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buying land and building tiny homes

I’ve got big plans, y’all. My dogs are old and I’m feeling more and more uneasy about cruising long distances with them. Sort of related, I have wanted to build a tiny home for years now. Eco friendly, recycled products, reusing reclaimed materials, solar powered, etc. It would be really nice for the dogs to have somewhere to “retire” if you will. While this was always just a thought in the back of my head, it wasn’t until I was recently in French Polynesia that I seriously started looking into this idea. As I admired the boats anchored out in the beautiful blue waters off the island, I realized I was absolutely not comfortable putting my senior dogs through an ocean crossing and needed to come up with a new plan. (Honestly, that was never my “plan” plan, but something I want to do sooner rather than later.)

For years now I’ve wanted to build a tiny home, and have thought long and hard about where to put this tiny home. I have no desire to trailer it, I’d want it built on land where it is going to stay permanently. This land needs to be close to water for snorkeling, kayaking, SUP’ing, somewhere to cycle, hike, etc. The island of Moorea had *everything* I’d been looking for, except I’m not French and wouldn’t be able to stay there more than 3 months at a time not to exceed 6 months per year. I do, however, have residency in Mexico! I can afford Mexico, I speak the language, and I already accidentally met with someone who built tiny homes out of shipping containers and shared a lot of great information with me. There would be a lot less red tape to deal with.

(image from Google)

I don’t just want to build one tiny home, though. Sure, I’d build one at a time. I’d like to build three, one for me and two for guests. I’d really love to be able to rent these tiny homes out to other Veterans with PTSD. However, I’m going to go a step further. I’ve lost count of how many strangers have introduced themselves almost immediately as being a Veteran with PTSD, and when I ask what they’re doing for it they sort of look at me like I’m crazy. They’ve not seen a therapist, they don’t plan on seeing a therapist, they just want sympathy and I guess acceptance of upcoming bad behavior? Nope. No thanks!

I want to help the people who ARE going to therapy, who HAVE tried floats, and acupuncture, meditation retreats, and are constantly pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone to see if they can find new ways of attaining happiness and inner peace. I specifically want to help other veterans who experienced Military Sexual Trauma (MST), because while many out in the field experienced a universal camaraderie, often times victims of sexual assault are punished into silence and suffer alone.

It would NOT be a retreat. While there would be space for meditation / yoga / kung fu, I don’t want there to be a structured program or an extreme focus on anything. For most of us Vets, we’re already aware of what we need to work on (if we’re in therapy and have been to retreats previously). I wholeheartedly just want a safe space for other Vets to be able to go to to relax and enjoy time in nature. Weighted blankets, noise cancelling headphones, reading and writing nooks, art, musical instruments, complete privacy, all in an off the grid and sustainable tiny home built by yours truly.

(image from Google)

I’m still not entirely sure if I should ditch the Patreon idea or not, but, if you would like to donate to this project please let me know and maybe I will once and for all follow through with Patreon. I finally feel like I have something worth putting donor money towards, although I plan on financing this myself anyways any little bit helps! It’s still a year or two away from happening, but I’d love to discuss ideas and learn from others who have maybe already built a tiny home.

If you’re interested in joining, I’d love to have you along for the journey!

PS: If you’ve been to Moorea AND the Pacific Coast of Mexico, please share what towns you think would be a great spot for my tiny homes! Thanks for reading 🙂

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a boat full of boats

I haven’t written anything terribly boaty for a while, so I thought this would be fun to share. A neighbor knocked on my boat one afternoon and asked if I’d “seen the boat”? Figuring there was a really beautiful wooden boat all shiny with new varnish, I was surprised to see this gigantic container ship like vessel full of other boats.

I knew people shipped their boats to and fro, I’ve never seen it in person until this day. Many non-boaters don’t understand why this is done, and the answer is simple. Sailing is really hard on boats, especially if you are going against the wind (upwind). You’re fighting every wave, and it deteriorates the value of the boat the more you do this on long passages.

If someone is selling their boat in an area far from the US (or any popular area where sailing is more common) shipping may be a part of the deal to getting the vessel closer to the new owner. You can see by the monstrous cranes this vessel is equipped to handle all kinds of boats!

