21 May 2018

Provisioning For A Voyage | Modern Sailboats vs. Whaling Ships

See that list above? It's from a list of "Stores and Outfits for a First-Class Whale Ship, For a Cape Horn Voyage." {You can see the full list here.} My mom is really into genealogy and does a lot of research on our seafaring ancestors who hailed from New England and made their living on whaling ships. So, from time-to-time, she sends me little tidbits about what life might have been like for them.

I love food. I love thinking about food. I love daydreaming about food. And I really love eating food. So this particular tidbit about the food provisions they would carry was right up my alley.

My great-great grandmother gave birth on a whaling ship in Tahiti. Her husband was the captain, and one of the perks of being the captain is that you got to take your wife on long voyages with you. I'm not entirely convinced that that would have been a perk for the wives. Years onboard a boat as the only woman, hoping you wouldn't be attacked by sea monsters and sink to the bottom - no thanks.

I used to wonder how my great-great grandmother could have lived such a life, but then I saw that one of the provisions they stocked was 50 pounds of chocolate. I'm pretty sure that was intended entirely for the captain's wife's consumption.

It's interesting to compare the whaling ship list of provisions to what we take when we're out cruising. In many ways it's similar - chocolate, coffee, canned meat, flour, sugar, onions, rice etc.

But there were a few things I don't have a clue about. What is saleratus? And what do you do with a bottle of essence of spruce? If you know, leave your answer in the comments. Even if you don't know the answer, have a guess.

Are you interested in genealogy? Would you have voyaged on a whaling ship around Cape Horn? Know anything about saleratus and essence of spruce?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

Murder at the Marina available for pre-order at:

Amazon (US)
Amazon (CA)
Amazon (UK)
Barnes & Noble
Apple iBooks
Google Play

19 May 2018

Saturday Spotlight | Some Very Messy Medieval Magic Release By C. Lee McKenzie

In addition to the usual blog posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday about our eccentric travel adventures and day-to-day life living aboard a sailboat, I also occasionally post on Saturdays, focusing on things related to writing such as cover reveals, book launches, reviews, interviews with authors etc. So if you're a bit of a book nerd like I am, check in on Saturdays - you never know what might pop up.

* * *

Today's I'm featuring C. Lee McKenzie's middle grade book, >>Some Very Messy Medieval Magic<<, the third in the Adventures of Pete and Weasel series. Check out my interview with Lee below, where I ask her some serious questions about writing and some less serious questions about things like cookies and penguins wearing sombreros.


1 - What inspired you to write the "Adventures of Pete and Weasel" series?

The truth is I didn’t set out to write a series. I set out to write Alligators Overhead. Then a teacher read that book to her class, and they drew pictures of the alligators and the haunted Hadley mansion at the edge of the Ornofee Swamp and sent those to me. They also wrote letters. In one, a young reader wanted to know when my next book with Pete and Weasel was coming out. Another letter asked if I could please put a girl in my next book. Well, I thought why not? So I wrote The Great Timelock Disaster and put a girl in it. Since I’m some who likes the symmetry of three, Some Very Messy Medieval Magic was the next natural step to take. I backed into this series, but I think it worked out. Each book can be read separately; it’s just that readers will have a bigger picture of the boys and their slowly developing friendship if they read all three.

Ellen - I love the fact that you get letters from young readers. How cool is that?!

2 - Do you have any writing rituals?

Not really. I have morning routines that I suppose could be elevated to the level of ritual if I thought about it, but I set aside time for writing and hope something good happens between my brain and my fingers. Sometimes it does. Other times, I’m wasting those hours, so I do something else. Usually, when I’m off doing that other thing, I get some good ideas. Hey, maybe that’s my ritual. I just never called it that. Thanks! Now I can sound so much more writerly and tell people I have a ritual. I can explain it, too.

Ellen - Glad I could be of help :-)

3 - What's more important - characters or plot?

I don’t think about stories like that. I think about where’s my focus? Usually, it’s on characters, and I let them take the reins as to plot. I always have a beginning in my head and an end. All I need is a way to go between this two places without bogging down in a messy middle. I know that’s where plotters have it over the pantsers or (as I call myself) the semi-pantsers.

