Thursday, December 24, 2009

Our first Christmas on the boat

It's a sad little tree, but at least we have a tree.  I have 4 HUGE boxes of christmas decorations in our storage unit.  In the very back.  Behind the giant coke machine.  Behind the dining room table and 6 chairs.  Behind everything.  In all the hustle and bustle of Christmas, I just haven't had the energy.  But I did get the  colored lights and found a place for our Christmas Cards.  Thanks to all who took the time to send us a card.  Sadly, I didn't get around to that this year either.

But don't think I'm a total scrouge...We attempted to go see the Boat Parade with Christmas lights Sunday night, but the people we went with had some technical difficulties (We overheated the engine, ran out of battery power, and ran aground).  More on that when I get to know the people a little better and can trust they have a good sense of humor about my take on it.  Editorial note from the Chief:  It wasn't our boat and we weren't driving and he wasn't on board to stop the madness.

We spent last weekend with my parents and did some traditional Christmas stuff, so if you're feeling sorry for Jake, head on over to his blog and see the proof.

We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and hope the new year brings you and your family good health and happiness!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Remodeling - Part 2

Despite a rainy weekend and a cast on his foot, The Chief managed to finish Jake's room.  "We" still have to put down wood floors and build him another bookshelf, but I think it's safe to share the before and afters with everyone.  I've gotten a lot of questions about Jake and his "stuff" so I've elaborated a little on the details.



For everyone who was worried about Jake giving away his toys, or not having enough room, or books, or clothes, or whatever you were worried about, rest assured, he has plenty room/clothes/toys/to do...sometimes I actually lose him in there (no, not on purpose)! Here are some pictures of the details...

Close up of his bed.  It's not really as big as the picture up top makes it out to be.  The Chief's camera has a funky lens on it that helps you see the whole thing.  For those that know us and have seen Jake's room in the past, you can see that we didn't make much of a dent in the yard sale on the stuffed animals.  The big ones found a nice new home, but the rest just had to share in our experiences.

Book shelf with a special bungee to keep everything from falling off when we sail.  LOTS of books!

Toys...Toys...and more Toys...  The white tubs and garbage truck are actually stored in those doors under his bed.  There's a ton of storage under there.  Behind that is a HUGE spinnaker sail.  If we moved that, we could fit Toys R Us under there.
Where you see the two blue baskets, we're going to put more book shelves to house all of his school stuff and the overflow of books we already have, which will eliminate one of the blue baskets.  The other one is for dirty clothes.

Last but not least is the closet.  I've been asked lots of questions about where we put our clothes.  Of course Jake's clothes are a third the size of ours, but you can see he has plenty of space.  We put baskets on each of the shelves with pictures of the clothes on the front so he knows what's in each basket and can find his clothes himself (as well as help with putting up the laundry).

And if you missed it, the theme of his room is...Boy. He couldn't decide between space, ocean, zoo, or monster truck.  So we did it all.  The fabric on the ceiling has spaceships and rockets.  The poster on the wall is full of sharks, and the hammock is full of animals in the ocean as well as any animal you could possibly find in the zoo (or Africa/Asia).

He's very pleased with his room, as am I.  Next stop....the Galley!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bidding Friends Farewell

Today we said see ya later to some new friends.  I say 'see ya' because we fully intend on catching up to them in Mexico.  They're the first people we personally know who have cast the dock lines and began their adventure on their sailboat Endurance.  I am both jealous of them and extremely happy for them.

Being part of the military, we have said good bye to more friends than we can count so you would think I would be used to this.  I've only known these people for a month!  But it never gets easier watching people leave (I've always told Andy that it's easier to leave than to be left).  But it's so cool to finally talk to people that don't think your nuts or irresponsible or just plain weird.  They want to talk about galley storage (or any kind of storage), first aid kits, and homeschooling on a boat.  AND....get this, they have kids.  Two of them!  Most people we talk to think we're crazy for taking one, let alone two.  Jake was fortunate enough to get to play with Samantha and Trinidad while they were here.  He said a little prayer for them last night for them to have fun and be safe while they're sailing  (I said a little prayer for their mommy...whew).

Anyway, we wish them the best of luck and can't wait to join them next year!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Our first Thanksgiving on the boat was great.  While we missed our families in various other states, we enjoyed spending a quiet, relaxed day with just the three of us.  Our day began with cartoons, pancakes and bacon.  For "dinner" Andy rigged up the grill to cook our Turkey breast (wrapped in bacon...because anything wrapped in bacon is good) and I cooked the side dishes one by one in our tiny little oven...turning every 10-15 minutes to cook evenly (it heats from the back).  At the end of the day, the turkey and pecan pie was great, oyster stuffing pretty good, and broccoli/gruyere casserole tasty.

