Thursday, December 29, 2016

Part 2, Splash the sailboat

Not too bad!
We're headed back to our boat!  We're headed back to the boat!  Where it's warmmmmm....

Definition:  "Splash" is a technical boating term for putting the boat back in the water.  "When do you splash?"  It still makes me giggle.

While traveling towards San Juan, I've attempted to verify we have a dock scheduled after we splash.  My first attempt results in learning Shanaz, our guru in the yard office is on vacation until the day we splash.  No bueno.  My second email results in a quote of $180/day for a T-head!  Yyyooooouch!!!!!  Panicking.  The Captain is informing me a minimum of 3 days at the dock is needed for him to be comfortable.  The third email reminds them we paid $60/day in June and we're haul-out customers.  "We'll get back to you."  The First Mate is stressing!

After a detour through the suburbs of San Juan, in an attempt to buy the first available Breeze litter pan that we encounter, I've got us in a suburban traffic snarl then rush hour traffic out of the city (see driving-in-puerto-rico.html).  As we enter Fajardo our AirBnB landlord calls to say he's delayed, so we start running errands--West Marine, grocery, and a restaurant for dinner.

The next morning, we arrive back at the boat after five months of it being closed up in the Caribbean sun, just in time for a record November rainfall.  No dehumidifier & no care taker.  Despite all of our prep (our-first-haul-out-puerto-del-rey.html), I picture the interior covered in a green shag/fuzz.  I've been called a pessimist in my former life but I like to think of it as, "Prepare for the worst, hope for the best".  Fingers crossed!  I've scheduled five full days in the yard before we splash.

We're pleasantly surprised--the boat is still here!  It's still sitting on the jack stands, just the way we left it.

What we signed in Jun 2016

(Quick disclaimer:  To our frustration, when we arrived last June, sailors from Sail Caribe informed us the new management had changed the rules & "work, including paint" now had to be done in a different yard at an additional expense--additional lift fee, reblocking, & yard space!?  After asking some questions & reading our contract--2 pages small print for the marina & another 4 pages for the yard--we clarified that we were able to have our boat sanded by Reuben in the storage yard (an authorized contractor who followed the EPA regulations of laying down plastic & wet vac-ing up the paint), and we could roll on the bottom paint ourselves, in the storage yard.)

To our surprise, Reuben not only sanded off our boot strip while we were gone, but moved it up (we had planned on doing that ourselves).  He even matched the color perfectly (we had thoughts of changing it to black with blue bottom paint, but IT LOOKS GREAT!).  This will save The Captain two days of masking, painting & waiting for it to dry before painting the bottom.  We're ahead of schedule before we even start!  (He also stops by the first day to say hello & to see if we're happy with his work.  Highly recommend!)

After a quick walk-around, I bound up the swim steps (as quickly as a 5-month, clumsy, landlubber can!) to unlock the companionway (lock NOT rusted shut.  Island problems.  Bonus!).  The interior looks great.  Just like we left it.  There's a slight musty smell, nothing a good airing out won't fix.  No obvious leaks (OK, perhaps in the pantry where we've had a minor leak before).  Some slight mold on cabinets that could use a coat of oil.  I have hatches open before The Captain can get the A/C dug out & hooked up (we're fortunate to be by a power pedestal).  Just in time for the rain.  Hatches closed.  A/C it is!

These sailors have gotten soft while on land.  In less than 24 hours my thighs and shoulders are protesting from climbing up & down the ladder (We're lucky.  We can use our swim ladder.  Monohull friends have to climb up a ladder-ladder.  Our AirBnB landlord fell over 6 ft off the back of his boat two weeks before we arrived.  He's lucky he's alive!)

