Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Liebster Award

We've been nominated for a Liebster Award!  What is the Liebster Award?  It's a nomination based award system that connects bloggers and spreads the love.  It's like a ribbon that says Congrats! Someone read your blog and liked it! When nominated you are given a set of interview questions to post, and then asked to nominate a blog you love.  I don't know how it originated but who doesn't love a love award.  

We were nominated by The Long Blue Road.  The story of a young indefatigable family as they go from landlubbers to swashbuckling circumnavigators!  They just sold their first cruising boat, and are looking for the next vessel that will take them around the world.

We were also nominated by Take To the Sea.   One of the first sailing blogs I found and related to instantly. Jeff and Harmony, are an awesome young couple cruising Mexico, Central America and the Pacific in their lovely 30 foot Nightingale S/V Serenity. 

Both are living their dreams so check them out!

Liebster Award Questions from The Long Blue Road
What were the ‘must haves’ on your boat before you left?
AJ: Morale on the boat in based more in daily quality of life than location or activities, and I feel that eating well is a key factor in daily quality of life.  I love to cook, and I get a bit testy if I don't eat fresh baked bread at least every other meal, so I've got an extensive set of more specialized cooking and baking utensils that I've found exceeds most people's kitchens. (And I've got far too much money wrapped up in a couple chef's knives... )   Though I have to make do without my countertop Kitchenaid stand mixer,  I kept a near daily bread making routine throughout the trip to the Bahamas. This means the boat must be equipped with a nice range and oven.  We use a Force5 two burner range/oven propane model.  I keep a hi temp cooking thermometer in the oven to make sure I'm nailing my temp requirements while baking.  I hope to add a page to the blog that will include recipes and "life tips" to maintain a healthy, tasty and most importantly easy daily cooking routine on a boat (or in any small-living situation).  Oh, and I love my high quality hot sipping drinks, and have no fewer than three types of coffee, eight types of tea, and at least ten different machines/utensils for brewing them.  Outside of that, right now the boat is loaded with spares and tools enough to rebuild the boat like we just did but on a deserted island.  It is probably overkill, but it fits. And while the boat still floats high and sails well, we will likely cut back in the future to make room for more media production equipment and bulkier items like bicycles, which right now go back and forth from deck to cabin.
Sarah: Camera, Laptop, GoPro. Quad-copter (for the GoPro). The rest is details. Importance is in the details. Happiness in the the cameras. I don't have a GoPro or flying machine yet. But they're on our wish list. On my need list.  

Which do you prefer?  The sailing or the traveling?
Sarah:   For me traveling is the preference. If I had to sell the boat tomorrow I would still pursue a life built around travel. But at the same time sailing offers more than just travel. It offers an in your face experience of all the uninhabited places in between destinations with a first hand outdoor view akin to walking or hiking.  Sailing as sport does not particularly thrill me, but sailing as a lifestyle offers me a way of experiencing the world that caters to my interests and generates opportunities to pursue them.
AJ:   I've realized for myself that the answer is neither.  I prefer projects/goals.  I can live without travel (to some extent) and I can live without sailing (to some extent), but I can not live without a project.  Right now that project is sailing, travelling, and eventually doing a world class job of creating an impressive media library of those two.  But the future may hold airplanes, cars, photo/video journalism, bicycles, motorcycles, a farm, a business, a restaurant...  who knows?, as long as I've got something interesting to physically pursue everyday besides Reality TV and Facebook, I'm going to be happy.
What are your future sailing plans?
Sarah:  This is something we never stop talking about. And it does prove a bit futile because it's what happens along the way that really determines everything. We are currently talking about sailing up the east coast.  But the nature of slow travel is to take the time to experience, learn and be changed by the experience.  And it is those experiences that guide where we go next.  The same can be said for long term goals.  If you spend years pursuing a goal, along the way you may discover new paths you didn't know about before.  And sometimes you may abandon the old path for a new one.  But you never would have found it if you hadn't pursued the original goal in the first place.  We will sail for as long as we enjoy it and it meets our needs.  If it falls short, we will conjure up a new plan that meets our needs better.  Because in the end it's about pursuing happiness.  And that requires constantly evaluating quality of daily life and tweaking it to suit you.  Even if that means drastically changing course.  This process might lead us away from the boat to something entirely different. But without doubt, something kindred.   
AJ:   HaHaHa..  We've talked about this so much the only thing I can say with certainty is: Somewhere between 45 and 320 degrees relative to the apparent wind across the surface of brine water...  Maybe in the future with an upwind jib or a different boat we can get to within 35 degrees.   We've even had talks about changing the salinity and/or fluidity of the transport medium...