Ellen - "Semi-pantsers" - I like that term. That's the approach I've been taking on my current work in progress.

4 - What do you like the best about being the author? What do you like the least?
I like being able to tell myself stories that I want to read and become lost in. Writing is like opening a door to another place just waiting for me to create it and populate it with people. I’ve always thought that writing was the other side of reading, and I’ve been a reader since I can remember. As to the what I like least? Sitting. I’m not a sitter by nature, so when I’m really writing, I have to forget that my butt’s in the chair, and I’m not outside doing something. If I’m really into a story, that’s easy, but if I’m struggling, I have a tendency to abandon my chair and go for a hike. 

Ellen - I'm more of a "plopper" myself. I plop down on the couch or my bed with my computer to write.

5 - What's your favorite kind of cookie? If you don't like cookies, what's wrong with you? Oops, sorry, scratch that. My follow-up question was meant to be far more polite - "Why don't you like cookies?"

Okay, so this is a trick question, right? Let me back into the answer. There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love sweet, creamy food and those who eat dill pickles. I’m the dill pickle kind of person. Oh, I’ll eat chocolate. I’m human, but I’ll turn down dessert without a qualm. Even cookies. However, I do fancy a biscotti with almonds once in a while. They have to be really crunchy and toasted. I don’t like the caky biscotti. Either I make my own or I hunt for Italian bakeries that know their biscotti. 

Ellen - It was a trick question. And since you do like a biscotti occasionally, I think we can say that you've passed the test. 

6 - A penguin walks through your front door wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why did he come visit you?

"Buenos dias  mi amor. ¿Tienes algunos dulces?
“Porque ésta es mi pasión.” 
“¿Tú es un pingüino, no?”
“Sí” He tips his sombrero and waddles closer. “Mira."
“Pero pingüinos no te gusta biscotti.”
“Soy un pingüino singular. Me gusta biscotti con almendra. ¿Y tú también, verdad?”
“Vino aqui para biscotti?"
“Si. No pepinillos, por favor."

Ellen - You've earned like a million extra credit points for that answer! And I learned a new word - 'pepinillos' (pickles). If you want to know what Lee said, cut and paste this section into Google Translate here.

7 - Do you believe in magic and time travel?

I believe in just about everything impossible. Why not? Like Wordsworth said, "The world is too much with us; late and soon,…” I know the difference between fact and fiction, but I’m not sure that distinction matters much anymore. I’d rather work on the issues of what’s right and what’s wrong.

Ellen - Believing in the impossible is a great attribute for a writer. It's probably why you write such creative stories. Thanks so much for the interview, Lee! It was fun to learn more about you.

* * * 


Pete’s stuck in medieval England!

Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Time Lock. But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found.

There’s only one solution – fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. Accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar, they travel to 1173 England.

But what if the page remains lost – will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the duke’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones and Pete realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again…


Check out Lee's fun book trailer. If clicking below doesn't work, try this link here.


Print ISBN: 9781939844460
EBook ISBN: 9781939844477

>>Some Very Messy Medieval Magic<< available at:

You can also request that your local library purchase a copy using this form.


I’m C. Lee McKenzie, a native Californian who grew up in a lot of different places. I returned to my home state where I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains with my family. I write most of the time, garden, hike, and practice yoga. I travel a lot because that’s how I learn new stuff, and it’s my way to jump-start stories. 

In my young adult writing, I take on modern issues that today's teens face. My first young adult novel, Sliding on the Edge (2009) deals with cutting and suicide. My second, The Princess of Las Pulgas (2010), is a story about a family that loses everything and has to rebuild their lives. Double Negative (2014) focuses on literacy, and Sudden Secrets (2014) tackles bigotry and intolerance. 

When I want to have fun, I write middle grade books. Alligators Overhead is my first published book for readers age 8-12. Book 2, The Great Timelock Disaster, followed, and now I have Book 3 Some Very Messy Medieval Magic. Writing the adventures of Pete and Weasel has entertained me no end. I enjoyed them so much that I came up with Sign of the Green Dragon—another adventure fantasy.

