Our Time in Miami

Initially, Miami wasn’t on the schedule.  After all, we need to head North to Boston, not South.  When I had my survey done, before I bought the boat, my surveyor highly recommended that I get new exhaust risers.  He and Sonny explained that the old risers could potentially back-flow water into the engine at some point and cause a lot of damage.  That was a risk that I did not want to take as a new owner, so I factored in the installation of new risers. This was a fairly large job and I really wanted to get it done before heading to Boston.  I figured that I would get a better price in Florida.  I also didn’t want to run the boat over 1500 miles with the risk of engine destruction.  After pricing new exhaust risers, the decision to head South to Miami upon exiting the St. Lucie Inlet on the East coast was made.



I decided to purchase new turbos as the old ones had some corrosion when my riser guy, Marvin, removed the old risers.  Marvin, gave me an unbelievable price to do the work.  He was also very pleasant to deal with; brought us Cuban treats and gave me a tour of his shop.





While we waited for the risers and turbos in Miami I began working on the To-Do List.  First task, washing the boat.  We had to wait until about 7 pm to begin washing because the Miami heat is very oppressive.  I couldn’t do anything outdoors( besides the beach) while I was in Miami, during the day, except when it rained.  It’s a good thing that I have so many helpers.  It really makes light work of things.  The kids had fun washing the boat.  Half way through cleaning the bridge I realized that I probably should have believed the kid at West Marine who said that you only need a cap full of soap to a 5 gallon bucket of water.  The kids were slipping and sliding all over the place.  I had to make them all put on shoes, and that helped with traction; a lot.  They had fun with this job, and finished quickly. We washed until about 8pm, when we could no longer see.  It was a good thing we had come from the beach and they were still in bathing suits.

DSC_0067 DSC_0069 DSC_0071 DSC_0107 DSC_0124 DSC_0126 DSC_0132

My sea strainers and bilge were both ready for a good cleaning.  They looked like a science project.  The bilge water was black with sludge and floaty things and they smelled like a sour swamp.  I don’t know when was the last time that they had a thorough cleaning, but it took me about 6 hours of scrubbing and continuous flushing and pumping with the hose to get them to the point were the water was clean enough that I could see the bottom of the bilge.

DSC_0209 DSC_0210 DSC_0213 DSC_0205

As I sliced up my thumb scraping barnacles from the plastic viewing housing of the sea strainer with a spoon, I didn’t realize that the entire strainer housing can be dismantled.  After breaking the stem and rod of the housing on a leaky strainer, I not only learned that the strainers should have rubber gaskets to prevent leakage, and that you should not ever over tighten the bolts or wing nuts, but that it is monumentally easier to clean the plastic if you remove it first.  It took me 5 hours to repair the damaged sea strainer, because the access was near impossible.  I met Jeremy at Sam’s marine in Fort Lauderdale  as I had to make a few trips for parts.  He was very knowledgeable and had the replacements parts that I needed to fix the sea strainer.  It was very challenging because the access to the lower pin was killing me, but I managed to complete the repair.

DSC_0217 DSC_0219

I had to replace the upper right rod and lower wing nut pin that I had broken.



After 2 days of cleaning, breaking and fixing, I finally had a very clean bilge and crystal clear sea strainers.  Next time that I do these jobs it should be much easier now that I have a good clean base and have gotten rid of years of build up.  And, the sour smell is gone.


I also used my time to get some little things done like changing all of the blown bulbs on the boat, installing new windshield wipers and replacing the starter on one of my a/c condensers.  The crew on the boat next door helped me with the last one, but showed me how to do it, so next time I can do it myself.


My sister-in-law brought my niece down to join us for a few weeks.  It was fun having them both aboard.




The kids had fun at South Beach in the evening playing volleyball on the beach.  They also enjoyed what they called “pool jumping”, which meant: sneaking into the condo pool next door when the marina office closed.







My exhaust job was completed about a week later than expected due to the new turbos. That puts a bit of strain on my time-frame for heading North;  kids start school at the beginning of September.  But, I was very pleased with the end result.





Love your feedback!!!  Leave a comment and your 2 cents.




Cruising the Okeechobee Waterway


We really enjoyed our trip through the Okeechobee Waterway.  We decided to take this route, as opposed to going around the keys because we figured that it would be more interesting and fun for the kids.  We did not regret our decision.  I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone with children.   This post is mostly photos and lots of them.

I’m not going to bore you guys with a bunch of Okeechobee Waterway history.  I pulled this brief description from Wikipedia as a short explanation for those who may be unfamiliar.

The Okeechobee Waterway is a man-made waterway stretching from Fort Myers on the west coast to Stuart on the east coast of Florida. It was built/finished in 1937 to provide a water route across Florida, allowing boats to pass east–west across the state rather than traveling the long route around the southern end of the state.

