Sometimes…

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Sometimes the greatest memories happen when the weather is dreary and wet.

Places are often best explored while most people are hiding from the rain.

Sometimes, there are islands where wild horses roam.

If you are lucky, they delight you with their presence.

 

Sometimes, a wild horse may be male, and have a very large horse penis.

When you kayak close to take pictures, you just may get stared down by the alpha.

Sometimes, they look you dead in the eye, and urine agressively in your direction, with a thingy ma bobber the size of your thigh.

Aroused, and angry are two very different things. When not able to determine, it is best to paddle away.

 

Sometimes we lock ourselves in our house to keep dry like the rest.

We watch “The Hot Chick” with Rob Schneider, and laugh until we sweat.

Laughing in our stagnant dungeon, is fun for a while.

But then nothing is funny any longer, and we are just two sweaty people & a panting dog in a small space.

The rain then becomes the greatest way bathe.

 

Sometimes, as the hours pass, we get bored of the house, and of looking at eachother.

We go on quests to find new faces, new places, and new forms of entertainment.

Desperation for conversation outside of Katie’s and my own, usually leads to the utmost erratic encounters.

Sometimes, there is an empty Island, with and empty beach.

If you are lucky, there will be nobody there, but three, kind, and thoroughly entertaining southern boys.

 

Sometimes, the best way to make new friends, is to walk up to them like you have known them since you were little kids.

If only I was in this bold of a mood everyday.

Somedays, I don’t want to talk to anyone, and on others, I want to talk to everyone.

Sometimes, this is how we make new best friends.

 

Sometimes, I imagine myself never having left Cumberland Island. Your loveliness is irreplaceable.

 

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Balance

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Killer mosquitos drive us out of an anchorage at 4 am. It doesn’t matter that it’s pitch black. Trying to escape them wrapped up in sheets was unsuccessful. There was no more sleep to fall into, we are wide awake, and being attacked by vampires. I can’t say there has ever been a time we have hauled up the anchor, and motored away any faster.

Manatees and Dolphins rule the waters of the Florida-Georgia line. A sanctuary of underwater families play, eat, and rest around us every day as we travel north. The full moon this week brings 10 foot tides, making it very challenging to progress. We haven’t quite figured out how to time our movement around the roaring currents. I am convinced this is not possible. Katie on the other hand, studies the tides and does everything she can to figure out how to use them in our benefit. Thank god she is, because I gave up on that possibility before even trying. I have accepted that no matter what, half the day we move like molasses with the manatees, and the other half we can keep up with the dolphins.

My lips are chapped. I  habitually apply Chapstick  although it is not helping. The Sriracha I put on my lunch burns them. My nose is congested with hard, colorful nasal mucus. I have spent more time with my finger up my nose in Georgia than any other state. The temperatures have cooled, and It feels like we are in Michigan. But still can’t shake the sunshines intenstiy.  Creating a turban on my head with a scarf, is my new uniform. The wrinkles on my tan feet, reveal this weeks sun exposure. How we traveled without a bimini for the better half of a year, baffles me.

Flies the size off bats congregate in the cockpit, and on any place they can rest their wings. These are new. Can’t say I am excited about them. We stay as still as possible. Every once and a while getting bit by one. Swatting them away does no good, it only riles them up. Reggie on the other hand, is obsessed with these creatures. He yearns for them like steak. In fact, this is the most active I have ever seen Reggie. It drives him absolutely mad and he refuses to sit still. He slides all over Louise because his long nails refuse his grip. We would be encouraging Reggie’s hunt, if he were good at it. Instead, his unsettledness rubs off.

After replacing the pulley on the alternator belt, and trying a stronger brand belt, we have yet to shred another one. However, It hasn’t been long enough to know if we fixed the problem. We may just have figured out how to make them last longer. I thought tightening all of the hose clamps on the fuel lines (one in particularly was really loose) solved the “air in the lines” problem. It didn’t. Like clockwork, every 3 or 4 days, the engine spits out after starting her up in the morning. I have lost count on how many times we start our day with bleeding fuel instead of eating breakfast.

My hands are greasy and oily more often than they are clean. Scum somehow finds a way to live underneath my bitten nails. Most of my conversations with strangers last longer when referring to engines. I have a new perfume, its the flavor of diesel. My most recent battle was with an oil filter.  I may as well go pick up an application for the nearest Jiffy Lube.

