A Day In The Life Of A Liveaboard Family

Catching Geckos in The Florida KeysWe lived on land until two months ago and became full-time cruisers who live aboard our boat.  It was our dream to do this and it is really fun but it can be challenging.  We did a lot of research on what it would “look like” to be full-time liveaboards cruising around the U.S. and Caribbean but few people talk about some of the challenges.  Here is a day in the life of the Hamic Family aboard Miss Lone Star.  We are presently located at our dock in Islamorada, FL and we are not underway.

We drove to Key West yesterday to visit the PX and the commissary.  We make the 80 mile trip twice a month to do grocery shopping and pick up odds and ends.  It takes 2 hours because the speed limit is 45 or 55 in most places but the views are amazing.  Our girl-child was on one yesterday and she was beating up on her brother in the backseat.  We tried all of the standard parent tactics: say sorry, don’t touch, no talking, look out your window and then the dreaded spanking.  Nothing worked and she was a mess through almost all of the trip.  Naughty Girl Timeout on Roadtrip Continue reading

Our Weekend Expeditions In The Florida Keys

Florida Keys Mini TripsIt is a bummer that we are living in one place until December but we are making the most of it by taking a lot of mini trips.  In the next day or so we plan to go anchor out at Hen’s and Chickens Reef and then I want to go north for a few miles to find another great spot.  I really want do dive some wrecks.

During the heat of the day, it can be busy with all of the snorkeling tours and dive boats but only between 12-4PM.  We love how deserted it feels after than when it is just us anchored.  We’ve decided that we really love to be on the hook and we want to do that a lot more.

If anyone has a suggestion about a favorite place to anchor please leave a comment!

I am really lucky to have a portable air compressor to fill my own scuba tanks on our boat.  I bought it from my friend in Austin who had re-built it.  It isn’t much to look at and it is 35 years old, but it does the job.  It fills a tank from 0-3000 psi in 30 minutes.

We plan to go out for 2-3 days, weather and food supplies permitting.  I think we learned a lot from our last expedition to Alligator Reef so I think we will be better prepared to enjoy ourselves.  We plan to take along, Brandon, a friend from our dock who is without his family for a few days.  He wants to do a lot of diving and has gone with some of the tour companies.  I prefer diving from our boat with fewer people.  I like staying down longer and not being restricted to going with a group of people.  I think it is diving at its best!

Many of the reefs and wrecks reside in Special Protected Areas (SPA) and there are a lot of restrictions on activities in these areas.  I learned that one can obtain a special fishing permit that allows you to take fish from these area, that is normally prohibited.  We saw a bunch of illegal fishing at Alligator Reef and noticed the boats coming in fast just to take a crack at some huge barracuda.  I thought it was wrong that these people were taking resources from the reef.  There used to be 551 fish species at that location but over-taking has depleted many of them, which is really sad.

Bianca is really hoping to get some beautiful new shells while doing her new favorite pastime with Dad, snorkeling.  I was so happy that she took to it so well!  I held her hand and we swam all along the reef and around the lighthouse.  I think she will remember seeing fish for the first time for the rest of her life.  Blake loves to swim around the boat and use Mom’s GoPro but he doesn’t venture so far.

Onyx probably wants me to dinghy over to the shore to give her a break at night and in the morning, which seems reasonable.  We wish that dogs would use the bathroom in the water.  The reefs are 3-4 miles off shore so that makes the trek inland more difficult.

Aubrey is really getting an aptitude for video and I think we will get of our best footage yet.  I am happy that she has the time to practice here before we head to Cuba and beyond.  We won’t want to miss any of that footage.  We are building so many great memories and I am so thankful that we have them documented so well with this journal, pictures and video.  We’ve noticed that the traffic to our blog has doubled since we started including video on a regular basis and we will keep it up.

If anyone has suggestions for us or if you want to see something send us a suggestion!

Suwannee River to Clearwater, Florida Didn’t Sink The Boat

Clearwater Florida

If you believe it, you can achieve it.

We awoke early and saw a beautiful sunrise and a quiet bayou on Suwannee River.  We fired up the normal pot of coffee that we make each day on our propane coffeemaker.  I hate the darned thing by the way and I can’t wait until it wears out in 5 years or I can sell it to another cruiser.  I wish we got a much smaller press, because we rarely drink more than a cup or two per morning.  I rinsed down the boat one last time and Aubrey set off with the kids to find new creatures that were interested in capture.  Bianca stayed in timeout while I fueled the boat because she stole her brother’s stick and taunted him with it.  Once she got locked down he promptly restore the stick and made the following announcement:

I am the fairy godmother and this stick will help you to be better- poof!