DSC_0806 DSC_0809 DSC_0817 DSC_0820 DSC_0823


Our biggest concern when we decided to take the Okeechobee Waterway was the locks.  We weren’t sure how difficult it would be, especially since we are still working on our line handling skills.  Our Captain, Al, explained the entire process so we would know what to expect.  He said that it wasn’t difficult and he was right.  We went through 5 locks in total.  3 on the west side of the lake and 2 on the east.  It was really very easy.  The most important thing is to make sure that your fenders are positioned properly.  When the lock master opens the gate to allow the water to flow inside the chamber, the boat will rock back and forth.  It is important to be sure that the fenders are in a good position so that they stay in place and protect the boat from the concrete wall.  I handled the aft line and my Mom and Capt. Al handled the bow line.  The first lock that we went through we placed the fender slightly to far aft, so when the boat rocked I had to push it back in place so it wouldn’t get stuck completely aft.  But, after that first lock I moved it forward a bit and it stayed in place nicely with the movement.  It is also important to only wrap the line around the cleat once because you will need the ability to either pull or release slack as the boat moves up or down.  If the boat is moving down and your line doesn’t have slack or is tied off, you could rip your cleat off the boat and that would not be good.  During the first lock I had my line wrapped around the cleat once and then under the center, but I learned that it is easier to pull slack when I wrap once half around.  The lock masters were all very pleasant and told you in advance how many feet you would go up or down and they let the water in and out slowly, so it was easy to handle.

DSC_0824 DSC_0827 DSC_0828


It was fun passing riverfront boatyards.  Love those steel trawlers!!!



There really is alot to see on the Waterway; plenty of wildlife, various bird species and and alligators!!!  Aiden sat on the foredeck most of our trip patiently watching for gators.  We probably spotted about 7 or 8 collectively.  It was very exciting for the kids to see the alligators in their natural habitat, definitely the highlight of the trip.


DSC_0876 DSC_0855 DSC_0870 DSC_0873 DSC_0875

DSC_0879 DSC_0880 DSC_0883 DSC_0884 DSC_0887 DSC_0902 DSC_0904

DSC_0912 DSC_0921 DSC_0926 DSC_0931 DSC_0936 DSC_0939

DSC_0945 DSC_0953 DSC_0954 DSC_0961 DSC_0964 DSC_0975 DSC_0989 DSC_0991 DSC_0992 DSC_0994

A rainbow


DSC_0006 DSC_0007 DSC_0013 DSC_0017 DSC_0020 DSC_0025 DSC_0028 DSC_0030 DSC_0031 DSC_0034 DSC_0035 DSC_0036 DSC_0037 DSC_0040

DSC_0042 DSC_0045 DSC_0046 DSC_0049 DSC_0052 DSC_0054



Next, on to Miami…


Love your feedback!!!  Leave a comment and your 2 cents.


Our New Captain and Journey to Clearwater


In the last post I explained that were docked in Carabelle and captain-less.


Minutes after our captain’s depature, I jumped on the phone to Sonny at Dog River.  He really is a great guy and he can be trusted.  We were sad to leave Dog River and I knew when we left there that Sonny was sincere when he told me to call him if I needed anything at all and they would come.  And that they did.  I told Sonny what had transpired, and I kid you not, less than an hour later he called me back to say that arrangements were made, and my new captain was on his way.

Unbeknownst to us, the marina, “The Moorings”, that we stopped at in Carabelle to dump our old captain was affiliated with Dog River marina.  When I walked into the marina office to register, I was delighted and surprised when, Melvin, a very kind gentleman asked me if I knew Sonny Middleton.  I said that I did and he told me that he was picking up my new captain from the airport in the morning.  I was relieved that we had sailed right into a marina were we instantly had Sonny’s network behind us again.  Melvin was a great guy.  He took me to the store and sent a guy to fix some things that needed attention and watched out for us until our new captain arrived.

Early the next day, Alvin, our new captain, was on our boat.  Alvin has been running boats for Sonny for years.  He runs “Southern Comfort”, a 72′ Hatteras that was docked near my boat at Dog River and he even ran my boat for Sonny a few times.  He is a very professional captain and also a real southern gentleman, as are all of the men that we have met at Dog River.  He described to me my options, so that I could make an informed decision about our next move.  He then spent the remainder of the day checking systems.

The next morning, bright and early, we were on our way to Clearwater.  Our departure was at about 5am.  The kids did well on our crossing, but at about 4 hours into the trip, Gaege, my 5 year old puked all over me.  After that he was fine.  Two of my other kids at just about the same time, also began to feel queasy.  I gave the older kids Dramamine.  I also whipped out a box of popsicles from the aft deck freezer.  The popsicles were amazing.  Every time Gaege mentioned that he felt sick I gave him one and he immediately seemed better.  I didn’t take any Dramamine myself and didn’t get sick, but I did feel a bit light headed at times early on, and the popsicles seemed to take that feeling away.  I will definitely remember the popsicle trick and will always be sure to keep a freezer full for any journey.  At about 5 hours into the trip, everyone was good.  We had all adjusted to the motion.