This vessel was parked where the cruise ships normally are. It didn’t stay more than a day, I don’t think it unloaded all of the vessels either. It appeared as if they got an average of 3 boats splashed ever hour! Pretty wild! It was fun to watch this unfold from the docks. I tried to get video footage, but it’s terribly rolly at the end of the docks and the footage is no good.

You can see the first boat splashed was a power boat. The owners (or delivery crew) were taken to their vessel via dinghy, and within twenty minutes the top layer of wrapping had been cut off and thrown to the side so they could take off. You can see in the last photo another boat is already being hoisted! So cool! Hope everyone enjoys this as much as I did. Obligatory #nerdalert

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skin cancer

I’d written a post about keeping your skin safe while at sea, and have a bit of important information to add. I scratched my back one evening and was surprised to see blood all over my fingers. It was a hard to reach area in between and below the shoulder blades, so I couldn’t really see what was there but my guess was it was something bad.

Thankfully, in Mexico all you have to do is find the nearest hopsital, ask for the dermatologist, and make an appoitnment. It only cost $94 to remove two suspicious spots that I now know are called “actinic keratosis” in twenty minutes and zero paperwork! Basically, what I had was pre-cancer. I didn’t know that existed! I thought you just… got cancer.

The initial spot I had was a giant freckle with a dark mole on it, this is always bad and should be removed asap. Upon learning this, I realized I had several other suspicious spots to burn off. Most are flesh colored and on my face / chest. I initially thought they were acne because of the size and location. I also have this odd red flaky spot on the back of my arm. I couldn’t figure out how to get these “pimples” to go away, but they won’t because they’re not supposed to be there! If I were to develop skin cancer, it would be from these lesions. Many of us have many of these, it’s important to watch for changes. This is such important information I just had to share!

An Australian follower told me about a saying they were taught growing up, which is below in infographics.

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It initially started out as “slip, slop, slap” as in, slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat.. but they added seek shade and slide on sunglasses to protect your eyes. All great ideas and a good slogan to live by.

Below are the lovely photos of the actinic keratosis.

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looking and feeling presentable with minimal effort

I’ve had to put any major boat work aside the last several months and have focused on self care. I’m going to sound like a total Princess, but I do not care. It is not a crime to take care of yourself! It is not a crime to want to look good! Doing a face mask once or twice a week is one thing, but buying better quality products and switching up your routine to resolve years long issues is making me feel pretty good, and I want to share what I’ve learned. It probably won’t be applicable to anyone else, but the overall message is there is likely an easy at home or over the counter solution for whatever issues you consistently struggle with.

Buying more expensive products of better quality not only last longer, but save money in the long run. Target, Ulta, CVS, and Madewell carry pretty much everything I’ve needed to get my appearance in order. The moral of the story is this: why use products to try to make yourself look a certain way, when you could just get to the root cause of the issue and solve the problem permanently? For example, why put foundation on to cover up uneven skin tone, when you can probably easily fix the uneven skin tone? Why take medications for high blood pressure, when you can change your diet and forget the medications and side effects that go along with it? I understand this is a difficult transition, but honestly it’s the cheapest and healthiest route. I’ll be going over changes I’ve made to my hair care, skin care, wardrobe, and diet.

 

Hair

Problem
Frizzy and dry, along with itchy scalp when I try to skip washing my hair.

Solution
The Curly Hair subreddit (on Reddit.com) has helped me a ton, along with following curly haired Instagrammers. I’m a visual person and I need to see the consistent results and difference between product uses and techniques. I’d tried not washing or conditioning my hair (that was bad), I’d tried only using conditioner (also bad), but I’ve finally nailed down a handful of products and techniques that seem to be working!

I bought a brush at Sprouts that helps “distribute oil” and I brush my hair before showering. Start at the ends, and work your way up to the roots. Brush to the left, to the right, upside down, etc. This helps spread your natural oils down to the ends of the hair, and I feel like it helps my scalp as well.

I have had luck with Shea Moisture Apple Cider Jamaican Castor Oil Shampoo and Conditioner. I do use a hair mask or deep conditioner once a week before applying conditioner.

For styling, I use a detangler, leave in conditioner, and then a product. The biggest issue I have with product is hold because of the wind I typically encounter outside. I really liked CatWalk by TIGI as it had great hold, but it has all kinds of ingredients that aren’t good for curly hair sucking away moisture leaving hair dry and brittle.