11231319_1066927279991817_2316755752511007350_nIt didn’t work but we had to get out of there while the tide was still high!  We went out on the North end of the town through the naturally “deep” river (4-8 ft.) and out 3 miles through something the Army Corp of Engineers dredged a couple decades ago.  My sonar read 2.4 feet several times but I never saw sand kick up in the prop wash or felt the dreaded bump of a sandy shoal. Continue reading

No Pants No Deadlines

We get up when the light coming throughout he porthole above our bed is blazing  through our eyelids, usually about 6:30. I rarely wear pants anymore and I’m never late, I just don’t have anywhere to be. I’m off the daily pot (or two of coffee) but not by my own choice, it’s just to hot to have more than a cup. Aside from my new nemesis Franklin the Pelican that sits on the bow staring at me, judging me, life is good. I don’t know why he stares he isn’t wearing any pants either.IMG_0190

Some things haven’t changed, Blake is still up by 7 making demands and listing off the things that he forgot to tell me that he destroyed yesterday such as “Sister and I added little crabs to all sister’s body spray” “I pooped and now the toilet is angry” or “Have you seen my fish? I lost him in my room before dinner…”D94A8614 D94A8609

Bianca is doing a tour of what we call “timeouts around the world.D94A8390

Over the past month we have really started to learn how to live and feel like we are living. The kids haven’t watched any kind of TV or video games in over two weeks. Our fun consist of collecting and identifying local wildlife and they love it.Hopper on a Leash-Recovered

There are defiantly some down sides.. We have to hunt down a marina that has washer and dryers and just hope that the dryer works. The galley burner takes a short 45 minutes to brown ground beef and our freezer is the size of a shoe box. That is no exaggeration!

Naughty children cannot be ignored which in the long run is probably a good thing, but in the short term drives both Robb and I nuts! The internet is a little dodgy and the sunsets are nightly and never missed, so just like anything else in life there are trade offs. We are almost a full month in and I am still feeling good about our choice to be a live aboard family.IMG_0301-Edit

It Doesn’t Suck to be Stuck in Apalachicola Florida!

IMG_9843Apalachicola Florida is a really special place. It reminds me of what the US must’ve looked like in the 1930’s. We’ve walked and boated around the town and spent a lot of time with local people and visitors. I have yet to see any chain store, fast food restaurant or even a lit sign. We love it here.

Apalach, as the locals call it, sits at the feed of two rivers that come into the gulf behind breakers far out in the gulf. It is really know for it’s Oysters (Apalach Oysters) but they have been mostly gone since the BP oil spill. I was told that the chemical that was spread to stop the spill killed off the shells. The spill didn’t affect this area and it was spread out as a precaution. Apparently the oyster business is on the mend and this place will be thriving again in 6-7 years after re-growth occurs.

D94A8271I heard great things about this place but I really had no idea until I could set foot on dry land. The city is about 2200 people or so and the entire county of Franklin is only 3500, which covers some vacation areas where people claim residence but don’t really reside. It is a sleepy little place with warm and friendly people. Fishing and oysters is the biggest business here and apparently this is the world’s largest producer of oysters.

There are mainly stop signs in town and just a few blinking red lights. No high rises or anything over three stories exists here. There are laws for that here. There are lots of shops and the food is unreal. We’ve eaten out most nights and we are in awe of this place. Aubrey loved collard greens when she tried them for the first time. Food is inexpensive, as are most things here. Boat fuel is $3.80, which is a good Florida on the water price. We paid $60 for a slip here. The Water Street Hotel and Marina is the largest hotel in the area and it has about 50 rooms and 15 boat slips that are mostly vacant. There is a pool for the kids and they are making the most out of it.

Raccoons love our boat and they had a party the first night we arrived. I stored Onyx’s food on the deck in a plastic container. The coons made fast work of it and apparently four of them had a hay day as people watched from their screened in porches. Coons brought out about 20,000 sugar ants and I had to spend about three hours cleaning and spraying off the boat. Such is the life of a boat captain. Onyx has been posted topside each night to prevent further outbursts from the local coons. It has worked so far.

We have taken advantage of the amazing sunsets and walked around sight seeing and taking evening dinghy rides to capture post card quality photography. We found the bone yard of boats up the creek last night and Aubrey really out did herself.

