24 March 2018

Saturday Spotlight | Around The World In 80 Books, The Final Update

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.


Remember when I started that "Around the World in 80 Books" challenge? The one I was so gung-ho about, but then never finished. Yeah, I had completely forgotten about it too until my mother gave me a reminder. So, while we're land-locked and working on boat projects, I thought this would be a good time to start ticking more countries off of the list.

The idea of the challenge is to read books set in 80 different countries, effectively exploring the world from the comfort of your armchair. Since my last update, I've read books set in five more countries – Burma (Myanmar), Colombia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, and El Salvador.

And guess what - that means I've now completed the challenge! It was a long one, but well worth it. I've read so many books that I normally would have never picked up, and learned something about different countries in the process.

You can read more about the challenge here, as well as check out Update #1, Update #2, Update #3, Update #4, Update #5, Update #6, Update #7, Update #8, Update #9, Update #10, Update #11, Update #12, Update #13, and Update #14.

THE PIANO TUNER by Daniel Mason | Burma (Myanmar)

Imagine being an English piano tuner in the late 1800s and told that you have to travel to the remote jungles of Burma (Myanmar) to tune the piano of an eccentric army doctor and officer. I thought this was a fascinating premise - learning about the history of the area under British colonial rule as well as how to tune a piano that's been affected by the humid climate. I read some reviews that compare The Piano Tuner to Conrad's Heart of Darkness and I can see the similarities.

I now know a little bit more about pianos and the history of this area, including the fact that being a piano tuner sounds painful.

"Now, eighteen years later, she knew where the calluses on his hands lay and what they were from. Once he had explained them to her, like a tattooed man explaining the stories of his illustrations. This one that runs along the inside of my thumb is from a screwdriver. The scratches on my wrist are from the body itself, I often rest arm like this when I am sounding. The calluses on the inside of my first and third fingers on the right are from tightening pins before using regulating pliers, I spare my second finger, I don't know why, a habit from youth. Broken nails are from strings, it is a sign of impatience."

You can find out more about The Piano Tuner on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon

MEMORIES OF MY MELANCHOLY WHORES by Gabriel Garcia Marquez | Colombia

I was trying to remember whether I had ever read anything by Marquez before. He's a famous dude (Nobel Prize in Literature and all) and I've heard of his books and I felt like I should have read something by him by now. Turns out Memories of my Melancholy Whores was the first one for me. It tells the story of a bachelor on his 90th birthday who decides he wants to sleep with a virgin and the relationship he develops with her.

It was an interesting read. I liked part of it, other parts not so much, and many parts just creeped me out. But I did enjoy his way with words and his style of writing. There were passages that made me laugh, like his reaction when presented with the gift of a cat by his co-workers.

"I have very bad chemistry with animals, just as I do with children before they begin to speak. They seem mute in their souls. I don't hate them, but I can't tolerate them, because I have never learned to deal with them. I think it is against nature for man to get along better with his dog than he does with his wife, to teach it to eat and defecate on schedule, to answer his questions and share his sorrows. But not picking up the typographer's cat would have been an insult."

You can find out more about Memories of my Melancholy Whores on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon.  

THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE by Lenne Kaaberbol | Denmark

The Boy in the Suitcase drew me in right away with the title alone. What does a "boy in a suitcase" conjure up to you? Nothing good, I'd imagine. The book starts off quickly with, no surprise, a boy in a suitcase in a train station in Copenhagen. It follows Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse, as she tries to uncover the mystery behind the boy while trying to avoid the people who are hunting them down. There were some interesting twists and turns in this fast-paced thriller. While I didn't learn as much about Denmark as I would have liked in this book, I did learn about child trafficking in Europe.

It was hard to pick out a quote from The Boy in the Suitcase without having a spoiler. I ended up choosing this one, because who can't relate to being frantic over being stuck on an airplane, although hopefully not for the same reasons as this chap.

"He should have been back home in Denmark more than an hour ago. Instead he sat on what should have been the 7:45 to Copenhagen Airport, frying inside an overheated aluminum tube along with 122 other unfortunates. No matter how many cooling drinks he was offered by the flight attendants, nothing could ease his desperation."

You can find out more about The Boy in the Suitcase on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon.