Finding a product with the same hold properties is tough, especially because gel takes a while to dry and you can’t touch your hair while it’s drying. Ouidad by far is the best gel I’ve found, and I went five days before washing my hair and it still looked great! You don’t need a lot of product, either. I used the “shake and rake” method and it seemed to evenly distribute through out the hair. Once it is for sure dry, you scrunch the crunch away and voila, you’ve got a great and light hold! I’ve started a journal for every time I wash my hair to note what products I used and will keep track of what works and what doesn’t. I’ve been told to try different combinations, so finding the perfect fit it will be a work in progress.

Protecting my hair at night made a big difference, as well. Sleeping on a silk pillowcase helped a little, but wrapping my hair up in a silk scarf made the biggest difference! I have a big head, so silk caps didn’t fit comfortably on my head.

I was given a protein oil by a hairdresser to add to my hair on the 2nd day, as it is always a long time for me in between haircuts and this oil keeps the ends of my hair happy. I generally massage my scalp every morning with Moroccan oil before wetting my hair a little and seeing if I need to reapply any products. So far all these steps have worked really well to keep my hair frizz free in a windy environment, which feels like completing a years long marathon! I now understand how other curly haired women keep their locks looking nice and scalp not an itchy greasy mess while only washing once a week! This might change of course with snorkeling and whatnot, but still… this is a huge accomplishment and really adds to me not feeling so frumpy.

 

Skin

Problem
Skin is oily, a bit red, and I had patchy skin left over from acne that had been gone for a decade.

Solution
I had been able to get rid of the discoloration left from scarring by using Mederma for several months after my skin finally cleared up.

I wasn’t ever able to get rid of the patchy skin until I started using Stridex pads every night. The skin in that area flaked a little bit, and after a couple of weeks this new layer of skin emerged that was so beautiful! Not perfect, but much better than it was before.

The redness vanished after a couple of weeks by adding Vitamin C serum back into my routine (am and pm).

The oiliness was reduced once I started using Differin every other night. I also started using a better quality moisturizer that did not leave my skin oily. It is so thick and creamy, the tiny bottle will last me 6 months or more. This means less provisions!

I use Vanicream SPF 50 on my face and ears every morning. My skin is so clear I generally do not put on powder unless my face is shiny. For this I use Mac powder with SPF. It is by far the best powder I’ve ever used, and lasts forever (especially because I hardly use it!). The powder inside the container has broken on me before, so definitely don’t throw it in your purse or backpack to take out with you.

 

Wardrobe

Problem
I couldn’t ever figure out how some people look so “together” and “mature” yet the feedback I was mostly getting was if I was assuming I was “homeless” and “here studying”. I was always flashing too much skin when bending down (jeans and v-neck too low cut). I’d try wearing baggy flannels over this to resolve the problem, but I think this is what made me look super frumpy.

Solution
I’ve decided to cut the crap with shopping as I’ve never really enjoyed it. I bought a few t-shirts and a nicer pair of jeans from Madewell. I still have workout or boat work clothes, but I no longer walk around in those off the boat.

As I’ve already mentioned, I stalked Reddit for this as well. Female Fashion Advice is an okay sub, I say that because it’s the only sub I’ve mentioned that you can’t post a photo and ask for feedback. They do have a daily thread where you can ask questions, and people are pretty responsive and have given great advice.

I’d already learned that Madewell had great t-shirts for a good price, and the cut of them is classy and simple. I got some high waisted jeans and not only are they really comfortable, the muffin top is gone and I haven’t flashed too much skin at all when boarding the boat or leashing the dogs. This alone feels really nice. So what if my four shirts are either grey, grey, black, or white…. My jackets are bright, and so is my hair. I feel this wardrobe goes along perfectly with my minimalistic style anyways, and takes out the guessing as to what am I going to wear (and will it look good with the only pair of clean pants that I have?).

 

Diet

Problem
My stomach suddenly hates food, leaving me bloated and a total grumpalump. Having Delhi Belly for nearly a year is really difficult. I am already fairly lazy when it comes to dressing myself, styling my hair, and preparing meals so I’ve really needed to spend more time taking care of myself to not feel like such a useless hot mess.