While we were making dinner, Jake occupied his time by drawing spaceships, volcanoes and fire.

Jake played on the front of the boat while we called family and began predicting Thanksgivings to come (my favorite comes with a lobster).  I ended the day with giving away the remainder of the pecan pie (Andy still hasn't forgiven me) to our neighbors getting ready for a weekend sail to Catalina.

I hope everyone had a very Happy Thanksgiving as we all continue to count our blessings and give thanks for those we love.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Main Salon - Before and After

As promised, I'm putting some before and after pictures out here of the main salon. We bought this boat from an older gentleman who had sailed around the world twice in her. She had/has every spare part you can imagine as well as very solid electronics and navigational equipment. But she didn't have much in the way of style. Hopefully, we've changed that. You be the judge.



We (i.e. The Chief) ripped out all of the insides (including the heater) and added more seating and storage.  He added a new radio and cool little shelves.  We had new cushions made, refinished the table, and installed wood floors.  Since this picture, we've managed to improve on the windows and I, yes me, sewed some curtains.

This past weekend, with one foot, he managed to start and near completion on remodeling Jake's cabin.  I'm so lucky, a man with skills and ambition!  I was laid up in our cabin after Lasik Surgery (I said I was going to find a way to get taken care of) milking it for all I could.

I'm taking The Chief to get his cast off tomorrow and have really high hopes for this holiday weekend... installation of a new stove?  expansion of the refrigerator?  I'll keep you posted.

Update:  Cast off, another cast on...the foot is still broke :(  3 more weeks.  I'm not giving up on the new fridge though...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My introduction to "Blue" jobs

The Chief informed me last week that our zincs needed to be replaced...right away. Well, if anyone missed it, his foot is broke. Diving down under the boat is not on his agenda for at least another 4 weeks. Guess who he enlisted to do it? Me. I was both flattered and flabberghasted. I don't do ship's husbandry...I organize, clean, shop, cook. You know, the girl stuff, what they call "pink" jobs in the cruising world. But I am an equal opportunity kind of girl (and have read all the cruising books saying I need to learn "blue" jobs as well) so I agreed.

It turned out to be quite fun. The water was freezing and I did have an audience (apparently most of our dock wasn't quite sure I was up for it and had to see for themselves), however once I got down there and could see that indeed it wasn't rocket science, I actually enjoyed it. Usually when I dive, it's to look at fish or reefs or things along that nature and it's in 80 degree water in the Carribean. Diving in murky, cold water and actually accomplishing a task was something I had never done before.

Since I did so good on the first task, my "honey do" list has expanded to scrubbing the boat and cleaning the solar panels, ripping out the headliner in Jake's cabin, going to Home Depot to buy wood to replace the headliner, and then, get this...use the saw to cut the wood :). All while keeping my day job, taking care of the kid, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. Am I whining? Not intentionally. But I am gaining a healthy respect for all the things The Chief does that I take for granted. Now, when he's well, I think I'll fall down or something and return the favor ;)

Monday, November 2, 2009

One step closer....

We're finally done. We've moved out of our house and onto the boat...for good. The idea seems simple but the task itself was very complicated. It started with me getting vertigo about a week and a half ago. Not so good on land, even worse on a boat. Then, in the last week of packing, moving furniture to storage, loads and loads to the boat, piles of trash to the dump...Andy breaks his foot at work after shooting a special for National Geographic. I have a whole new respect for both single parents and men in general. I have to say that I prefer "woman's work." If I never have to move furniture again, load a truck, or drive a truck, I'll be ok with that.

The boat is an absolute mess though. We haven't even begun to find a place for everything. The head is temporary home to my scuba tanks while the navigation station is currently a garage for Jake's favorite garbage truck.

But we're living on the boat!!! We've been waiting for this for 10 years and it's finally here. While stressful, it was very liberating finally getting rid of all that "stuff" that we just had to have. The last 12 years of our life together was sold for less than $5000. But the freedom to just get up and leave at any time is priceless.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pics of the boat

In all of my obsession with putting pictures on facebook and keeping my son's blog updated with pictures, I failed to realize that our sailing blog doesn't have any pictures of our sailboat.  So here they are.  It's a 40 ft Owen Easton Catamaran.  It was built in Australia and is made of aluminum.  There are two cabins forward and a head and "locker" aft.  The galley is down on the starboard side with a work area/navigation station on the port side.  There is surprisingly a lot of room and so far we haven't felt the pinch.  
We're making some changes on the inside.  I'll be sure to post those pictures as they're ready (I'm really just stalling...I can't find my camera).

Monday, October 5, 2009

The process continues...

Forget the yard sale, forget the wonderful blessing my father in law gave the boat, foget my fabulous new cushions....the most significant event this far in the process was putting my dog on a plane to the east coast.  Forever.  It was (still is) a very sad day in the McKaskle house. 