EEK!  We'll end up needing 3 of these.  At least I got to return the quart of boot strip paint & the little roller
The first two days are primarily dedicated to The Captain painting the bottom.  The a/c is running the help dry out the interior.  I take sheets, towels & clothes back to the house in shifts to wash.  I refill all the DampRid containers and replace the Kanberra gel, which I credit for keeping the mold at bay (on top of the fact we have a very "dry" boat to begin with). With the mainsail still on the bed (then the floor) there isn't much else for me to do.  I become errand girl.  Walgreens for snacks & gatorade.  Grocery store for dinner.  BACK to West Marine for more paint.

"Did you post a picture of me painting yet?"

2-3 coats on the port hull.  DONE!
To make our life more interesting, there is a Mama with a litter of EIGHT pups under the trailer next to us.  I check on the pups daily & Mama has left us alone, UNTIL The Captain is under the boat one day, pouring paint (see below) and looks up to see the feral Mama, eyeball to eyeball.  He jumps.  She jumps.  Apparently, he's getting too close to the pups.

Working on the inner starboard hull.  "How come I only bought one roller?"  I'm gone!

I finally unpack the limited provisions I left behind and wipe out a few cabinets (unnecessary but makes everything smell nice).  With the fridge still out of commission, the provisioning is broken into two trips--cold items purchased later, everything else.  Provisioning is infinitely easier since we know we will only be on the boat for 6 months, but I'll end up coming up short of some basics, I learn later.

Reuben agrees to send Hector over for a last minute buff despite the constant rain (they tell us it's rained every day for the last month!)

The decks are pretty clean, thanks to the constant rain but the cockpit is filthy!  I can only sit and watch The Captain work for so long, so I start wiping down the underside of the bimini.

This makes me nauseous so I grab laundry & leave
After a couple of days of work including recommissioning both engines (carbs are cleaned twice before they purr), The Colonel doesn't feel good.  Probably the time change & the heat are finally catching up to him!  We take a half day.  A/C, cable tv & a couch for the afternoon.

The Captain is hard on phones...
After another a day or errands, I welcomed back to the boat by a handful of iPhone pieces.  "I dropped it on a wrench..." or something like that.  BACK to the store...yes, there is a T-Mobile store in town!

Buffing by Hector
Hector is also warned off my Mama Dog, so he starts feeding her which becomes THEM.  Pretty soon, we have Mama's pack of six feral dogs waiting for us every morning...long after Hector is done.


Another rainy day in the yard. The boat is definitely home--we're packing underwear, pillows, toothpaste, coffee pot, etc to take BACK to the house to make it through the weekend. The Captain is starting on "little things", so I guess it's time to start provisioning.  

Add caption

The sun is out. The Captain is checking things off his list. (Solar panels?  Check. The fridge is working w/o draining the batteries?  Check.)

El Capitan at work

We're close. I'd love the sails out of the cabin but that's last on The Captain's priority list. So I drug the main sail off the bed & I'll be climbing over it unpack clothes, make the bed, etc. Good times. Are we having fun yet?  At least it's not currently raining...

Phew!  Kayak drug out from under the boat and up on deck.  Dinghy in the davits.  Tools put away.  Ready for a different view...
In my opinion, the best way to make a boat/rv a home is making the bed.  It was the first thing I did in Annapolis with our flannel sheets & comforter (not a coincidence our former house, boat & rv have queen beds!).  It took me a few days to unbury the bed & air out everything but it's done!  Groceries unpacked. Move in & splash tomorrow @ 1:30!

Even more rain!  We'll be floating ourselves to the marina soon

She's a blur as she jogs through the boat.  "This looks familiar"

"Not sure why this is in the bathroom..."
And now for the Amelia the Princess inspection.  Food, water, litter pan...check, check, check.  Apparently, I passed muster.  Down for a nap, but she's keeping an eye on me.

"Yep, that's where my litter pan goes..."

Cockpit & deck scrubbed down. THEN it started it rain. Followed by a flock of birds who just took a shit everywhere...