Favorite place you have visited so far?
Sarah: I haven't been anywhere on the boat yet really, as we are just wrapping up the refit. So I'll answer based on pre-boat travel: Europe.  I'm answering Europe in general, because the thing I loved most about being anywhere in particular in Europe was the same thing i loved about being everywhere. Public space. There is no such thing as loitering. You have the sensation that the city is yours. And that's because it is. You can walk or ride for miles weaving through city streets (on protected bike and walking paths).  In small towns and big cities alike.  The logistics of life is easier, more social, and more interactive with the environment.  I never realized how limited we were in terms of accessing our environment and the people around us until I went to Europe.  I found that I had a much lower stress levels living in Germany.  I was active, free to move about and explore, to sit in the middle of town for no reason, and to be a lone woman in the world without anyone assuming I was distressed.  It was pretty great. And the impact of being surrounded by beautiful architecture can't be discounted. And then there's the food. The food is reason enough to drop everything and figure out how to live there forever. FOREVER. 
AJ:   Hrvatska/Croatia.  Go there, never come back.  That's my long term goal.
What do you love most about the sailing lifestyle?
Goal oriented living. Accomplishing a series of short term goals en route to a larger goal is a continually gratifying way to live.  It's akin to the satisfaction a hobbyist gets from building a model airplane, or even knitting a scarf.  You put in the work, manipulate materials to your will, and every day feel gratified because the fruits of your labor are direct, observable, and brings you closer something you want.  On a boat, life is a model airplane.  You work for yourself and your dreams and directly benefit from the days labor. Because the labor is always directly connected to your goal - your will. And any traditional paid work along the way is not a monotonous trap, but an activity initiated with a specific end goal.  X number of $ for a specific problem or improvement. And then there's the default benefits. Regular salt water baths are good for the skin, health, and well being. Fishing, foraging, and cooking with dry goods make an unavoidably healthy diet. Boat life comes with exercise built in, so you don't have to make time for it.  It's disadvantages are it's advantages so to speak.

When were you most frightened?
Sarah:   The scariest thing I've experienced on the boat was the very first time we took it out sailing after purchase. When I cast off the mooring ball the engine failed to engage and we were adrift in a mooring field with no steerage. And we were not on the back row by the river. We were on the front row closest to the Marina.  There were many many many boats between us and the channel.  AJ managed to get control of the boat in reverse after we had already drifted dangerously close to our neighboring boat, Rainbow Connection.  When he reversed our bow swung around and missed Rainbow's bowsprit by about a foot.  We really thought we were going to hit it, and all would be lost. AJ then somehow maneuvered us out of the mooring field.  I'm sure I told the story better when it was fresh (read here). It's been a few years now!   
AJ:  Afghanistan. Iraq. South Florida. The 3 most dangerous places I've lived. Not in that order.  The boat is not a frightening place to live.
Do you have any plans to go back to dry land at any stage?
Sarah: Oh my gosh, so many plans! 
AJ:  I feel it is inevitable.  The boat is wonderful, and the fulfillment of a childhood dream, but I see it as just a stage of life projects.  I imagine going back to school for engineering and starting a manufacturing company of some sort...  or maybe just farming and building cool shit in the barn.

What is the biggest mistake you have made?
AJ: Not looking into the price of a brand spanking new rudder before having an old one improperly repaired at 150% the cost of replacement.  Wait no.  Before that we should have recognized Robin was too far gone for us to restore, sold the boat right after haul out and bought something more modern (less wood, more plastic) and ready to go.
Sarah: Not recognizing how long the refit would take and therefore not setting up a long term living situation through it all. Having a home base is a lot less stressful than homeless drifting - when you're already engaged in a stressful money sucking project. 