It's not like she's going to strangers.  She's going to some of the most loving people I know.  They have a huge house, backyard, swimming pool and two cuddly kids.  But it doesn't make it any easier.  There's just not enough room on the boat and she wouldn't really be happy.  Intellectually, I know this.

I'm going to tell you about Chili dog.  Seven years ago we were stationed in Puerto Rico.  We moved down there knowing no one.  I got lonely and after some major coaxing, I convinced Andy to get a dog.  Stray dogs are to Puerto Rico like Mosquitos are to South Carolina...they're every where.  So it seemed like the obvious thing to do would be to rescue a stray.  We got her from a lady on base who did just that.

Over the course of the next few years, our free dog turned into a money pit.  It takes a lot of effort to clean up a trash dog.  When I took her to the vet to get spayed we found out she was pregnant.  After all that was taken care of, we had to have a huge growth removed from between her paws.  A few months later, a few teeth had to go.  Over the years there were shots, teeth cleanings, more teeth removed, fleas, blah, blah...

But there are way more good memories than there are vet bills...I know she's not dead, but she's gone from us so I think it will help me get over it to write down my favorites (And Andy's, he's just as torn up as I am):

* Camping on Viequez convinced that she was going to be an outdoor dog.  She sat outside the tent whining at all the mosquitos all night (She would NEVER have to sleep outside the tent today).
* Andy laying in the hammock on the deck with Chili in Puerto Rico.
* Snorkling in Culebra with Chili swimming right beside us.  When she got tired, she would climb on Andy's back and lay down.
* Boating on our 22 ft. AquaSport....she would jump off before we even got close to the shore and swim the whole way.
* Running up and down the beach, wherever we lived.
* Fighting with the racoons in VA and getting in the swamp mud...then running back to me with her whole tail end wagging like I should be so proud.
* Almost biting the cable guy because he got too close to Jake when he was a baby.
* Snuggling on the sofa with her when Andy was on deployments and Jake was in bed watching TV.
* Chasing the beverage cart on the golf course behind our house in CA.

Lots of good times.  Now she's off to her new family to make new memories of which I know there will be plenty.

If anyone second guessed our level of seriousness on this sailing adventure, they can quit guessing now.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Keep or Sell?

We've invented a new game in our house...Keep or Sell. Jake and I play every night. Monday we went through his books, Tuesday we did his stuffed animals, last night the toys in his room and tonight we did the big daddy...the play room! He's doing pretty good. The stacks are getting more and more even, although there will definitely be a Round 2.

After coming back from Mexico, I was recharged by being reminded that our lease is up 10/31. That leaves us 39 days to get rid of our stuff and move onto the boat. We're having our second yard sale this Saturday and I've started preparing by putting tiny pink price tags all over the house.

We had a yard sale about a month ago to start this process and basically just got rid of all the stuff you should probably get rid of regardless of whether you're going to live on a boat. My experience here on the west coast was quite overwhelming. This was not my first yard sale, mind you. We are notorious for practically giving things away (We sold brand new window unit air conditioners for $20 each, new clothes for $.25, new lawnmower for $20, you get the idea). So, imagine my frustration when I am met with CONSTANT negotiations. We had 4 basic bar stools and I was asking $30 for the set. They ended up going for $21. The same couple tried to get a 25 cent vase for 15 cents....I mean, come on, I only deal in quarters! If I had a dollar for how many times one woman told me she was spending her last dollar so could I please come down on the price, I could probably fund the first month of our trip (I actually made her borrow the last 20 cents from a total stranger). To add to the frustrations, most of the negotiations were in Spanish (note: I don't speak spanish...yet).

For this yard sale, we've decided to try and avoid this by putting stickers on everything and put a sign up that says "Price as Marked." If we've put too high of a price on it, then it will go back int he garage and come out with a lower price next time around. We'll see how it goal is to make at least $500. It's possible...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Some Random Pictures that I'm too lazy to go back and add...

There really was a playground right behind the Cantina. Jake's favorite was the airplane swing that was entirely too small for him.
This Mariachi band sang Happy Birthday to Jake Mexican style!
An enormous Mexican flag welcomed us as we came into the port of Ensenada.
Jake took this one at one of the wineries.
Ensenada from above...our boat is in the dock behind the cruise ship. Busy town...very touristy.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Week 2 in Mexico

So, I’m not sure if my play by play is interesting to anyone but my mom and maybe Andy’s dad, so I apologize if this is getting old.  After we get home, I’ll put more thought into what should go into our blog long term, but for now, I hope everyone hangs in.
It’s been a few days and a lot has happened.  On Monday our new friends Robert and Nuria took us to the local Mercado in La Mission.  We bought some fruit, veggies and cheese and then they took us to a little hole in the wall (actually, they’re all hole in the walls down here) and we got some fantastic seafood while sitting by the ocean.  It was appropriately called Splash.

