Apartment Move-in

Moving into apartment

Moving into apartment

Time flies as we continue to transition to living more on land. Karen went to Houston to visit one of her sisters for a couple of weeks. I spent part of the time she was gone doing some little projects on Tahina. Our B&G 4G radar unit stopped working on the very last passage of our circumnavigation. After diagnosing with the tech support, they recommended sending it back. So, I had to go up the mast (with help from folks at the marina) to get it down. We also had a problem with one of the electric winches and finally determined it was a safety thermal sensor that had gone bad.

I did get to spend a weekend going on a camping trip with my long-time friend Andy and his two grown-up kids. We were lucky and picked a relatively cool weekend.

As soon as Karen got back, she went for a scheduled doctor checkup and we left that same day to drive up to Pennsylvania for a family event. One of our nephews just finished a tour with the marines, and we were attending a welcome home party. After a delightful time seeing a lot of family, we had to drive straight back from there to Carolina Beach (about 11 hours). The next morning, we had an interview with the local paper for a forthcoming story in the paper about our circumnavigation. That was this Monday.

Shortly after the interview, we had to drive to Raleigh to begin the move in to our apartment. On Tuesday we took the stuff we had been accumulating at Andy’s house from the boat and bought some stuff at local stores to begin the initial move-in. We also went bed shopping and got a new mattress scheduled for delivery on Thursday. Our daughter Trisha had arranged a day off from work on Wednesday, so we rented a U-Haul truck and she and I began the big trips to our storage units. We filled the entire truck with furniture, and many boxes. It was a long day though because we had to sort through and try to pick the stuff most needed, then we had to get everything to our second-story apartment.

Move-in day 3 we returned the truck first thing, and the mattress delivery happened shortly afterwards. The process of setting up furniture and unpacking began in earnest. Plus we made a couple of trips to stores to buy necessary items we couldn’t find in storage. Another full day.

From here we will go through the dozens of boxes filled with stuff we saved from the house. Soon we will start back to the boat and remove the vast array of belongings we accumulated for the long-term living on board. I’m hoping we reduce the weight by a couple thousand pounds.

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Tahina Expedition Selected as Top 20 Sailing Blog

Tahina Top 20 Sailing Blog

Tahina Top 20 Sailing Blog

Our blog has been selected by the UK’s Boats and Outboards news site as one of their top 20 Sailing Blogs in the world. They wrote a nice little summary about our blog and chose a nice photo of Karen and I. A high honor indeed! And we are keeping good company with our friends on s/v Totem who were also selected.

This is a nice tribute after just recently completing our epic journey beginning with the purchase of Tahina in August of 2008, and officially ending with the return of Tahina to our home base in North Carolina in June 2015. We have had hundreds of comments and E-mails from readers around the world, many of whom followed us from beginning to end. I especially am thankful to those who read it all the way through, because I know I can be a bit verbose at times. If you met me in person, you know I can be equally verbose when I start telling stories!

To those wondering about continuing plans for the blog, I do have several posts planned to provide post-trip thoughts and analysis. As part of this, I’m planning to provide a summary of the entire trip with links to the posts I think were most important/interesting. I also have a lot of work to do processing video from the trip that mostly did not get processed or shared to date. So, don’t delete us from your RSS feeder yet!

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Family Reunited and Health Insurance Craziness

Family Together

Family Together

This weekend our daughter Ren arrived from San Francisco for a weekend attending a bridal shower. This gave us an opportunity finally to have us together with both our daughters. The first time we were all together since November 2013. Both girls visited us at the start of the year, but on two different schedules, in South Africa. We were invited to a “luau” at a bar called Rum Runners in Raleigh on Friday night, so we got this picture of us. It was a good time with some entertaining music and comedy.

