Needing Less Doing More

Tag: family

Passing The Time

“Behind every man’s busy-ness there should be a level of undisturbed serenity and industry, as within the reef encircling a coral isle there is always an expanse of still water…”


Beyond all the incredible experiences, adventures of a lifetime, new friends etc. you may be able to imagine that there is a healthy chunk of down time on a sailboat when en route to the next destination.  In fact, our adventures are punctuated with long, extensive periods of nothing but staring deeply into each other’s eyes.  Loving eyes wandering to all the imperfections of the face and body exacerbated by time in the sun, on a  boat, in the salt air.  Eyes averting, not so loving after seeing crud from breakfast lodged in Ren’s beard.  The beard which our friend Ryan said, “…looks like something growing on the jetty rocks.”  But Ren is a pirate now so he MUST have a beard. 

Other than exhausting already exhausted conversation, Ren, Oreo and I engage in other various activities to keep sane and actually improve our mental status.  Nila Girl offers us a unique opportunity to engage in activities and other devices of mental improvement not available on land working 9-5.  Things like learning to speak Spanish, playing guitar, writing, etc.  Below is a top 10 list of some of the things we do when there’s nothing to do (without the top because they are listed in no particular order).

1.Spanish.  Sometimes we play the “Learn to Speak Spanish” CDs my father in law gave to us.  They’re great for the first 15 minutes then the sounds of Spanish vocabulary begins to lull us asleep.  However, Entiendo Espanol!

2.Guitar.  Ren is learning to play “Blackbird” and has been for several weeks now…

3.Read.  I have inhaled several books on this trip including (in no particular order), Wuthering Heights (again), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (very gripping. not a literary work of art but super entertaining), The Jungle Books (Rudyard Kipling is the man), Love’s Executioner (from my psychologist friend, stories of psychotherapy…yeah), The Help (need I say more?), Lies Your Teacher Told You (I highly recommend this non-fiction), and of course, The Manual of Freediving (reference only).  Ren is a little bookworm on Nila Girl too.  Not sure about his list though.

4.Write.  I blog about our trip, not enough though, and have tossed around some ideas about an Oreo story.  This trip is about the dog, you know that by now right?

5.Sleep.  When you’re not on watch, it’s a great time to take a little nap right there in the cockpit with Oreo.  Snuggle up to the little guy and let the sounds of the waves slapping the boat and Ren cussing at the imperfect sail configuration drift you off to sleep.

6.Clean.  Wipe the floors down in the cabin.  Keep the cockpit clean.  Yawn.

7.Repair.  Despite popular  opinion (tongue in cheek), boats are an endless supply of repair projects.  They are a hole you throw money into.  If You have a bunch of $100 bills you can do one of two things with them, wipe your butt or spend them on your boat.  Nila Girl is always moving towards a state of chaos.  We use $$ and lots of Ren’s time to bring her back to a state of stasis.

8.Jump!  If the wind is down and the boat is moving slowly, we take turns getting buck naked and jumping off the bow of the boat, drifting to the stern and catching the ladder for another climb and jump.  We have pictures of this but….our families might be reading :)

9.Eat.  I cook a lot on the boat.  There is nothing but time for preparation, cooking to perfection and cleaning up.  The only time we do not eat like kings is when the weather is rough and we’re underway.  The hardest place on the boat to fight that, punch-in-the-gut-swallowing-bits-of-vomit-all-day feeling is the cabin.  As soon as you go below in snotty weather, your ears tell your body you’re moving but everything looks like it’s sitting still.  Add on top of this the odor of cooking food and you’ve got yourself a recipe for green bile overboard.  On these days, trips downstairs are limited to fetching small items needed for sailing or general comfort and working up snacks.  Snack preparation is not to exceed 5 minutes in these conditions.

10.Oreo.  When we are bored of everything else, we simply pet Oreo.  He makes out like a bandit on NIla Girl.  The hair on his head is oily with pets.  Oh yeah, kisses too.


Jacksonville, FL

“A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.”