Solution
Bloodwork, checking for parasites multiple times, upper and lower endoscopies, more bloodwork, elimination diet, and intermittent fasting.

While I am thankful I don’t have any chronic condition or auto immune disease, I still don’t know what’s wrong and there is a high probability my stomach will get upset after a meal if it has anything crazy like squash, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, celery, etc. The elimination diet was necessary, and I am SO thankful I have a friend on speed dial who is a nutritionist. Any time my stomach gets upset she is able to pinpoint what it probably was, and I add that to the “do not eat” list.

However, cutting out sugars, carbs, and everything else was really difficult. Upon some YouTube research, learning about Intermittent Fasting seemed like a good way to “reset” my stomach and metabolism. Basically, only eat for a certain period of time during the day and allow your body to burn fat the rest of the hours. If you eat from 7 am to 11 pm with meals and snacks in between, you’re not giving your body enough time to digest anything. I’ve gotten over cravings, have lost 10 lbs in a month with zero exercise, and a lot of random aches and pains that had suddenly come out of nowhere are gone.

Intermittent fasting may not seem necessary if you aren’t having any GI issues, however many of the bad food decisions I’d made was simply because I was traveling and hungry. I’d often eat whatever junk was in front of me thinking it was better than nothing. However, when you train your body not to “need” food, you can skip meals a lot easier or get by with just a Cliff bar. I can see this coming in very handy as a solo sailorette, because even when I have to go on long bus rides to provision I am able to say no to everything at the snack stand full of chips and cookies.

To our health!

We owe it to ourselves to take care of our bodies, minds, and spirits.

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Those who are nomadic know finding a spot to take a nice hot shower can sometimes be a scavenger hunt. The bathrooms at marinas are typically similar to or slightly above campground bathrooms. Cement walls, cold toilets, bugs galore. It’s not fancy, but hopefully the hot water is a plenty. Some bathrooms nicer than others, which is always a treat.

The biggest hiccup when heading to shore to shower for me was forgetting something back on the boat. Shower caddies are the easiest way to shower and ensure you have everything you need, but finding the right one was a bit tricky. I tried several different styles early on in my liveaboard days, the fabric ones with three compartments with a coat hanger are fairly popular but my least favorite. My gripe about most of them is they have too much fabric that was going to get wet from putting your shower stuff back in there. Or it barely had any storage, so you have to put everything in travel sized containers and refill them all the time. The other popular style is all open and barely any compartments, so anyone could see “Hey, Rachel’s going to go take a shower!” with a black hole of shower stuff. Fishing around for the right bottle all the time is also really annoying and got old pretty quick.

I found one I love dearly several years ago now at Target (now available on Amazon). I love it so much I bought a backup, because I ruined the first one after putting it in the dryer. It’s meant to be a college dorm shower caddy. You can wash it, I’ve certainly had a container open on me before. I would let it dry on it’s own, though. 

Things I love about it:

  • The mesh at the bottom of the compartments allows water to drain 
  • You can bring it into the shower with you, via the opening strap for the shower curtain rod or suction cups on the back
  • It can get wet and it will not soak your backpack or bag you put it in
  • The fabric will not mold or hold water
  • The shower caddy closes, so nothing can fall out in transit, nor does it reveal my top secret plans to get clean
  • There are four compartments, easily grouping things together
  • The zipper is heavy duty and never gets stuck, as is common with zippers on boats
  • I can fit full product bottles that last months, no more refilling every week!
  • I can hang it up in the boat and use it at night without unpacking / repacking it every time

So there it is. An ode to my shower caddy! This baby lets me shower anywhere with ease, and I am forever grateful to the creators of this masterpiece.

 

 

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the hydrovane

I usually post every other Friday, but I recently received an email from Hydrovane outlining Golden Globe Race participants’ along with their respective winvanes detailing any issues they’ve had during the race. They proudly highlighted the participants who had Hydrovanes, and surprisingly every single one of them had no issues with their wind vanes! Two of the top three finishers have a Hydrovane. I found it pretty interesting, and it made me feel more confident in the investment in adding one to Coconut! The third participant just finished early this morning and it’s pretty exciting to follow.