Uh oh. When the lift arrives, they're gonna make us get off the boat (into the pouring rain). Then our first docking in 5 months with yours truly out on deck throwing lines (in the pouring rain). Oh, and our foul weather gear smells like a hot, humid boat locker!  Now we're living the glamorous, cruiser life 

We're still newbs at this boat yard thing.  Reuben shows up before the lift and hands us the plastic we need to put on the slings--to protect our new bottom paint.  "Huh?  Thank you!"

It's still raining well past our "splash" time.  Finally, the B-team shows up (No Benny, our favorite lift operator, for our splash...)

The lift operator pauses after removing all the jack stands for us to slap on some more paint!  Dang, wish we'd known that.  We gave Reuben our leftovers.

And now I pace...
As the lift starts to move, our home starts to sway side to side WAY MORE than we like.  Yes, we knew we were parked on an angle, resulting in the boat not being centered in the slings.  Dang.  That's painful to watch.  Hold on, Amelia!

It's a long walk...
Still gently swaying, but not so bad...


Here we go!  In the "well"...

Splash!  These guys are pros. They went off to have a cup of coffee while the engines warm up & we "check for water"!
We're not sure how this is supposed to go.  Somehow, we have to get back on the boat.  And I still need to go sign reams of paper... They back the boat up to the end of the well, then an employee hops on and helps us jump over to the boat.  I'm surprised when he motions me on also, so we can "check for water down below & warm up the engines".  Well, that's an excellent idea!  Clearly, they've had a few boats they've had to lift a few boats back out immediately.

AND then someone is frantically motioning me back off the boat.  Yep, back over to sign reams of paper--and they've move the yard office, but luckily I get a golf cart ride.  Shanaz, waves me over to the marina office...because she is with someone and I have to CHECK BACK IN TO THE MARINA!  Yheez.  The dock hands are calling the office on the radio because they're waiting for us at our slip.  Someone brings me a cup of coffee (I believe the employees understand the reams of paperwork is frustrating for customers.  Seriously, management.  We've stayed at your dock & yard before.  We'll be good!).  Then they call Shanaz to us get released from the yard (Yes, they're paid up).  "Does the Captain need you to move the boat?"  YES.  "OK, you go and come back...they're waiting..."  Now I'm sprinting back across the marina & jump across to the boat in time to catch lines from the wonderful PdR employees.  We paid a lot of money to stay here and the employees make it worth it.  We're a boat again!

Before the main can go back on...Batt cars?!  Don't ask...
Both engines are running.  We're floating and not taking on water.  We find our slip which is on Dock 13, at the end leaving us lots of room to maneuver.  Tied off with minimal excitement.  Yeah!

Whew!  Our view from Dock 1312

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Princess Amelia goes on an airplane

"What do you mean we're leaving?  I like this chair...What's an are-vee?" (Hotel. Bartow, FL)
(This blog was written about our trip from San Juan to Miami.  It never got posted so I'll insert it here, during our trip from St. Louis, Ft Lauderdale, San Juan).

Pepper's AirBnB, Fajardo, PR:  "Good spot.  I can watch everyone come & go."

"Better, but it's only a double.  Mom & Dad kick..."

"Recliner by the window.  JUST right.  You can move my food & water over here please!"
Hotels:  Our friends over at sv Summertime Rolls recommended trying AirBnB to rent a house instead of a hotel.  Surprisingly, many house rentals allow pets for a small additional cleaning fee.  Otherwise, finding a hotel that allows pets can sometimes be difficult.  And Kitty Mama gets nervous about housekeeping coming in despite the "Do Not Disturb" sign and dreads to think that Princess Amelia's meowing during our absence could result in a phone call from another guest.  We scored a condo near the marina for $55/night.  The bonus was a little kitchenette & a hot tub for kitty parents (In our search we did:  wifi, washer/dryer, pet.)  UPDATE:  The Pear Tree Inn St. Louis Airport charged an additional $15/day fee.  Their policy was pets weren't supposed to be left unattended for more than 30 min or you could be asked to leave.  As someone who has traveled for business & listened to barking dogs ALL DAY, this is clever.  If someone complains, after 30 min, you're gone.  Fair enough.)

