Boat Building, Sail Making on Peaceful Man O War Cay

Man O WarOne of the most interesting islands in the Bahamas is Man O War Cay. We found it quite charming with a lot of character, but very different than some of the other stops. We were drawn to the simple life and their history. They also have a very protected harbor for anchoring or docking. Man O War Entrance

Man O War is the boat building capital of the Bahamas. Albury Boats are specifically made for Bahamian waters. The first Albury came to the island in the 1870’s and started building boats. These Albury boats are seen all over the islands, especially for rentals and ferries between the islands. While on Man O War you can see boats that are still being built right there. In addition to that there is a canvas/ sail making operation that is run by 3 generations of women. They sew canvas bags and hats – none of which are cheap! But, it makes for a really nice industry for them.

Things are definitely quiet on Man O War. The inhabitants are very religious. There are no liquor stores. Just this year the Dock and Dine Restaurant can now sell beer and wine. Prior to that no alcohol sales were permitted on Man O War. I am sure that not many people know this yet that haven’t been back to the Abacos.

Part of the charm of their island is that it is small and it is easy to walk to the beach on the other side. There is a cemetery is right by the beach. A sign tells the story that during a storm many of the graves were washed away. They have restored the location further from the ocean. We noticed that most of the headstones have the name Albury since they were the first settlers. We saw several Russells, too!

We found it very relaxing to stay at Man O War, but maybe the best draw for us was the ice cream stand. It was the best we had in the Bahamas and you know that made Capt. Steve happy!

Man O War dinner on board
Dining on Gypsies Palace

 

Captain Conch in Hope Town

Hope Town LighthouseHope Town is a village on Elbow Cay that has one of the most recognizable lighthouses anywhere. It is candy striped and lighted by kerosene, which is only one of three that exist. Everyone looks forward to arriving in Hope Town since it is a true village with shops, restaurants and cottages. Most of the transportation is by golf cart, bike or walking. As with the other islands, supplies arrive once a week by barge.   All of the locals know when this is and make it a point to get to the markets when supplies are re-stocked.

We delayed our arrival in Hope Town by visiting other cays and really didn’t plan ahead for our arrival. We had been anchoring in Marsh Harbor without a problem. We knew that most boaters in Hope Town Harbor are on a mooring ball. Our plan was just to grab one that was not being used. Well, that didn’t work at all!   It seems that staying in Hope Town Harbor is so popular boaters stay for the whole season!

Hope Town Cottage
Welcome to Hope Town

We entered the Harbor and we pretty much aghast at how many boaters were in such a small area. We maneuvered ourselves around looking for an empty mooring ball. We found one and hooked ourselves up. Five minutes later we were told by “neighbors” that we would need to move because that mooring ball belonged to someone who had left to make water and dump their holding tanks.   In the Bahamas most of the boats have a water maker on board because water is metered.   In order to make water (desalinate) it is necessary to find clean water and that would not be in any harbor.   The process can take over four hours. Embarrassed we promptly disconnected and went in search of another location. To shorten the story after five hours of waiting the Hope Town Marina was finally able to confirm dockage for us. This was probably the ONLY time we were stressed in the Bahamas!

Hope Town Cottage
Hope Town Cottage

Hope Town is enjoyable though and definitely worth the hassle. In the harbor there is a water shuttle that will pick you up at the marina or any boat and drop you around town. It is really easier than using a dinghy. The brightly colored houses make for an interesting walk. We quickly found out that we needed to be at Vernon’s Market at 2:00 for the arrival of their baked goods. We heard about the coconut bread and pies and were not disappointed. Imagine eating coconut bread French toast with Canadian maple syrup from the Loop! It was so yummy!

Captain Conch
Captain Conch!

Hope Town Harbor is where everyone blows a conch shell at sundown. It is wonderful to hear everyone answering each other. Steve really developed quite a talent for holding the note the longest and received applause where ever we went!!