I will be honest and say I have not yet figured out how to use the windvane, they’re apparently better for ocean passages rather than coastal cruising. Wind vanes have a slight variation in direction as they go off the wind, and an autopilot keeps a tighter and more reliable course. I had mostly light winds hopping down the coast and you need at least 10 knots I’m guessing to have enough wind to keep it steering.

I’ve also not yet found a way to keep my wheel in place (step #1 to using the hydrovane) but even when I had a friend on board messing with the vane while I kept the wheel straight, the boat kept rounding up. I’ve talked to some people in passing who say the trick is to balance the sails, which I could really see being key. Another confession, I do not know how to balance the sails properly! After searching online, it seems there are several books on how to trim sails. If anyone has any recommendations feel free to enlighten me!

 

 

 

 

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a year of cruising: what I’ve learned

1 yr anniversary -1

It may not be too much different from the 2 months of cruising post, but I’ve squared away some new habbits that have worked well for me and I thought I’d share. And I have learned A LOT! First off, HOLY CRAP I’VE BEEN A CRUISER FOR A YEAR!!!! I am still pinching myself I somehow pulled this off!

1. Probably the most important to my sanity: I no longer talk to people about boat problems / what I am working on / future plans. Unless I know the person well, it’s iffy knowing if they will be reasonable and supportive. For every person who only wants to interrogate me about my sailing experience and the contents of my boat, there are many more who know, understand, and appreciate what I’m doing and quickly tell me so. It feels so nice to be heard, seen, and understood. Thank you, to everyone who supports me and has checked in on me the past year!

2. How do I solve mechanical issues then? I email the manufacturer whenever something doesn’t seem right or breaks. All of the companies I’ve contacted have been super helpful and have responded in a timely manner. I have also stocked up on lots of great essential books for when I don’t have access to the interwebs. ProTip: exchanging books, movies, and music is the cruisers currency! My first exchange resulted in 1,200 ebooks!!!

3. Things that are only a year old can and will break. Why? No clue. This happened to my propane regulator. Unbenownst to me, all of the propane leaked out of my tank while I was cooking one day and thoroughly freaked out the marina I was in. I had another full tank, but it’s useless without a working regulator! Spares, spares, spares. Get spares of anything you need to survive. I have two spare regulators now, amongst doubles of many other critical items.

4. Saying “I have a boyfriend” only means I don’t want to marry the guy, which means they’d like to see if maybe I want to marry them instead. So I’m married now, y’all. He works, I perfect my sailing skills on this solo trip, and “in the next couple of months” we will meet up and sail together. So far it works.

5. Most people don’t get it, and that’s ok. I hear a lot of comments along the lines of “You don’t want to stay? Don’t you like it here?” and “Well, when you come back this way…” Uh….

6. I’ve lived out of a backpack before, moving every few days and whatnot while traveling overseas. As exciting as that is, I have to say it is also pretty nice having a place to call home. As a cruiser, my surroundings change often and won’t see a familiar face for months. My boat is there for the comfort and familiarity I think a lot of us humans crave. That is pretty remarkable, and I hadn’t considered it until the last year!

7. Not a whole lot changed in my daily life. I can still walk to get groceries like I have for a couple of years now, I still procrastinate working out as much as I did before, search for Wi-Fi spots, have a vet nearby for the dogs, and so on. I was in several different marinas my last three years in the Bay so I am glad I got accustomed to having to get to know a new neighborhood every few months. Even abroad, I have been able to maintain the same kind of life I had in San Francisco. At a much slower and peaceful pace, of course.

8. This isn’t really sailing related but certainly has helped me in social situations with other cruisers and locals alike. Everyone gets really excited to hear about my journey, and it turn I get excited too! I really do want to show others if they work hard enough they can achieve whatever dreams they have for themselves. I soon find myself being overwhelmed with literally everyone I come into contact with wanting to always know how I was doing and when they are going to see me next. Although incredibly flattering, after a few months it was too overwhelming. I went on a “yes fast” where I didn’t say “yes” to anything for a month. My productivity skyrocketed!! As an introvert, I don’t really crave a whole lot of social interaction. I welcome it when it happens, but that’s about it. I found I kept trying to make time for everyone, and soon lost myself and my focus. I’m all about quality rather than quantity when it comes to friends, and the same should go for my social interactions as well. Less really is more.

