a flashlight with laser pointer & SOS signal.  We packed a handheld VHF with our sat phone and a hand-held GPS loaded with blue water charts. Finally, we threw in a few easy open cans of food and a couple quarts of water.

Had we been making longer crossings on going further south, we would have invested in a lifeboat.  As it was, our dinghy was our life raft.  We kept a horseshoe buoy and a lifesling on the stern rail.  Christine and I wore coastal inflatable life jackets and bought used harnesses and tethers at Sailorman in Fort Lauderdale.  Buying used equipment at Sailorman saved us hundreds on the outfitting of our boat.  The only other item I would have added to our safety list would have been strobe lights that clip on to your life jacket.  I would also recommend orange life jackets for kids as they are far easier to see from a distance.

Sailorman, a gold mine of used sailing equipment!

Sailorman, a gold mine of used sailing equipment!

The literal piles of gear at Sailorman.

The literal piles of gear at Sailorman.

Provisioning:  This was really my wife’s department, and she did a good job of stocking  the boat until the waterline disappeared!  Her posts already touched on the subject of provisioning so I’ll be brief.  Only to say that how you provision will be a function of your ability to refrigerate.  It takes a fair amount of power to keep food cold or frozen on a boat hence all of the solar panels and wind generators on cruising boats. Since we didn’t start our trip with solar or wind power we ate a good deal of TVP (textured vegetable protein) on our trip and it’s actually not too bad as a meat substitute.  Christine even added it to a white sauce when she made biscuits and gravy.  We bought along non-refrigerated meats like pepperoni for pizza night and summer sausage kept fine without refrigeration.

Finally if you’re headed to the Bahamas, bring plenty of paper towels and toilet paper.  They sell toilet paper by the single roll and the stuff isn’t cheap!

Don't let toilet paper rationing come to this! Back by popular demand.

Don’t let toilet paper rationing come to this!

Home Schooling:  Our strategy for homeschooling was following a couple of 4th and 5th grade curriculum workbooks.  In addition to the workbooks, we taught whatever was at hand when the opportunity presented itself.  We learned about Columbus in the Bahamas, Ponce de Leon in Florida and Blackbeard in Beaufort, NC.  We made timelines using the dates of significant events that had occurred along our route in the past such as the Civil War, etc.  Where we could, we watched historical reenactments and spoke with biologists in the field.

Seeing turtles, dolphins and sharks in the wild reinforced their understanding of animals in their natural habitat.

Learning about sharks in Bimini.

Learning about sharks in Bimini.

In this way, we covered our bases using the workbooks which provided a wealth of learning without using a ton of boat space.  But the real learning was in the doing.  Charting led to discussions of latitude and longitude.  Of course nothing teaches weather like watching a waterspout.  Our boat was a floating laboratory with new lessons everyday.

The world is your classroom.

Let the world be your classroom.

My opinion about schooling kids on a boat remains the same as it was before we started our adventure.  Schools would gladly teach all their students exactly as we did this last year if they could.  I have no doubt the rewards of an education afloat will be long-lasting.

Fair Winds,

Mark

Truansea’s New Journey Begins by Christine

In my last post, I wrote “What is in store for Truansea next?  I can’t wait to share that with you, but that is another blog post.  Stay tuned.”  Thank you for staying tuned and now, the reason we ended the boating part of our trip… we sold Truansea.  We passed her on to the new owners and stepped off her for the last time Saturday morning to continue the rest of our trip by land.

Join us in congratulating the new owners, John and Marty!  We are so excited for them to follow their dream and begin their adventure.

So how did they find us?  Marty says she is not a computer wizard but somehow stumbled across our boat on Craigslist.  She called her husband John and in her southern accent said, “Honey, I found our dream boat!”

There have been many, what I call gifts, sent to us along the way on our yearlong adventure and John and Marty are two of them.

The first time we met John and Marty was in Beaufort, North Carolina where they came down to see the boat, spending a couple of days sailing and getting to know her.  Marty was bearing gifts of Virginia t-shirts for the boys, Virginia wine for us, and a gallon of Virginia peanuts (the best peanuts I have ever had).  John brought harmonicas for the boys, and CDs and a fly swatter for the family.  We had so much fun sailing with them, sharing meals and enjoying John’s jam sessions.  Marty and John had read our blog and were full of questions for the boys about cruising, life on a boat, fishing, etc. They already knew a great deal about the boat from the blog.  We had not realized what an important tool the blog was until we were well into our trip.  It was not only great for communicating with friends, family and cruisers but served as a maintenance and trip record for the boat.

John is a talented musician, is incredibly organized with a great sense of humor and is full of nothing but positive comments.  Marty is indescribably generous, and her enthusiasm is absolutely infectious.  She is the kind of person you want to hug when you meet her.

Following are two videos of John playing on our boat.  He plays a mean harmonica, accordion like you have never heard it and flute.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time with them.  As a parting gift from Beaufort, Marty came bearing packs of the boys favorite candy, Skittles and some candy bars.  It was a real treat, which they savored for days.  We worked out the contract details and would sail Truansea the rest of the way up the ICW and into the Chesapeake to Yankee Point Marina in Virginia for the survey and haul out.

The next time we saw John and Marty was at Yankee Point Marina.  Marty came bearing gifts of Lego’s for the boys and yes, more skittles.

John and Marty at the haul out.

John and Marty at the haul out.

The last time we saw them was on the day of the closing to go through the boat one more time and pass over the sails, so to speak.  John brought us a copy of his first CD and, you guessed it, Marty had more Lego’s and Skittles.  They have made such an impression on the boys not only in the gifts they bring, but in the friendship we have formed with them.

We feel so fortunate to have met them and all feel good about them sailing Truansea.  We all became quite attached to our boat and having her go to some person we did not feel a connection with would have been hard.

Logan taking Marty for a dinghy ride.

Logan taking Marty for a dinghy ride.

One of the questions we had is, “Are they going to change the name of the boat?”  The name Truansea fit  for our adventure, but the name Scuffletime fits their adventure.  I mentioned that John is a talented musician and he is part of a band named Scuttletown.  The CDs he brought the first time we met them was Another Sundown by Scuffletown and Roads by Scuffletown.   Check them out at http://scuffletown.net.  If you are reading this blog, you are the type of person that will love their music. The fly swatter he brought us on the first trip is a genuine Scufflehead fly swatter which was probably the most appropriate gift of all as it whapped a few hundred deer flies going through the Dismal Swamp area.  We played John’s CD’s and whapped flies for hours on end.  We are now die-hard Scuffleheads!

Marty was a kindergarten teacher who touched many people’s lives.  She is the kind of person you would instantly feel good about leaving your kids with.  More recently she has touched many people’s lives with her cancer foundation which she started based on her battle with ovarian cancer.  http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/state-regional/a-retired-teacher-battling-for-a-cause-larger-than-herself/article_1ff9e5f3-fabb-5924-a222-6f0cf507e2b0.html

https://www.facebook.com/MartyWhitlowOvarianCancerResearchFund/info

John has touched many people’s lives through his music and seminars.http://www.feiaa.org/event_bio.php?event_ID=125&ID=120&speaker=

We feel fortunate to have been brought into their circle.

Fair winds ~ Christine