Here’s where to see more of what I do: http://cleemckenziebooks.com Stop by and say hello or tweet me up. My Twitter handle is @cleemckenzie. If you’re a Facebookie or an Instagramer I’m there, too as @cleemckenzie.

What books have you been reading lately? Do you believe in magic and time travel? Ever seen a penguin wearing a sombrero?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi

18 May 2018

Little Letters

 Vintage Letter Writing Image

Dear Catfish,
Please stop dying next to my boat and stinking up the place.

Dear Mister Rogers,
I wish you had been my neighbor.

Dear Indiantown Party Posse,
The place isn't the same without you.

Dear Perimenopause,
Enough is enough already.

Dear Ellen,
Maybe you shouldn't write down everything that pops into your head.

Dear Simon the Time Traveling Cat,
I know that you're imaginary, but sometimes it feels like you're real, especially when I've run out of milk.

Dear People who Pre-Ordered my Book,
Thank you!

Dear Aldi,
I love that you don't have much of a selection. Sometimes, too much of a choice at the grocery store can be overwhelming.

Dear Aldi,
Sorry, it's me again. When are you going to restock the cheese tortellini? They're an important part of my diet.

Dear Clothes Dryer,
Please stop shrinking my waistbands. I know you're the one responsible. It couldn't possibly have anything to do with eating too much cheese tortellini.

Dear Person I Stole this Idea From,
Sorry, I don't remember who you are, otherwise I would have given you credit. Writing little letters makes for a fun blog post. Thanks!

When's the last time you wrote a proper letter, not an email? Go ahead and leave your own little letter in the comments.

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi! 

Murder at the Marina available for pre-order at:

Amazon (US)
Amazon (CA)
Amazon (UK)
Barnes & Noble
Apple iBooks
Google Play

16 May 2018

Wordless Wednesday | Plywood Boat Bound For Haiti

Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - There's a Haitian guy building a boat out of plywood and PVC pipe near Indiantown. We went out and had a look around and chatted with him. Nice guy. Why he's making it in Indiantown, I have no idea.

2 - He told us that he's going to take it to Haiti where it will be used for tours for cruise ship passengers. I imagine it will look a bit different once they finish building it and paint it.

3 - I'm always surprised that boats float (including my own). I know the science behind it, but when you look at a boat on land you just can't help but think that it's going to sink once you splash it into the water.

4 - Would you ride on a boat made out of plywood and PVC pipe?

What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

Murder at the Marina available for pre-order at:

Amazon (US)
Amazon (CA)
Amazon (UK)
Barnes & Noble
Apple iBooks
Google Play

14 May 2018

How Long Does It Take To Remove A Mast From A Sailboat?

Exactly how long does it take to remove a mast from a sailboat? The answer is 27 minutes.

Of course, we're talking about deliberately removing your mast. Not having Mother Nature remove your mast for you, which happens in a horrifying instant, but probably feels like an eternity as you watch it topple over.

People remove their masts due to height restrictions on the water (like bridges or powerlines) or because they're going to transport their sailboat across the country. Some people even remove their masts each season when they store their boats.

Our friends on s/v Wild Blue had their mast removed because they're going to take their boat back up north on a truck. They're pros at this. They reckon this is the fifth time they've done this on this particular boat.

I came along for the show. And believe me, it's a show, especially when you have a large crane involved.

You really hope that the crane isn't going to hit anything else in the yard, like someone else's boat. It was impressive to watch the hand signals to the crane operator.

I watched it go higher and higher in the air.

Then the guys tied the mast onto the crane and the operator hoisted it off of the boat.

They lowered it carefully down to the ground.

Someone grabbed a line at the other end to pull it away from the boat.

Then they moved it over to the stands.

Down it goes.

At last, safely on the ground.

Do you like watching heavy equipment at work? Ever seen a mast removed?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi! 

