Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Liebster Award

Woo Hoo!  I won something!

Well, not really...  That's what I thought at first when I realized that this is something like a "chain letter" for Bloggers.

Oh NOOOOOO!  Not a CHAIN letter!!!  You all know how I feel about chain letters... Well, maybe you don't.  I hate them.  (and now you do)

But then I read Mark and Cindy's Liebster Award post and I realized that this truly is a legitimate award.

It is legitimate in that I consider it an honor that ANYONE would make time in their busy lives to make it through read my lengthy epic sometimes wordy blog posts.   The fact that there are people out there like Mark and Cindy who feel that I've made a difference or added something to their lives, is just a wonder to me.  It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, so for this nomination... Mark and Cindy... here is my heartfelt THANK YOU!

OK... so it's a chain letter for Bloggers.  What are the rules?

- Thank the person who nominated us and link back to their page.
- Answer the 10 questions they have asked us and publish the post.
- Nominate 10 up-and-coming blogs that we feel deserve more readership and ask THEM 10 questions.

Alrighty then... moving right along... I've thanked & linked Mark and Cindy on Cream Puff.  Now for the questions.  As I read through the Q&A portion of their post, I got worried that I wouldn't be able to think of anything original to say when answering the questions myself.  So many of the answers they gave were eerily similar to those that I would give.  But no worries... we get a different set of questions to answer.

I am the Blogger in our family.  Bruce rarely contributes (other than being one of the main characters) and never writes a post.  But since the questions are for both of us... I've given him the questions and he has answered them himself... and I have done the same.  It's a "He said - She said".  Here we GO!

1.  Meet the crew.  Who are you?  Each share something about the other (not on the blog).

He said:  Hey... I watch The Bachelor!  She is amazing and she is my soulmate!

In the beginning I was the one with years of experience and made most of the decisions aboard the boat.  (not so much in other areas) But I soon realized that she was a "natural" at sailing.  Two examples:  First - I had her piloting my 33 ft. sailboat while I tidied the sails in preparation for docking.  She was doing fine and so I asked her if she wanted to put the boat into the slip... something she had never done before.  She replied "OK" and slid the boat right in.  When I told her that I was amazed because most people are scared to death that they will crash the boat, Tammy thought I was "blowing smoke" and has been parking the boat ever since.  Second example - we were on a 41 ft. sailboat at 1 a.m., the winds were above 20 knots, a 150 genoa sail was in the water and one crewman was at the bow attempting to get the sail back onboard.  I was at the helm and Tammy was in front of me, tethered in and trying to help pull the sail in, when I did an accidental jibe.  (I was turning the boat downwind to reduce pressure on the sail to help pull in the jib) The boom swung violently around and I saw Tammy flying sideways across the cockpit.  I was actually afraid to look, knowing the damage a boom on that size boat could do.  The mainsheet had picked her up and spun her around, depositing her on the other side of the boat.  She was grinning at me and said "WOW... can we do that again?".  I knew then that I couldn't let her get away!

She Said:  Bruce is pretty quiet.  If you've met us, you know that he is NOT the spokesperson of the two of us.  BUT... still waters run deep.  Get to know him and you will be amazed at what's in there... He has travelled through Europe with a group of young college students and found his way back to his hotel without knowing its name... Before retiring he was a well respected Swim Coach with many accolades to his credit.  He still follows swimming and dreams about it.  And he is a pretty good swimmer himself.  He compares his personal times with those of swimmers in the news, and his times hold up pretty well nationally...  He is an avid sports fan, and not of just one sport, but MOST sports.  He can cite scores and times and details about the games and lives of the athletes in most popular sports.  This talent is starved aboard our boat so if you meet up with us somewhere - PLEASE talk sports with him!... If you ask him what time it is, he will tell you how to make a clock...He is a softie.  He will be the one who defends the underdog in any argument and if pushed too far, he may offer to punch a bully in the nose (ask him about that one)... He seldom raises his voice... He loves to fish, but is terrible at it... He is still a teacher at heart and is very patient.  He misses having students with which to share his knowledge.  He was "that teacher" that all of the students loved... He is 71 years old... He is more energetic and athletic than most people HALF his age.  He exercises in some form every day.  EVERY. DAY... He was once called SCUM, by a PIMP, in Tijuana... His first (and only) marriage occurred at the age of 61 and he has no biological children.  He considers Tammy's children as his own... He is the Most Wonderful Husband and Step-Father/role model imaginable.

2.  What advice would you give to a wannabe traveler just starting out?

He said:  Assuming that you already know how to sail and have a boat... live on the boat for a while and learn her systems.  To enjoy cruising you have to know that you are the captain, the plumber, the diesel mechanic, and have a good idea of how all of these systems work.  Otherwise you're going to find yourself calling Towboat US and paying people $100 per hour to troubleshoot and fix your boat.

