SimplySailingOnline.com shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.
When we tell people we only work a few months of the year and screw off, sail around, and explore the rest of the time, we often get crinkled forehead looks in response. The braver landlubbers may even ask, "But what do you do all day? I'd be so bored." While I admit that sitting on deck with a cup of coffee watching the rays fly across the top of the water, following the meandering tacks of the conch as they cross the sandy bottom, laughing at the dolphins' antics, and searching for the howler monkeys and sloths in the trees can get a bit boring after a few months, we find plenty to do to fill the hours that we don't waste working.
The biggest challenge for us lately has been that we're not in paradise any longer. There are no sloths in the trees, no conch on the bottom, and the water is so brown we can't see the dolphins until they surface. In other words, we're stuck Stateside. But our days are still full, just with other pleasures. Here is a typical "adventure" day for us.
I woke up to hear 3 bells: 5:30, may as well get out of bed since we had a big day planned. I put away the dishes that had been air drying overnight, turned on the solenoid to heat the tea kettle of water while I ground coffee beans and put them in the glass French press.
We ate a bowl of homemade yogurt with homemade granola, grabbed our backpacks, an empty 6-pound propane tank, and flip flops, closed the hatches and got in the dinghy by 8:30. We were anchored out, so we rowed to shore, about a quarter mile, beached the dinghy, and walked 1/2 mile to the bus stop. We had studied the routes and schedules and the addresses of the places we planned to stop, so we had a pretty good idea of how we thought our day would go. Naturally, it didn't happen that way, but we were prepared to adapt and overcome.
We caught the 9:10 bus, where we bought $5 day passes. Our first stop was close to an Advanced Auto where we bought a fuel pump for our diesel, but they didn't have the oil he wanted. A 1/2 mile walk brought us to an Oriental Market we had seen on the bus ride, where we really scored! Fresh Thai basil, fish sauce, soy sauce, Chinese candy for our grandson, bok choy, and Thai eggplant. (We thought we were having Thai for dinner, but a better option was coming.)
The Texaco station 1/2 mile up the road had a propane tank out front, so we walked up to ask if they filled tanks. Yup. Great. We'll stop by on our way back so we're not carrying a bomb on our back all day. Our original plan for propane was way on the other side of town, and we weren't entirely sure which stop to get off to get to it, so this find made our day MUCH easier. Or so we thought.
Across the street was a Caribbean market, so we wandered through it, but didn't find any of the goodies we were missing from Panama. It was more of a Puerto Rican market. We walked 1/2 mile back to the bus stop. Since getting propane was going to be so easy, we decided to hop back on the bus and go to Wal-Mart for oil. A bit over 1/2 mile walk to Wal-Mart from the bus stop, but they didn't have the weight oil that we needed, so back 1/2 mile up the road to the bus stop again. This time, we had to hustle to make the bus. We were nearly running and made it by less than a minute.
When we got off at the bus stop to walk to Texaco to get propane we spied a Jamaican restaurant. Rarely do we pass one by without treating ourselves. This was one of the better ones! (Silver Spoon on Park Avenue in Palm Beach Gardens, FL) For $20 we got so much jerk chicken (jerk pork for Dave), and beans and rice that we took left overs home for dinner. With full stomachs, we walked 1/2 mile back up to the Texaco for our last stop before home. The guy looked at the tank and said, "That's a SCUBA tank. I can't fill that."
"No, it's a propane tank. Look at the valve."
"I can't fill that."
"Because it takes a different end. I don't have a nozzle that small."
"No, it's a regular propane tank fitting. It just holds less fuel."
"Look buddy, this is what I do for a living. The end is too small."
"I've been getting this filled for 15 years. It's the same size end that EVERY propane tank in this country has on it, regardless of the size of the tank."
"Nope. Can't fill it. It's too small. It's a SCUBA tank."
I swear, I thought we were back in the Caribbean. West Indian are the only people I've ever seen argue in circles like that.
Back out to the bus stop, grab the schedule and regroup. While we waited for the bus, Dave picked prickly pears from the vacant lot. When we got home he made prickly pear juice from them. And picked spines out of his hand for days afterwards. The bus line we were near dropped us off 1/2 mile from the U-Haul that fills propane tanks. Now there was a question of how to get home. We consulted the schedule and map again, formulated a vague plan based on too many variables to be able to sort out quickly, and just started walking. About 1/2 mile later we saw a bus going in the opposite direction. Our bus. We cut across 6 lanes of traffic (3 that we were able to weave our way through and 3 that we just walked out in front of, hoping they'd stop) to catch the bus.
But this bus line dropped us off over a mile from the dinghy. We could wait an hour for a bus going our way, or we could walk. Back near the dinghy we got a few groceries at Publix, including ice cream. I decided I deserved ice cream after a day of walking 6 miles, 1/2 mile at a time. Row a quarter mile home, and unpack our goodies before eating ice cream on deck, reminiscing about our adventure. Several times during the day, Dave looked at me with a huge smile and said, "What a fun day!" Indeed. It may not be paradise, but finding something to do that beats the hell out of being a 9 to 5 slave is just a matter of finding your own adventure. I never seemed to have this much fun running errands when we lived on land.
Dave made kim chi out of the bok choy he bought. We heated left over jerk for dinner, had a cup of coffee on deck for dessert and another day came to an end. What do we do all day? You can never be sure, but I can just about guarantee it's not the same thing we did yesterday.
Safety in numbers? Often, just the opposite is true in boating. MONDAY we'll discuss some situation in which being alone is actually safer than buddy boating.
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