Our daughter Ren is also starting to plan a wedding for next summer, to her long time love Patrick. She went to try on wedding dresses and her mother and sister had a fun time of it apparently. She actually found a dress she loves and we put money down on it. Oh boy. They also spent lots of time doing other planning. Still, I managed to spend a little quality father/daughter time with her before she had to return to California. She’ll be back in September for her friend’s wedding.

When we last left the blog, we were looking at health insurance. My friends, who were here while we were gone, assured me that the insurance premiums had gone through the roof before Affordable Care Act. I was still rather shocked at the premiums for two people of our age, with ridiculous >$10K deductables, and not a lot of cost protection from the out of control health prices in this country. So much so, that I considered finding out what it would take to keep our travel health insurance going, for which we had paid through the end of August.

That’s when I found out that our travel insurance didn’t cover us for as long in the US for a visit back as I expected. It turned out we weren’t covered! We briefly considered leaving the country that very night to get our coverage back in action (even called our friends in Toronto who invited us to visit them). You can imagine how this idea stressed us, with Ren not yet here and the possibility of our leaving the country. Karen said that no matter what she was going to be here for the wedding dress shopping. But, fortunately, the next morning my friend Andy put me in touch with someone who got us some short-term gap coverage for ONLY a few hundred dollars.

Meanwhile, we signed up right away for the health insurance plan that will go in effect on the 15th of July and paid our premium (that costs half as much per MONTH as our ANNUAL travel health insurance). Ugh.

My advice to anyone returning home after their journey, is to make sure you check with the travel health insurer to make sure they will cover you until you can get new health insurance. Ours had specific rules I was unaware of relating to returning that were different from just temporarily visiting our home country. Can’t say I blame any insurer for not wanting to cover anyone in the US without major money. While the US healthcare may be superior in some respects (debatable), the cost for medical care (and thus insurance) is just insane compared to the rest of the world. If practical, I would just fly out of the country to have healthcare done rather than put up with it.

We have good mobility with Karen’s new car, and have found an apartment. Move in date isn’t until mid-August, so we will continue living on the boat with trips to Raleigh and other places in between.

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Land Lubber Progress

We have been preparing ourselves mentally for our transition back to land. So, we aren’t exactly kicking and screaming as we start this process. However, that’s not to say our start has been barrels of fun.

We spent almost two weeks in the Raleigh area before July 4th (big thanks to our friends Andy and Aliza who let us use their house again – this time while they were gone on vacation). Our time was occupied by a number of “settling in” activities.

The biggest was searching, looking at, and ultimately finding an apartment with a six month lease so we can have a temporary home to sort through all of our things and decide what we are going to do next with our life. The apartment move in date isn’t until mid-August, so we’ll still be spending a lot of our time on the boat. Our friends Patti and Gerard are also going to be gone on vacation during part of July, so we have another house we can stay at in the Raleigh area as well. Big Kudos to Karen who started the apartment hunting process weeks before we got back to the US.

We also looked at a number of cars and found and bought one that will be primarily Karen’s. She got a SUV crossover which will provide some outdoor utility and hauling capacity if we need it for moving things. For myself, I’m struggling to decide what car interests me. And there isn’t a rush to get another car yet.

Meanwhile, we have slowly started reconnecting with friends and family, but it will take many weeks or months before we reach out and manage to meet up with even most of them. Especially with the other projects we have to do. And, once we finish with our family and old friends, we have quite a few new sailing friends, who have also moved back on land, we would like to visit with in many corners of he world.

Lastly, during the last couple of weeks, we started looking at American health insurance, and our initial investigations were as horrifying as we feared (ridiculously expensive). But, friends have suggested that the online marketplace we were using is not the best way to find good pricing, so we hope contacting insurers will result in better results. We think part of our problem is that we’re just joining in half-way through the year, and the new policies aren’t really designed for that.

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4th of July in the USA

US flag over marinaWe finally get to celebrate 4th of July in the USA again after six years! But, we kept it on a nautical theme by celebrating at the marina in Carolina Beach where Tahina is staying.