9. Speaking of quality people, I’ve met so many rockstars in this past year! I got to meet Mads from Sail Life at his meetup in LA, Liz Clark at her book signing for Swell in San Diego, Sailor James who saved my behind that I’ve already written about, another single hander Matt from Life on Gudgeon on the docks in Mexico, Skip Novak on a sailing trip in Chile, I ran into Dustin from The Single Handed Sailor in Antarctica of all places, and I even got to do a podcast called I, Survivor while stocking up on boat stuff (the only podcast I have become addicted to). I also got to meet a handfull of Instagram followers who are all on their own awesome sailing journeys. The list goes on! I know I’m doing what I am supposed to be doing because this stuff just keeps happening, and it is unreal! I love it. I love it so much.

10. I am not a day sailer. I’ve gone for one day sail and it wasn’t worth it to me to want to do every weekend. I would maybe do it to test out new equipment, but I kinda need somewhere to GO.

That’ll do it for me on this post. I hope everyone has a happy holidays and a wonderful New Year!

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the pros of sailing solo

There are many positives to sailing solo. First of all, I am not “used” to having crew so it isn’t really something I “miss”. I’ve had great crew on board who are welcome back anytime should their schedules allow, but I am also happy trotting along on my own course for the time being.

The biggest advantage is I can leave port whenever I want to. Having to wait on someone or schedule a trip around someone elses availability could mean you miss a weather window, or stay somewhere too pricy for much too long. Those are both giant drawbacks to having crew, and I love the freedom of looking at the weather and saying “whelp, let’s go!”

I also have friends who have different interests than me, so when it comes to shore activities we want to do different things and I find myself alone anyways. So…. what’s the point entirely of “having someone to share the experience with” if you’re off experiencing different things? It’s not a bad thing, it just defeats the purpose sometimes.

Surprisingly, socializing is much easier solo. I’ve never really considered myself a social butterfly, but somehow I am always meeting people either through the marina or boat yard, or walking my dogs around town. People who are partnered already have someone to talk to, so they are less likely to seek connections with others. I found out about a sailing club that people in town hadn’t ever heard of in the 6 years they’d been living there. It was at their marina, a completely different one from where I was at. I mean, how…?

Being self-sufficient is addicting, empowering, beautiful, and I hope everyone can feel this way about something in their lives on a regular basis. Every time something goes wrong, after the initial “fuck!” goes away, you just get into gear and hope for the best. There is no better feeling than knowing your knowledge and experience helped you get over a hurdle, no matter how big or small!

People are more willing to help. I always get offered rides for propane / provisioning / errands, chandlery discounts, help with installs, a car to drive, etc. I generally don’t even have to ask, it’s just put out there. I think that is the beauty of the sailing community, but when you are solo there is a lot more emphasis to get you sorted. I appreciate this very much!

I’ve never gotten in a fight with myself or the dogs before. There’s a quote “the roughest storms that happen at sea, happen below the deck.” I had a very long five-day sail with some drunk and combative delivery skippers, and that was pretty frightening. I don’t think I will ever complain it’s too quiet or that I’m bored. I am thankful for those moments.

Because it is so quiet sometimes, I have plenty of time to reflect, write, contemplate, and peice things together. I’ve had a somewhat chaotic life, and there have been so many times where suddenly something finally made sense to me. As to why I reacted a certain way to something that happened several years ago, why something unfolded the way it did, etc. I can’t get that when I’m around other people constantly. I love having those breakthroughs!

I have said this before but will say it again, I am rarely ever alone. I meet people fairly easily, and then it just becomes a matter of whether I want to spend more time with them or not. I have not had any extreme loneliness, nor do I think I will experience that any time soon, because I am not the only inhabitant of a deserted island… although that sounds really nice!

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gettin’ hitched!

Seven years ago I was frantically riding my bike down to the Berkeley Marina to look at a boat to buy. I never made it that day, because a car suddenly started backing up towards me on a backstreet. I slammed on my breaks and went over the handle bars, oops! I don’t even remember the pain, so it must not have been that bad, but I did know for some reason to pull up my left wrist to see what was going on. I saw it flopping about with a big protrusion on the top. My bone was dislocated and fractured. It was the first surgery I’d ever had (other than wisdom teeth) and I was totally freaked out. The Dr’s and nurses were awesome and I still remember thinking I was going to die until they reminded me I was the youngest and healthiest patient they’d seen in a while (I had the surgery at the VA). I have a metal plate in there now and generally have no issues, unless I’m doing push ups, which honestly is like all the time…… HAHA ya right!