Go sailing and practice your navigational skills.  You really need to know how to read a chart.  Don't just depend upon punching some buttons on your chart plotter and being done.  You have to know how to navigate if your chart plotter fails.  

Take the advice of others with a grain of salt... especially the Doom and Gloom part.

She said:  Just DO IT!  I never went anywhere before the age of 30.  I didn't know that ordinary people could just simply go places.  I started with vacation package deals and then after meeting Bruce, I planned sailing trips for us.  Take some bareboat charters in places that are set up for it, like the British Virgin Islands.  The internet opens up the world for us.  Pick a place, spend some time researching it and you'll be surprised at how quickly a plan will come together.

Now, if you're talking about Cruising as your form of travel... that takes years of planning.  Mentally, financially, logistically... A lot goes into it.  Finances seems to be the biggest obstacle.  You really have to have either a big savings account or some form of income, with "passive" being the optimal form.  (Our income is through Bruce's retirement) But first you have to save and prepare.  Cut out all non-boat related spending.  Get rid of your cable TV, no more Starbucks...  If it doesn't speed your departure date, you don't need it.  Total emersion is the only way...

The first real milestone towards tossing the dock lines is to seriously make the decision to do it.  You can dream about it and talk about it... but until you DECIDE to do it once and for all, it remains just a dream.

3.  Can you roll your tongue or wiggle the end?

He said:  No to rolling, yes to wiggling and that's all I'm saying...

She said:  I can do BOTH!  I'm talented like that...

4.  What is your favorite restaurant in the world?

He said:  That's an EASY one!  Connie's Mexico Cafe in Wichita, KS.  I love their Chili Cheese Burrito and their Monterrey Tostadas!  I always go there when visiting home.

She said:  Funny how this place comes to mind when considering that question.  I've only eaten there once, but it stands out in my mind as such a sublime experience.  Cafe la Princesa in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico!  I ordered Pastelon, kind of a plantain lasagne and it was so wonderful... I even made it when we got home.  We were in OSJ for 24 hours for a serendipitous flight layover between Tortola and home.  The sounds of the tree frogs, the soft tropical night air, the locals selling their wares in the square... it was a lovely night.  This restaurant is not to be missed if you're ever in Old San Juan.

5.  If you sail as a couple, who is really, and I mean REALLY... the captain?

He said:   I AM... in my dreams...

She said:  Strangely... me.  Although I am uncomfortable with the term "captain" as I have not earned the right to it.  Maybe Skipper is a more appropriate term.

I've taken to this lifestyle so whole heartedly, that planning our cruise has replaced all of the work that I once did as a livelihood.  Although I consult with Bruce and fill him in once I've plotted our moves, I have become the one who is more involved with reviewing the charts, plotting our course and knowing what to expect on the way.

There are so many things to do on the boat to keep us going, it just seems silly for BOTH of us to devote this much time to planning our movements when there are other things Bruce could be doing.  He takes care of the mechanics of it; maintaining the boat's systems, changing the oil, troubleshooting mechanical problems, sail configuration and trim... all of those things that he knows much more about than I do.

When you think about it, all of those things are really part of the captain's duties, so between the two of us we really are two parts combined to make one whole "captain".

6.  What are your favorite meals to cook while sailing?

He said:  While underway?  Frito Pie or sandwiches.  In general cruising? Anything grilled.

She said:  While underway?  Bruce usually cooks while I'm at the helm, but I guess I would have to say Pop Tarts.  In general cruising terms?  I like to make magic in the galley using whatever we happen to have aboard.  This talent came from my childhood and the wonderful throw-together meals my Mother used to produce.  She could make a tasty and savory meal from what you might find in the average GARAGE!

It's fun to combine the few fresh ingredients we have with stuff from the vast stores of provisions I laid up before we left.  Gradually I'm getting through them...  Favorites include:  Enchiladas with spanish rice, Pasta a la kitchen sink (Pasta with anything we happen to have around thrown in), and Cheesie potatoes.

7.  Who's idea was it to buy a boat and how did they convince the other person?

He said:  Before we decided to go cruising, I had owned five keelboats.  The last, a 36 ft. racer/cruiser that we both knew wasn't big enough for us to live comfortably aboard.  We needed a boat in the 40 ft. range.  Tammy was the one who wanted to go cruising but I didn't think she would quit her job to do it.  When she convinced me that she WOULD quit her job, we then began to think about what we wanted in our cruising boat.

There were fewer compromises than you might think, and in the end, we both feel that our Catalina Morgan 45 is the perfect boat for us.

