Thursday, December 31, 2015

Baby, It's Hot Outside

   Cool breezes, temperatures in the 90s, families hanging out on the beach . . . These are the things that remind us of Christmas, right? . . . yeah, me neither . . . but, such is the situation here in Florida.  Having grown up in Virginia (where there are actually changes in the seasons), I am used to the holidays actually feeling like the holidays.  There may not always be snow on the ground in time for St. Nick's arrival but, the temperatures are cooler (enough for a sweater and coat) and curling up with a blanket and a cup of cocoa to watch Christmas movies is the activity of choice . . . sigh . . .

My Answer to a Tree - Tree-like Garland on the Hand Rails
and Ornaments Hung on the Garland
  Well, as they say, "When in Rome . . .".  So, in the days leading up to Christmas, Bill and I decorated the boat with ornaments with the air conditioner running, shopped for presents in t-shirts and shorts, and drank cold glasses of sweet iced tea while watching The Santa Clause and White Christmas.

Cranberry-Apple Pie
   I made a Christmas Eve dinner of glazed, baked ham, green beans, and a baked potato casserole. Bill even cooked up a cranberry-apple pie for dessert.  Yum!  After dinner, we finished wrapping presents and put them on the settee under the ornaments (since we don't actually have a tree on the boat). Surprisingly they survived the night . . . It wouldn't have surprised me if one of the cats had decided to open the presents for us in the wee hours of the morning.  

My New Emerald and Diamond Bracelet
   On Christmas day, we opened presents and called both of our families to check up on them and wish them well.  Bill made us brunch and then, instead of taking a walk in the snow, we took a walk on the beach. Not a typical Christmas day activity but, it was very enjoyable.  There were kids playing with beach toys and building sand castles, people flying kites and wind surfing, the restaurants were even open to accommodate everyone.  We picked up some shells along our stroll and had dinner at one of the local hot spots. . . a very pleasant, albeit unusual, Christmas day.

Coral Washed Up on the Shore

Foot Prints in the Sand
Beautiful Day

Notice the Streak of Pink

Enjoying The View From the Restaurant

Puttering Down to Miami
One of the Many Bridges that Had to be Opened

   I mentioned in my last post that we were going to move the boat closer to Miami for our jobs . . well, we tried to move the boat.  It didn't exactly work as planned.  On Sunday (2 days after Christmas).  Bill and I untied the lines and motored out of our marina in Dania Beach.  We dealt with a few delays here and there but, overall, we had an easy trip down to what was supposed to be our new home.  After making it through the last bridge, we slowed the engine, prepared the lines, and began to turn into our allotted slip.  As we straightened the boat to pull in, BANG! . . . My first thought was that we had hit something that was submerged.  So, we moved over to the next slip (just to see) and BANG! again . . . Turns out, we had hit something, the river bottom.  The slip that we were told had 8 feet of water (and had already paid for) really only had about 4 feet . . . Great . . . Now what ??? 

Part of the Miami Skyline

   It was already too late in the day to head back to Dania Beach.  So, as we headed back up the river (and back through all those bridges that we just came through), we began frantically calling marinas in the area to see if they had space for us.  Many of the places that we tried were all booked up and a few never even picked up the phone.  Finally, I found a marina that had one spot left; The people that reserved it never showed up.  So, it was ours . . . temporarily.

    Once we were settled into our slip, we went in to talk to the office manager.  We explained our situation and asked if there was any way that we could stay where we were for a while.  We had just left our old marina (and had only payed through December) and the slip that we had signed a lease on and had paid through January on wasn't a possibility anymore . . . We were a boat without a home  . . . Unfortunately, after checking the marina's calendar, the office manager couldn't find an open slip for us.  We could use the slip we were in but, only for a few days . . .hmmm . . . back to the drawing board . . .

  After calling every Miami-area marina with rates we could afford and still coming up empty, Bill called the marina in Dania Beach.  Thankfully, our slip hadn't been given away.  Unfortunately, we still had to get to work while we were down here.  So, we had to use Uber to get to our car and then drive it down to Miami.  Tonight will be our last night here.  Tomorrow, we'll head north again and pull back into the same slip that we were in before.  We'll then call Uber again to get back to Miami, pick up our car, and then drive it back to Dania Beach.  Yeah, the logistics of moving a car and a boat have been a bit of a pain.   So, until we can find a place that has room for us and that we can actually fit into, we'll keep commuting from Dania Beach to Miami.  