Another concern is that Amelia will smell another animal, since these rooms tend to blocked off as "pet friendly".  Heaven forbid she start peeing & pooing all over in protest (tile floors are a bonus.  Remember, she never left her house for 15 years!).  However, she seems to love exploring, quickly understands where her litter pan is & digs King sized beds.  Who can blame her?  She actually meowed in protest when we left the AirBnB/hotel in Jacksonville & Bartow.  "BUT I LIKE IT HERE!"

Youza.  King size bed.  Me likey.

Carrier:  When we left, we traded her hard-sided carrier for a soft-sided carrier.  Smaller & easier to store on the boat.  Make sure it's an airline regulation carry-on (our is from Delta).  She has used it in the car, in the dinghy on the way to the vet and can be airlined home.  Another advantage to stopping in Puerto Rico, was a shorter flight home.  In fact, when we stop in FL to RV shop, she only has one short leg.  Additionally, no health certificate is required since it's US to US.  

American Airlines:  The airlines are good about posting their pet policies online, but in the age of the internet/social media, sometimes I forget to PICK UP THE PHONE.  American has a dedicated recording about pets and a quick transfer to a person to confirm Puerto Rico was indeed "not an international flight" helped ease Kitty Mama's anxiety.  Internet:  You need to confirm the flight is "pet accessible" so after holding the flight for 24 hours on their website (you can also cancel within x hours), I called, listened to the recording, then spoke to an agent.  She confirmed our flight was pet friendly, attached Amelia to our reservation, and reminded us to take her to the ticket counter (to confirm travel worthy and pay additional $125).  Our tickets were $145, so I asked if I could buy a seat for the cat (so she could have her own carry-on!).  "But's she's our child?"  LOL.  "I'm sorry your fur-baby can't have her own seat."  The pet carrier is one of your personal items, ie. one purse/computer bag/backpack/cat.  Since she's traveling in the cabin, no health certificate is required!  BONUS!  No vet visit in the middle of boat prep!   (, FAQ, Special Assistance, Pets.

Southwest Airlines:  No pets on international flights but San Juan was confirmed as "not international."  6 pets or less per flight.  Call to add your pet to your ticket.  $95.  "Pet can not be disruptive". ( then scroll to bottom, Traveling with Pets.

TSA:  From the website under "FAQ"--"Please remove your pet from the carrying case and place the case through the X-ray machine. You should maintain control of your pet with a leash and remember to remove the leash when carrying your pet through the metal detector. Animal carriers will undergo a visual and/or physical inspection."  Amelia was harness trained for the car, but hates it.  Luckily, her response is usually to lay down and refuse to move.  That may work to our advantage.

STL hotel.  "There's a pretty girl in the closet..."
Pet paperwork:  Since we've begun traveling with Amelia, we started a "pet passport" folder with her last inoculations, history, vet contact info, last health certificate, & medications.

What to pack:  Amelia moved to the boat with her own backpack, but for the flight:  medications in side pocket (anti-anxiety medication--make sure you try this before you fly.  Amelia requires a tiny dose or she passes out with her face in her food bowl.  I don't know what would happen at TSA if we pulled an unconscious cat out of the carrier.  It's a little unsettling!), ziplock bag of food (& treats!), and pee pad under her towel (with a spare) until we can get a new litter pan.

Check out the Facebook page, "Gatos del Mar" or "Sailing and Cruising with Pets" for more tips.

Here's what Amelia had to say about all this:

I woke up to Daddy cleaning the "saloooon".  I don't know why but I'm suspicious.  Then Mommy started dragging food out of cabinets.  That can't be good.  Then she started spraying "vinegar" all over.  I don't know what that is but it smells like pee!  

Did I see my carrier go by?  Hey?!