The kids are catching fish like little otters and taking spare tome to explore, find crabs, grasshoppers and sit on time out. That happens a lot but they are trying to go coast to coast on timeouts at every fun place we visit. They are on course to reach their goal.

We planned to leave yesterday for Tampa on our next blue water crossing but weather and high seas prevented us from moving. You wouldn’t know that the seas are 5-8 feet in the gulf from our dock and the sun is out now with the temperature at about 90. The heat index is high.IMG_9811

We plan to lay over until the day after tomorrow and set our course for Tampa Bay. The journey will take us into open water and it is 156 miles. We’ve been averaging 25-27 knots cruising speed. I feel confident in Miss Lone Star and I pray for our safe journey.

How My Crazy Wife Deals With Missed Deadlines and Rude Men

I have been diligent about calling several of our tradespeople to follow-up on the different boat projects.  It never surprises me about how people come up with excuses but we are on a really tight schedule.  Our boat is being pick dup by our transporter on July 14.  There are so many projects that are ongoing and deadlines can’t be missed.  My wife lost it yesterday, but it wasn’t like most wives lose it.  This was different.

My lovely wife and her animal habit..

My lovely wife and her animal habit..

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Advertising says: “delivered in 14 days from order.” It ships in 14 days and then arrives in 19.  Guaranteed arrival deadlines come and go.  A tradesman has 2 months to make repairs as the boat sits in a parking lot for most of it, work takes place on the last week.  It’s just the way things go, when you are fixing a boat in Texas.

I’ve been checking on our upholstery for the last two weeks as the project sat idle in Jose’s shop.  Aubrey made this man make a pinkie swear not to take the work if he couldn’t complete it in time.  I agreed with her sentiment but I didn’t want her to scare him off.  Finally, he shook hands and agreed to deliver our stuff.  This was weeks ago.. He said he was going to have to stop all of his projects to fulfill our deadline.  We were excited.  He gave us a good price.  Everything was going smoothly until yesterday.

This is one of those guy’s who tells you everything about his life.  He is a 60-year-old Cuban who came to Austin years ago and learned his trade on the island.  He is married to a woman who is 20 years old and has a 3 year old kid, look at my pictures, etc.  He repeats himself 8 times and a trip to his shop takes 1 hour.  I’m sure all of our readers who own cruising boats have dealt with the same type of people.  It is a shame that we have to depend on these guys.

I needed Aubrey to play bad cop yesterday and asked her to drop by this guy’s shop to make sure he absolutely understood we only had 5 days left on the project.  He didn’t have enough of our pieces done to reflect an almost done feeling the last time I stopped by.  She ran some errands with our daughter Bianca and came home about dinner time.  Bianca comes in announcing “Mom got a cat.”

Next, I see my wife holding a towel that is making a suspect noise.  “Bianca!  I Told you to let me tell Daddy!

She asked me to not get mad and she explained herself as such:  “I took Joe’s cat.  I went by to check on our upholstery and he yelled at me.  He told me that he didn’t want to see me anymore.  I reminded him of his promise to get it done in time.  He said he would TRY.  The was rude and mean to me.  This cat came up to me rubbing my leg and he said, “that’s my cat.  I love her.”  So, I took his cat.

You have to understand how funny this was in the moment.  My beautiful, very frustrated wife is holding a mangy alley cat with part of one ear with scars earned at the feral cat colony behind this guy’s shop.  The cat has never heard of a vaccination and probably has rabies.  All these wonderful qualities aside, the cat is obviously pregnant.  Such is my life.

She explains the conversation that she had with Jose and I shake my head.  I’m starting to see that my sweet wife believes whole-heartedly in her actions so I don’t lecture or argue.  It’s my fault in the end, anyway.  I knew she was the savior of all things with 4 legs or 2 wings or with a tail.  She’s brought home 4 birds this month alone.  Now, she is an official crazy cat lady.

As strange as it sounds, I think I will get my upholstery on time.  What do you think?

Getting Nervous! 1 Week Until We Depart!

I am writing this with a few butterflies in my stomach and thinking about our departure in eight short days!  It is hard to believe that our dream has almost come true!  We are really looking forward to our trip and getting underway.  I am personally looking forward to saying good-bye to a house payment and all of the utilities that come with it.  I realize that we will be trading some expenses for an increased cost of fuel for a while but our monthly savings will be huge for us.Star Fist on St. Croix, USVI

It still astounds me that we could save money while living and cruising our boat to new and exciting places.  I was dreaming about catching fish from our boat last night.  We ate fish tacos and tired out another fish sauce that Aubrey has perfected.  I expect that we will be eating a lot of fish each week.  I will be happy to say good-bye to that expense too.  Grocery store fish and lobster sucks and it costs too much!