BBQ foods on the ICW

BBQ foods on the ICW

During the day we had fun watching thousands of boaters taking their boats out down the ICW, many of which stopped at our fuel dock. We saw one boat go aground, and another damaged his boat running into a piling with his solar panel on the fuel dock.

The marina ordered in some BBQ from a popular restaurant in town, and most of the resident boaters and a few transient ones showed up for a bite and drinks. Karen and I were pretty popular with lots of folks asking about our trip. Later a bunch came by Tahina to hear more stories and see a few pictures.

July 4th fun

July 4th fun

In the evening, we weren’t disappointed we didn’t go to Wilmington where the big fireworks show was being held. There were tons of folks shooting fireworks all up and down the ICW. So, we had plenty to watch.

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Talk About Scary

frankdivingsharksWhat is scarier than spending five years leaving home and sailing around the world? Scarier even than diving with over 100 shark? I’ll tell you: coming home and suddenly realizing all the things that want to come out of the woodwork and grab their greedy paws on your wallet!

We’ve been back less than two weeks, and our only plans were to get somewhere to live a few months in our last home town so we can get ourselves situated and begin thinking about what’s next for our life. Of course, this means we need to get a car, or two, so we can get around. And then we start realizing there’s a huge number of other things we need.

moneymoneyCar insurance (tags, vehicle taxes, sales taxes, state inspection, etc.), health insurance, lodging insurance, utilities, phone services, Internet service, property taxes, new clothing (our tropical clothes will get us through the summer – but, Winter Is Coming!), our smart phones are old – time to upgrade, and the list goes on. We can be thankful we can avoid getting a residence phone (just use the cell phone), and we don’t need cable TV (just use the Internet). But, when will it end?!

I can just seeing the web of tentacles reaching out to sink their teeth into our every pore and try to suck the very life (money) out of us!

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Tahina Completes Expedition

Yesterday, we completed our expedition and ended up in the exact same spot where it all began on November 14, 2009. We had a very pleasant passage from the Bahamas and sailed across the gulf stream to end up in Carolina Beach, North Carolina at the same marina – and even the same slip – where we were located at the start at Joyner Marina. So, full circle! Below is a picture from before we left, and yesterday after we arrived:

Tahina at Joyner

Tahina at Joyner

We had a brief visit from a US Customs and Border Patrol officer who completed a form for us and asked a few basic questions. Then we were officially back in the US. A short while later, our daughter Trisha arrived after driving down from Raleigh. Happy reunion! She is staying with us and is helping us clean up the boat some. We are inviting friends of Tahina, and family members to come down to help us celebrate our return.

We plan to have some food and drinks on Saturday afternoon. If you are a friend of Tahina, then drop me a note here or E-mail, and we’ll add you to our invitation list.

It’s been the experience of a lifetime on this trip, and I have to say the emotions and thoughts approaching this moment have been very interesting. We have both been dreading and looking forward to completing the journey on many levels. The cruising life has been a very wonderful experience. We had the great fortune to spend two wonderful weeks in the Bahamas with two other cruising sailor boats which greatly enhanced the last experiences of the trip (both s/v Gromit and s/v Salty Ginger arrived safely last night in Beaufort, NC). We were all trying to get the most out of our last few days – and we relished every moment of it. We were so fortunate to get to share that time with them and it so much helped with the emotions we were experiencing.

At the same time, we are so looking forward to getting back to friends, family, and a sense of home. We have been on the move for so long, we are unsure how long it will take us to like staying in one place again. We may never adjust. But, right now we are thrilled to have one daughter back on the boat, and a bunch of friends and family coming down tomorrow to celebrate.

One final thought, it isn’t about how you go about doing a trip like this, or the places you visit. What makes doing something like this worth all the trouble to make it happen is the experiences you have when its all over. We have had a wealth of experiences that we could never have imagined at the start. And those experiences have hopefully taught us some things about how to live our lives going forward to value the new experiences of life.