Murder at the Marina available for pre-order at:

Amazon (US)
Amazon (CA)
Amazon (UK)
Barnes & Noble
Apple iBooks
Google Play

12 May 2018

Saturday Spotlight | "Les Stone Cold Killers" Book Release by A. Ware

In addition to the usual blog posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday about our travel adventures and day-to-day life living aboard a sailboat, I also occasionally post on Saturdays, focusing on things related to writing such as cover reveals, book launches, reviews, interviews with authors etc. So if you're a bit of a book nerd like I am, check in on Saturdays - you never know what might pop up.

* * *

Today, I'm featuring >>Les Stone Cold Killers<< written by Autumn Ware, a bloggy pal and fellow sailor. I had so much fun reading this book. Autumn has created captivating characters - including two amazingly fierce, fearless, and stylish secret agents - she writes spectacular action scenes, and her descriptions of France will make you want to travel there tout de suite. James Bond, watch out - the girls are in town.

About the Book

>>Les Stone Cold Killers<< is the first book in the new campy cloak-and-dagger series, >>Perilous and Sparks<<, which pits two savvy teen agents against secret societies, rogue politicians, and doomsday devices.

The Hell’s Kitchen PR firm that hired Perilous Faretheewell and Madero ‘Sparks’ Spartakonova was after more than talented propagandists. The Eris Agency needed shrewd recruits for its covert campaigns against The Omega Foundation, a shadowy invisible government of elite industrialists. Trained in martial arts and intelligence operations, the two agents stay cool under pressure in a dangerous cloak and dagger game with perpetually shifting alliance.

In Les Stone Cold Killers, Perilous and Sparks re-trace a rogue CIA agent’s final days in Paris to locate a terrifying weapon that could turn the Cold War into the next Ice Age.

While the recent trend in YA has been to look towards a bleak dystopian future for teens to save, Perilous and Sparks re-imagines the sort of teen revolutionaries who might have already existed in the not-too-distant past. >>Les Stone Cold Killers<< is a light-hearted, fun romp around the world in the company of clever, adventurous heroines, and it’s the perfect book to read beside the pool, at the beach, or on a plane to Paris.

Pick up a copy of >>Les Stone Cold Killers<< on Amazon today.

More adventures are coming. Be on the lookout for the next installment in the series, >>The Kowloon Jukebox<<, which will be released in 2019.

About the Author

Autumn Ware began writing campy adventure novels when she was a single mother living on a public teacher’s salary. It was the only vacation she could afford. As her characters grew bolder and more daring, they became her imaginary role models, encouraging her to take more calculated risks in her own life.

Today, she’s the owner of Aware Copywriting, a New Orleans-based agency that produces magnetic propaganda for clients around the world, and the novelist behind the Perilous and Sparks series. She lives on a vintage sailboat with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. Perilous and Sparks empowered her when she was feeling overwhelmed by her own powerlessness. She hopes they’ll do the same for you.  

You can find out more about Autumn and >>Perilous and Sparks<< on her website and Facebook page.

What books have you been reading lately? What would you recommend?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

11 May 2018

Cost Of Cruising & Living Aboard A Sailboat | March & April 2018

We track and report every penny we spend living aboard and cruising on Tickety Boo, our Moody 346 sailboat for a couple of reasons.

1 - It helps us see where our money is going, helps us make informed choices about where to spend our money, which in turn helps us stretch our money further so that we can keep adventuring longer.

2 - We found it really useful to check out other people's cost of cruising when we were starting out, so we figure we can return favor by sharing ours.

We're currently at Indiantown Marina in Florida. Scott is working overseas and I'm allegedly working on boat projects while he's gone (there's a lot of procrastination happening).

You can find links to other cost updates from ourselves (on Tickety Boo, camping across the States, and our previous boat in New Zealand) and others on this page, as well as on The Monkey's Fist.

* * *

Cost of Cruising & Living Aboard | March & April 2018

Overall, we spent >>$2,236<< during March & April.

When you look at the nitty-gritty details of what we spent below, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1 - All costs are in US dollars.