-Oscar Wilde

Our first landfall was made, well, a while ago now in Jacksonville, FL.  We have family friends there, the Burnetts, who we planned on visiting.  Mr. Dick and Mrs. Joan Burnett are high school sweethearts.  My father-in-law, Mr. Frank, has known the two since high school.   To put this into perspective, Mr. Frank is 73 years old now.  It’s not everyday that two people married out of high school stay together for that long.  It’s not everyday that people maintain high school friendships into their 70’s either.  So yes, the Burnetts are family friends that I was fortunate enough to inherit through marriage.

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Mr. Dick is a real artist. He has carvings just like this all over his house.

The morning we turned into the inlet in Jacksonville, FL from a 3.5 day offshore passage, we were exhausted.  Having to navigate in the wee hours of the morning so close to shore, and a busy port of call, left us with little more to wish for than a shower and some sleep.  Daylight broke while entering the inlet.  We curved around the St. Johns River, finding a suitable anchoring situation so we could catch some Z’s.  Ren pulled Nila Girl into a small cut in the river where other boats had been anchored for the night.  Nila Girl came to a halt, the anchor went down, and it was now shower time. 

Our showers on the boat (since we have removed all elements of the head including the toilet, shower, sink, etc.) have been bucket showers.  We run a bucket full of hot water, soak some soap and our loofahs in a separate pot with hot water in it and proceed to crouch down in the cockpit “showering” ourselves out of the bucket.  Yes, you can feel completely clean after a shower like this.  It’s just that you really start to miss out on the wasteful running of hot water down your head…mmmm….feels good just thinking about it!

After the showers we passed out on our respective settee cushions.  Since the v-berth was still loaded up with stuff for passage making we were sleeping on the settee cushions, held in with lee-cloths.  Nap time was glorious.  Starving after having woke up from a 5 hour nap we phoned  our good ol buds and made arrangements to be picked up from a marina and brought to their house.  Waiting for us at the house were bowls of the most delicious fare you’ve ever seen.   Having been just a few days after Thanksgiving, Mrs. Joan had all kinds of leftovers ready to fatten us up with.  Let me preface our meal by saying that Mrs. Joan is an excellent and gifted chef.  One glance at the walls in her kitchen and you see proof of her cooking skills through prominently displayed newspaper articles and pictures  highlighting her knack for cooking, especially wild  game.  So yes, after a few  days on the water we were bellied up to the Burnett’s table eating roasted venison in gravy, dressing, cranberries, mashed potatoes, and other fare which I can hardly remember since I barely looked down to see what I was eating.  It was just scarf, scarf, scarf, seconds, scarf some more.

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The man in action.

Eating well wasn’t the only thing we managed to do while visiting our friends.  Their son, Tommy came by and drank beers with us.  We ran errands for the boat, we did laundry, we checked the internet!!  It was a much needed two-day relaxation extravaganza for the Chapmans.  Little Oreo passed out on the living room floor and didn’t budge for hours, even when the neighbors came by to visit.  Three strange people coming over into a strange house and our exhausted little watch dog failed to announce their presence.  Oreo, falling asleep on the job, literally.

Another thing I really want to mention about the Burnetts is Mr. Dick’s insane artistic abilities.  He paints, he carves and he is a collector of artifacts.  Stepping into their home is taking a stroll back in time.  The Native American image is represented in all forms.  Mr. Dick has been painting Natives for years.  Looking up from the foyer area is a chandelier made of antlers.  Looking left from the foyer area is a skull of the extinct stag deer from the British Isles.  Man has since wiped the animal out of existence.  The Burnetts are lucky enough to have a HUGE piece of history hanging up right in their living room.  If the artifacts and paintings do not impress you the carvings will.  Mr. Dick has been carving wood for, well, ever.  He carves walking sticks, wooden plaques, everything.  It is an artform that is becoming lost but is ever impressive.  Check out the pictures to the left of a few pieces of his work.