   Tonight, we will say goodbye to 2015 and welcome in a new year.  It's been a year of setbacks, successes, and failures; new friends, unique experiences, and humbling challenges.  As we raise our glasses tonight, we'll say a toast; a toast to the past, a toast to the future, and a toast to living life to the fullest . . . Happy 2016!      


   Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments. (If no one has commented yet, there will be a "No Comments" link near the bottom of the post. If someone has already commented, there will be a number and the word "comments" beside it. Just click whichever of these is there, click, "add comment" when the window opens, and type away.)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Changes for the Holidays

Here's the New Mixing Elbow Beside the Old Mixing Elbow
. . . Which Would You Rather Have? 
   Our life afloat this year has thrown us quite a few curve balls, some good and some we definitely could have done without. The hardest hitting of these, of course, being our engine refusing to run for 6 months.  Despite this set back, and, in fact, partially because of it, we are welcoming a few major and positive changes into our lives that we are very thankful for.

   I hinted at a job change in my last post.  Ironically, our engine problems might have drained our funds and caused us to join the workforce again but, if we hadn't been forced to stop we never would have met up with George (aka Jorge).  This is the same guy that we had the pig roast with a few months back.  . . . You see, we met George in the marina that we were initially towed to when we got into Florida.  He had a new boat he knew nothing about and Bill offered to help him fix a few a few problems on it.  This lead to Bill helping out at George's custom metals shop, which, in turn, lead to a very handsome job offer.  The offer?  To be George's right hand man to supervise jobs here and abroad (since a lot of the work is done in foreign ports).  This means that we will not only be able to recoup our finances but, we can do it much faster and get some of the items on our "to do someday" list checked off before we set sail again. 

   I also have some changes coming in the way of a job or should I say jobs . . . Working at West Marine was never supposed to be a long term thing for me.  If someone had told me in June that we would be spending this much time in Florida, I wouldn't have believed them.  However, since it looks like we'll be hanging around for a while, I would rather be putting my time into something I actually enjoy.  Don't get me wrong; working a register isn't all that terrible but, I am a teacher after all.  So, I have accepted a job as a tutor for a Huntington Learning Center not too far from where Bill is working in Miami.  I am also in the process of transferring my employment from the West Marine in Ft. Lauderdale to one of the Miami locations.  This will allow me to split my week between the two jobs, spending time working with students and holding on to that coveted employee discount.  I simply couldn't pass it up; We do live on a boat after all and the discount really is that significant.

The Closest Empty Slip Is Where We'll  Be
   Now . . . Since these jobs are in Miami, we obviously cannot keep the boat where it is either; the commute just wouldn't work. So, we have arranged to move the boat to a slip in the Miami area.  It's right on the Miami River in a really nice part of town and we'll be paying almost half of what we're paying now.  With the engine running, moving is a no-brainer . . . And speaking of moving . . . Our commutes to work will now be much easier because . . . We bought a car!  I know, I know, it doesn't fit on the boat . . . But, we really did need something to drive around with both of us working.  . . So we'll work out the logistics of how we can both get to work, enjoy the new ride, and, when we leave, we'll sell it.

You Get Creative With
Space on a Boat
   This year was also the first Thanksgiving that we cooked everything on the boat.  Last year we were living on the boat but, went to Bill's sister's house for dinner. So, we cooked and brought a few dishes but, certainly not the entire meal.  This year was different.  If you have kept up with the blog or have spent any time with us at all, you know that Bill and I like to cook from scratch; anything pre-packaged is avoided and used as a last resort.  (Please don't think this snobbish; we simply wish to make conscious food choices.)  So, for our Turkey day, everything from the green bean casserole to the pumpkin pie to the bird itself was cooked with only fresh ingredients (the only can we bought was the evaporated milk for the pie) using our little 3-burner stove/oven in our teeny, tiny galley . . . And we even got everything to the table so that nothing was cold . . . Perfectly timed . . . Let's see Martha Stewart do that . . .

The Bird with Stuffing


Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Bill's Pull Apart Rolls
For the Pumpkin Pie, Bill Roasted a Pumpkin in the oven . . .
No Canned Stuff Here

The Final Result

   So, . . . I'm sure with all these changes, you're wondering when we plan on actually leaving . . . And the truth is that we don't know . . . I guess the nondescript answer is that we'll leave when it makes sense; when our finances look much better and our to-do list looks a little smaller. . . Until then, we'll keep enjoying the positives.

  Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments. (If no one has commented yet, there will be a "No Comments" link near the bottom of the post. If someone has already commented, there will be a number and the word "comments" beside it. Just click whichever of these is there, click, "add comment" when the window opens, and type away.)