Happy 4th of July! The crew of Exit Only explored the festivities in Fort Pierce. The local yacht club had a boat parade up and down the inlet. We walked with the girls up to the top of the south causeway bridge and watched the boats go by. Sailors had decorated their boats with flags ands streamers. After all the walking in the summer heat and humidity, we treated ourselves to a frozen slushie! We've been watching the locals setting up tents and stages in the main plaza in preparation for tonight’s festivities. There will be live music, food trucks, and family activities. I am told that they will set off fireworks on the waterfront, so we will have a front row seat to the fireworks display.
A few hours later ... A big crowd has come to the plaza. They have a civil war era cannon which has been booming across the town basin on the hour. The bounce house is up and available for play for a mere $7 (highway robbery)! The music is blaring from the sound stage. The food trucks and bars are here. Face painting, balloons, flags and local elected officials are making the rounds. We continued our own little celebration with some delicious gelato!
And we were in for a treat! David set up his camera and got some great pictures! It was a lovely fireworks show over the waterfront. I think that we had the best seat in the house. The girls were so excited. Lots of ooo’s and ahhhh’s. What a great way to spend our fourth of July! Happy birthday America!
Back to the boat! So great to see David waiting for us at the airport! The girls were so excited to be reunited with their dad. We spent our afternoon exploring the Fort Lauderdale area. David lived here about 12 years ago. So much has changed. We visited the beach and boardwalk. The girls were dying to try the fascinating Flowrider Surf simulator. It was like the ultimate wave pool which created enough of a wave and current to surf or boogieboard. We drove around to the marina where Exit Only was docked in 1994 before her first sailing adventure. And finally we tempted fate by going by Jackson’s Ice Cream parlor. David had come here as a teenager with his youth group for the “kitchen sink” – imagine an actual kitchen sink filled to the brim with ice cream! Sticker shock got the best of us, however! $8 for a scoop of ice cream is a little rich for my blood! Thankfully, a vanilla cone from McDonald’s was just as pleasing on a hot summer day.
Fort Pierce was waiting for us … hot and humid, a real Florida summer day. And there was Exit Only! We will get this next week to ourselves while Dave and Donna finish up in Arizona. It should be interesting to see what the dynamics are like on the boat sans grandparents. David and I keep joking that maybe we should just pop over to the Bahamas on our own … of course, we won’t do that, but it could be fun.
So it’s back to KY for a little while. Boat organization is in its final phases. Dave and Donna will be headed out to Phoenix soon. The girls and I are headed up to see grandma and grandpa and to work in a few ER shifts. Gotta replenish the sailing fund! One might think that living on a sailboat is less expensive. I think that it should be. But what we have discovered is that being in a first world country is a lot more expensive. Since being in Florida over the summer wasn’t a part of the original plan, our funds have taken a hit between renting a small condo, continued insurance payments, gas in the car … and lots of ice cream! So it’s actually a good thing that we are still around and that the ER group I’ve worked with for so many years was more than willing to have me come back.
It was a joyful reunion with my parents in KY. They had just returned themselves after a 3 month stay in France while teaching at a Bible Institute. It was great to get all caught up! Lots of “my, how you’ve grown”. But then, I forget that we actually have been gone for 6 months now! Time has been flying by! Zoe and Joss have had the chance to visit with school friends, attend VBS, visit their old haunts and enjoy being spoiled by their grandparents!
Going back to work after being gone for the last 3 months was a little bit of a shock. My lovely co workers surprised me little welcome back party! Thankfully, working ER is kind of like riding a bike. After my first shift, it was as if I hadn’t even left. I really enjoy my work. I’ve been working in the ER as a PA for almost 15 years. Amazingly, I still enjoy my job! A lot of that has to do with the amazing ER family I’ve had over the years … nurses, docs, PA’s/NP’s. We really are a little family! And that has been the real sacrifice for me … beyond living in a small cramped space, the lack of certain amenities (like AC or a big fridge), living in close quarters … I’ve really missed my job and the people that I work with. Had I known that we would be in Florida for an extended period of time, David and I may have decided to do things a little differently.
And just like that almost 3 weeks have gone by … Time to hop on the airplane to Fort Lauderdale. And so we are back to Florida! Dave and Donna are in Phoenix getting final things in order. We will probably have a week as a family of 4 on the boat before Dave and Donna return. And after that … I am hopefully that within 1-2 weeks of their return we will be able to head out to the Bahamas. We are so ready to get this trip started, get out in open waters … I hope that you continue to follow us along in the journey.
Finally a day off … we’ve been hard at work for the last week since arriving at Ft Pierce City Marina. We’ve gone through the storage unit. We’ve unloaded so many boxes. We’ve re-organized cupboards and shelves. The rigging is done. The electronics are working. The engine install is complete. Our stove is up and running. David has been up and down the mast with the girls. And now we are off to Fort Lauderdale. We are looking forward to a visit with some old friends, Phillip and Debora Bode. Dave, Donna, and David have known Phillip since 1994 when he crossed the Pacific at the same time on a buddy boat. A strong friendship was forged and they’ve stayed in touch over the years. Now Phillip has his own family and lives in Ft Lauderdale to work in the marine industry. We are also looking forward to a visit of Bluewater Books.
