"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
- Mark Twain
Today was all sunshine, yet a brisk 34° as we spent most of the day keeping warm with a mega migas breakfast, laying down a couple coats of varnish to the coaming tops, some housecleaning (how does a boat get so dusty in just a day or two!?), and looking forward to plans with our new friend and fellow sailor, Dick.
We really enjoyed and appreciated him taking the time to point out some anchoring and route alternatives for the next leg of our journey, being treated to shrimp po-boys at Bozo’s and walking up to get ice-cream cones at Edd’s Drive-In. After treats at Edd’s, we were introduced to some favorite, local ham while picking up a few groceries (Matt’s looking forward to lunch tomorrow!). Throughout the evening, we learned more about the history of Pascagoula and enjoyed hearing stories of him growing up in the area. It really does make such a meaningful difference to connect with new friends in places that could have been just another pin in the map along our route. Thanks again, Dick!
Walking up for ice cream at Edd’s
Tomorrow we plan to get the boat prepared as we’re hoping to untie from the dock early Wednesday morning. Though it will still be quite cold, it’s forecasted to have lighter winds making for better conditions to cross Mobile Bay.
Dick and Matt going over charts for the Mobile Bay crossing
The past week has been FILLED with everything from giving thanks with family and feasting on all our favorite holiday dishes to exploring and enjoying almost every nook and corner of Ocean Springs, MS.
Here are some highlights:
Made a rental car road trip back to Texas to spend Thanksgiving with family
Louisiana marsh from the road
Thanksgiving dinner at Nana’s
Decided to spend a few extra days there to help Christie’s mom and Nana put up Christmas decorations, run some errands, and just relax with loved ones
Mom and I putting out the Christmas lights
With our rental loaded down with fresh foods, Thanksgiving leftovers! and other provisions, we returned to Ocean Springs with a cold front right on our tail
While waiting for the weather to pass, our marina neighbor, and new friend Gene, was generous enough to play tour guide and took us exploring all over Ocean Springs, Biloxi, and D’Iberville
We were introduced to the BEST shrimp and crab po-boys along the Gulf Coast at Ole Biloxi Schooner (a local fav and now ours!)
Picked up Gene’s favorite baguettes at Le Bakery (with the air smelling so amazing that you could taste the french bread and pastries)
Took a tour of Back Bay and learned all about the damage and reconstruction since Hurricane Katrina
Received three Mississippi seafood recipe books as an early Christmas present from Gene (thanks!)
Had Gene over for dinner and reviewed the next leg of our route through Florida on the charts he’s lending us (thanks for all the advice and tips!)
We love this beach
Meandered all over town, stopping along the way to enjoy a good old fashioned buttered pecan milkshake at Lovelace Drugstore on Washington Street (Ocean Spring’s “Main Street”), picked up pecans that had fallen from neighborhood trees (we must have at least 3 lbs onboard), and played at the beach.
Discovered that the first restaurant we dined at in the marina, Harbor Landing, had closed. We heard they were selling to the city for office space but we are hoping someone reopens it for others to enjoy. It was a gem along our route.
Some pretty tasty milkshakes and malts are made here
Ultimately, we learned that connecting with friendly folks like Gene are what makes the difference between just being tourists in a new place and truly becoming part of the community for a little while. We have so enjoyed this charming town and are grateful to have spent some extended time here. Tomorrow, we untie from our slip and get back underway toward our next anchorage at Daulphin Island, AL.
The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, all in effort for tomorrow morning. The must-do preparations have been crossed off the list (either completed or deemed not truly a must-do) and we’ve enjoyed some treasured time with family and friends.
Kaleo staged for departure
Tomorrow morning, we set sail on the dream we’ve been pursuing for the past few years. We’re going into it with a lot of excitement, a little trepidation, and genuine wonder. But above all, we are thankful. First, to the Lord for a dream becoming a reality, to our families for all of their help and for lifting us up to reach this dream, to our friends for their encouragement and to our marina neighbors, who have become friends, for their advice, tool swaps, and making the marina feel like home.
To help us remember what has been a blur and to share with you what’s been going on since we left Dallas, here are a few highlights:
Our friend, Maurice, joined Matt aboard for a week to finish re-wiring the boat, mark the anchor chain, rig the reef lines, make a fender board, etc.