Some people have confused it for a suicide attempt scar, although most people don’t seem to notice it. I just think it’s funny to look back and see the 28 year old me trying desperately to make San Francisco work. Moving onto a tiny boat I knew nothing about being my last ditch effort, no matter how everyone thought I was nuts or just talking about it like it was going to happen but not really. It was either that, or end up in a cardboard box under the highway! I think I made the right choice.

Since it’s now been seven years, I think boat life and I are pretty much common law married. In all this time, I’ve only not lived on the boat for six months or so after my hand injury. The rest of the time has been living in the construction zone, learning about myself, life, my surroundings, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I had a tattoo artist turn my scar into a white anchor, free-handed. Just like my entire journey thus far.

Happy Anniversary Boat Life!

PS. This isn’t the actual tattoo, it was just a sketch. It is still healing!

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skincare and the sea

While there are a lot of things us sailors worry about, one of the biggest concerns is skin cancer. We are practically living outside, and the sun reflecting off the water and sand only magnifies it’s intensity. Being a ginger, protecting my skin is a way of life. I have a lot of friends with much darker (and even lighter) skin than me and I often find myself explaining what a sunburn is and that yes, you probably do burn as much as you think you don’t (especially looking at you, white folks who “don’t burn”).

Being sunburnt is bad enough, and being sunburnt while on a 4 hour watch mid day, for several days? I haven’t had to suffer through that thankfully, but I honestly don’t think I’d be able to either. Having a bimini helps keep the sun off you while in the cockpit, but some boats only have a dodger which only offers protection from the sun during certain times of the day.

I use SPF 50 and always select the Zinc products found at Whole Foods or similar health food stores. I go through about a bottle every month or two, depending on what I’m doing. I have a different lotion for my face than I do for my body, as it won’t clog your pores or irritate your skin. I also have an SPF lip balm, as lip sunburns can be rather irritating as well. I use the facial sunblock every day, and if I am going on a short (less than 20 minute) walk with the dogs I won’t worry about applying sunscreen to my arms/legs/chest/back. Otherwise, I lather up and toss it in my purse incase I need to reapply.

I still get burnt several times a year, because the sun will find any spot that I have missed. If I travel to a lower latitude, I generally forget how harsh the sun is and I completely space on reapplying the first day, to end up with a big ol’ burn. Heck, my eyelids even got burnt the first time I layed at the pool in Texas! That doesn’t happen in Seattle. I have finally stopped pretending as if I’m not going to get burnt and just bring the aloe freeze gel with me when I travel. These products have lidocane in them, and although I prefer the blue gel over the green gel, they are both miracle workers and really help the burn heal and ease the pain/discomfort.

I have gotten second degree burns before, both times it happened when I spent too much time in the pool or on the beach. I try my best to cover up, be in the shade, wear wide brimmed hats, etc. It is difficult to cover up when it is hot and humid, though. I find I break up the time I’m in the sun if I absolutely have to be outside when the sun is blazing hot, my skin feels more normal. When I start feeling like I’m getting burnt (while working on boat projects or walking the dogs), it’s time to go inside for a couple of hours. I’ve heard of others not going out during the peak sun hours (12 pm-3 pm) and this certainly couldn’t hurt to work into my schedule.

For the most recent second degree burn I got I ended up using Vaseline on the affected areas just to keep the skin moisturized, as sometimes it felt as if my skin was going to rip when it was dry. Thankfully, there isn’t any scarring and you can’t tell there was a water blister/burn. Even though it may be overkill, I have come back from a sun filled vacation with a new really dark freckle (like 3x darker than any spot I have) that I immediately had removed. I pretty much expect to get skin cancer, and hope I can catch it quickly enough.

On the first day leaving Hawaii for my 2014 ocean crossing, I was trying to be cautious yet still cute. The next morning, my lips were sunburnt and my face was a little tender. So… I did something I’d never done before and just went full ambush on the sun’s attempts to fry my delicate skin. I did not care how much of I resembled a beachy jihad. Comfort and safety is key at sea.