I woke up this morning to "BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!" (the lift).  Mom and Dad have been talking about "hauling out".  I don't know what that means, but apparently it's noisy.  Just when it started getting hot inside, Daddy came in and threw me in the carrier, and handed me to Mom who put me in a "rental" car.  MEOW.  I hate the car!  But I could see out the window and that's always fun.  

We went to an AirBnB.  I don't know what that is, but there was a window and a bed for taking a nap.  My litter pan & food bowl are here, but I wish Dad would come home and give me treats.  I found a bug to play with.  Good times.  Hey, humans?!  DINNER!

"Traveling isn't so bad.  My parents are pie-lots after all..."

Mom & Dad got up early and threw me in my carrier and then back to the car!  I hate the car!  We are driving to the aeropuerto.  Hey, I speak Spanglish also!  That's an airport.  I don't know what that is, but it doesn't sound good.  Why do people keep sticking their faces in front of my window?  Mommy started talking about TSA.  I know what that is.  My friends on Gatos del Mar say you get extra points for biting somebody, so I have that to look forward to.  Whoops!  Here we go.  Hey, look at all these people!  Do they have cats in a bag, too?  Wait!  I didn't get to bite anybody.  Hey, humans!  TREAT!  

Mom & Dad were excited about Starbucks.  I don't know what that is, but I didn't get anything.  Hey, why are you kicking my carrier with your feet.  What's that noise?  I feel sleepy.  Hey STEWARDESS LADY, filtered water in an insulated tumbler with a cube of ice down here!  Do you have Greenie's?!  Where are you going?  Daaaddddddyyyyy!

"Holy shit, Batman!  Are we almost THERE?!"

Are we here?  Wait, what's a train?  WOOOOOWWW, Dude!  Hey, we're back in a car!  I can see out the window if I sit in Daddy's lap but he said NO.  LOSER!  Hey, look my food bowl.  Gotta go pee...I feel sleepy.

Pepper's AirBnB, Fajardo:  She's not going to be happy when she finds out we're not taking her favorite chair to the boat.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Everything you've ever wanted to know about canned milk...

(Yep, I've lost it.  You laugh.  Bookmark this.  You'll need it one day!)

Life on a boat will make you clever.  Grocery stores aren't always handy.  They may not have what you want or it's an astronomical price.  Space is also an issue (on boat's & rv's) so you learn SUBSTITUTIONS.  Mayo is eggs & oil.  Salad dressing is vinegar & oil.  Instead of baking powder, vinegar & baking soda.  Sub applesauce, gelatin or chia for an egg when baking.  Add some lactose-intolerance issues in there, and WE ARE HAVING FUN!  

As a kid, we always had evaporated milk & condensed milk on hand in case any baking broke out.  Later in life, I have shied away from preservatives & sugar so I use these as little as possible.  (Although, I will say you can use evaporated milk in place of sweetened condensed milk if you want to decrease the sugar in your pumpkin pie.  Just don't tell your family.  I've found few appreciate, "IT'S LOW IN SUGAR!" at a holiday meal, even if they claim they're on a diet.  Whisper it to those whose actually avoid putting it on their plate.  You may make their day.)

We have lots of canned milk on board.  It was an early fear of running out of cream for our coffee.  Heaven forbid we resort to POWDER (have you read the ingredients?   Corn Syrup Solids & Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil.  GROSS)!  So when I saw a Puerto Rican Christmas recipe for Coquito I ran to the galley--if that's possible on a boat.  I had coconut milk (curry, soups, baking), evaporated, sweetened condensed, creme de coconut (for fruity Caribbean drinks) & dried coconut.  Recipes varied, so I did some research to try to make it happen with what I had (Christmas winds!).

By the way, here in Culebra, an infatuation of sorts with Coquito has developed in our anchorage.  Despite a daily ferry, one store has sweetened & evaporated but not coconut.  Another has coconut, sometimes.  The third has evaporated but not sweetened condensed.  I feel the hoarding of provisions returning!