The journey across was boring and uneventful (which is really what I want on an at-sea crossing).  There wasn’t much to sea, at-sea, except a few flying fish, dolphins and plenty of big blue water.  The highlight of our day was talking on the VHS radio to friends on the boat “Crystal Blue Persuasion”.  We met these guys in Carabelle and decided to sorta cross together.  Although they had to leave at 1am, and we left at 5am because we ran our boat at 10 knots and they ran at about 7.5 on the crossing.

The kids slept for quite a bit of the trip.  Gaege rode his new scooter through the galley and salon and we sat back and enjoyed the ride.

About 16 hours later we arrived in Clearwater.  It was dark and there were 2 channels to get into the City Marina.  Not realizing that one of them was an ICW route and the other was not, we did hit sandy bottom in really shallow water.  But quickly realized our mistake and took the long way around the bay into the City Marina.





Note to anyone going to City Marina in Clearwater:  Our friends on “Crystal Blue Persuasion” reported that there was traffic under the bridge upon entry.  Charter and fishing boats get backed up like a parade and boaters might have to use their hands to push off from one another,  I have been told.  Also, be sure to take the ICW channel going to the right after clearing the bridge heading in.  The channel to the left is shorter, but it is too shallow for deep drafts.  It is better to get in during daylight if possible.  The city lights are bright and it is very difficult to see markings, even with spotlights.


Love your feedback!!!  Leave a comment and your 2 cents.


The rescue.



Well folks, we officially have our first crazy boat story. I promised that I would share the good, bad and ugly, so here we go.

Our captain turned out to be a bit of a flake.  He was a smart guy in some respects, clearly knew mechanics and was very good at handling the boat, but problem was, his judgement was severely lacking.  Obviously, I am not going to say who the captain was, but I know that he reads this blog occasionally.  So captain, if you read this, and I hope that you do, there are things here that I wanted to say to you, but didn’t get the chance as I did not want to fume the situation the day of your departure, as my kids were aboard.

In hindsight, and it’s always in hindsight, as hindsight is 20/20, there were a few red flags that I missed or ignored.  I had poor judgement in choosing a captain and I have learned a lesson.  I will never again hire a captain that is not by way of someone that I know and trust.  I don’t care how stellar the references or how highly they come recommended.  Now, on to the incident.


We anchored at Dog Island for the night.  Dog Island is across the Bay from Carrabelle.  It was our last stop before heading across the Gulf.  As we shut down the engines and settled in to our beautiful surroundings our captain immediately wanted to pull the dingy down and head to the island.  Problem was, we were too tired.  After all, I had been running the boat for 8-10 hours a day for three days straight. Even when my 13 old, Aiden, was at the helm, I wasn’t really resting as I had to keep an eye on what he was doing.  My Mom and I decided that it was best not to pull the dingy down that evening, but rather we could blow up the tubes, tie them to the swim platform and the kids could swim right at the boat.  Which they did and had a great time.  However, our captain, decided that he was going to swim to the island and suggested that my kids do the same.  They begged and pleaded, but there was no way in hell I was about to let them swim to shore.  Not only was I concerned about the current, but I was worried that they could potentially get half way across, realize that it was farther than expected and freak out, despite having a life jacket on.  So, off went our captain to shore, alone; life jacket strapped, and cell phone double bagged waiving above his head as he swam with one arm.

