Moving on board -- May 18, 2018

It’s hard to believe how time is flying by. So much has been packed into the past few weeks. We’ve all been working hard in preparing for the move onto Exit Only. We've been packing up the condo, made multiple trips to storage and the boat. I’ve gone through all our school supplies, toys, books, clothing and tried to pare down as much as I can. It still feels like we are bringing a lot of things. Will there be enough room?! It seems like half the items I am bringing are bigger sizes of clothing for the girls! LOL! With 2 growing girls, it feels like one day something fits perfectly and the next day it’s too small! How can someone outgrow a shoe in 3 months!! So I’ve tried to plan ahead as best as possible with larger clothing items (especially those that might be harder to find or more expensive overseas i.e. shoes, jackets …) Thankfully, with 2 girls, the younger one can wear her sister’s things so that cuts down on costs and space a little.

With David, it will be all about sharing space with music and camera gear, humph! : ) During the last circumnavigation, his bunk was filled by musical instruments collected along the way … guitars, hand drums, didgeridoo … etc. I need my space too and so we are trying to find a workable solution now that it’s the two of us sharing a bunk and closet space. Camera gear has been gifted one shelf! What a sacrifice! And no didgeridoo this time around! I’ve put my foot down!

The big event of the last week was Exit Only finally going into the water. We’ve had bad weather here for the past week which has complicated moving stuff on board, delayed some boat work and interfered with getting in the water. Rain, rain, and more rain. Thunder and lightning all around. It’s ok to weather a storm inside a house or condo, but being on a boat during bad weather is a different matter altogether. We prayed for a weather window to open up. It finally did this past Wednesday. David called us from the marina just as we had finished school and were in the midst of packing. “Hurry, the travel lift has come and the boat is already up in the slings.” This was something we did not want to miss with the girls. We had been talking about the move for weeks. The girls have seen plenty of other boats being moved around the marina. But it is a sight to see your own boat being hoisted up into the air. There was an excitement and sense of accomplishment as we raced to the marina. It’s finally happening!! And somewhere deep down a nagging fear … will the boat float? We arrived breathless, as if we had run all the way from the condo to the marina! Had we missed it? Thankfully no. It was time for a boatyard lunch break and then we would be the first to go in! So there she was, cradled by the travel lift and gently swaying. She looked all shiny and new, ready for some more adventures. When the travel lift operator finally returned, I think we almost jumped for joy. Go go go! As Exit Only was carried away, we followed in anxious excitement. What an amazing job David and his dad have done!! 6 months of hard work, 7 days a week with few to no breaks. The boat was carried over to the dock and gently lowered into the water. The captain and David went aboard to put all the fenders in place, check the bilges and the lines. And just like that, Exit only was back in the water and ready to go. We all got a chuckle when one of the boatyard workers, who has probably seen Exit Only sitting there for the last ten years ran up and said, “no, no, no … don’t go!” And off Exit Only went, motoring off to the Ft Pierce City Marina. It was a race against the weather now. A bad storm was about to move in. David and his dad navigated through the channel and against a fairly significant current before docking at the marina. The girls and I followed in the car to meet them there. And now here we are!

But the busy day wasn’t over yet. We still had the condo to finish moving out of. The rest of the day was spent moving boxes, mopping the floor, wiping down the fridge, washing the sheets, vacuuming the rugs, taking out trash, doing loads of laundry! Push, push, push to get it done so that we could get all moved out. Whew, it was stressful and exhausting. We were up against a little bit of a time crunch between the weather and the end of our contract at the condo. But we did it!! Darkness had already fallen byt the time we had cleared out of the condo. We all crashed with exhaustion for our first night aboard Exit Only. Time to get used to living in a small space again. Time for the girls to learn about sharing a bed. The following day we rested and recuperated. Everyone was still emotionally and physically exhausted from the final push. Three days out from the big move, we are still getting things sorted. Everything needs to find it’s own place or home on board and that can take a little time. We probably will be here in Ft Pierce for the next 2-3 weeks as final jobs are completed and we return vehicles to KY. We are getting closer to our final goal of being out there and cruising. It certainly hasn’t been all roses but it’s been worth the fight!