Days go by. Miles pass slowly. Time disappears. Katie reads all day. I write all day. Patrick handles most of the driving. Reggie hunts flies. Katie finds our solar fan fallen apart in the V-berth. I go to open to the bathroom cupboard, and it falls off. The rub rail hangs in the water. Darbie’s one handle rips off. Our head sail is de-threading. Our stanchion is lose again. The lifelines are flaccid. The stays keep getting looser. We are convinced the mast is sinking into our deck. The pool in our bathroom reappears every time it rains. The toilet started gurgling at us in the middle of the night. The engine quits on a typical morning. Katie found squirmy, black, centimeter long worms living under the sink. BUT, our Uncle Tari, handcrafted us a new tiller, to replace the one that been rotting all year. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

Every day I wonder if we will make it to the next place. Every day we are exhausted by the constant unknowns, and unanswered questions. Somehow, someway, we always make it. Our spirits remain high. Our lives are so weird. Once a day I laugh at the hilarity of it all. We have found balance between frustration and relaxation, boredom and entertainment, discipline and reward, captivity and freedom.  Balance, my friends. Find it. Without it, I would be a hot mess.

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Patrick.

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Louise is driving all by herself. Katie’s hands nor my own have touched the tiller in hours. Only the press of a button every so often is required to keep us on course. Patrick, is the captain now. I may have introduced you all to Patrick a while back, but since he has recently become an extremely important member of this family, I would like to introduce you again. Patrick, is our SIMRAD auto-tiller. In decent conditions, we plug him in, and suddenly, our house moves effortlessly in the direction we want to go. I do nothing but read, write, and dance around all day, while every once in a while pressing a button to keep us on track. Katie has remained glued to her seat in the shade, I think she has started and finished an entire book today. Patrick changes things. What can be accomplished in a single day of travel with him at the helm, is multiplied. This is great. No wonder people have auto-pilots. I love you Patrick. You are exactly what I have been searching for all this time. Someone to keep me on track.

We sailed the outside from Fort Lauderdale to Palm Beach. The seas were too rough for Patrick. This meant Katie and Jessie had to command the ship. With wind and waves behind us, we surfed for miles. Some may think how pleasant it must be to be pushed in the direction of your choice by mother nature. The truth is, when the seas are behind you, it is more challenging to steer a straight course. I missed patrick. Surely we added on several miles to our day by not being able to remain linear. The waves were not small, or large, but they were in control, not us. Borderline intimidating, but who were we to complain about heading with them in the same direction. We saw 8.4 knots.

We snuck back onto the ICW at Palm Beach. Rewarded the next day with protection from the land, as a massive, angry, red, orange, and green blob took over the radar. We saw it coming. We felt it coming. Casually we kept tugging along towards Sebastian, our days final destination. The radar looked like satan himself, but for some odd reason, instead of stopping, we put on our rain gear. Suddenly, It was raining sideways Main Coons and Irish Wolfhounds. The wind pushing us backwards, stopping us in our tracks. Visibility became non existent. Our “rain” gear, demonstrated complete failure. May as well have been naked. Wet rubber stuck to goose bumped skin. We dropped the anchor right in the middle of the channel. I could barely hold my face forward to seek a safer spot. Anchor line came flying out if it’s locker. No need to measure scope. Let her rip. We kept the motor on, because earlier in the day, we found our alternator belt shredded to pieces. The engine runs just fine without an alternator belt, however we did turn off unnecessary electronics. Soaking wet, and patiently waiting for the beast to pass, neither of us cared to go inside for protection, we didn’t feel like getting the house wet. I then received a text from our friends we were meeting in Sebastian, only 8 miles down the road. The text read “Pulled pork for dinner. Cold beer. Hot shower.” We pulled up the anchor, and carried on with our day.

Two days disappeared in Sebastian as we tackled some engine problems. Air in our fuel lines resulting in the engine unpredictably quitting, and a case of shredding alternator belts. We were capable of fixing one of the two, spending and entire afternoon “bleeding” air out of the fuel lines until they were free of air bubbles. This process can be simple, or it can be the death of you. I can’t count how many hours we sat in front of the engine, doing absolutely nothing, getting nothing accomplished. All of the sudden we were both wearing alien caps made out of aluminum foil, hoping for answers to fall from the sky. I will say, that Katie and I are getting good at pin pointing all of our engine issues, what’s wrong, why it happened, where its coming from etc… BUT there is a distinct difference in figuring out the problem, and solving the problem. It’s cool when our womanly brain powers go to good use and all, but it’s not so cool when all it means is that we still can’t fix it by ourselves.