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Mr. Dick’s collection of various fossils to include an impressive display of megladon teeth.

Long two-day story short, we stayed at the Burnett’s.  They fed us, the watched football with us, they gave us a huge, soft bed to sleep in and we love them.  Can’t wait to see you guys again!!

Two Humans and an Oreo Boy

“A broad margin of leisure is as beautiful in a man’s life as in a book.  Haste makes waste, no less in life than in housekeeping.  Keep the time, observe the hours of the universe, not of the cars.”


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Oreo, so cute and pitiful at the same time.

Now isn’t that the cutest, yet most pitiful, face you’ve ever seen?  Against the wishes and hopes of most of our friends and family, we brought our 15 year old Lhasa-Shit (you figure it out) with us on our adventure, which makes it his adventure too.  Oreo has lived with us for going on seven years now, December makes seven.  There was no way we were leaving him behind.  Oreo cares about only a few things, his people and peeing on everything he smells.  It’s actually pretty impressive.  This animal has an endless supply of urine just for pissing on flower pots, people’s lunch at the beach, his own feet if he isn’t paying attention…EVERYTHING.  I think it has something to do with ‘small dog syndrome’.  He needs his little scent everywhere.  When our veterinarian, Dr. Lackey, asked me if we were taking Oreo on our trip and I affirmed that we were, and she said, “Oh great!” it just confirmed our decision to pack the little guy up, right next to the cans of diced tomatoes and coffee beans. 

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All cuddled up in his doggy bed, blankie and all.

We attempted a twenty-four hour offshore trip with Oreo once before.  He made it the entire twenty-four hour period without the slightest little drizzle or doo-doo drop.  Not that we wanted that.  We tried everything to get him to go.  I’m not quite sure how many times I said (in my best babying voice), “Gotta go pee?  Come on boy, pee pee time.”  Needless to say, after the trial run, I was particularly nervous about Oreo contracting a urinary tract infection, trying not to disappoint us by soiling our precious cockpit floor.  We needed something.  We needed some kind of trickery to get the little bugger to go.

We found manufactured pee pads and the like at pet stores but didn’t want anything that was going to turn to waste.  How would we throw pee pads away while living on a boat in the Caribbean?  It didn’t make sense.  What Oreo really needed was some grass.  Naturally we couldn’t cultivate a plot of grass that needed to be maintained.  Not with our schedule.  The next best thing, fake grass, astro turf.  Oreo’s Grammy Nancy was on a mission.  She wanted her grand dog to be as comfortable as possible!  We came home one day to find that she had purchased a bulk sized portion of astro turf from the hardware store.  I cut the turf to fit the back  part of the cockpit and our problem was solved, I hoped.

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He just chills on board…and holds his urine.

The first urination came after about fifteen hours of travel.  I guess the age onset incontinence worked in our favor, and his.  Oreo was prompted to jump down into the cockpit      floor and make the astro turf his, well, turf.  He liked the feel of the turf against his face and commenced rolling on it.  That was not a good sign.  How were we going to get him to pee on the turf when after he decided to make it his comfort, roll mat?  However, nature called and the call could not be screened.  He cocked his leg and went.  The pee flowed like wine!  Half way through he lost his balance, we were sailing, and quickly recovered by taking a more feminine stance.  All fours did the trick and the tail started to wag.

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Who doesn’t love fruit and nuts?

Getting him to poo was not quite as easy.  This feat took a good twenty four hours, still not terrible.  To accomplish this, we had to wait until the weather was calm and put him out on the gunnel.  He walked out to the bow, spun around several times (looking for the perfect spit of paint on which to soil) and committed.  This was the first and last poo, to date, I ever saw Oreo take on the Nila Girl.  Maybe he hasn’t had to go as bad as that first time, maybe we let him off the boat often enough now, or maybe he felt a little guilty about it.  Don’t know, but problem solved.  The poo seal has been broken and he now knows he can do it on the boat if he has to.

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Such a sleepy little animal.