A couple of hours passed and I glanced over the bow to see that our captain had begun his return to the boat.  10 minutes passed and he was still out there.  I kept my eye on him.  20 minutes later and I began to wonder what the heck was taking so long.  By this time, my Mom was sitting on the foredeck closely monitoring his progress, or there lack of, while I was closely monitoring my kids. Moments later, she informed me that our captain was unable to make it back to the boat, just as he called out for us to go get him.  I looked over and noticed that he was much, much farther away from the boat.  He was drifting into the bay, quickly.  His plastic bag cell phone still waiving in the air.  Still attempting to swim with one arm.  We all wondered why he wouldn’t forgo the phone and use both arms, but at this point he was caught in the current, and was drifting fast.  At this moment we realized the seriousness of the situation and everyone went into a mild panic.  I had to make a decision whether to fetch him with the dinghy, or the boat.  The problem with the dingy was that we had only taken it down with the davit twice, both times our captain assisted.  The davit arm is very stiff from years of sitting and lack of use.  We were planning to add ropes and possibly grease it up at some point. I wasn’t sure if I would have the strength to swing it out and get the boat in the water.  The problem with taking the big boat was that I would have to get the anchor in, which, again, I hadn’t done alone yet and pulling up anchor can take a few minutes when its buried in sand.  We didn’t have a lot of time.  Also, I had heard that there is a proper procedure to rescuing someone during a man overboard situation to lesson the risk of running them over with the boat.  I knew that my adrenaline was pumping as I watched our captain being quickly swept away.  The risk of the anchor taking to long to pull in coupled with not knowing the correct procedure when attempting to move the boat to him, was too great.  I decided to take my chances with the dingy.  I immediately rounded up my kids to help me pull it down.  Ronan came up on the bridge to help me swing the arm out and the others stayed below guiding the boat into the water.  It was a success.  Ronan and I jumped in and I turned the key to start the engine.  It started briefly, then died.  I tried again, and it died again.  Meanwhile, our captain was drifting farther and farther away.  I was panicking.  Thoughts of a Coast Guard rescue began to dance in my head.  I tried starting the engine one last time.  It started, but was just barely running.  As we headed toward the drifting man, who had given up on fighting the current, I was preparing Ronan for the moment when the motor dies.  By the way it sounded and was behaving, I was completely convinced that it would die at any moment.  We were barely moving.  A few minutes later, we finally made it to our captain, as we were pushed by the current.  He was unable to pull himself into the dingy, maybe because of the exhaustion from swimming, not sure.  He was too big and heavy for Ronan and I to pull in.  He hung off the back as we attempted to tow him back to the boat.  Now we were moving against the current.  The dinghy, with its failing motor was not making progress at all.  Ronan picked up a paddle that was at the bottom of the boat and began paddling back.  Between the putt, putt of the engine and Ronan’s paddling we began moving, but very very slowly.  I was unable to help paddle because when I let go of the wheel we began to drift in the wrong direction.  It took a while, but thankfully, Ronan was able to get us back to the boat.

We were never in any real danger, but the possibility of drifting farther into the bay and more importantly into a channel as sundown approached was a scary thought, and let’s face it I really wasn’t keen on having to call the Coast Guard at day 5 of my journey and only having owned my boat for a few weeks.  That would have been as my kids say a real “FAIL”.  Needless to say, I was completely pissed at our captain.  His poor judgement, not only caused this incident, but could have caused worse.

That night was a real eye opener.  We also discovered that same night that our Gulf Crossing, that was scheduled to begin at 5am the next morning was a 32 hour journey at sea to Fort Meyers, when we had been told it was 8-10 hours.  Clearwater could be closer at 14 hours, but our captain never mentioned that until all came to a head.  That was okay.  My Mom and I had a plan.  We explained to our captain that we had to stop in Carrabelle the next morning to grab medication before our crossing.  We made nice, as if all would go as planned after the pit-stop.  I did not want to dump him at anchor that night as my kids had had enough drama for one day with having to rescue his sorry as$.

The next morning, we headed to Carrabelle.  As we filled our fuel tanks the guys at the dock tried to convince our captain that his plan to depart at 1am that night was a poor plan because a storm was coming.  He was too pig headed to listen and insisted that our boat could handle it.  We didn’t argue with him, we went ahead and let him dock the boat.  As soon as we were safe at the dock in Carrabelle, we asked him to step outside. We told him that he was no longer needed.  I had a bunch of stuff on my chest, but restrained as I did not want to start an argument and upset my kids.  But, I got a bit nervous when he began to waive his finger at my Mom and she stepped up and headed toward him.  He’s lucky that Southie girl didn’t push him over the side-rail.  He agreed to pack his stuff and I let it go.

So, “captain”, here are the things that I didn’t get to say to you.

You can’t pull kids in a raft off the back of a 60′ motoryacht.  Exhaust comes out the rear of the boat, and, it’s just plain unsafe.  Glad I didn’t listen to you on that one.  When you swim to land, check your current.  You shouldn’t have to rely on a newbie boater and a bunch of kids to rescue you.  When you plan to make a Gulf Crossing you should be honest about the time involved.  Who did you think would run the boat, including overnight for 32 hours?  My 13 year old? Reckless! When you have a kid at the helm, who is still learning on his first day of driving a big as$ boat, and he looses his steering when under a bridge in a no wake zone, and is heading to crash into that bridge, it is time to take control of the boat.  Don’t wait until his Mom has to run up to the bridge and throw the boat into reverse. Sorry, you were dead wrong on that one.  It’s his first day learning, he might not “figure it out” and repeating a command, “astearn on the port” won’t help when he hasn’t mastered the words port or astearn yet.  Reckless!   Before you do a long crossing, such as the Gulf, make sure that all of your navigation lights are in working order.  You are quick to recite that “It is illegal to operate at night in the United States without working navigation lights”.  Why the hell were you going to take us across without that white light?  Plain stupid!!!  And…It’s a good idea to top up your fuel and water.  And…don’t lie to your crew.  I’m glad that you left when you did.  Your judgement is pathetic and dangerously stupid.  Reckless!