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Coming Home This Week

Tahina and Crew

Tahina and Crew

We’re coming home! Tahina left North Carolina in November, 2009. And now after 45,000 nautical miles circumnavigating the Earth, some amazing adventures, a few trials and tribulations, fantastic wildlife encounters, making new wonderful friends, and building a gigantic library of memories (read this blog) – this phase of our travels is finally coming to an end. We expect to arrive in North Carolina in a few days. We’ll take a couple days to clean up the boat, and then we’ve planned to invite some friends and family to come down to Tahina near Wilmington, NC and help celebrate our return next weekend. If you’d like to come, or even if you can’t make it, drop us a note here, or on our Facebooks, or e-mail.

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More Fun in the Abacos

Tilloo Cay

Tilloo Cay

We have been having a blast with our Canadian friends on the boats s/v Salty Ginger, and s/v Gromit. After our first stop and Lanyard Cay we moved up to Tilloo Cay and Tahina anchored in beautiful turquoise waters in just 5-6 feet of depth over sand. We had acres of beautiful water all around us and we loved it. Nearby was another beach with a great “camp site” which had some basic furniture brought in by other boaters so you could do cookouts under the trees, relax by a camp fire in the evening, and enjoying the beautiful white sand beach going in both directions.

Tilloo Cay pool

Tilloo Cay pool

We spent one afternoon just lounging around the shallow water sand bars in our very own giant multi-olympic-sized pool. Occasionally a big ray would come scooting by and we managed to get some pictures of one. We brought out lots of water toys on our dinghies and just hung out for hours.

We moved the boat up to Marsh Harbour – the main town of the Abacos – and got some provisions at a huge American-style grocery store. Karen and I enjoyed a nice dinner at a restaurant with the adult crew of Salty Ginger one night.

Amelia zooming

Amelia zooming

Early the next morning we moved north a few miles to Fowl Cay – which is home to a protected marine park. We loved the beautiful waters on the south side, but everyone piled onto Tahina and we moved out to the north side to anchor amongst the reefs. We had a delightful few hours snorkeling the various reefs out there. Beautiful colorful coral, lots of fish, lots to explore. The kids enjoyed becoming part of my underwater photography and were often swimming into view. Lots of photos in the slideshow down below. The photo here is of Amelia – which shows you why they call their boat Salty Ginger.

Hope Town lighthouse

Hope Town lighthouse

After relaxing the afternoon away at Fowl Cay, while we waited for high tide, we sailed a few miles east to Hope Town of Elbow Cay. They have a lighthouse near the town, and it was a favorite photography object. The Gromits were meeting someone on the island, so Salty Ginger and Tahina went ashore and enjoyed a lunch in the town, and did some souvenir shopping. We were also checking out the real estate as this is a beautiful place – but, we found it to be a bit pricey.

The next morning, Tahina led the way through a shallow area along Elbow Cay sailing the whole way back down to Tilloo Cay. The Salties took some pictures of Tahina as we were sailing down. After lunch, we took Tahina’s Dinghy down with the Salties and a couple of the kids and did another snorkel off Pelican Cay. We saw some awesome Spotted Eagle Rays – the largest I’ve seen at about 1.2m in width, and got some good pics. We also saw some shark, and a nice variety of fish and coral again.

BBQ BBQed

BBQ BBQed

That evening, we did another cookout on shore. Actually, Graham of Salty did all the cooking on his BBQ grill which he brought ashore. He set it on a makeshift table made out of wood, which kind of caught fire after he had been cooking a while. But, we got it under control. After another nice pot luck dinner, which was capped with some great desserts from all three boats, I got to play some frisbee on the beach! Later, Liam – the son from Gromit – made a nice camp fire again. The girls Amelia and Maya came over and serenaded us with songs and guitar, and ZoĆ« performed an amazing Tahitian dance (she learned at a Tahitian school in 2011).