Tahiti Beach
Gypsies Palace at anchor

Hope Town is also very close to Tahiti Beach, which is also on Elbow Cay. Boats anchor off of the beach at low tide.   Everyone is walking in knee deep water to collect sand dollars or sun bathe on the beach. It really is pretty cool to be in beautiful clear water and find these sand dollars. Jazzy loved it! He was able to run around and had no qualms about getting his legs wet. Note, he did not swim, but would wade. On weekends they have a bar anchored off of the beach, too. It is a must experience when you are close to Hope Town.

Tahiti Beach
Enjoying Tahiti Beach

We had guests twice while in the Abacos and each time we brought them to Hope Town.   They loved the quaintness and the ability to stroll around the village. There is even a song about going to Hope Town that sings in my head when I want to be back!

Great Guana – A Crowd Favorite for Gypsies Palace

Nippers Beach on Guana
Nippers Beach on Guana

Great Guana is an island that is 7 miles long protected by a reef that stretches for 5.5 miles off of the beach. It was a frequent stop for us.   The beaches are gorgeous with every shade of blue, aqua marine and turquoise. Not much is on the island – a couple of souvenir shops, a food store and a liquor store. That is what makes the Bahamas special. The pace is slower and the scenery is spectacular. We found it a great place to anchor that was protected.   They even had mooring balls at $20 a night.   The holding was good so we just anchored unless we      expected high winds.

At one end of the island is the Orchid Bay Marina. We never stayed there because the anchoring was so good at Guana.   However, we would take our dinghy over on Saturdays because they had a wonderful fresh produce stand. Oh, the $5 bloody marys didn’t hurt either!   I think we paid $27 for the produce and the bread.Produce on GuanaTheir property is very pretty with a lot of bougainvillea’s.Orchid Bay on Guana

Nippers SignOn Sunday all of the boaters come for the pig roast at Nippers. Nippers is the most popular bar in the Bahamas and we were anxious to check it out. The pathway is clearly marked as we walked up the hill.   Nippers DancingMusic and dancing is a must at Nippers.   It is a lively crowd and we met several Loopers there at various times. One of the nicest draws about Nippers is that it is on a bluff with snorkeling from the beach. The first time we were there the beach area was large. After there was a big winter storm, the sea took out their stairs and a lot of their beach.

Nippers Shirt
A Nippers Shirt is a must! Crew from Imagine This.

Barefoot Man

Barefoot Man Concert
Barefoot Man Concert

One of our highlights is that we were there for the annual Barefoot Man concert.   He has been performing at Nippers for years and is a legend. Well, of course, we couldn’t miss it. The place was packed and we met many of our fellow boaters there. The Barefoot Man is a hoot and we really enjoyed the music.   He told the crowd that next year may be his last appearance there so we are going to need to mark it on our calendar for 2019!

Grabbers Beach
On the beach at Grabber’s

Another reason that Guana is so popular is another bar called Grappers.   This is the place where all of the boats dingy to when they are anchored at Guana. It really is a perfect sunset bar. They have their own conch salad stand and we saw live entertainment.

One night we came back to Guana for the Full Moon Glo Party at Guana.   Everyone was supposed to wear white for their black lights.   This was a lot of fun with their decorations and party favors.Grabber's Glo Party

We returned to Guana numerous times. We had guests that came to cruise with us and we made sure they got to have the Nipper Experience!

Nippers

Rum Drinks, Pigs and Paradise in the Bahamas for Gypsies Palace

Apologies to everyone for taking a break from blogging. It seems that once we made it to the Bahamas we took a vacation and perfected the fine art of “doing nothing”!  There will be a series of articles about our two and a half months in the Bahamas.

Slow Down BahamasIt was now early February. Gypsies Palace and crew were anxiously waiting for a good weather window to make the crossing to the Bahamas. It seemed like it was taking forever for the seas and winds to calm down, but finally we made it to West End, Bahamas from Boca Raton on Fed. 5th. Not many boats chose that day to cross, but it was good for a catamaran. The marina was pretty empty except for other catamarans!