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T SHIRTS !!!

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NEW!!! “LOUISE” T SHIRTS, by Marushka Hand Prints.  For those of you who have suggested that we have t-shirts… we finally got around to it, and thanks to all of those who encouraged the idea!

A Smith, family owned and operated screen printing company based out of Grand Haven Michigan, got hard to work hand printing each shirt. If you contribute $40.00 to Katie and Jessie on a Boat, you will receive this superb t-shirt!!! Who doesn’t need a shirt, with two chicks on their chest, and a boat on their back? Representing the art of cruising and simplicity, combined with hard work and gratitude. If you donate at least $40.00 to helping us complete America’s Great Loop, not only will you have a shirt to change your oil in, but you will be supporting the mission of two young women, working to prove a pretty simple point. The point being… don’t let fear get in the way of moving forward with your own dreams. Don’t let yourself get stuck. And if you do get stuck, I hope it is on the ground in the new boat you just took off on.

DSC_0764 DSC_0763Contributions or no contributions, we appreciate everyone who keeps up with our story . This week, Katie and I start moving north up the East Coast. We have a 4 month trip ahead of us as we travel back to the Great Lakes. What will happen in these 4 months… I do not know. The only thing predictable in the life of Katie and Jessie is that, no matter what, things are going to go wrong. Disaster amidst the wanderlust. Ye haw. THANK YOU EVERYONE. We are so grateful for the ongoing encouragement, enthusiasm, guidance, and support.

5.5 knots.

Four full days of traveling. Sunrise to Sunset. Moving. We made it to Fort Lauderdale. Only Fort Lauderdale? Oh yeah, I forgot we only go 5.5 knots. I could possibly sprint to Fort Lauderdale quicker. No wonder it’s going to take us four months to get back to Michigan. Hmmm.

It was like being on the treadmill. Trotting around at 5.5 miles per hour… and once you get warmed up and confident, you press the button… increasing your speed. Now your going 6 mph,  suddenly, your galloping. The half a mile per hour difference feels rather significant. Counting them calories while your hair is blowing in the wind. Aboard Louise, you could feel every push with the changes in wind velocity. When her speed jumped from 5.5 knots to 6… and then 6.1… 6.2 it felt like we were winning a race. All though no one was in sight. Things suddenly were exciting. I was on the edge of my seat. Eye balling the chart plotter, counting down the fractions of miles we were covering, and the calories I wasn’t burning sitting in one place for 10 hours.

You know, you really can’t miss anything when you move that slow. Which I am convinced is the entire purpose of America’s Great Loop. Absolutely everything in sight, from landmarks and charming (or often not so charming) towns, to sea life, birds, humans, and every inch in between. You see it, you meet it, you almost touch it. Okay we don’t touch the humans now. Common. The thought of traveling so slowly… around America, is unappealing to a lot of people. I get it. Why don’t you just drive the loop? Well, pretty sure we both have already thought about that one. But, I would have missed every single picture, animal, or personal interaction that has given me something to remember, and something to write about. You see? Those who wonder why we travel on sailboats/11hp diesel boats, are missing the point.

Suddenly, I am driving to Michigan. Flying down the interstate on four pieces of spinning rubber. My hair is not just blowing in the wind, but the skin on my face is being stretched and pulled towards the back of my head. This is not safe. I want a helmet. no wonder so many people die in car accidents. If we were all on sailboats, we would casually bump into one another, toss each other a brew and cheers. Twenty some hours later I’m in my home state again. While driving home I didn’t make any friends, I didn’t take any photos, and all my mind really soaked in was the amount of road kill and McDonalds I flew by. Which really put things into perspective for me, “Huh, I bet that’s where McDonalds gets their local’fresh meat’,” Point being – road trips and boat trips around America, are completely separate, not to mis interpreted, or tossed into the same category. I don’t even dare to compare the two.

Oh, Why am I suddenly in my truck (Chuey) on my way to Michigan? aren’t I supposed to be sailing to Michigan?

Well, baby steps. I have had Chuey down in Florida for some time now, and he wasn’t going to drive himself back to Michigan. After we parked Louise, we rented a car (because we are 25 now, and it sounded fun) Spent a day driving back down to Key West to pick up Chuey, only to immediately turn around and return the rental back to Fort Lauderdale before Enterprise closed. It seemed odd… it was 8 hours to Key West, AND BACK. Pretty sure it just took 4 days in Louise, to cover half that distance. The greatest part about this day, was that Reggie threw up in the rental car 3 times. After Enterprise warned Katie of the potential dog penalty. Never once in my life, have I seen Reggie get sick.