Had to get that off my chest.  On a positive note.  I am extremely proud of my kids for stepping up to the plate.  I couldn’t have gotten him back to the boat without all of their help.  Especially Ronan who paddled us back to the boat.  They are a strong resilient bunch.  They always come through and help when the time is needed.  Also, Aiden and I had a lot of practice running the boat.  I’m sure that had I been with someone else I would not have gotten the practice that I did.  Still need to learn docking, but have a very good handle on steering in a short amount of time.



Just as a side note, it was nice to be able to say to Aiden, who couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t let them swim to land, and who routinely questions my parenting and decisions as most teens do at some point.  “You see why I say what I say?  You see now why I told you guys, “NO?”  You would have all been floating around out there.”  The look on his face as he nodded in agreement and finally understand me, for that brief moment.  And I could tell that this was the one time that he was grateful for me being protective.  That moment was priceless.


 Love your feedback!!!  Leave a comment and your 2 cents.

Journey to Carabelle


This will be a quick update, as we have lots to do in preparation for crossing the Gulf to Clearwater.  Our internet has been either non-existent or very sporadic.  But, we have mostly been doing very well.  Our captain gave instruction, but was almost completely hands off.  My 13 year old, Aiden, my Mom and I have run the boat the entire way from Dog River to here.  The instruction has been fairly good and I feel confident in my ability to steer and follow a route.  My Moms steering ability is also good.  Aiden shows great potential. He does very well on rivers and channels where the course is clearly defined but needs more practice on open water, when following the gps chartplotter to stay on course.  I definitely need more practice docking, but I knew when I purchased the boat that docking would be the biggest challenge.  I have had one opportunity to leave the dock and back away, and did it well.  I was proud of myself, but need lots more practice. Docking a fairly large vessel can be nerve-wracking.

We have figured out how to change the head-to-holding tank valves, change the navigation light bulbs, how to clean sea strainers, check the oil levels and have a fairly good grasp of the electrical panel and switching from shore power to generator power.  Although this came with much hair loss over the a/c power alarm.

The kids have done great.  They enjoy the dolphins and swimming off the aft deck.  We had one minor sea sickness episode with one of the kids when we first got underway, but nothing since.











Next, we head across the Gulf to Clearwater.


Love your feedback.  Leave a comment and your 2 cents!!!

Provisioning and Ironing Out Kinks


My kids were on the docks fishing from 9am to 11pm last night.  They surely would have stayed out all night, had I let them.  You can tell when they catch something from the shreeks and squeals.  They have quickly made friends with the most adorable and polite little girls from the boat next door.  Before we left Boston, I had promised them that they would meet kids and make new friends in their travels, and this lifestyle, thus far, has not disappointed.  The boat has quickly given back to us, and I couldn’t be more pleased to see my kids out catching minnows, alligator gar, snakes, lizards, baby crabs and even a catfish. And that was just yesterday!  Aiden seems to be the best with scooping up alligator gar with the net, but they sure are hard to chop up.  The scales are very tough.  I see now why they are called alligator gar.  I had to run to Home Depot and buy a hatchet.  But, they enjoy catching and fishing with the bait that they have caught themselves.








My Mom and I haven’t stopped for a minute.  We have been busy finishing up the cleaning, washing bedding and running from store to store.  We have stocked up on our most used items, so that when we arrive in Miami, all we will need to get is dairy products and fresh fruit and veggies.  We eat a lot of fresh produce.


I managed to get the salon windows open.  The track that they sit in was crusty and caked with years and years of dirt build up, that hardened.  I had to take a butter knife and loosen it up, vacuum it out and then lubricate with WD40.  The metal pull rail came off a couple of the windows, I was pulling so hard to get them open.  I will have to epoxy that back on, but I did manage to get all of the salon and galley windows open.  They probably haven’t been opened in 30 years.  Folks in these parts love their a/c, and for good reason.  The heat and humidity here doesn’t let up.  But I love fresh air.


A repair guy came to fix the fridge, changed a part, but 2 days later, it broke again.  He’s coming back today.  We have been using the freezer as a fridge as it gets cold like a fridge, but won’t freeze anything.   I am going to pick up a freezer for the aft deck, just in case.  Then we will have extra freezer space.  I just have to figure out a way to protect it from the rain.

I also discovered that 2 of our shower pumps aren’t working.  I suspect that it is just the float switch, as the pump runs manually.  Dog River is sending someone this morning.  Hopefully, I can learn how to change that myself.

The port sliding door to the pilothouse wouldn’t lock, but a bit of chiseling and a minor striker plate adjustment and it works perfect now.  We don’t really need to lock that door here at Dog River, but certainly will when we arrive in Miami.


The original appliances are working… good enough.  We can only use 2 burners on the cook top, but that’s ok, for now.  I am looking forward to a galley refit.  My Mom had a scare last night when she messed with the timer on the oven, and as a result couldn’t figure out how to get it to turn on at all.  Eventually, she did get it going, although we didn’t end up having dinner until 9.  I think she learned her lesson on that one.