The price of gas on the ocean is much better than inland: $3.79 per gallon!

We have just a few last things to sell and we are almost completely packed.  Our storage pod is loaded with all of the non furniture stuff we had in the house.  Aubrey has packed the kitchen up completely and our closets have nothing in them.  Aubrey was a good girl and really got rid of a lot of stuff.  She only took two large boxes of clothes and 1 box of shoes.  I have a sneaking suspicion that she hid a box or tow that she didn’t tell me about in the pod when I wasn’t looking.

We are waiting patiently on the upholstery guy and I plan to stalk him later today.  The boat repair yard doesn’t have that much stuff to do before the boat is detailed.  I spoke to the transporter and I think he will be on time.  He knows that if he misses the date, we will have to stay in a hotel and I hope he knows the kids would drive us crazy.

I guess it is about time to schedule our utilities to be turned off and forward the mail.  I’ve moved a lot in my lifetime but it’s never made me so nervous.

Stranded on Dry Land and Waiting to Set Off

Waiting sucks! We want to be free like a bird!

Waiting sucks! We want to be free like a bird!

Does anyone else hate waiting as much as me?  We are stranded on dry land and waiting to set course for Florida for the next two weeks.  We have a lot of things to accomplish and we are still waiting for a lot of work to be completed on the boat.  I’ve been contacted by a lot of people who’ve chosen to liveaboard their boats and faced the same frustrating “waiting game.”  In the meantime, we are biding our time wisely by accomplishing too many tasks to list.

We will accept our storage pod from 800PACKRAT tomorrow.  They are delivering a 16x8x8 pod that we will fill with everything we want to keep forever (in storage until we settle down).  I did extensive research on the moving and shipping (storage) option and we think that this is the best option for us.  I plan to take pictures and do a complete review of our experience for others later.  I found the 800PACKRAT option to be the cheapest by over $1000 with everything included.  As many of you know, it is not inexpensive to move and store a lot of contents.  Our shipping cost was $2500 from Austin to Miami, which included a door to door option.  This will save us some money when we settle down and the company will deliver and move the storage unit to our new home once we call them.  I like the idea of not having to pay twice to move it. Continue reading

Republic of Texas (ROT) Bike Rally 2015

The Republic of Texas ROT Rally is one of the largest motorcycle rally’s in the United States and we were lucky that it was right here in Austin Texas!  We went out to the Travis County Expo Center for a couple days of debauchery while the kids were with Grandma.  This was definitely not a kid’s type of event.  We had a blast, nevertheless and we got to go on a long biker parade through Austin.

Republic of Texas ROT Rally 2015

Republic of Texas ROT Rally 2015

We’ve lived in Austin for a number of years and I’ve always wanted to go.  It was perfect timing and I waxed up the Harley for the weekend.  We drove out on Friday and were part of the parade, which ended on Congress St., downtown.  It was really cool to drive with 40k other motorcycles on a route through the city.  People were out in full-force and it was a fun event.  Sadly, Aubrey lost her helmet on the ride when she was trying to get the prefect shot from behind me.  Oh well.

We went back on Saturday to check out the festivities.  I know my wife loves me because she handled the whole thing in stride.  We walked around to check out all of the exhibits and passed too many fat naked chicks walking around to count.  Police directed traffic inside the Expo bounds but there was a strange absence of law enforcement inside.  The smell of weed was ripe and there were all sorts of interesting people to look at.  She was looking at a redneck duck, chained to a pool when a guy approached and asked if she wanted some beads?  She had the foresight to ask what she had to do for the beads, thank goodness.  He replied simply, “show me your boobs.”  I guess that is what people do at biker rallies, but not my wife.

Republic of Texas ROT Rally 2015

Motorboating Big Marv

We drive through the RV village that was filled with probably 20k people.  We saw blow up hot tubs with luke-warm water filled with disorderly plump females.  The upscale RV area had a hot tub pulled by a trailer, which seemed to be a popular place to hang out.  It was nice to only be driving by, let me tell you.

The weekend finished up with Lynyrd Skynyrd in concert on the grass.  The opening act was better than the main but it was all still worth seeing.  My hat’s off to Aubrey in overcoming her fear of riding on a bike and putting in a few hundred miles of road time.

Despite all of the interesting people, everybody was nice and it was a fun Austin thing to do.  If we were staying here we would definitely go back. Continue reading