How do you afford your lifestyle?
AJ:   During the 11 years I spent in the Army, my plan was always to sail away. So I began saving early, and I saved combat pay from 2 deployments.  This saving allowed us to buy a boat and get to work on it.  But we still had to work odd jobs in Florida through the refit. While at the Florida VA, I was assessed with physical and mental injuries that qualified me for a disability stipend lasting 5 years. This provided a base line to keep going, but how we are going to afford to stay on the boat and travel the world is still a pertinent topic. We're not entirely sure.  We'll figure it out as we go, and hopefully find our niche and career paths on the way. We're both itching to start living and sailing after such a long refit and injury setbacks.  Once we're doing that we'll figure out what we want and how to pay for it.
10. What is your favorite book and why?
AJ:  Usually I throw "favorite" questions away because there are so many different situations where something may be "better" than another.  But after some thought, I can say without a doubt that "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" complete series is it.  If you thought that Hitchhiker's guide is a silly sci-fi (it is), you are missing out on Douglas Adam's complete understanding of most modern philosophy and science thought problems and his ability to sum them up, and poke holes in them in a humorous situation or one liner. There are so many hidden philosophies and references in the books that I find myself able to reference some relevant passage in nearly any discussion (I usually hold back).  Two other close seconds are "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Sant Exuprey (the Katherine Woods translation) and "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth" by Buckminster Fuller.  I have a copy of these three book on me almost anytime that I travel.
Sarah:   Prometheus Rising by Robert Anton Wilson. It keeps things in perspective.  A lot of perspectives.  Describing it is a daunting task, but Hitchhiker's Guide is already taken so here it goes. It's something of a humorous owners manual for the human brain. How to get the most use out of one, and how to have the fun with it.  In it's explanation of how the brain works, it traces mankind's historical mystic, religious, philosophicaland modern scientific interpretations of the world and human consciousness, effortlessly connecting the dots of overlapping truths each interpretation honed in on and what that means for your brain.  Once the mind's default programming is recognized by it's owner, He/She can being to reprogram their brain, end cognitive dissonance, and exercise free will.  And there are a lot of exercises in the book. And comics.  It began as Wilson's Ph.D dissertation "The Evolution of Neuro-Sociological Circuits: A Contribution to the Sociobiology of Consciousness." But like Hitchhikers Guide, it's pure comedy. Einstein said If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.  I am most moved by authors that prove Einstein's conjecture, as Adams and Wilson do.  It is also true that if you understand something well enough to strip it down to it's barest essence - and deliver it in it's simplest form, it is inherently funny.  I appreciate the humor. Modern man's existential crisis was way more of a downer before I found Robert Anton Wilson and Douglas Adams.  

Liebster Award questions from Take to the Sea

What has been/was your most memorable experience with nature while on your boat?
AJ: Easily when we were night sailing for nearly 100 miles across the 15' deep Bahama Banks, and the water was so clear and the full moon so bright that I could see the moon shadow of the boat sailing across the seafloor.
Sarah:  The sunrises and sunsets.  I can count the number of those I've witnessed living on land on one hand. On the boat your body falls in sync with the sun and you can't miss them.  Every morning and evening there's a spectacular light show in the sky.

What does your mother think of all this?
Our mothers are both very supportive about it.  We will see how they really feel when we start making passages. They've only had to wait out a refit thus far. 

Are there any games you can recommend for a long passage?
Sarah: I Spy something on the horizon. I Spy something blue?  Pity there aren't better two person card games.  We haven't been on a long passage yet, so if anyone has any suggestions, I'm listening.
AJ:  Thinking.  I love thinking.  I can sit and think/problem solve for hours, so much so that I forget to eat or sleep.

What is your favorite snack food and why?

Sarah:  Salsa. Not having a blender has not yet stood between me and salsa. I make it on the boat with a knife. And I don't make it chunky. I finely dice fresh tomatoes and take care to not loose the juice, add finely chopped onion, and lime juice. Then spice it up with cumin, jalapeno, garlic, black beans or whatever. But lime juice on tomatoes is an addictive combination.  I'm also willing to make corn tortillas and fry them if chips aren't available. And I hate frying things. Hot grease scares me. So given the amount of time and effort I'm uncharacteristically willing to put into preparing a snack, it must rank #1.
AJ:  Fresh bread.  If you've had any European/South West Asian/Mediterranean breads, and you work on perfecting/replicating them on your own oven everyday, then you will understand.