2 - Not all expenses are included - here's what we've left out:

(a) We don't report how much we spend on alcohol. I remember reading some horrible, judgy comments in a blog post a few years back about how much someone spent on booze, so I left it out when we first started tracking our cruising costs back in New Zealand. For consistency's sake, I've continued to leave it out when tracking our cruising costs.
(b) We've also left out our costs for medical insurance. We didn't think it made sense to include insurance costs as they can vary so widely depending upon your nationality, where you cruise, what level of coverage you want and can afford, whether you get subsidies etc. In case you are curious, while we're back in the States, we do have a high deductible/high out-of-pocket expenses insurance through the health insurance marketplace (aka the Affordable Care Act), primarily to protect our assets and cover us in case of a catastrophic medical condition.
(c) I haven't included any expenses related to my writing projects (e.g., editor, book cover design, publishing expenses, author website).
(d) Scott was in Scotland during the past two months, so our expenses are a lot less than they would be if he was here.

3 - I've included any shipping and taxes we've paid in what we report - Florida has a 6% sales tax.

* * *

GROCERIES | Total = $364

This category includes everything we put in our bodies in terms of food and drink (excluding booze) that we prepare ourselves. It doesn't include things like paper towels and ziploc bags, which I know some people would classify as groceries. Sure, you could probably eat them, but they wouldn't taste very good.

Although we don't budget (you can read more about that here), I'm happiest when we keep our monthly grocery spend per person under $200. So that means a spend of $364 for the past couple of months for just me made me very happy.


This is the category where we include household things (like paper towels and ziploc bags) and personal hygiene items (like soap and shampoo). We also capture items for the "home" here - like bug spray.

ENTERTAINMENT | Total = $107

In terms of drinks and eating out, this includes everything we don't prepare ourselves, even if we get something to go and eat it back on the boat. We also track how much we spend on books, magazines, DVD rentals and going to the movies in this category, as well as the occasional lottery ticket.

My entertainment over the past few months included eating out with friends (including one really disastrous meal where someone found saran wrap in the middle of their lasagna), a naughty trip to a fast food joint one day when I was too lazy to cook, and buying some books for my Kindle.


Our cell phone is actually one of our biggest non-boat related expenses. We have a monthly prepaid plan with AT&T which includes 8GB of data and unlimited calls and texts.

BOAT FUEL | Total = Nil

Tickety Boo has been sitting in her slip so we haven't needed to get any fuel.

PROPANE  | Total = Nil

We have a propane/LPG cooker on our boat, which we need to replace as the stove no longer works and replacement parts aren't available. While we're at Indiantown Marina, we use an electric hotplate and a crockpot for cooking, so we haven't had to spend any money on filling our propane tanks.

MARINA COSTS | Total = $1,355

Keeping Tickety Boo in a slip is one of our biggest expenses, and the rates went up in January. The new monthly cost of a slip with electricity at Indiantown Marina for a 34' boat is $657. The guys at the marina will also come pump out our holding tank on demand - $10 for each visit.

BOAT STUFF | Total = $36

This category is for all the stuff we buy for the boat, as well as  repair and maintenance costs.The only expenses I had were for joker valves for our marine toilet.

TRANSPORT | Total = $26

This category is for costs related to our vehicle, mostly for gas to drive into the nearby "big city" of Stuart for errands. I rarely use our car, preferring to walk into town to run errands (provided it isn't too hot), so the only expense over the past couple of months was for an oil change.


This category includes medical expenses outside of our monthly insurance premium (which aren't included here - see section on exclusions above), like over the counter medications, prescriptions and things for our medical kit. It also includes the costs of doctors visits and medical tests which aren't covered by our insurance. The only expense over the past two months was for over-the counter medicine.

OTHER | Total = $206

In this category, we break out how much we spend on clothes and travel expenses. We also include a catch-all miscellaneous group for stuff that doesn't fit neatly anywhere else - things like laundry, Amazon Prime, presents, computer parts, postage etc.

Did we spend more or less than you would have expected? Do you track your expenses? Any frugal tips and tricks to share?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

Murder at the Marina available for pre-order at:

Amazon (US)
Amazon (CA)
Amazon (UK)
Barnes & Noble
Apple iBooks
Google Play