IN THE TIME OF BUTTERFLIES by Julia Alvarez | Dominican Republic

One of the things I've enjoyed about this challenge is learning more about other countries. Like the fact that the States has occupied the Dominican Republic twice - first in the early 20th century (the Dominican's gained independence in 1924) and again in the 1960s when the Americans were fearful of a Communist revolt and the establishment of a "second Cuba." Not only did I learn about that, but I also learned about the oppressive rule of Rafael Trujillo from 1930-1961. 

In the Time of Butterflies is set prior to the second American occupation, during the time of the Trujillo's dictatorship. It's inspired by the true story of three sisters who were murdered for their part in an attempt to overthrow Trujillo. The book alternates between the perspective of four fictional sisters - three who were murdered and one who survives and recollects the family's involvement in revolutionary activity. I liked the youngest sister's account the best, presented in the form of diary entries, like this one about the Feast of Santa Lucia.

"Tonight, we will have the candle lighting and all of our eyes will be blessed on account of Santa Lucia. And guess what? I have been chosen to be Santa Lucia by all the sisters! I'll get to wear my First Communion dress and shoes all over again and lead the whole school from the dark courtyard into the lit-up chapel. I have been practicing, walking up and down the Stations of the Cross with a blessed look on my face, not an easy thing when you are trying to keep your balance. I think saints all lived before high heels were invented."
You can find out more about In the Time of Butterflies on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon.

THE HEIRESS OF WATER by Sandra Rodriguez Barron | El Salvador

The Heiress of Water takes place in New England, where the protagonist, Monica, lives and El Salvador, her birthplace and home until the death of her mother when she was a child. The book follows Monica as she travels back to El Salvador and tries to piece together her family history, while at the same time investigating the medical applications of a venomous cone shell. It's part thriller, part mystery, and part self-discovery. It didn't end the way I expected to and left me wanting more, which can be a good thin in a book.

While there were lots of interesting quotes about El Salvador I could have shared, I chose this one because the sailboat vs. powerboat comparison made me laugh. So true.

"But Will didn't share Eddie's distrust of non-Hispanic New Englanders. Will proudly flew the American and Puerto Rican flags on his boat alongside the nautical ensign. Besides, in his experience, boaters were part of a subculture that transcends ethnic divisions. Many of them saw landlubbers as alien creatures. Beyond that was the separation between the 'purists' - the sailboaters - and the 'vulgar' powerboaters, whose mega-engines' consumption of gas was rivaled only by their owners' consumption of beer. All 'real' sea folk were members of a sacred tribe, and sailors were special to one another. Might as well be related by spit and blood."

You can find out more about The Heiress of Water on Goodreads and get your own copy on Amazon.


If you're participating in the challenge too (or any other reading challenge), I'd love to hear what you've been reading. Even if you're not doing the challenge, let us know what books you've been enjoying lately.

COUNTRIES READ DURING THE CHALLENGE: Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, England, Estonia, Ethiopia, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, New Zealand, Nigeria, North Korea, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Kiribati, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, United States, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Wales, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

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

23 March 2018

Smiling During The Crappy Stuff

I don't have time for a long blog post today because I've been so busy lately. Not busy with anything that's going to make the world a better place, or at the very least keep our portlights from leaking when it's pouring down rain.

Nope, just busy with working on marketing and publishing stuff for my book, which I'm sure you don't want to hear about. Unless you find book formatting fascinating, in which case, talk to me about bleed in the comments.

For the rest of you, I'll tell you about someone at the marina who smiles even when he's working on crappy stuff. Seriously crappy stuff. Like driving a golf cart with a container of stinky stuff around the marina. Gross stuff that gets pumped out from people's holding tanks. You don't need any more description than that, do you?

So, there I was, walking back from the shower inhaling the not very pleasant smells that accompany this golf cart wherever it goes, when I heard the guy driving in it, call out, >>Pea soup. 50 cents a bowl for pea soup!<<

I laughed so hard that I had to gasp for breath. Which really wasn't a good thing because I got another giant whiff of that "pea soup" in the process.

I love that this guy has a sense of humor even when literally doing one of the crappiest jobs at the marina.

If he can have a smile on his face while pumping out holding tanks, then I sure as heck can have one on my face while I deal with something as trivial as book cover bleed.