There are still many things that we have yet to figure out, like how to get the dinghy in the water 🙂  But, we are getting there slowly.  Like folks down here say, “Now, don’t go gettin’ in a hurry”.  We will learn it all in due time.

We will be leaving Dog River, Mobile Alabama on Thursday.  After a quick shake-down, we will have our first cruise!  My kids are excited to head to Miami.





Love your feedback!!!  Leave a comment and your 2 cents.



We made it!!!


As I pulled up to the curb at JetBlue arrivals, I panicked for a moment.  I knew that I had a challenge on my hands.  It was about 1am and my kids were exhausted between a beach day with school and hauling luggage on and off planes, as was I.  My youngest, Gaege, was fast asleep on a lounge in the terminal with my Mom.  My teens gazed weary eyed, wondering how the heck I was going to pull this off.  They had confidence in me, and I was not about to disappoint.  When we departed Boston I had dropped the bags and suitcases to Logan with my pick-up truck.  Hadn’t much considered transporting them on the other end.  I quickly began packing the rear cargo area with the largest luggage, right up to the headliner.  Then I opened the Goodwill disposable suitcases and pulled out trash bags filled with clothing and unbreakables.  I packed those bags on the floor of the mini-van and between the seats.  Those raggedy suitcases went straight to the trash.  I packed the smaller duffle bags in the access space at the center of the van.  I had the kids jump in and the rest went on laps.  Not sure how I got all of that stuff packed into that little van, but I did it.  Broke a sweat, but did it.

We had an uneventful flight to New Orleans.  My 14 year old, Ronan, was mortified with embarrassment when some of our carry-ons wouldn’t fit in the overhead space, and I had to perform surgery on one of the disposable suitcases during our layover, but all in all, not a bad trip.  We arrived to the hotel, I rigged a temporary litter box for Sassy and off to bed we went.



The next day, we woke and drove the 2 hour jaunt to Mobile.  When we arrived I was delighted to see how amazing our new name looked.

new name

Gaege, my soon-to-be five year old was tickled that his name is on the boat.  Our neighbors asked where we got the name.  They chuckled when my Mom jokingly told them to “board uninvited and you’ll find out”.

The kids and I set up a train and we quickly unloaded the luggage and moved it aboard.  It’s great having this many helpers, even the little guy chipped in.

We spent the rest of that day and the next cleaning and purging the yacht of unwanted items.  I was surprised that I hadn’t noticed how many plastic plants and flower bouquets were aboard.  I think that we counted 16.  Luckily, there is dumpster very conveniently located right next to our dock.  So we were easily able to dispose of the glass coffee table, pillows, lamps and all the other items that we didn’t need.

My Mom and Skyla scrubbing the galley

My Mom and Skyla scrubbing the galley

Me, cleaning drawers

Me, cleaning drawers






In between cleaning and shopping the kids have gotten a kick out of watching the fish jump out of the water, and chasing tiny crabs.  I have enjoyed rolling out of bed in the morning to a hazy placid river were the early birds are out grabbing their morning catch.






We are all very pleased with our new home.  Even Sassy has had fun exploring.  We discovered that the refrigerator is not working properly, which is a real bummer.  I will have to do something about that before we head to Miami, but other than that, we are delighted.




Love your feedback!!! Leave a comment and your 2 cents.

7 People, 21 Bags and a Cat


Organization (noun): The act or process of organizing; The state or manner of being organized


My Mom is the wise one, she makes lists and labels things.  She knows were to find stuff and were she put things.  Her suitcase is organized; she will know exactly were to go if she needs anything inside.

Me, not so much.  Try my best to keep the same kids clothes together.  Try my best to keep the kitchen stuff together, but in the end, inevitably, most things will likely end up out of place, and all over the place; jammed in crevices, and totally mixed up.  That part of my brain that wants to be organized and pack correctly is always beat out by that other part; that part that wants to hurry up and get it done quickly and not forget anything; that part that is telling me through the entire packing experience, not to worry, I will sort it out later, it’s all going to the same place anyhow.  In my own defense, I have to acknowledge that I am packing for 6, my 5 kids and myself.  I have a lot to remember.  I am also packing all of my business paperwork and the cat.

Probably wondering how the hell we could possibly fill 21 bags. So easy.  And if I had more space, I could fill that to.  Clothing was the LEAST thing that we packed.  Figured I would take them shopping for summer stuff when we arrive in Mobile.  These are some of the things that we couldn’t live without:

  • pots and pans
  • kitchen utensils
  • printer
  • 3 Wii’s
  • board games
  • basketball
  • football
  • 3 baseball gloves, bat and baseball
  • 5 laptops
  • 2 blankets
  • electric tea kettle


We have a lot of luggage, including 7 checked bags, 7 carry-on bags, and 7 personal items (backpacks).  My Mom, being the smarticus that she is, had the brilliant disposable suitcase idea.  We had to maximize the space, as to avoid tons and tons of shopping when we arrive.  We have enough to purchase as is, the more we bring the better.