Survived some cuts, bangs and bruises as we worked in every nook and cranny of Kaleo
Installed a hot water heater (Kaleo now has almost all the luxuries of a modern home, just on a much smaller scale)
Finished loading and organizing provisions aboard
Spent a rainy night discovering a leaky gasket in the v-berth hatch (poor Matt awoke to water slowly drip, drip, dripping on his forehead)
Sold Christie’s car and tucked Matt’s truck in storage along with the rest of our land life belongings
Made about a million and one trips to West Marine, Home Depot, Target, Walmart, and a host of other stores for final stock-ups
With the help of Christie’s dad, installed the chart plotter, loaded the safety locker (holds the liferaft, life jackets, safety harnesses, and EPRIB) and built a shelf for the dinghy gas can
Got to celebrate Christie’s birthday with her family (thanks for treating us to a celebratory dinner at her favorite local Mexican restaurant, Mas Amigos! and for having us as house guests for awhile)
Continued the birthday celebration with a visit from our friend, Crystal, for a dinghy ride to have dinner at Opus Bistro near our marina
Enjoyed a little send-off with our marina neighbors and received some great books, a set of Pardey cruising how-t0 DVD’s and lots of helpful advice
Received a visit from some fellow cruisers, The Sittons, who have their boat in a marina close to ours and have recently cruised the Bahamas. They generously shared their experiences with us and gave us a special super absorbent towel for drying off quickly and a conch shell they brought back from the Bahamas for us to return when we harvest our own.
Started adjusting our plans to the shorter days of Daylight Savings Time (sunrises at 6:30, sunsets at 5:30!)
Today Kaleo got a much needed bath, we painted the registration numbers on Squeak (our new dinghy), ran a few final errands (thanks Mike for letting us borrow your truck!), secured the dinghy on deck and are now off to get some much-needed rest. We feel a bit like kids on Christmas Eve with anticipation for what tomorrow will bring.
As we get underway, we want to point out a feature that’s now on the blog, our live track map. Click the GLOBE ICON in the upper left-hand corner of the site and you will see a map featuring the last position report from our SPOT tracker. It’s a new feature, so please contact us if you experience any technical trouble.
The dinghy is to a cruising boat what a car is to a house. It’s how we get to and from shore, carry groceries to the boat and see the sights in a new area. Last week Matt took our (now former) dinghy for a test spin and are. we. glad he did! Within seconds from motoring away from Kaleo, the dinghy started taking on water and the faster he motored back, the faster the this little dinghy was filling like a kiddie pool. Needless to say, we decided to go a more trustworthy route by investing in a new, shiny dinghy that we could rely on going forward. Part of the fun of a new dinghy is naming it, and within a week we stumbled on the right combination for both our dingy and outboard motor. Here’s a little backstory on how they came to be …
Last Saturday morning, our marina neighbors, Steve and Christina, had us aboard s/v EbbTide for a “FULL English breakfast” with bacon, eggs, mushrooms, sausage, bubble & squeak, tea and toast. A feast of a breakfast and great company punctuated by a beautiful sunny morning! It’s at this breakfast that we learned about Bubble and Squeak, a traditional English dish of potatoes and cabbage.
The next morning we got the day started briskly with dinghy races to breakfast at Seabrook Classic Cafe (thanks for the reco, Stuart!) and a Sunday “drive” through the marina neighborhoods. It was there, in a canal as our motor bubbled along and our new dinghy made squeaky clean sounds, that it dawned on us. Our dinghy and outboard motor are now known as “Bubble and Squeak” with gratitude to our marina mate, Steve!
One of the toughest parts in pursuing this dream is having to say farewell, for awhile, to friends and family that we are so close to. We are humbled by their support and encouragement and were fortunate enough to spend some treasured time with them over the past few weeks before tossing the docklines.
We each had fun little get-togethers at our offices. Christie’s colleagues surprised her with a Kaleo cake and Matt’s with a copy of Dr. Seuss’ “Oh The Places You’ll Go” signed by his co-workers. We’ll miss the daily interaction with our officemates and appreciate their warm send-offs.
The Kaleo cake tasted great!