For my friends who are interested, (and have less time/bandwidth on their hands), here's way more than you want to know about canned milk and it's variations!

Fresh, organic milk of course, is my first choice.  In my past life, I bought raw goat milk from the farmer's market for my yogurt.  I have even scored raw cow milk at the Luperon cruiser bar in the Dominican!  Don't tell me canned milk is bad for me. I already know.  I LIVE ON A BOAT!  With fridge space at a premium & groceries farther apart in the Bahamas, we have resorted to...

Italian-based Parmalat

Boxed milk:  Parmalat (or Indulac in Puerto Rico) is ultra-high temperature, pasteurized milk sold in Tetra-Paks so it doesn't need to be refrigerated.  It's usually found in the baking or cereal aisle.  We carry an assortment of skim, whole, lactose-free (for the cat, I swear) and coconut/almond ("How do you milk an almond?"  Carefully) in this form.  It's readily available and reasonable in this part of the world.  You rarely see locals buying fresh milk (power outages are common in the islands) on top of the fact, it all seems to LEAK!  Yuck.

Evaporated milk:  In the US, this is Carnation.  It's Puerto Rico, it's Goya.  According to Wikipedia, "Evaporated milk, known in some countries as unsweetened condensed milk, is a shelf-stable canned milk product with about 60% of the water removed from fresh milk...The product takes up half the space of its nutritional equivalent in fresh milk. When the liquid product is mixed with a proportionate amount of water, evaporated milk becomes the rough equivalent of fresh milk...".

  • You can also MAKE evaporated milk.  Crazy, right?  If you're bored (or maybe it's snowing where you are?), simmer in a saucepan or slow cooker until reduced by half (do an internet search for more info).  
  • OR you can check The Boat Galley Cookbook for how to make it with powdered milk (good for baking but probably not Coquito).  
  • Also, a food allergy website suggested substituting canned coconut milk 1:1, depending on the recipe (Coquito, YES!)

Sweetened condensed milk is evaporated milk with sugar added.  According to Wikipedia, it requires less processing since the added sugar inhibits bacterial growth.

  • You can make sweetened condensed milk by following the evaporated milk instructions (above) and adding sugar/honey/maple syrup OR use a can of evaporated milk & add sugar (quick internet search:  1 cup Evaporated milk to 1 1/4 cup sugar)!  
  • The Boat Galley Cookbook also has a recipe for making it with powdered milk.  
  • I also have a theory about subbing creme de coconut (see below OR coconut milk with sugar) but I haven't tested it yet.

Powdered milk: We also carry this for creamer emergencies (learned this trick on a sailing forum.  No corn syrup solids.  No sugar!), baking, yogurt (see The Boat Galley link below), or to reconstitute for cereal. Check out for the best brand:

Media crema:  is canned 1/2 & 1/2, that can be used to make sour cream (or whipped cream if you can find a tetra-pak) because Carolyn said so!

Lactose-free or vegan alternatives with a Caribbean flavor:

Coconut milk, in the refrigerated section.  Many stores are starting to carry this in the States.  My preferred milk alternative for cereal or smoothies.  Might be too thin for baking.

Coconut milk, shelf-stable tetra-pak in the baking or cereal aisle.  Same as above.  Check the price.  The same company makes this & it frequently went on sale in my "organic" aisle.

UNSWEETENED coconut mik

Coconut milk, canned.  I carry this for curry, butternut squash soup, or for cornbread instead of buttermilk (see Dominican corn bread recipe below OR add 1 tsp vinegar to 1/4 cup milk).  Usually thicker than above

  • sub for evaporated milk per food allergy website
Coconut cream:  I've never seen this, but I mention it because it can be confused with cream of coconut (see below).  Coconut cream is what you get when you skim the cream off the top of fresh coconut milk or some canned milk (Native Forest, yes.  Goya, no)

cream of coconut

Creme of coconut or Coco Lopez:  Invented by a agricultural professor at University of Puerto Rico, it is usually found in the alcohol mixers section.  It's sweetened coconut milk, famous for being the main ingredient in Pina Coladas

  • A possible substitute is draining liquid from a can of coconut milk that has separated & add sugar?
  • May be a sub for sweetened condensed (add water)?
Of course, making fresh coconut milk with a real coconut or with dried coconut for coconut milk emergencies is another option!