By the way, I'm so busy that I haven't proofread this post at all. Did you laugh out loud when you read that? Me too. I never proofread these things, as you probably know already.You'll be glad to know that I have an editor for my book.

When you have a crappy job to do, do you manage to keep a sense of humor? If so, how do you do it?

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

21 March 2018

Wordless Wednesday | Nautically Themed Roman Mosaics

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 - We have tons of pictures of Roman mosaics. It was hard to pick just a few to share, so I went with those that had a nautical theme. I think my favorite is the one of the dude with crab claws coming out of his head.

2 - Would you ever have the patience to place a gazillion tiny tiles to make a picture? It's truly impressive.

3 - Scott took some of these pictures at the Bardo National Museum in Tunisia. I was amazed at all of the Roman mosaics they had in their collection.

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!

19 March 2018

Hablas Español? | Blogging From A to Z Theme Reveal

I like challenges. Although, I'm  not sure why as, more often than not, I'm a complete and utter failure at them. Especially anything having to do with giving up sugar.

But I have succeeded at a few challenges - like NaNoWriMo, Around the World in 80 Books, and the Procrastination Thru Internet Surfing Challenge. {I totally made that last one up, but if it really existed, I'd nail it.}

One of my favorite challenges is Blogging from A to Z. Probably because I managed to pull it off twice. The idea is to write a post every day during April (except Sundays) that relates to each letter of the alphabet. A on April 1st, B on April 2nd, C on April 3rd and so on.

The first time I did the challenge in 2015, I just blogged about a bunch of random stuff. The next year I went with a theme - Nancy Drew Investigates the Case of the Missing Anchor. I decided to go with a theme again this year - "Hablas Español?" Or, "Do you speak Spanish?" 

We're hoping to point our sailboat toward the Western Caribbean next year and it sure would come in handy if one of us spoke some Spanish. Somehow, I got nominated for this particular task. I actually got nominated for it a couple of years ago, but have learned "nada" in the meantime. 

This year, it's going to be different. I'm going to use this challenge to focus all of my limited attention span on learning Spanish. Each day, I'll feature a different Spanish word and a few random thoughts which pop into my head. Kind of like my Wordless Wednesday posts. Some of the words will be related to boats and sailing, some will be related to living aboard a sailboat, and some will seem utterly random (like "pinguino").

Some of my Spanish reference books and dictionaries.

Check out the other people participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge theme reveal here.

Have you studied a foreign language? Are you participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this year?

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

16 March 2018

Morning Coffee | Random Thoughts & Oddities

Paul at Lat43 does these hysterical Morning Tea blog posts which are a brain dump of whatever pops into his head while he's writing them. I decided to steal his idea. Except, I'm drinking coffee while I write this and he drinks tea, so it isn't really stealing, is it?

So, here we go - all of the random nonsense floating through my head while I sip on my morning coffee.

  • I got a little bit of boat envy the other day after taking a tour of a Westerly Seahawk 34 that some friends just bought. It's the same size as ours and also has a center cockpit, so it was interesting to see how the layout differs. Pretty similar except it has amazing headroom.
  • This is the second boat they've owned (I think). We're on our second boat. I wonder if we'll be content with this one or look for another one someday?
  • Whole wheat pasta is terribly disappointing. Sure, it's higher in fiber and good for you, but it tastes like limp cardboard. I finally got rid of the whole wheat rotini that I've been storing for eons that will never get eaten. It's freed up valuable storage space for more important things like cocoa powder.
  •  I love getting emails from blog followers! A guy recently sent a note saying that he's read all of our cruising in New Zealand posts and just bought a Raven 26, which is the same type of boat we used to have when we lived there. It was so nice to hear from him and know that he's having exciting adventures in  our old cruising grounds.
  • Wunderground is a big fat liar. We had a lot of wind here the other day. You could hear it blowing through everyone's rigging creating that chorus of noise that lets you know you're in a marina. Wunderground and said the wind gusts were 11 mph, when we all knew that they had to be closer to 25.
  • So much nicer to be in a marina when it's blowing a gale out there. You can actually sleep at night and not worry about the anchor dragging.
  • Sailors often suffer from sleep deprivation.
  • I don't like to be deprived of sleep. Happy to be deprived of whole wheat pasta, but don't rob me of my Zs.
  • Did you ever go out someplace in the morning and start to worry that you forgot to brush your teeth? Or is that just me? Please tell me someone else worries about this sort of thing.