Next up, our Dallas friends sent us off in style with with a Bon Voyage complete with every detail – from the nautical decor, tasty bites and sailboat petit fours to a round of champagne toasts that warmed our hearts and karaoke that lasted well into the night. What made the party truly meaningful was being surrounded by a family of friends that we will keep close in our hearts along this trip. We can’t thank our friend, Crystal, enough for not only opening her home for the celebration, but also, with the help of Janay and Lacey, creating such a memorable and fun night!
The family Bon Voyage fiesta was the following weekend, held at Christie’s parents’ home, where we enjoyed a bountiful fajita feast and a gathering of family from far and near. We spent a restful afternoon visiting, opening notes of well wishes, unwrapping useful treasures and listening to the guys play guitar outside. It’s with our deepest gratitude to our families for lifting us up to reach this dream.
Thanks to our friend and sewing superwoman, Paula J, nights aboard Kaleo are even more comfortable. Paula was gracious enough to sew us two sets of custom v-berth (our bed at the bow of the boat) sheets. Since v-shaped bed sheets aren’t readily available at everyday retailers and canvas shops wanted more than $300 per set, it seemed that we would be stuck tucking and folding to get regular sheets to fit. Paula, having lived on a sailboat in the tropics, happened to ask if we had tailored sheets and upon hearing we didn’t, offered to sew some for us!
Paula cutting our sheet to the v-berth template
We also owe our appreciation to Paula’s daughter, Taylor. Upon hearing that we needed an unknown center-line measurement, she applied the Pythagorean theorem, that she’d learned in her math class recently, to determine the needed dimension. With some new sets of sheets and the proper dimensions, Paula went to work and turned regular king sheets into Kaleo sheets. A million thanks again. We l-o-v-e them!
Our friends Jeph and Amy joined us this weekend for the 5-hour tour along the Houston Ship Channel to our home for the night at The Galveston Yacht Club.
Here is our route as tracked by our Spot GPS tracker
This mini-cruise was intended to hone our navigation skills in a channel with very big ships, to give the motor a test after last weekend’s cooling system rebuild and to have some fun with friends. We easily accomplished this and the motor had even more run time as there was little wind so we motor-sailed for virtually the entire 10 hour roundtrip.
Both days began with an early start in hopes of avoiding the mid-day heat and getting to Galveston with some time to explore. After our first encounter with a huge container ship, the rest were quite benign and not as intimidating as we were expecting. The motor-sail down was fairly uneventful, though we were treated to a playful dolphin escort into Galveston. Some even swam right alongside Kaleo! After arriving, we checked into the marina, tied up at our assigned slip, showered and promptly took a long nap in the A/C.
After recharging our batteries, Christie’s aunt Cherie, who is staying in Galveston, was kind enough to pick us up at the yacht club and drive us to The Strand, Galveston’s tourist district. After some serious sugar at LaKing’s Confectionery, Cherie lent us her car to explore the island where we toured the historic homes along Broadway and drove along the Seawall. We wrapped up the evening with a great seafood dinner at Gaido’s and a family visit at Aunt Cherie’s beach house.
Sunday was the reverse of Saturday but a lot warmer and Matt brought home the sunburn to prove it. We cruised past the largest ship of the trip, the Nassau Spirit, weighing in at 810 feet long! It was a fantastic trip which helped us learn that sailing harnesses are a must, even on calm days, big ships aren’t so bad if you stay out of their way, and confirmed that we really enjoy sailing to and exploring new destinations.
By the end of the weekend they got a lot more than they bargained for as:
Matt and Jeremy practiced their diesel mechanic skills for the better part of Saturday, installing and testing the rebuilt heat exchanger (helps keep the engine cool).
However, within 5 minutes of leaving the dock to go sailing the engine temperature alarm let us know the heat exchanger wasn’t working as planned.
We immediately returned to the dock where Matt and Jeremy went back to work. It seemed that they simply hadn’t added enough coolant to the motor, or so they thought…
With coolant topped off, Kaleo left the dock again headed for a special appointment in the bay – her offcial renaming ceremony. The name Kaleo had just been put on the boat a few days before and as good sailors we had to pour some champagne on the bow and into the sea.