The plan is to leave early tomorrow.  My Mom and I will go to the airport while the kids are in school and drop all of the checked bags, then return back to my Mom’s.  When my kids get out of school, I will drop everyone to the airport with the 14 carry-on bags.  Then I will go back home and drop off my pick-up truck and get a ride back to the airport.  My kids are out of school at 2:30 and we have a 6 flight, plus we need time for dinner at the airport before we depart, so there isn’t much room for error.  The good news is that the airport is only 15 minutes from my Mom’s house, of course, that’s if the traffic cooperates.  We will be heading in the opposite direction of rush hour, so we should be ok.  “But GG, why don’t you just keep your kids out of school on tomorrow?”  I wish I could, but Monday is the end of the year class trip to the beach.  They have been looking forward to it all year, so I can’t disappoint them.

My only concern besides a smooth trip to the airport is the rental car when we arrive in new Orleans.  I reserved a mini-van that we will take to Mobile.  With all this luggage and bodies, we absolutely won’t fit in anything smaller, and even this van will be pushing it (good thing some of it is disposable)  If we don’t get the van that I reserved, we’re screwed; stuck in New Orleans until we can get one.  But, I’m going to think positive and all should be a smooth transition.

I’m pretty much all packed up and ready to go.  I’ve checked almost all of the items off of my To-Do List.  I even made a homemade  weather-guard for Harley’s automatic cat feeder.  We decided to leave him here for the summer.  He is an outdoor cat, who does not appreciate being brought indoors and would be too difficult to manage in the hotel and at the airport.  I have a couple of friends that are going to keep an eye on him and monitor his food and water, so he will be fine while we are away.


Wish us luck!  We are outta here Monday and should be in our new home Tuesday.


Love your feedback!!!  Leave a comment and your 2 cents.


goodwill packing



In less than 48 hours we will leave Boston to head to Dog River Marina in Mobile AL to move onto our new-to-us 63′ Hatteras MY, newly named 45 Gaege. It is one year & 2 months since we first listed the house for sale. We had high hopes back then of having it sold and closed by the summer, kids would be out of school and we would have the luxury of time & mobility to travel to the boat, do what ever work & refit required to move aboard, enjoy some time cruising while heading back to Boston. As usual, the universe always makes the first move and life takes it’s own course while we plan it. Well a bit more time than we had hoped has passed by, but the house was a successful sale, and here we are getting ready to embark on our journey a year later, but still the summer months.

After going back & forth for a week, our quandary being whether to rent an SUV and drive to Mobile, or to fly. There are advantages & disadvantages to both options. While the idea of the long 3 day drive wasn’t very appealing, the fact that we could load the vehicle up with whatever we could squeeze in was, and that was the only thing on the plus side of that option. Since we will be spending 2 1/2 months on the boat before we arrive in Boston, (if we come back at all! tehe…) with 7 people, there is much ‘stuff’ to bring, clothes being the least of them. And to say we’ll just buy those items down there just isn’t feasible, as there are household items, especially kitchens items that would cost way too much to replace, not to mention the redundancy buying these things would create. As well, there is sports equipment, that are not only necessary but too expensive to have doubles, a collection of legos, many limited edition, that would be extremely costly to replace & a unique collection of plastic & rubber small marine animals, that would make any collector envious.

These type of things take up quite a bit of real estate, in fact probably need their own suitcase. Like some of the kitchen stuff, the kid’s stuff, not only well used and loved, are just things that can’t be left behind for three months.  One would think that driving would be more economical, but as it turned out, between the cost of renting the vehicle, gas, meals for 7 for 2 1/2-3 days, plus 2 nights hotel, made flying far more economical than driving.  The only real sacrifice we would be giving up by flying is being able to pack as much ‘stuff’ in as we could fit. The up side of flying, besides being cheaper, is no long 24 hour drive with 5 kids, trying to coordinate pit stops, so as not to be stopping every hour.  There was also the time factor of having more time to clean up, set up and get the boat in order, provision and get organized for the first 5 day leg to Miami, before getting underway until our captain arrived.