She said:  Bruce already had a boat when we met, so there was no convincing there.  The choice to sell our racer/cruiser and buy a cruising boat was definitely more my choice.  I knew that I couldn't enjoy cruising aboard our CS36.  Bruce wanted to try it out first, and then if we liked cruising, buy a bigger boat.  I told him that if we cruised on our 36, there could be no chance of me enjoying cruising.

The reason?  There was NO storage space on Elan and every time I put my own stuff into the few existing cubbies, it would be removed and replaced with "guy stuff" such as spare parts and tools...  There was no space for me to keep the things that I needed to make a home.

So, being the dutiful husband that he is, he offered up his beloved Elan for sale and waded with me through the endless sea of sailboats on the market, until we found one that we could BOTH love to own and cruise.

8.  Where is your dream destination?

He said:  Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Grenadines, Trinidad.  If I had to pick just ONE... I guess it would be the Virgin Islands... but that could change.

She said:  British Virgin Islands hands down!  We have chartered there so many times.  It is a dream of mine to some day sail those waters aboard our own boat.

9.  Why did you pick sailing as a form of transportation or hobby (over an RV/camper for instance)?

He said:  Sailing has been my #1 passion since 1970.  However, I can see traveling in an RV when my physical capacities diminish.

She said:  I'm kind of a "love the one you're with" kind of girl.  I found sailing and never looked back.  But... we are considering an RV to be in our next life when we can no longer sail.

10.  Would you please describe your best sailing day ever? (or a link to it)

He said:  I think it was the day we won the our class in the Navy Day Regatta back in Corpus Christi.  The boat was in perfect harmony, the sails were trimmed, the crew weight moved in and out.  The boat steered itself.  I would instruct the crew to move in or outboard a foot and the boat just rolled along.

We had a new (to us) mylar headsail. The joy of the crew as we crossed the finish line was complete.  Everyone felt like they had a part in the win.  We anchored the boat and everybody went into the water with their favorite drink in their hand.

Later, at the awards ceremony, I can't tell you how proud I was as our crew picked up the trophy for the most important race of the year.

She said:  My best sailing day ever was actually a sailing night.  That's kind of ironic to me as now I would rather not sail at night if there is an alternative...  But back when I first began sailing, it was on a trip in the Gulf of Mexico between Port Aransas and Galveston.  We were taking the 41 ft. C&C up to do the annual Harvest Moon Regatta.  I was aboard with a crew of men and it was my watch.  We were bounding along in the moonlight and it felt like a magic carpet ride.  The boat moved so rhythmically and the wind was in my face, cool and damp.  There were so many stars, both in the sky and in the water.  It was the first time I saw the phosphorescence in our wake and it was like something out of the cartoon Peter Pan... like we were buoyed up by fairy dust.  I had no fear and perfect confidence in my crew-mates.  I was young and invincible and on a grand adventure.  It was the most wonderful feeling I had ever known....  maybe I'll have to re-think my resistance to night sails...


Now I must choose the blogs for my nomination.  This is more difficult than I thought it would be because many of my choices can be found on Cream Puff's list.  So I must search further afield than those that first opened the door to the world of Cruising for me.

There are, of course, those that have already made names for themselves such as Windtraveler, Zero to Cruising, Sailing Totem and Rebel Heart, among many others too numerous to list.  There are also those who were a huge influence for me who have now stopped cruising and are on to other things such as More Joy Everywhere and Plodding in Paradise.  They need no boost but were instrumental in my journey.

Here are my nominations in no significant order:

Sailing Banyan - Alexandra and David.  I followed this young Canadian couple all the way through the islands to their current location, Grenada.  These two were the most influential to me in making it seem real and doable.  They are now just hangin' out in the islands...

Mid-Life Cruising - Cheryl and Ken.  Cheryl's "Frugal Friday" posts resonated with me and got me thinking about all of the ways we could economize in the early planning years to make our dream a reality.  Although we are cruising now and Cheryl and Ken are still anticipating the day they can set sail, I consider them to be fellow Cruisers who have so much to share.

Adventure Us 2 - Janet Lee and Michael.  We met these two when we were just starting out back in Texas.  We became friends and have continued to enjoy watching their journey to Cruising.  They are getting closer and have just recently sold their home and moved aboard.  Keep an eye on them because they're a HOOT!

The Adventures of What If - Cathy and Ed.  Down to earth, no nonsense, just a couple living life on their boat, traveling around...  These people are just so competent.  There is nothing on the boat that they can't do.  What If is their NEW boat... Sea Soul being the boat they sailed upon when we met.  