Oreo spends most of his sweet time lying around.  There are a series of pictures on the left documenting his favorite boat past time.  He also eats exceptionally well on the boat.  Sometimes he get just dry food but more often his dry food contains a bit of raw fish, juice from our supper the previous night, pb&j, whatever.  He has eaten a more varied diet in the past couple of weeks than he has in the entirety of his previous 15 years combined.  For instance, this morning he has dry food with the bloodline of a wahoo and pb&j.  For supper tonight he had leftover wahoo in a stew of diced tomatoes.  He has the life.  We also learned that he likes to snack on Kirkland brand Fruit and Nut mix, available at Costco.  He does not like almonds (maybe the consistency) but really enjoys walnuts and dried cherries.  Please email if you have any information regarding the negative effects of Fruit and Nut mix on dogs.  I’m not aware of any at this point.

We’ll keep you posted on arguably the most interesting part of our adventure, Oreo on board!

Moving In

“All endeavor calls for the ability to tramp the last mile, shape the last plan, endure the last hours toil.  The fight to the finish spirit  it the one…characteristic we must posses if we are to face the future as finishers.”


We’re going to jump ahead for a minute now in order to inform you of our current status.  We have successfully moved onto Nila Girl!!  Our official move in date was July 1, 2011.  If you’ve never tried it before, I DARE you to pack up years of your life in a house, make that two lives in a house, and move onto a 35’ boat.  It is harder than it sounds (tongue in cheek). 

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A view of the port side of Nila Girl’s salon.

Our landlubbing home was full of years of belongings that had to go somewhere.  We either had to move our stuff onto the boat, move our stuff to our parents’ houses or sell up.  We decided to do all three, oh yeah, and keep a bunch of our stuff in limbo, on a trailer at Ren’s Grandmother’s house.  The transitioning of our stuff was/is a huge pain in the neck.   I’m getting a little tinge of anxiety right now just thinking about it. 

Breathe, breathe, breathe…ok, I can continue. 

A couple of days before “the move” my parents came into town to pick up some of our “precious” items.  The things we cannot replace.  I learned that we have more precious items than I originally thought,  or we were completely unable to get rid of everything right away.  They took a lot of stuff off of our hands.  We also ditched a lot of things with Ren’s parents too.  Believe it or not, family is great for taking the things you just can’t stand to sell to a stranger.  Man, family is wonderful!!

I stayed those first few nights before “the move” on the boat alone since Ren was out of town for work.  This gave me a chance or organize the boat and put my plan into action. 

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The bow pulpit.

Plan= Writing a list of items on a copy of the boat’s blueprint.  I use the blueprint to locate items on the boat.  Thanks for the organizing tips from Jeanette Pucella on Puff!  I can’t wait to see the inside of her boat someday…and realize how unorganized mine is I’m sure. 

When I had reasonably organized the boat Ren was already on his way back into town.  The day after he returned, it was Go(h) time (We miss you Goh and Laura!).  We spent the day, with help from our wonderful, beautiful, caring, giving, selfless families moving.  I Hate moving!  Let me say that again, I Hate moving!  And yes, I used the “H” word.  The thought of moving gives me the same sensation as falling asleep at the wheel when you still have 80 miles to drive.  For the academics:


I’m probably being a little dramatic here but I find relief in the thought that if we ever move back on land, we will not have anything to move except a 35’ boat full of stuff. 

We spent the day moving and we got it all done.  Of course, moving onto a boat and getting her into ship-shape for a November departure is dynamic.  We have a list tacked onto a cork board that we see every day.  The list includes all of the things we still have to do to the boat.  Ren is doing a great job of pecking away at the list.  As of day 1 on the boat there were 28 things on the list.  As of today, just a few days over one month, there are 13 things crossed off of the list.  This may not seem like a lot of crossing off to some of you but bear in mind, we still have full time jobs right now, and are teaching a full summer of dive classes.  28 is my new favorite number!!  The boat is looking better every day and even resembles a home.  We have throw pillows and Oreo even has his own little private sleeping nook.