So, the decision was made to fly. Now the dilemma was to optimize the free checked luggage and carry on bags.  While one of our cats will stay behind in Boston, the other will travel with us, so that is one carry on. JetBlue allows the first checked bag for free, X 7 bags, 50 pounds each, plus 6 carry on. That is alot of luggage to fill. Since growing kids need new clothes seasonably, it seemed prudent to hit Walmart in Mobile, which left more space for ‘other’ necessities, such as kitchen items that were earmarked for the boat to begin with and everyday things such as those mentioned above, plus things like computers favorite blankets, pillows, etc…

Now the biggest dilemma! We only have 4 large checkin size suitcases, and 3 or 4 carryon sizes. We certainly want to take full advantage of every square inch of free space, but the other dilemma, storage on the boat for suitcases. We had the option of buying army/navy sea bags, easy to store once we arrive. but we certainly weren’t going to purchase large suitcases that we couldn’t store anyway! But then again,  the fun of any dilemma is trying to solve it without spend spend spending.  Well, after much thought and brainstorming, I came up with a very inexpensive, cheapo really, way to take full advantage of the free air line real estate baggage. At first the idea did not go over so big. It was kinda like,


“Yup! Perfect solution.”  Cheap, throwaway, no need to store luggage in much needed locker space! “Yes, really.”




So, off to the Goodwill we went. Haha! Well, after visiting three Goodwills in one day, a couple didn’t even have any suitcases to offer, by the fourth one, those shabby old suitcases didn’t look so bad!



Now, when I say old suitcases, I don’t mean these…..

jessjamesjake vintage suitcases


Or those chic vintage ones they sell in antique stores like these……



Or even these………



 Hah! One suitcase we got is so old, it isn’t even a pullman! Nope, just crappy, shabby, ripped in spots,old suitcases from the seventies & eighties, these ones were never nice.


This one above was nice & clean for $20, but way too rich for our blood! So we went for what you might call the “shabby cheap”.

But, the main thing we were looking for was, the maximum space requirement, working zippers, and no tiny residents ( Yukky bugs). Oh, and most importantly, cheap price, so we wouldn’t feel bad tossing it later. Although the outsides were quite shabby, the insides were a pleasant surprise. We got two of the big ones, a huge pullman duffle bag, one brand new carry on,a really shabby pullman carry on, and another shabby duffle carry on, all for about $50, which the brand new carry on was worth anyway.  Brought them home, left em outside, (in case of bugs) I sprayed the hell out of all of them, inside & outside, with 90% alcohol, (did you know it is said,  that 90% alcohol is supposedly the only substance that kills bedbugs?) let them dry in the sun, then scrubbed them down with strong ammonia.  So, if there were any residents, they are gone now. By the time I was finished they looked, well, 5% better!

It is easy to solve a dilemma with a money solution, but it is so much more rewarding when you figure it out without spending a bundle of money. But when it is all said and done, solved, and your daughter says, “What a great idea!”,  now that is priceless!



Love your feedback!!!  Leave a comment and your 2 cents.




Fairwell to the “Suite Life”

embassy pool


I’m sure there will be something to miss about hotel living.  After all, we have made them our “home” for the past 5 months, since the house sold, while waiting to move aboard.  Hotel life was definitely one of those experiences that my kids will look back on one day and say, “Remember when we went to those hotels?”

They have come to fondly know each hotel by it’s amenities and perks.  There is the hotel with the omelettes, Embassy Suites; that’s my favorite.  It has 2 separate rooms, cooked to order breakfast, indoor pool, snacks in the evening for the kids and it’s completely renovated with the most COMFORTABLE beds.  I would have stayed there every night, had the rate allowed.  Lucky for me, I managed to snag Embassy 4 nights every week. In the winter and Spring, Thursday through Monday are the slow nights.  My kids came accustomed to knowing that come Thursday, we were heading to Embassy, no matter what.  The hotel staff knew us well, and it was the one hotel that felt like home.  I got such good deals at this hotel that I’m convinced that with the cooked breakfast, they must have lost money on us.

embassy suites

Then there is the hotel with the cookies.  That would be Double Tree.  Gotta love those warm chocolate chip cookies with nuts and a hint of cinnamon.  I’m sure most don’t realize that if you ask the front desk for more, you can pretty much have an endless supply of delicious treats.  We have even been known to munch cookies on the drive to school (but don’t tell).

Doubletree Cookies

The hotel down the street is the Marriott.  It is walking distance to my kids school, so we slept late on those days, although we still drove to school.

The hotel with the ice-cream is Holiday Inn.  Who can resist a Ben and Jerry’s vending machine in the lobby?  Fudge Brownie was the flavor of choice.  Fair to say that our sugar intake these past 5 months has been through the roof.  Oh, the “sweet life!”

I have become a Hotwire “Master”.  I know exactly which hotel I am booking, just by looking at the stars and amenities.  I have also used Priceline quite a bit.  I have really gotten some pretty amazing deals.  And who can complain about housekeeping and free breakfast every day.  The only problem; I had to constantly remind my kids that despite the fact that they were swimming in a pool every evening and washing with soap that comes in a pretty green box, that they were not on vacation and still had to go to bed on time and keep up with homework.


But alas, just as the “Suite Life” ends, so comes “Life on Deck”…  It really is the perfect analogy.



Love your feedback!!!  Leave a comment and your 2 cents.