Bluewater books is the place to go for charts, books, and cruising guides. Donna tells me that this is where they went 25 years ago before heading out on their first sailing adventures on Exit Only. We are still strong believers in paper charts. Most everyone now uses their computer or tablets to plot their routes. There are many different programs available to help sailors to navigate. During the last circumnavigation, we used a computer program called C-Map to help us chart our course. It would plug our GPS location into it’s charts. We would plot waypoints, check possible anchorages, avoid underwater dangers … We may use this system again or possible another one called Navionics. The captain has yet to decide. But what I know for sure, is that we will still have paper charts. Paper charts are good for back up in case all your electronics go down.
So off to Ft. Lauderdale we went. We had a delicious lunch at one of our favorite pizza places, Primanti brothers. After a getting a little turned around, we finally found Bluewater books. They have an amazing selection of cruising guides for all parts of the world. Fiction and non fiction for kids and adults. How-to books and instructional manuals. Lots of charts and maps! It was a veritable paradise for Dave and Donna! We spent a good 2 hours there, pouring over maps and guides. We finally had to pull ourselves away to get to the Boddes. We had a wonderful visit with them and got to taste some real Brazilian barbecue! All in all, a lovely trip!
It now looks like we will not be heading out too soon. So the girls and I will pop back up to KY for a visit. It will be great to see my parents and visit with friends. Maybe I will even be able to pick up a little work.
Exploring Ft Pierce. Braving the rain. Rain and more rain. Realities of boat life … no stove, walking to the bathroom, neighbors, boat jobs, moving in, kids adjusting, safety, setbacks … this has been our first week aboard Exit Only. We have landed at the Ft Pierce City Marina which is a lovely marina right on the town’s waterfront. There is a large public square and fountain just in front of us. Almost every evening there is live music piping from the local restaurant. Families often spend their time at the waterfront admiring the ever growing fish which are fed daily by the locals. Right across from the square is a great little public library. The girls have enjoyed checking out books and attending the weekly children’s programs. Every weekend there is a great farmer’s market. The square is filled with local vendors selling fresh baked goods, organic produce, arts and crafts. Everyone comes out to do their shopping, listen to a little music, eat a little local food.
And while this all sounds and is very lovely, this past week we have had to contend with the rain. It has rained every day this week! And if you know anything about boats … well, rain and boats do not mix very well. It means having to keep all the hatches closed. It means trudging to the bathroom in the rain. It means children with cabin fever who just want to go out and play. Now I’m not one to usually complain, but the rain certainly puts a damper on things. It doesn’t exactly lift one’s spirit in this situation. That being said, we are very lucky to be at a marina during such rainy days. It means we can actually get off the boat without having to use the dinghy. We still have our car, so we have been able to pop out and about to break the day up. But what I am hoping for is a break in the rain!
So we are finally on the boat … things are slowly coming together. Not everything is up and running. There are boat jobs still to be completed inside and out. For example, right now the stove is not up and running. So no way to boil water in the morning to make coffee or tea. No cooking for the moment, so we have been eating out. Hopefully, the guys will have this system up and running soon because the ladies on the boat certainly miss their caffeinated beverages! We are also not able to use the heads (bathrooms) on the boat while we are docked in a marina. That means walking about the length of the football field to get to the marina bathrooms. At times, this has been a little tricky with the girls. For now, I am just making regular trips up with them. Donna and I have been sorting through our supplies. Organizing the pantry so that everything has it’s own place. Organizing supplies like batteries, toiletries, medical supplies, holiday decorations … The boat storage space has to be compartmentalized with various sized containers (typically lidded so nothing falls out on passage). Occasionally we have had to make the decision not to bring something because there just isn’t the space.
The girls are adjusting pretty well. The excitement about finally being on a boat hasn’t worn off yet. But after the first 24 hours, Zoe wasn’t too happy about having to share a bed with her sister! Haha! Apparently Joss just wants to talk at bedtime while Zoe wants to sleep. I am grateful that they will have the chance to be bunkmates. I hear them giggling and laughing at bedtime. And with typical parent sternness, David and I go in and remind them that it is time to sleep. They will have a lot to learn about boat safety and being a liveaboard – limit water use, never go to the foredeck without asking permission and never go alone, always remember to put things back where they came from, don’t touch Daddy’s cabin liner which he worked so hard on ... They have learned a lot already and once we actually get around to cruising there will be more water safety to learn.
So we are waiting now on a few systems to be completed. The engine mechanic will have to return and adjust some settings after the boat’s been in the water for about 1 week. And the riggers still have some jobs to complete. Once we go through the storage unit, bring the rest of the boat gear and personal belongings on boat, I hope that we will only be 1-2 weeks away from heading out. It’s exciting to think that soon we will be on our way. Just hoping the weather will start to cooperate with us! I am ready for some sunny days!
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!
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 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!
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.
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.
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!