Keeping on, keeping on -- 20 April 2018

It’s been a whirlwind of a week here in Florida. I can’t believe how quickly time is flying by. How is it already the middle of April? We have started the provisioning! Weeks of planning have been in motion … what will we need for the next 6 months? What products will be hard to get overseas? We have to think about everything from daily eats (cereal, long life milk, coffee), to dry goods (there will be times we have to make our own bread and pizza), to special occasions (birthday cake mix), toiletries, school supplies and much more. So how much does one actually need? How much coffee will I consume!! A lot! We plan for at least 8 weeks of supplies (divided into short and long term storage). There is no problem finding fresh produce along the way. Most places will have all the basic dry goods one needs. But if you want a particular brand of deodorant or shampoo, you best buy it now. We have already made multiple runs to Wal-Mart and Aldi. And we made a big run down to Costco to find some bulk items.

And then you have to find the space for it all! Thankfully, Exit Only, is a well-designed boat. There are lots of cubbies and hidden storage spaces. But still it’s not quite living in a brick and mortar home. On top of that, Exit Only needed all new bedding, towels, pillows, storage containers, pots and pans … But when one has such a big shopping list, the important thing is to stay organized! Thankfully, Donna is a pro at all this! She has everything organized, categorized … It’s just a matter of finding what we need on the list. But at the same time, sometimes you are overcome with wanting this or that. Gotta use some self-control and careful planning to stay within our budget. No income now so gotta make it last.

It’s the final stages of boat work too! The rigging company has finally gotten our roller furler, stays, and boom up. Still need to make some changes and finish up little jobs there … mounting the anemometer, put up the stack pack and sails. The electronics are installed and the electrician is working on all the wiring. The guys have been working on the through hulls. The prop shafts have finally arrived from the Netherlands and should be installed this week. The hulls have been sanded and are ready for bottom paint. The bow pulpit has finally been installed! The boat is slowly but steadily being waxed from top to bottom!! All this forward momentum is exciting!

But unfortunately, we are now getting late into the cruising season for the Caribbean. It’s looking like we may have missed our window to get to the South Pacific this year. So now we are re-assessing and thinking through what to do over the next few months. With hurricane season coming, we need to get out of the path of hurricanes. Traditionally, most cruisers will head for Trinidad, Grenada, and the ABC (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao). However, these islands are all in the eastern Caribbean. So we are considering heading towards the Western Caribbean. This might give us the chance to visit Cuba, Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia. Whatever we end up deciding is sure to still be an adventure!

So What's Been Happening ... 30 March 2018

So it’s been 5 weeks since I landed in Florida. It’s been great to be back with my family after working my last few weeks in the ER. We have settled into a rhythm of sorts here in Florida. The day starts early with the patter of little feet coming to wake me up. Stretch and check out what the surf looks like from the balcony. Then coffee and more coffee, as the day begins with school. Zoe and I team up to tackle 1st grade subjects. Initially, there was some 6 year old push back adjusting to a new teacher and flow, but we are on a good roll now. It’s been great to see how things connect in Zoe’s head. And I am having to learn how to be creative to teaching her new subjects. Joss is soaking up everything that Gaga has to offer her and is already started on basic sight words.

The guys head out to the boatyard for long 12 hour days. There’s always a project to be done or a contractor to get in touch with. This is probably the biggest refit that Exit Only has ever had. It’s already been 5 months since the work started. The guys have done so much already – cleaned out the boat, wiped down all the surfaces, removed the cabin liner, prepped the surfaces, sewed together liner panels, glued and replaced the cabin liner, pulled the water tanks to have them fixed, removed the windmills, removed and replaced the solar panels, replaced the thru hulls, updated the plumbing, sewed their own trampolines, pulled the engines, removed the bow pulpit, had the mast removed/painted and re-inserted, and sooo much more …

What’s left to do? Rigging needs to be completed by contractors who just put the mast back up. Bow pulpit needs to be welded by contractor and then re-attached. New engine shafts need to be re-attached. New lifelines will be installed once the bow pulpit is completed … what we seem to have found, consistently and unfortunately, that unless you do the job yourself or stay on top of the contractors, stuff just doesn’t get done (and at times has not been done right).