Yesterday was a rainy day (which we knew was coming). Liam came over to Tahina for a few hours of video game playing. Karen was invited to play board games at Gromit – which she enjoyed as always. I spent many hours today – another rainy day – processing hundreds of photos – of which I’ve reduced it down to a mere 75 for you to enjoy below:


View full-sized slideshow

We have to wait another few days to see if a weather window will develop to allow us to sail our final leg back to the US. We are definitely having a great time while we wait though! A little while ago, we saw a big shark swimming through “our” swimming pool. The kids just watched “Jaws” last night, so I don’t think they’re going swimming today.

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Now in the Abacos

Tahina Abacos

Tahina Abacos

Karen and I have been to the Bahamas a few times before. But, we have never visited the Abacos for some reason. Our Canadian friends on s/v Gromit and s/v Salty Ginger went to Mayaguana while we were in the Raggeds the previous week. We decided to rendezvous in the Abacos – where Gromit was last at 7 or so years ago – and they would be completing their circumnavigation there. They have a favorite snorkeling site there which they remember fondly, and a favorite beach camp site (which they called “Club Med” because they had so much fun last time).

We got a message from Salty Ginger that the two boats had left Mayaguana Thursday (23-May) and would be arriving Abacos on Monday morning. Since we were only one day of sailing away, we spent a day doing laundry and prepping. We had a mini household disaster when I accidentally left an open container of hydraulic steering oil on a counter and Karen knocked it on the carpet, AND a few drops landed on our freshly folded laundry! It took us half a day to get everything cleaned up. Oh boy.

On Sunday morning, we left at the crack of dawn and had very good conditions for a brisk sail during the day. We were within 20 miles of the turn around Eleuthra island, that would put us on a direct course for Abacos, when I decided to try hailing the two Canadian boats on the VHF. They actually heard us and were only 25 or so miles away. It was a happy virtual reunion over the radio, and we were able to communicate through the night to coordinate our arrival.

Lynyard Cay, Abacos

Lynyard Cay, Abacos

Tahina, being the faster boat, arrived first to the pass we had decided to enter through the barrier reef and cays which provide the wonderful shelter for boats in the Abacos. We arrived just a few minutes too early (before sunrise), so we hove to (sat with our sails perpendicular to wind – sort of like parking your boat, and a very comfortable way to take a break while you don’t move very fast). When the sun was up (and a little rain squall passed) we dropped the sails and motored slowly up to the pass, and confirmed the pass conditions were good, and were soon in the smooth protected waters. It was a bit shallow, so we had to pay close attention to the charts to ensure enough water leading us to the anchorage. The photo here shows what the view from Tahina looked like a couple of hours later – that white sand beach was later vacated by the day-trippers and we had the place to ourselves! The map below shows the track of our trip to the Abacos and if you zoom in you can see other places we have gone since.

A couple of hours later after our arrival, the other two boats had negotiated the same pass (with tips from Tahina) and were soon anchored close by. We have spent the rest of the week greatly enjoying the company of the four adults and four kids and spending our time snorkeling, swimming, playing on the beach, enjoying pot-luck dinners and camp fires on the beach until late at night with a moon that gets brighter every night. I took a panorama from my seat around the camp fire one night shown below (click for larger):

Beach fire

Beach fire

Yesterday I pulled out my kite aerial photography gear and we took photos with a GoPro camera of each of the boats from above. The photo at the top of this post shows Tahina in the shallow water we anchored in, and the nearby cay and beach we have been playing on at night (called Tilloo Cay). The photo here shows the happy new family circumnavigators on their boat Gromit (named after Wallace and Gromit).

Gromit family

Gromit family

Below is a slideshow capturing a few of the moments so far in the Abacos. It’s been a great time so far, and a great way to finish off our long voyage around the world!


View full-sized slideshow

We plan to continue exploring these fantastic cruising waters for another week before we start looking for a weather window to head home.

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