Coquito recipe
Puerto Rican forums argue over the traditional recipe which is basically "Open three cans" or maybe four.  Does it have eggs?  Which kind of rum?  "That's not how mi Abuela did it."  I always try to start with the most basic & traditional recipe (if I can't try the original in a restaurant) then play with variations to suit our tastes.  Variations abound in this recipe including adding Coco Lopez (sweeter & thicker?) and swapping white rum (coconut or spiced & delete vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg). El capitan was skeptical of the coconut flavor, but we ARE in the Caribbean and it was mild.

2 cans Goya coconut milk (1 can coconut, 1 can coconut subbed for evaporated milk)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
8 oz rum (Bacardi or Don Q but we prefer Brugal Anejo)
Vanilla 1 tsp-2 oz
Cinnamon 1/2 tsp
Nutmeg, optional 1/4 tsp

Blender for 2-3 minutes until it foams (whisk or shake in a jar with a lid)
Pour into jars or pitcher with a lid (shake before opening)
Refrigerate overnight or 24 hours before serving.

Dominican corn bread
sub coconut milk for evaporated milk

I make 24-hour, lactose free yogurt on the boat with the YoGourmet maker:
The Boat Galley thermos & dried milk yogurt:
Other options include using the oven or a slow cooker. Lot's of ideas on the internet

Homemade coffee creamer:  1/2 & 1/2, evaporated milk or canned coconut milk.  Sugar/honey/maple syrup to taste.  Vanilla/cinnamon optional

References: (do a search for milk)
The Boat Galley Cookbook (great recipes & substitutions for those internet-challenged days)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Part 1, RV into storage. Brrrrr!

Saying good bye to family
The last week is spending time with family & friends.  Saying good bye to the Grandbaby is especially difficult.  She always makes us smile, but the thought of how much she'll grow before we see her again makes us a little weepy so it's quick hugs and we're gone.

Happy birthday Colonel!
Phew!  This is the hard part of our hurricane plan, logistically.  Prep & store the RV, hotel, airline, hotel, airline, rental car, rental house, prep boat, splash, slip at the marina, leave marina.

I am excited to head back to somewhere warm along the water.  El Capitan?  "I have a lot of work to do"...Yep.  Here we go!

Birthday, anniversary & Christmas presents are supposed to be waived since we retired.  However, The Colonel's birthday just so happened to coincide with a Camping World trip.  Thanks to our friends who gave us their Camping World gift card!

One of everything
RV forums, much like sailing forums, will convince you that extreme measures are necessary to store an RV.  We have the double problem that we won't be able to check on it for six months (although friends will be stopping by).  "Irish Spring."  "Zest not Irish Spring but it has to be the original scent!"  "Fresh Cab is awesome."  "Fresh Cab doesn't work!"  "Fabric softener sheets."  "My mice made a bed out of the fabric softener sheets!"  "Coyote urine!"  (Uhmmm, they don't have that at Amazon or WalMart...)  "Steel wool in every crevice."  We don't have any crevices (he said, turns out we do.  Back to the store!)  Once again, I guess we'll learn the hard way.

We don't need ice trays.  Just chip it off the walls!
On the boat, the fridge starts to get warmer & warmer if I don't defrost.  Since The Colonel doesn't drink warm beer, I'm forced to stay on schedule.  However, O the Winnebago keeps cranking away until I have this waiting for me...