What do you say to the people who say nay?
Sarah: Not much.  So far no one close to us has really nay say'd.  But new acquaintances can become amusingly alarmed and bombard us with frantic questions.  People who nay say reveal their own fears and issues.  The reasons they give for why it can't be done rarely apply to us.  If they did we wouldn't have ended up on this path. They are alarmed because the lifestyle isn't for them.  And there's nothing wrong with that. Sailing is not for everyone. For hardly anyone really. It's a bit bonkers.

What was your first pet? How would that pet do with your current living situation?
Sarah: My first pet was a pure white kitten I got in grade school. I named her KC for Killer Cat. She spent many months of her kittenhood in full-on psychotic attack mode.  She was viscous. And I was terribly allergic.  But despite the burning scratches and perpetual head cold I loved her and she slept with me every night.  KC grew up to be really clumsy. She broke so many of my things, and my moms...  You might suspect she just liked to knock stuff down. Maybe she was a vengeful or fickle kitty, but if you watched her it was evident she really was trying to maneuver carefully around things but rarely succeeded. Who's ever heard of a klutzy cat?  So I don't think she'd fare well on a boat. She had enough balancing issues to start with. But ultimately I wouldn't fare well with a pet. I can't be confined to a small living space shared with a cat or dog without inhalers, benadryl and misery.
AJ:  A solid black cat named Bo.  He stood 14 inches at the shoulder, could jump from the ground onto our 10' tall deck, run down full grown wild rabbits, catch birds in flight, and lived for 20 years from my primary school through college.  He was allowed inside during the winters and we would cuddle at night until he would wake me with licks or a full face smothering.  He probably would have loved the boat, but I could see him claw-climbing the sails just to get a leaping shot at an osprey trying to land on the masthead, or to steal a fish from it's claws, or ripping the throat out of another cruiser's chihuahua just to watch it bleed out.  I think he was a reincarnated viking warlord.

What is your most harebrained “make money while cruising” scheme?

We could sell the most elite bottled water in the world.  Ocean rain water.  Pure ocean water evaporating and condensing into pure rain water and falling back onto pure ocean water again.  No Terra firma was involved (nor dissolved) in the making of this water cycle.  Nothing on the label but the Lat/Long coordinates and date of collection.  Want to drink a Pacific Storm? An Atlantic squall?You know you do.  And there are only 20 bottles of it in the world! (beautiful glass bottles) Bid bid bid!

What do you think of people who call themselves “pirates”?

AJ: I've never met someone who called themselves a pirate, but I bet we would not get along.

What do you think of Jimmy Buffet?

Sarah: I don't think of him.
AJ: Who?

What would the signature cocktail for your boat be called? What would this drink consist of? 

AJ:  I drank a lot of lime, coconut juice, and rum in the Bahamas.  A great drink even without ice, and fresh coconuts and limes literally grow on trees.  However, Robin's signature drink is that of its namesake: Scotch, neat. The recipe is: pour scotch, drink.  I highly recommend it.

Our Liebster Award Nominees

We'd like to nominate The Art of Hookie
An elegant eloquent blog on minimalist living and boat life that always inspires. Stormy (the author), his girlfriend Emily, and dog Chloe are aboard S/V Sookie, a beautiful Falmouth Cutter 22. 

We'd like to nominate Sundowner Sails Again.
Meet Tate and Dani, a couple from Louisiana that have been refitting S/V Sundowner, a Westsail 32, for the past few years. They are counting down the days to fulfilling their dream of sailing around the world. They begin their multi-year circumnavigation in January 2015!  Amazing!

Liebster Award Questions for our Nominees:

1. What are the ‘must haves’ on your boat?

2. What do you love most about the sailing/boat dwelling lifestyle?
3. What are your future sailing plans?
4. Favorite place you've visited so far?
5. When were you most frightened?
6. What is your most harebrained “make money while cruising” scheme? 
7.  Do you have plans to go back to dry land at any stage?
8. What is the biggest mistake you have made?
9. What do you say to people who Nay Say?
10.  What is your favorite book and why?

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