We hove to (parked the sailboat in the wind) and gathered on the foredeck to toast and offer champagne to Neptune and Anemoi (the wind god). We even went for one of the more esoteric practices of having a virgin pee on the bow. Thank goodness Lacey is about 7 months pregnant, so baby Valley helped via Lacey and a cup. Naturally, Jeremy was in charge of pouring the cup over the bow.
After going through the fun renaming ceremony we said a prayer to the one true God for safety and prosperity of His Kingdom on our travels.
After a few hours of lovely night sailing, we turned on the motor to head back to the slip and surprise, the cooling system wasn’t working! That left us no other choice than to sail back to the slip, or at least as far as we could. After sailing all the way to the Kemah bridge, we limped to a nearby yacht brokers’ dock to call TowBoatU.S.. After a smooth tow in, Matt washed the bow very well and we called it a night.
All-in-all it was good practice for when plans take a detour, we enjoyed having friends aboard and our Kaleo has been officially christened.
Fourth of July on the water is an event we really look forward to each year. Not only do we get an extra day off work to spend aboard Kaleo but we love to anchor out in Galveston Bay to watch the fireworks. Last year we had a great fourth with family aboard and it was repeated this year with our good friends Maurice and Janay joining us for the weekend. Maurice had been aboard before but this was Janay’s first stay, though by the end of the trip she was a regular salt.
The rainstorm on the way down led to a beautiful rainbow for our marina arrival
The road trip down on Friday included our traditional midway pitstop into Buc-ee’s and we arrived at the marina after some crazy weather. Most of Houston was flooded due to Hurricane Alex weather coming up from the Gulf having us wade through water 2′ deep in our SUV to bypass some traffic. That evening we stayed dry at T-Bone Tom’s for dinner and then headed to bed pretty early.
The next morning we woke up to a beautiful day, cooked a healthy breakfast and prepared for a day on the water. There was a little cloud cover coming in from the South but it wasn’t anything foreboding. That soon changed as a squall set in between us and the channel to the marina. After a quick talk with the crew we decided to motor to the marina as no one was having a blast getting wet. NOAA weather predicted rains the rest of the day so we headed in for a few rounds of train (dominos), a boat project and to cook dinner.
The 4th of July dawned a bit too hot and sunny so we headed to the movies for a perfect retreat from the hottest part of the day. As soon as we returned to the boat, we made ready for sea and headed out in search of a suitable location to drop anchor for the show. We had a pit stop at another marina to put the name “Kaleo” on the back of the boat because the Coast Guard was hanging out at the Kemah channel entrance and we didn’t want any trouble from them. Since we are a USCG registered boat we are required to have the vessel name visible on the transom. However, we were between buffing out the old name and applying the new. The blue painters tape method looked a little shabby but it served its purpose for the day.
Working on the temporary Kaleo name graphic
Heading into the bay we quickly found a spot amidst the multitude of boats and watched the fireworks barge pull into place. Setting the anchor went very well and so did cooking dinner aboard. Moments after darkness fell, the sky lit up from all directions as the surrounding towns proceeded with their fireworks shows. And then BOOM!, the first of the Galveston Bay fireworks shot off and vibrated the hull of Kaleo. We were about 500 yards from the barge and had some of the best seats in the bay. A lengthy and colorful show ensused. Last year we spent over two hours in a traffic jam of boats to get back in so this year we decied to sail around for a bit to let the boat jam clear up a bit.
Well, sailing around a bit turned into an incredible night sail, returning us to the slip after 1 a.m. We had one of the best sails yet, hitting speeds of 6.7 knots. Kaleo slid through the black water like a knife with Maurice piloting her to perfection. He and I enjoyed some music in the cockpit, occasionally highlighted by laughter from the girls who were laying on the foredeck. This was all highlighted by the fireworks barge occasionally firing off undetonated rockets while it steamed back to its berth. This lit the whole sky and reflected a rainbow of colors across the sails. That was sailing!
We shifted gears this past weekend from all our recent projects to focus on time with family and friends aboard Kaleo (a welcomed change of pace). Crystal and Mel joined us for a weekend of road tripping (wouldn’t be complete without a pit stop into the infamous Buc-ee’s!), family fun (always includes several feasts), and of course sailing!