S/V Magnolia - Annette and Anthony.  These two have been putting some miles beneath their keel ever since I found them.  They've already done the East Coast, toured the Bahamas and made it back up the East Coast... and are getting ready to do it again.  I'm hopeful that we can catch up to them somewhere.  

Estrellita 5.10b - Livia and Carol.  These two were an influence in two ways.  Even though they are sailing the South Pacific... cruising grounds I will most likely never see... they are the perfect eye through which to see these beautiful sights.  But even more importantly, they have created two spinoff websites that were such an inspiration to me.  One for new cruisers called Newly Salted, and another for more seasoned cruisers called Interview With A Cruiser.  I read through these interviews voraciously and gained a lot of knowledge from others in our planning stages. 

S/V Wild Card - Heather, Robin and dog, Oni.  One of the newer finds on my list and yes... it is "the" Wild Card.  Cap'n Fatty Goodlander's boat, now cruising around in the Caribbean with her new owners.  

Bettie del Mar - Attila, Vlad and baby Jari.  This couple has really been around.  They're currently in Mexico and are, to me, the quintessential cruising family.  Just low key and out doin' their thing.  I think they're worth watching.

Adventures of the Yacht White Pepper - Karl and Jan and their cat Aphrodite.  Karl's boat is the one Bruce and I were sailing aboard when we met.  It is the boat in my Best-Sailing-Day-Ever story and in many of my other stories as well.

Yacht Wandering Star - Rosie, Sim and Evil Ali.  We crossed paths with Rosie and Sim on our way up the East US coast just after their return from the Bahamas.  They have just celebrated ten years of living aboard and cruising all around the Caribbean.  They are who I aspire to be... seasoned cruisers just livin' the life.


My questions:  Apply these to your cruising life whatEVER stage you're in.

1.  What is the one thing you wish more people knew about you?  Don't be afraid to brag here... this is your chance!

2.  If you could have EITHER five minutes with a crystal ball OR five minutes with a Genie... which would you choose and what would you ask for?

3.  What would you say is your partner's greatest contribution to your success (current or future) as sailors/cruisers?

4.  When will you/did you REALLY consider yourself to be a Cruiser?  What does the word "Cruiser" mean to you?

5.  What do you think will be the thing that ends your Cruising journey?  And why?

6.  What was it like the moment that you "decided" to go cruising?  What was the catalyst?  Or was it a more gradual thing that just happened?

7.  How did your current boat get its name?  Have you ever thought of changing it?

8. What size boat do you/will you cruise on?  And if money were no object... would you buy a bigger one?

9.  It is often said that before you leave, everyone says they will come visit you, but most never do.  Who would you MOST like to come visit you on your boat and why?

10.  Thinking back to before you tossed the dock lines and how you thought cruising would be,  what in reality was your biggest misconception?  What was your biggest surprise?  What was your biggest disappointment? (If you haven't yet set sail, what do you think WILL Be your biggest adjustments?  Sacrifices?  Joys?)

Update:  A second nomination has unleashed a second set of questions.  Read the Q&A HERE!


  1. Hi Ya'll,

    We really enjoyed reading this and getting to know you a little better. Wouldn't it be so cool if we cross paths in the BVI. Sorry Bruce, Mark will not be able to take sports with you as he is clueless to everything athletic. He is also a very bad fisherman.

    We wanted to let you both know the thing we most enjoy about your blog is the fact you are taking time to enjoy things in our own back yard. So many cruisers immediately leave the USA to parts unknown and never take the time to really explore the homeland. We have added many places to visit based on your posts.

    And as an added bonus to all of this we have found more sailing blogs.

    Fair winds and best wishes,

    Mark and Cindy
    s/v Cream Puff

    1. It was really fun to do and I can't wait to read those from your blog questions (as I follow them too) and those from my list.

      There was one woman back home at our club (CCBYC) who would ALWAYS talk sports with Bruce and I really miss her (hi Judy). Cindy, consider yourself lucky that he is clueless about sports...

      We really started out going kind of too fast. We have since realized that we don't HAVE to do anything or be anywhere... It is true what they say "wherever you go, there you are". True on so many levels. We have decided that we will just go wherever and whenever with the exception of the pesky and ridiculous weather... We are getting excited about our next run at the Bahamas. We're ready this time!

      Thanks again for nominating us for this!

  2. Thanks for the nomination! I really enjoyed reading your answers, and glad to know I'm not the only one that could easily live off of Frito Pie and Pop-Tarts while sailing! So Bruce waited 61 years to find you .. and worth the wait I'm sure. This is a fun project, and we'll enjoy reading the answers from your other nominees as well. The cruising community is small in a way, as I'm familiar with just about every blog you nominated!