We have airline tickets on Monday.  We are moving the RV to storage on Sunday.  Saturday is dedicated to cleaning every crevice.  Fridge cleaned out, wiped down and left open to air dry.  Cabinets cleaned out & wiped down (a few essentials stored in snap-top plastic bins).  However, two people can only clean an rv for so long, before we meet in the middle.  SO, I'm off to run some last minute errands--the prescription that had to be called into a different pharmacy, some steel wool (see above), etc.

At the end of the day, with nothing left in the fridge, we walk along the Katy Trail towards the Brewery for a quiet dinner.  We earned it!

Dang it

We wake up on Sunday to heavy frost!  We're leaving 2 days too late (next year we'll be gone by Nov 1)!  I could see my breath on the way to do laundry.  Not cool.  Sheets, towels & winter clothes are packed away with dryer sheets and/or in plastic bins.  Water is shut off & tanks/lines are winterized.  "Hey, look it works.  That was easy."  Now what do we do the rest of the morning...

We check out of the RV park ahead of schedule (getting a refund on our electric instead of paying was nice).

Twitter:  "Hearing our Cat 330 horse roar to life this morning is bittersweet!"  (I was parked in front of him in the car.  It turns out he revved the engine as he went by to test the new manifold pressure boost gauge.  It still sounded cool.)

Tons of room!
Our Plan A for the RV was a new facility just outside town that didn't quite get opened in time (they call two weeks after we arrive at the boat) so we made last minute arrangements at a place farther out.  Cheap.  Not visible from the road (safer from crime).  The entry road is a little rough but we only need to go in & out once.  We're in the back row against the fence, in an angled slot but the alley is so wide, we can back straight in.  We've made a dry run but we leave plenty of time for unknowns.  (It turns out the unknown was we should have stopped for plywood to put under the tires.  We will start slowly sinking, which our friends are left to deal with.)

It's supposed to be 15 ft wide, but it's really only 13 ft once you take the markers into consideration & the pontoon boat next to us parked at an angle.  Luckily, the boat on the other side is gone and we're in on the first try.

Open cabinets for ventilation.  Place last minute mice deterrents.  Load bags & cat into car.  Chock wheels & whatever else The Colonel did while I fussed.  

Another reason to use the Breeze litter pan?  Put urine soaked pad under the RV!  Move along mice!  A cat lives here.

A friend is going to store our car.  We swing by his house on the way to our airport hotel to pick him up (he's also got someone to pick up at the airport.  Bonus!).  He drops us off at the hotel & takes our car home.  We're done.  Settled into a nicer than we expected hotel by the airport that allows pets by 1:00 pm.  Turns out we probably could have made our flight.  Maybe next year.

"Hey, Mama.  Where's my food bowl?"  We realize, in our attempt to deter mice, we've left a bowl of dry cat food at the RV.  Dang it!

2 duffles, 2 backpacks & a cat.  We have 50% less baggage than a lot of people checking in for flights.  2 rollers each?!

Stay tuned for Amelia the Cat's version:  "Holy Shit, batman!  I don't like traveling by airplane!"

Yes, we have a cat.  We do stupid things for the Princess aka Gator Bait.  We're airlining over two days to make it shorter days for our elderly cat.  (Although, honestly we couldn't change our FLL-SJJ ticket).  We are staying one night at a hotel in St. Louis, then STL to Ft Lauderdale, another night in a hotel, FLL to San Juan.  Maybe next year we'll try to do it in one day (we paid the "pet in cabin" fee twice.  Oops).  Although, honestly, we were still exhausted by the time we got to San Juan.  The time change is a total of two hours later with a temperature and culture adjustment.

Cheesy, touristy side of Florida
You know you're a cruiser when:  You see your reflection in a window and think--that's the outfit I'm wandering around in public in?  Whoopsie!  (This was actually the last day in the rv 😆)

You know you're a cruiser when"  You look down at yourself (& your significant other) at the airport--in your best/cleanest clothes--and see stains.  Whoopsie!

Stay tuned for Part 2, splashing Odin the Sailboat.

(Yes, I know the font is all over the place.  I tried to fix it.  Mea culpa)