The Admiral and her crew
Shortly upon arrival the fam joined us at the marina for BBQ and a fireworks show. Christie’s dad, Craig, brought a brisket that was cooked to perfection and large enough to feed everyone plus Matt well into the week. Mom brought coleslaw, Nana always brings some sweet Italian greatness, Miss Penni brought fresh fruit, Aunt Veronica and cousin Natalie cookies and brownies, Aunt Cherie brought tamales, and well you get the idea … We had a feast at the marina cabana and chatted late into the night with an exciting fireworks show intermission over Galveston Bay.
Saturday quickly brought on the Texas heat so we all cooled off and relaxed by the marina pool. (Of course before Matt joined, he finished up one quick project of replacing the cable that shuts down the engine.) After a lunch/early dinner we made ready for sea and headed out around 4:30. Out on the bay, Matt was the best cap-i-tan by sailing us down to Redfish Island while ensuring our sangria glasses didn’t spill a drop. The winds were blowing steady and I helmed the speed record for the day and for our ownership of Kaleo – 6.1 knots!
As the sun started to set we all agreed that it was far too perfect of a day to end just yet and our decision was confirmed by a dolphin sighting. Much to our excitement, two dolphins crested and swam in front of Kaleo. With the temperature cooling, the winds steady and a gorgeous sunset, it was some of our best sailing we’ve had aboard Kaleo yet. Proven by the fact that we didn’t return to dock until after 11:30. Hopefully it’s a taste of a life to come.
Our friends Tim & Diann aboard their beautiful Catalina 28, Coquette.Transgrape Race course board. It’s a long one! Deck hands at the helm. A day that blessings are made of! We started the day sailing in the annual Transgrape Race on Lake Grapevine with our friends, Tim & Diann, aboard their speedy Coquette. After a great race, Matty took me by Casa Bellamini before ending the evening watching our wedding video that had come in that day and it is uh-mazing! Thank you God for giving me this awesome man.
This weekend we spent time aboard our friends Tim & Diann’s new boat, Coquette.Today marked the 1st race of the Grapevine Sailing Club’s fall series & gave us all a great opportunity to learn to fly the spinnaker. While we didn’t take 1st place, we did have a fun day of catching up and learning. We look forward to having them aboard Kaleo soon to get in some good sailing.
The crew woke up to a great, yet hot, day with nice 12-15 mph winds. Some defining moments from Saturday:
Started with a hearty breakfast
Matt watched his wedding band slip of his freshly sun-screened hand and go kerplunk in the murky, muddy water at the slip! We assumed it was gone forever and made peace with the loss.
Discovered new marina neighbor, Steve (who Christie coincidentally had met while running boat errands a few months ago and who happen to have bought a Pearson 365 that we looked at before buying our beloved, Kaleo!)
Our surveyor (who we highly recommend if you need the best) and sailing friend/mentor, Drake Epple, stopped by to say hi. It’s always a treat to see him and we look forward to him joining us for a sail soon.
A great sail in the Bay with enough heel to make us all a little nervous, spotted lots of jelly fish hanging out and kicked back with lunch, fun chats and discovered our new favorite sailing channel on Pandora
Saw a freshly sunk boat just outside of the channel with the captain still aboard and coast guard just arriving
Jeph spotted a net to which he suggested dredging for the lost ring. On the 6th shot, Jeph nonchalantly announced, “this is the one guys”, Matt said a little prayer and the next thing we knew, Matt was spraying water through the mud to discover his ring the net! The pictures show Matt’s excitement and amazement.
The guys spent the rest of the afternoon fitting the test companionway doors while the girls took a nap below in the cool A/C.
We had a great dinner at Skippers, and then we went for a night motor (our 1st time to leave the slip after dark & navigate out of the channel). It was also our 1st time to see ocean phosphorescence lighting up the waves light underwater fireflies!
Deck Schwab RedBeard even entertained us with a little recorder performance.
Our good friend, Maurice, joined us today for a great sail and to help Matt with some boat maintenance. We started the day by hoisting our captain up the mast to diagnose navigation light issues, went out for an afternoon sail (Maurice even took the wheel for the majority the time) and then wrapped up with the 1st oil change and relaxed over dinner and chats.