What did you think about over your morning cup of coffee, tea, or other beverage of your choice? Did you brush your teeth this morning?

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

14 March 2018

Wordless Wednesday | Old Signs

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 - I wonder how people decide what to name their businesses. Like the Sunshine Cafe & Bar. Were the original owners super cheerful people? Does it never get cloudy in this neck of the woods?

2 - I can't figure out what the gold circle on the Whirlpool sign is all about. It looks like some sort of halo. I asked Mr. Google what he know about it and he wasn't very helpful. Although, he did direct me to this cool site with old Whirlpool advertisements.

3 - What did we do before Mr. Google when we wanted to know something? Oh, yeah. We looked things up in the encyclopedia. 

4 - I'm starting to sound like an old person with my reminiscing about encyclopedias. {Sigh}

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!

12 March 2018

Boat Cards & Memories of Meeting Fellow Cruisers

I was doing some deep cleaning the other day, which primarily involves taking things out of cupboards, reorganizing stuff, and wiping everything down with vinegar to keep the mildew at bay. {Mildew is one of the issues you face when you live on a boat in a warm, humid climate.}

Next to a plastic container full of bullion cubes, taco seasoning, and ranch dressing mix, I found a ziploc bag of boat cards that we've collected over the past few years. Boat cards are kind of like business cards of the cruising world.

Although, unlike the rather dull cards I used to hand out in my days working in corporate la-la land, which had my name, job title, company, and contact details, boat cards are far more fascinating.

Instead of a company logo, they have a picture of a boat, often anchored in an exotic location. Job titles are interesting, such as Captain, Admiral, or Chief Bottle Washer. Not something stuffy-sounding like General Manager, Organisational Development. Children and pets are proudly listed. And when you do see a picture of the crew, they look relaxed and happy. Social media links are common, so that you can stay in touch after you've headed off your separate ways.

It was fun looking at our collection of cards and remembering when and how we met, and thinking about what they're up to now.

Some folks have stopped cruising, sold their boats, and "swallowed the anchor." Others have bought new boats and are planning new adventures. Some intrepid souls have left their home ports with plans to cross oceans, maybe even circumnavigate. Others alternate cruising with working, in order to keep their savings topped up.

While their journeys may all be different, they have two things in common - boat cards and a sense of adventure.

You can see our boat cards and read more about getting them ordered here.

When cleaning or organizing, have you ever run across something that brings back memories?

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

10 March 2018

Saturday Spotlight | Sailing Book Reviews

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, I'm featuring reviews of three sailing-related books....


>>How Not to Buy a Sailboat<< is a great resource for anyone who is thinking about buying a cruising boat. The authors candidly share their experiences, both the good and the bad, so that aspiring cruisers can benefit from their hard-earned lessons. I've followed Deb and TJ's blog for years and always admired their practical, down-to-earth, and accessible writing style, which is also reflected in their book. You'll feel like you're sitting down with them over sundowners while they share their adventures and misadventures and give you tips and advice on what to do and, more importantly, what not to do when looking for a cruising boat.

Deb and TJ take you through the nuts and bolts of the buying process from considering a “for now” boat to learn on; identifying what type of cruiser you are; what to look for in your cruising boat; dealing with brokers, sea trials, and surveys; maintenance considerations; and when to walk away. They also share some of their favorite blog posts which give you insight into the personal realities inherent in the cruising lifestyle. 

Find out more about Deb and TJ and their book at Amazon | Goodreads | Website  

GET RID OF BOAT ODORS | by Peggie Hall

There are a lot of challenges involved in boat ownership, one of which is getting rid of the stink that can often emanate from the head (bathroom). >>How to Get Rid of Boat Odors<< is a comprehensive guide which covers the ins and outs of marine sanitation systems, including how to get rid of those unpleasant odors. 