Tuesday we decided to sail down to Ensenada for a few days for a change of scenery.  The weather was beautiful and we had a nice relaxing sail down which took most of the day.  We saw more pilot whales and a Sunfish.  I’ve never seen a sunfish before…it basically looks like a giant fish head with a tail floating on it’s side.  Very strange.  Right as we were trying to call the port for a slip we realized we had two fish on our lines.  Two nice sized Bonita’s.  It occurred to me that probably the most inhumane form of hunting is fishing.  This occurred to me as Andy was bashing the fish’s head against the boat to kill it.  Apparently this is common practice if you don’t have a club.  Hmmm….  An old guy named Andy helped us with our lines so after Jake and Andy cleaned the fish, they gave him a few fillets.  He was a retired Alaskan fisherman who met a “little Senorita” in La Paz and never went home. 
Today we set out to explore the Mercado del Global (Global Market) and after a $10 cab ride (they saw us coming) we found out it was closed.  It’s probably important to point out that we picked the Mexican Independence day(s) to come down here so we’re lucky anything is open.  Mexico takes their holidays very seriously.  So…no one should be surprised that we took a cab to the wine country J.  Very fun.  We went to three different wineries and bought 6 bottles (our stores were low as you can imagine after 11 days away from home).  We had to stop at an ATM on the way home (to pay the cabbie) and we were duped.  Yep.  Andy went to get money and after he put in the card and typed our pin, apparently it didn’t work.  As soon as he walked out some guys started punching numbers and walked out with $375.  Seeing as I work for the bank, I thought it would be easy to make the claim.  4 collect calls, 2 hours later, I found out I have to call when the charge actually posts and “if they deem it’s fraud” we’ll get our money back.  What happened to Bank of Amigo?
Anyway, it’s just money right (that’s what we keep telling ourselves)?  So we’re back on the boat about to grill our shrimp we bought from the fish market this morning, our fish we caught fresh yesterday, and the chorizo that we bought from the market on Monday.  All while drinking our newly purchased wine…  typical McKaskle night. 
I’m posting this a few days after I wrote it….the shrimp  weren’t so nice to Jake and I…we spent a whole day recovering and doing boat maintenance (scrubbing the bottom, laundry, etc.).  Thursday we came back to Puerto Salina.  There was a lot of fog and the wind was from the wrong direction so we motored the whole way.  We took a shuttle back to the border today and walked back to the real world.  Andy and his family will come down next weekend and sail the boat back.

A few are probably asking..."So really, Monica, can you live on that little bitty boat?"  And the answer is.....  absolutely.  I didn't miss anything except my toenail clippers and another pair of long pants (It was a lot chillier at night than I expected).

Monday, September 14, 2009

Special Day in Mexico

Yesterday was Jake’s 4th birthday.  We had a leisurely morning of playing and attempting to make a cake.  I realized the night before that I didn’t have any eggs and mentioned it to one of the folks at the Cantina.  They told me to hold on and came out 10 minutes later with 2 eggs.  When we started making the cake this morning, I discovered that I needed 3 eggs…oops.  So I tried to do a little math and adjust all of the measurements.  I went to preheat the oven and of course it’s in Celsius.  Good thing I have a husband who carries around seemingly useless information.  I’ll ask him what to do.  What do you know…if you subtract 32 from the degrees, multiply it by 5 and then divide it by 9 you’ll get the exact temperature you need to cook on.   Seems like some of his information is not useless after all.   Now for the last challenge, the oven pretty much cooks from the back, so I had to go every 10 min or so and turn the pan.  While it wasn’t beautiful (Andy and Jake did the decorating), it was pretty tasty if I do say so myself.
We took Jake to a little party at a local resort thinking it would be a great “birthday” celebration.  It came up a little short of spectacular for him, but he managed to have fun none the less. 

We ended with a nice dinner and cake celebration on the boat with Alicia and Amanda and lots of presents. 
Today has been spent playing with lots of toys and trying to decide what to do.  I think Andy and I would both like to go to Ensenada but we have a trip planned to the farmers market tomorrow so we’re going to wait until Tuesday to go.  Puerto Salina has been nice but there’s not a whole lot to see.   Ensenada is a little town where we can walk around and see more even without a car.
We did manage to get in the dinghy and go out a little.  Andy went snorkling while Jake fished and I read my book.  He brought up a sand dollar for Jake and a sea urchin for him self...I still think they taste disgusting but now Andy's motivated to go and get some more.  Evidently there's a lobster condo down there too but it's not quite lobster season (3 more days)....
Other fun things over the last few days….Jake is learning to swim J