New Year’s and Our Why

New Year’s has always been a time to reflect on life. What resolutions do you want to set? Are there changes you want to make? Are you living the life you want to live? Do you have dreams? Are you following those dreams?

Those are questions Paul and I started asking ourselves 6 years ago. It all started with a tragic event, as do most significant life changes. I was teaching in a school 20 miles away on December 14, 2012 when 20 students were killed in Newtown, CT. My eldest daughter was in Kindergarten in a nearby town and my youngest in daycare. That day I knew that things needed to change for me. I needed to be with my kids. Life is short, you don’t know how long you will have with them and I wanted to make the most of the time we had together. I quit my teaching job at the end of the semester and started volunteering in their schools. I had been unhappy teaching for a while at this point, but now teaching to the test seemed to be the focus of everything we did and I knew deep down in my heart that that was not what learning was supposed to be about. Learning is about exploring what you are interested in, knowing how to find the information you need or want to learn and how to communicate with others. Not just your teachers or classmates, but kids of all ages, other adults, and people from other countries and cultures.

In July 2013 Paul and I took a kid free vacation to celebrate our 11th anniversary on a chartered catamaran in the British Virgin Islands. We were in love! Not just with each other 😉 but with the space you have on a catamaran.

Our previous boats had always been monohulls and we only sailed a few months out of the year because of the cold weather in Connecticut. Owning a catamaran was definitely a dream. As a family we hit the Newport Boat Show in September 2014 and we had a blast checking out all the catamarans.

In early October 2015 we took a road trip to the Annapolis Boat Show. The last time we were there I was pregnant with Heather in 2006! Again we spent all of our time checking out the catamarans and fell in love with the newest Leopard 40.

This was the trip where our dream really was born. It’s also where the name of our blog came from, Sailing Over the Rainbow. We were eating lunch during the boat show and the kids and I were doodling on the paper tablecloths with crayons. I decided I was going to manifest a boat life for us on a Leopard Catamaran. The song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, began playing on the stereo and I knew it was a sign, a sign that dreams really do come true! I actually started happy crying right in the middle of the restaurant!!

By December I got this new journal and started writing about the future that I wanted. I started talking about it to everyone. We started searching for a new boat and getting our house ready to list for sale in the Spring. I started the very long process of selling furniture and giving things away. We had a family trip planned to St. Thomas with my parents in February 2016. Paul and I took advantage of their babysitting help to hop on a ferry over to Tortola to check out the boats listed for sale coming out of the Moorings Charter fleet. On that visit we decided the Leopard 38 was the perfect boat for us. Not too big, has 4 cabins so we can have visitors and the girls can each get their room, and only 2 heads (bathrooms) to clean instead of 4 like most larger catamarans have. It was a better match for our budget, given that Paul would also be quitting his job when we were ready to sail away.

We sold our house the first week it was on the market and found a rental place in town for 6 months called, The WayPointe. Another sign we were doing the right thing? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of waypoint is “an intermediate point on a route or line of travel.” Now we just needed to sell our current boat and find our new home. Originally we had planned to buy a boat out of the Moorings fleet and fly down to Tortola and start our journey there. The more we thought about it, the more we really wanted to find a boat closer to home so we could take our time moving onboard and fixing/upgrading the boat at the same time and while we still had Paul’s income. We just happened to find a Leopard 38 for sale in Florida that had been phased out of the Belize Moorings fleet and sailed by its owners back to Florida. This was our boat, there were signs everywhere. Her name was Mariposa (butterfly in Spanish) and we just kept seeing butterflies everywhere!

We put in an offer on the boat without even seeing it. There were other offers so it was a tense time, but we got the boat and flew down to check her out in June of 2016. We had her delivered to us in July.

We officially moved aboard, after selling all of the rest of our belongings from the apartment, on October 3rd. We hosted an “open boat” party for family and friends on October 9th and we set sail South on October 15th. Almost exactly one year after writing these…

…we were living our dream and Sailing Over the Rainbow.

**This post is part of the Raft-Up Series by Kelly at CruisingMomBlog.com. A Raft-Up is a compilation of cruising blog posts about the same topic.

Top of the Mountain

We hike to the top of the tallest point in the Exumas for a spectacular view, then make our way south to Emerald Bay Marina and get a taste of the local school system.

Nassau and Atlantis

In our latest installment, we spend some time at our favorite marina on New Providence Island, pick up Grandma and Pop Pop in Nassau, and head to Atlantis for a few days to celebrate Katie’s 8th birthday.