I have the dubious honor of being in charge of our marine sanitation system (we have a Jabsco manual twist and lock toilet and a 25 gallon holding tank). To date, I've only had to deal with minor issues, like replacing joker valves, but, inevitably, something is going to go terribly wrong one of these days and I'm sure this book will come in handy. The author covers a wide range of topics including what's legal in terms of marine sanitation systems in the States; different types of systems; installation of a new system; common issues and troubleshooting; maintenance; and, of course, how to deal with those pesky odors.  

Find out more about Peggie and her book at Amazon


Once upon a time, we stalked Annie Hill. Okay, it wasn't the real kind of stalking, you know the kind that gets you a restraining order. We knew that Annie had a sister ship to the boat we had in New Zealand (a Raven 26) and when we were making our way to Whangarei, we spotted her moored on the river. We waved like crazy people at her and she was kind enough to wave back. 

Here's what her boat, Fantail, looks like. If you look closely, you can see that she's converted it to a junk rig.
After reading >>Voyaging on a Small Income<<, I want a junk rig too.

>>Voyaging on a Small Income<< does exactly what it says on the tin – if offers practical tips and real-life examples of how to live and cruise on a sailboat on a modest budget. But it also does much more, providing insight into Annie and (her then husband) Pete's early days in their marriage and cruising life in Britain, the building of s/v Badger, and their day-to-day life on board her.

Annie shows how it is possible to have a rich and fulfilling life while living frugally. She covers a range of topics including a frugal mindset and philosophy; provisioning and cooking; different types of rigs; organization of space in a floating “tiny home”; anchoring and more. Although >>Voyaging on a Small Income<< was first published in 2001, the lessons Annie shares on simplifying your life while cruising are timeless.

You can read more about our adventures making our way to Whangarei here

Find out more about Annie and her book at AmazonGoodreads | Website

Note: I won copies of >>Voyaging on a Small Income<< and >>Get Rid of Boat Odors << courtesy of Saving to Sail (a site dedicated to learning how to make money online, while sailing the world) and voluntarily chose to leave an honest review. 


Image via The Graphics Fairy

Have you read a good book lately? One of the best ways you can thank an author is to leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. One of my New Year's resolutions is to try and be better about leaving reviews, especially for indie authors.

What books have you been reading lately? Have you read any of the sailing books featured here today? Do you leave book reviews?

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

09 March 2018

Indiantown Marina From The Air | Fun With Drones & Aerial Photos

Our friend, Tech Tom, came to visit the other day. We call him Tech Tom for a reason - he's a gadget guy with the uncanny ability to fix almost anything electronic. So when he showed up with his new toy - a drone - I wasn't really surprised.

I've never actually seen a drone up close and personal. They're both fascinating and scary. The thought of anyone being able to zoom in and see what you're up to is a bit frightening. But, on the flip side, the footage they shoot is pretty cool.

I extracted a few photos from the raw footage. I'm not sure if extracted is the right word, but I'm not very technical, unlike Tom.

You can see our boat in this photo. It's the sailboat with the gray tarp over the boom in the corner. It has one solar panel on it. Our friends next to us on Wind Spirit have three huge solar panels. They have no shortage of electricity on board, which is probably why they can operate an ice maker when out cruising.

Here's one taken from much further up. I think at one point Tom said the drone was flying at 500'. You can see some boats on the hard in the parking lot. At the height of hurricane season and for many months afterwards, there were lots of boats where you would normally find cars. Indiantown is considered to be a hurricane hole (as much as any place can really be considered to be safe during hurricanes these days) and boats come here to hide out from storms.

This is a view to the west. If you follow the canal, you eventually hit Lake Okeechobee. If you go the other way you end up in Stuart.

In this photo you can see the marina off to the left and the boat storage yard and work yard off to the right. We have a Ladies Walking Posse that walks up this road in the mornings.

Here's another view of the canal. See that dark cloud on the left? That's from the burning of the sugar cane fields. When they burn, ash flies everywhere and ends up on your boat. Sure fire way to make sure they burn the fields - wash your boat. Next thing you know, there will be ash everywhere.

This is a picture from the drone landing. This must be what the world looks like from a cat's perspective, down low to the ground. Tom asked me if I wanted to fly the drone. I wisely said no. The last thing I wanted to be responsible for was crashing an expensive gadget into the alligator infested water.

Have you ever flown a drone? Have you ever seen what your house/boat/RV looks like from above?