Returning my vehicle to Michigan, was the last step, before embarking on the final leg of this journey. Being home, for just a short time, did nothing but remind me of that fact that I am not actually hiding from the government. They know where I am. Damnit. There were envelopes upon envelopes addressed to my full name. Jessica Anne Zevalkink. Who are these people? My parents? No one calls me that. All of them, looking to collect money. If they know how to find me, you’d think they would have the courtesy to write me off as “Nice young girl who doesn’t know what she is doing with her life/small bank account/we will come back to her later after she has won the lottery”

Is that too much to ask? Pretty sure they considered that option, putting my file in the back of the cabinet, and giving me a break. But then, they saw on the internet that I flipped off those old people, and changed their minds. “Did you see what this little bitch did? Git her money. She must be a tourist”

Okay. Chuey has been returned to Michigan. Louise is ready, and patiently waiting the next leg. She is uncertain what part of her is going to break next, and doesn’t dare give us any kind of heads up. I don’t blame her. She knows, that we don’t want to know either. Were all frightened. Katie and I are prepared for hit to fit the shan. We are excited. This is gonna be good.

 

 

 

Rethinking our plan to sink her.

So I have to admit we have been joking about sinking Louise, to go back to our comfortable lives on land, without humidity, bugs & mold. Yesterday it actually started happening, during the fixing of the engine process… And having our home sinking beneath our feet, well… it’s not as cool as it once sounded… Point is I realized that I don’t want to sink my boat, & I’m sorry for ever thinking it my dear Louisa…

What’s even better is that our engine is finally fixed & we’re gonna get out of this hole real soon!

-katie

Hallelujah

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Hallelujah. Thank you baby Jesus for our life changing part has arrived. Spent three hours with the owner of Gillen Diesel this morning connecting our new shiny thing. Bye bye old rusty thing.

For a moment, and by a moment I mean 15 really long moments, water came pouring into the boat while Dave ran to repack the stuffing for the stuffing box. We were sinking. It was kind of fun… And turns out our manual bilge pump sucks. The rest of our time was spent in really awkward positions turning wrenches, moving the engine around to get the new shiny thing mounted.

Success my friends. Success. A few finishing touches need to be done before we back outa this joint, but I can not complain. Happy. Extremely sweaty, and dirty. But happy.

Sidenotes:
Yesterday Katie and I took a 2 mile walk to the beach. When we walked back after sunset, we got attacked by noseums. There are some things on this planet that lack purpose – noseums take the lead. We both started running and smacking ourselves insanely. I’m sure it looked as if we needed to be tranquilized and put down. Today it looks like we are covered in hives mixed with acne. We look great.

Today.

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We may be held hostage here at the dock. Still awaiting a new rusty thing… Meanwhile doing everything else possible to prepare Louise for departure. I have had zero complaints about the weather down here in Lauderdale, but today I am a bitch. Why? Because its 157 percent humidity outside but still not raining. I am avoiding all projects, because Katie nor my brain are functioning properly. Instead I will sit here and blog while listening to Beyonce.

The big rusty thing

So, there is this thing, we call it “The big rusty thing”

The big rusty thing (aka the coupler that connects the propeller shaft to the transmission) is broken.

Back in the day (last July) the rusty thing failed on us in the middle of the Gulf Stream. With a little, or possibly a lot of help, we discovered this by completely taking the coupler off/apart to see it up close and personal, post-failure. After several attempts to remove the stubborn rusty thing properly, it came down to cutting the prop shaft itself for extraction. It was a sad, and terrifying moment. Were we excited about it? No. Were we going to sink right there at the dock? No. Did we want to sink right then, right there? Maybe. Are we completely being held hostage at this dock until further solutions? Yes.

It’s a long story, and you probably are feeling like there was some way… some how… to remove this coupler without cutting the shaft. Some kind of better solution maybe? Well, there wasn’t. We now have a new (not rusty) “rusty thing” en route, and should have enough room on the original prop shaft to reconnect the new coupler. We are pretty sure the cause of the couplers failure, was due to our misaligned engine.

DSC_0490This is Katie’s fake smile.DSC_0487This is where the big rusty thing once lived.DSC_0494 This is the inside of the big old rusty thing.DSC_0498This is our prop shaft exiting the big rusty thing. Not cool.

TO BE CONTINUED. I have videos of this whole process, unfortunately the internet has not been friendly enough to let me share them with you.