Cruising Holidays

As cruisers, one thing you learn pretty early on is not to follow schedules or deadlines. When sailing these can be extremely dangerous and make you leave in conditions you wouldn’t normally leave in. Sometimes however you just can’t avoid them. Especially when making plans with people who don’t live on a boat. The holidays were coming and Mariposa Girl #2’s 8th birthday was quickly approaching. We were running out of time! We had family flying in to Nassau on November 16 and we had 170 nautical miles to get there, traveling around 7 miles an hour.

The girls insisted we stay in in Florida for Halloween and we really didn’t want to disappoint a wizard and a black cat!

After Halloween and finishing provision the boat for 6+ months in the Bahamas (which included trips to Costco, BJs, Aldi’s, Trader Joe’s, Publix, Target and Walmart) we were eagerly watching the weather to find a good window to cross the Gulf Stream. Under certain conditions, this massive river in the Atlantic Ocean can be dangerous. The river flows North, and fast. We need to get South and East to arrive in Bimini which means fighting the current.

I’m writing this post as we are killing time crossing the Gulf Stream to Bimini, Bahamas. We love the Bahamas so much and we want to spend as much time as we can there, so this season we are leaving a good 2 months earlier than we have in the past. For once we are actually beating the rest of the cruisers, rather than playing catch up. Leaving this much earlier in the season does however present some challenges, specifically related to holidays.

Since setting sail from Connecticut on October 15, 2016 we have made it a point to make our holidays onboard SV Mariposa special. When you sell everything you own and leave your old life behind, it’s helpful for kids to have some things that are familiar and special. Our first holiday on the boat was Halloween 2016 which we spent on a mooring ball in Annapolis, Maryland. The girls and I toured the Naval Academy during the day (while Paul fixed boat problems) and met up with a fellow kid boat, SV Dessert First for trick-or-treating that night. We headed to land and the kids had a blast sharing the night with other boat kids. 

 

After that we made a run to St. Mary’s, GA where my parents met us for Katie’s birthday. The girls stayed overnight in a hotel while Paul and I did an overnight to St. Augustine where we wanted to take part in the Cruisers Thanksgiving celebration. The CLODS (Cruisers Living on Dirt) provided the turkeys and all the boats brought sides and desserts. We focused our cooking efforts on kid friendly items and convinced SV Dessert First to get their butts down to St. Augustine for the occasion. We were also able to spend last Thanksgiving in St. Augustine again.

 

 

We have been very lucky to have family who have been able to visit us wherever we happen to be for a holiday. While the celebrations are not exactly like they were on land, we do our best to have fun! For our first Christmas as liveaboards we headed down to West Palm Beach, FL to check out the amazing Sandi, a massive sand castle Christmas Tree and coordinated light show! It is amazing and the girls absolutely love it!

Since we have gone back to the United States from the Bahamas during hurricane season our first two years, we have actually been able to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas in the same places the second year. It quickly became a tradition and felt very familiar. Last season we spent Halloween in St. Augustine and this year the girls trick-or-treated in Hollywood, FL.

Over the past 2+ years cruising the only holiday we have spend in the Bahamas has been Easter. We have spent it at the same island, in the same anchorage and the Easter Bunny has hidden the eggs of the same beach. This has now become another family tradition and we have named that tiny beach on Shroud Cay, Easter Beach.

What do we do to make the holidays special onboard? We try to replicate some items from the menu we might have had during land life. We have made Cranberry Sauce from scratch using fresh cranberries Grandma and Pop Pop have brought with them from Cape Cod. We make gingerbread cookies or houses and decorate them. We dye easter eggs and have our egg cracking contest. We write notes to Santa and leave out cookies and coconut milk 😉 We make home made decorations and hang up solar powered Christmas lights. This summer we scored a mini foldable Christmas tree at Ikea that I can’t wait to decorate. Most of all, we try to make it fun and remember that what really makes a holiday special is spending it with your family and new cruiser friends.

Bimini to Nassau

After spending a few days in Bimini enjoying the crystal clear waters we push on with an overnight trip to Nassau, where we’ll be picking up guests for Thanksgiving week. Enjoy, and don’t forget to like and subscribe!

We’re YouTubers!

Well, it’s a bit late, but we actually committed to getting our YouTube channel going and put up our first full-length episode. In this installment we cross the Gulf Stream from South Florida to Bimini while covering a bit of our back story. Now that we have everything set up, we have no excuse for not getting more episodes out! So if you like what you see, Like and Subscribe!