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

07 March 2018

Celebrating With Star Trek & Dead Lizards | IWSG

The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It's a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day.

Every month there's an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they're struggling with what to say.

This month's question is:

"How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal / finish a story?"

Check out how people have answered this month's question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list here. If you want to see how I answered the question, have a look below.


After pressing send and e-mailing my manuscript to my editor, I stretched my arms over my head and shouted, "Whoo-hoo!"

A large gray cat peeked out from behind a throw pillow and glared at me. "Hey, keep it down lady. I'm trying to take a nap."

My happiness over finally completing all the edits to my cozy mystery and being at the stage where I was ready for an editor faded.

"What are you doing here? I evicted you last month." Simon growled. "Don't give me that," I said sharply. "Things have been so much more pleasant without  you around. Nobody making snarky comments and demanding saucers of milk at all hours."

Simon hopped onto the table, knocked my pens onto the floor, and sat on top of my laptop. He slowly washed behind his ears, then said, "You can't evict me if I pay rent."

"Rent? What rent?"

Simon rolled over on his back. "Go look on your bed. Then come back here and rub my belly."

I got a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach. Simon looked too innocent. And we all know that Simon is never innocent. I hurried back to the aft cabin to see what Simon had done. Then I screamed.

Simon padded into the room. "What's all the fuss about, lady?"

"Why are there dead lizards on my bed?"

"I told you. I'm paying you rent now." He jumped onto the bed and tossed one of the unfortunate critters around. "If you're lucky, maybe I'll bring you a bird or a mouse next month."

"Simon, get these things off my bed now!" I ran my fingers through my hair and sighed. "I was planning on celebrating sending my manuscript to my editor by sitting here and watching Star Trek: Discovery on my computer."

Simon batted one of the lizards onto the floor. It landed on my foot. I stifled another scream and tried to remember where I had put the bleach. I shook my head. "Now I have to wash the sheets and clean all of this up. Some celebration this has turned out to be. Thanks a lot, Simon."

Simon lay down on the bed. "What a stupid way to celebrate. There aren't any cats on Star Trek: Discovery. Just some stupid tribbles. Now, go get me some milk."


It was kind of exciting (and a bit scary) to hit a big milestone last month - finally finishing my first cozy mystery, >>Murder at the Marina<<, and sending it to the editor. After binge-watching Star Trek: Discovery, I started to think about the eventual release. Should I go ahead and publish it once it's finished or wait until I have other books in the series ready to go.

I asked folks what they thought about stockpiling books on the IWSG Facebook group and got some great advice, tips etc. If anyone else has any thoughts on writing and release strategies for series, I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

How do you celebrate when you accomplish a goal? Do you have a cat that brings you "presents"? Thoughts on stockpiling books?

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

05 March 2018

Cost Of Cruising & Living Aboard A Sailboat | January & February 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 | January & February 2018

Overall, we spent >>$3,692<< during January and February.

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 January and February, so our expenses are 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 = $379

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.


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 = $104

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.

I ate out a few times with friends over the past two month ($57), bought some books, and tried out Kindle Unlimited for a month (I've since ended up canceling it).


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 = $1,346

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 = $1,099

This category is for all the stuff we buy for the boat, as well as  repair and maintenance costs. The other big thing in this category is insurance, which is where most of our spend was in February. We renewed our policy with Geico, seeing a big increase like everyone else due to last year's hurricane activity ($937). We also renewed our Boat US towing insurance ($135). We belong to the Moody Owners Association and renewed our annual membership ($27).

TRANSPORT | Total = $33

This category is for costs related to our vehicle, mostly for gas to drive into the nearby "big city" of Stuart for errands. I filled up the tank once over the past two months, which shows you how little I use our car.


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 allergy pills.

OTHER | Total = $596

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!

03 March 2018

Saturday Spotlight | Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations Cover Reveal

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 a cover reveal for >>Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations<< by Shannon Lawrence. Isn't that a creepy book cover? It makes me wonder about what's hidden behind the door, although, to be honest, I think I'd be too scared to check it out.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: A collection of frights, from the psychological to the monstrous. These tales are a reminder of how much we have to fear: a creature lurking in the blue, sludgy depths of a rest area toilet; a friendly neighbor with a dark secret hidden in his basement; a woman with nothing more to lose hellbent on vengeance; a hike gone terribly wrong for three friends; a man cursed to clean up the bodies left behind by an inhuman force. These and other stories prowl the pages of this short story collection.