And so that’s where we are right now … We had hoped to already be out on the water at this point. It has been frustrating at times. It can be discouraging. We are up against the clock in some ways as we consider the impending hurricane season. But once this boat is done, it’s going to be bullet proof. Oh the adventures we are ready to have! We are all dreaming of turquoise waters, tropical breezes, family movie nights … But for right now I am grateful. So thankful for this opportunity even as we work and wait and hope. Thankful that my kids get to spend this time with their family. Thankful that we are working all together towards a family dream. Thankful to see the beautiful sunrise over the ocean every morning.

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lam 3:22-23

Don't forget to check out our Instagram feed @ Maxingoutlife to see all our latest pictures and videos of the refit!

Thoughts on homeschooling ...

The very word conjured up … I don’t know, frightful thoughts and insecurities. Who am I to take charge of my child’s education? Teaching takes years of education. Teaching requires a creative spirit. Teaching needs patience. How was I going to possibly screw things up? Seriously, my child would end up with some major deficiency in her education!

But then a revelation … I get to take charge of my child’s education. I get to play a bigger role in what helps to shape her worldview and opinions. I get to spend time with my child in new and different ways. I get the opportunity to know her and understand her more. And when I take the focus off of me and what I perceive to be as weaknesses; when I focus on what I am able to provide her that she may not be getting in the classroom; when I see how we are growing and learning together … that has been the reward!

It’s not like those doubts and insecurities have magically disappeared. Each day is a challenge for me. It’s been a learning experience putting together study units. Thank heavens this is only 1st grade! Thank heavens I have been blessed with an experienced teacher and wonderful mother in law to consult. How great it’s been to have Zoe’s 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Evans be so supportive and helpful! How inspiring to have other moms around me model homeschool techniques and tips! I’m not an island in all this. I have Pintrest!! (haha) I have community!

So how are we doing … I feel like we are hitting all the marks. Some days are better than others. It’s been interesting to develop our own little flexible plan. At this point, we are jumping off from where her 1st grade class was already working. We have math, language arts (reading, comprehension, phonics, spelling, writing), creative writing, music, Bible, and varying units (based around where we might be or current interests). As I was prepping and gathering materials, I was somehow worried that I might not find all that I needed. Happily, there is no dearth of materials or subjects for us to cover. Once we start traveling more, it will be fun to work in lessons about the places that we visit. How amazing will it be to learn about the history of the Panama Canal and then sail through it! How eye popping of an experience to learn about the ecosystem and geology of the Galapagos islands and then see a giant tortoise, swim with sharks and climb a volcano! How interesting to learn about explorers like Captain Cook or how the ancient Polynesians navigated! There’s a whole world of learning outside of the classroom that is waiting to be explored.

And so it begins ...

So I find myself again at the start of a big adventure! Sailing was something that David and I had always dreamed of doing again. After 18 months on board SV Exit Only in 2004-2006 and sailing from Australia to Spain, I was hooked. What an amazing way to see the world! When we started to consider how to share our love of traveling with our kids, it really was a no brainer. It's taken a few years of working, planning and saving. We have been so blessed to be a part of a family who shares our dream, has loads of ocean sailing experience, and who already had a proven bluewater cruising boat.

Needless to say, there have been hurdles to cross. One of the biggest hurdles has been the refit. After over 10 years on the hard, Exit Only needed to be prepared for another major adventure. So David and his dad have undertaken the major refit -- interior work, fixing leaks, pulling out engines and water tanks, scrubbing and sealing ... 4 months of hard work are paying off and we are in the final stages of preparation.

We are looking forward to finally getting on board to start the final phase of prepping and provisioning. At this point it looks like we may have another 3-4 weeks before depature. While the guys are doing the heavy lifting, the ladies have been staying busy with homeschool, planning, and stocking up on supplies. Sometimes it can be a little over whelming when you start to think of all the things you might need or want for a 1 year sail across the Pacific. Thankfully, Donna has lots of experience under her belt. To discover her thoughts, please check out her blog page.

Circumnavigation 2004-2006

We set out from Australia in 2004 to complete our circumnavigation aboard Exit Only. Check out our adventures at our old website. Travel journals chronicle adventures with orangutans in Kalimantan, surviving a Tsunami in Phuket, brave 40 knot winds and pirates in the Red Sea, discover the wonders of the Middle East and more!