RELEASE DATE: March 15, 2018

It will also be available in trade paperback from Amazon US and UK, Apple iBooks and everywhere else Smashwords distributes to, and Amazon in other countries.

BIO: A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes primarily horror and fantasy. Her stories can be found in magazines and anthologies, including Space and Time Magazine, Dark Moon Digest, and Spinetingler. Though she often misses the ocean, the majestic and rugged Rockies are a sight she could never part with. Besides, in Colorado there's always a place to hide a body or birth a monster. What more could she ask for?

Find out more about Shannon at her website/blog and on Facebook.

Would you be brave enough to see what's behind that door?
Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

02 March 2018

February In Numbers

Clockwise from upper left: (1) Trying to get back to learning Spanish; (2) Valentine's Day candy; (3) When your computer breaks, it's time to do sewing projects; (4) Some of the sailing books I read; (5) Taking apart my laptop; and (6) Shopping for canned meat.

It's time for our usual monthly recap by the numbers. February was a month of moderation and frustration. After many parties and overindulging over the past several months, I decided to declare last month to be >>Febfast<<. No, I didn't fast. Don't be silly. I can't go more than four hours without something to eat. But what I did do was try to cut out red meat, booze, junk food, and sugary treats.

I succeeded on all fronts except the sugary treats. But, on the plus side, I only ate sugary treats that other people gave me - like cookies from my friend Jane and candy from my mom. Although, now that I think about it, I guess I ate red meat (in the form of corned beef) at our canned meat cook-off. But I didn't buy any or cook any myself. I also ate Spam, but who knows what's in that. Is it red meat or something else? Maybe it's best not to ask.

The frustration part came in, not because I was watching my diet, but because my computer died on me. I've learned that I can't live without my computer. Sad, but true.

So, enough with all of those words, here's the usual random nonsense recap by the numbers:

  • 9 - Number of days I was without a working computer. First President's Day interfered with delivery of the replacement part. Then it turns out that Dell goofed up with the service code on my laptop and the part I ordered wasn't compatible. Add in ordering another part and time for delivery and it was a long nine days.
  • $39.95 - How much a replacement heatsink/fan cost (including postage).
  • 2 - How many screws I had leftover after reassembling my laptop. I'm gonna assume they aren't important.
  • 14 - How many books I read as part of my Goodreads challenge. 4 sci-fi/fantasy, 3 mysteries, 2 thrillers, 1 general fiction, 3 sailing-related books, and 1 non-fiction. 
  •  85F/30C - What the real feel temp has been like lately in Indiantown. Had to plug the A/C back in. Occasionally I text my sister and tell her I'm wearing shorts and flip-flops. For some reason, she doesn't find it amusing. 
  • $4.59 - How much a 6" veggie delight costs at Subway. I haven't had Subway in years. Not too bad calorie-wise and totally fit into Febfast. I met up with some cruising friends (MJ Sailing) for lunch when they came back to Florida to pick up a new headsail. So nice to see them, especially as I wasn't sure if our paths would ever cross again. Such is the way of the nomadic life.
  • 5 - How many new characters I've created for the next installment of the Mollie McGhie sailing mystery series. At least one of them is going to die. I feel rather evil deciding who isn't going to make it to the end of the book.
  • 1 - How many parts I've had to replace on my Sailrite sewing machine - the retaining ring cap spring. It's a sacrificial part, so no biggie to replace and luckily I had a spare already. {Duwan - this is why you were having trouble using my machine. We should have replaced it when you were here.}
  • 3 - How many nectarines I threw away. I felt so bad about wasting food, but they were really gross. So disappointing to buy fruit that looks wonderful, but tastes awful.
  • 2 - How many eggs I used in my salmon cakes for the Spamageddon canned meat cook-off.

In case you missed them, here are some of our favorite blog posts from last month:

Spamageddon | Canned Meat Cook-Off at Indiantown Marina
Saturday Spotlight | Sailing Book Reviews
Cooking without a Fridge: A Week on Our Boat in New Zealand 

How did last month go for you? What are you looking forward to this month?

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