While we were there we decided to try our hand at fishing.   Hooray!   We caught two dolphin (Mahi-Mahi). That was pretty funny to see us land the fish. We had not done any trolling off of this boat where we caught something.   We didn’t hear the line run out and neither of us noticed we had caught of fish on both poles!   Steve brought in the first dolphin. Keeping it from jumping back into the water was something else. I didn’t help the matter by jumping up and down yelling, “We got a fish”!   Our boat is open the stern and they can work themselves back into the water.   We had forgotten to bring the cooler down, too!   I thought I was helping when I slammed the net over the top of the fish, but all that accomplished was getting

First fish
1st Fish!

the fish hook stuck in the net!   By the time we got to the 2nd line we lost the fish.   We decided that since we were not very prepared it would be wise just to head back into the marina and be happy with one fish!   After all, there must be plenty of fish in the sea / Bahamas, right? Read more

Coastal Journeys After the Loop

Leaving for Bahamas
Leaving Boca Inlet

So many of you have enjoyed reading our Coastal Journeys on the Loop that we have decided to continue the Blog past the Loop.   This will be more about life onboard and full-time cruising.   You can still use our Loop track to find us on our website.   This is why we named our site “Coastal Journeys” because we love to share the cruising lifestyle. Many of you sit at home and live vicariously through us wishing and dreaming about buying a boat and starting coastal journeys of your own. Well, you can continue to experience our Coastal Journeys on Gypsies Palace.

We were “home” in Boca Raton for 3 weeks while we completed errands, provisioning and waiting for a weather window to cross to the Bahamas. It seemed like it would never come!   Windy, windy, windy! At the same time, we spent more money thinking of things we “needed” like a fishing cutting table, dinghy ladder, new fenders etc.   Some were more obvious like spare boat parts – boring!

We were able to spend the majority of our time behind a neighbor’s house on our old street. We rented a car and took care of flu shots (gads, looking at the news it looked important to us) and vet visits. Do you know we did not catch one cold on the whole Loop, nor were we sick one day?   I find that amazing. When we were in the sea of humanity in South Florida I was sure that we were going to catch something!   We didn’t, but we sure enjoyed catching up with friends while we were there. Occasionally, we would go out to Lake Boca and anchor and join some Looper friends there.

I mentioned provisioning. That is very important when traveling in the Bahamas. It is not that you can’t buy something, but it will be 4 – 8 times higher than the states. I created a provisioning list and inventory so I actually know what I have on board. I have a freezer chest and that was pretty full when I started so I could not add much there.   It is quite a challenge when you think of the canned goods, snacks, drinks, prepared rice, pasta, sauces, cereal, dog food, paper products, cleaning products, toiletries and whatever else that is used in everyday life.

Buying it is pretty easy, but now, where to store everything?   Luckily, this catamaran is like a sailboat with storage under the floors. That is all full. There is storage under seats. That is all full.   Check out my “wine cellar” under one of my couches. I have extra bags that would not fit anywhere, too!Wine storage

At the last-minute produce is bought because we may not see a lot of fresh produce.    Now that is also a storage issue because the refrigerator drawers can only handle so much.   I actually had to write down what was purchased so that I would not let anything spoil. I cleared out the drink refrigerator to make space for produce.

Finally, after all of this planning a Weather Window opened for us.   We traveled alone since the weather window was not perfect.   That also gave us the flexibility to go fast if we needed to improve the ride.   When we left it was perfect – incoming tide in the Inlet so no bouncing around.   Of course, perfection doesn’t last and about 10:30 we got the north winds and the seas picked up. I had luckily taken a Bonine since you just never know when seasickness will occur. We expected seas around 2-3, but they were mostly 3-4 with a lot of 4. We continued around 10 mph for a little while until Steve decided that we needed to pick up the speed to 15 mph. That got us to West End Bahamas at 2:00.   We left at 7:45.

West End entrance
West End entrance

The first thing that is done is to clear Customs.   That process is relatively easy – just forms. Once that is done everyone can leave the boat. We stayed at Old Bahama Bay, a resort with cottages and a restaurant. At this time of year the place is a stopping place for boats traveling to other places.   The day we arrived only 2 other boats came in and they were both power cats!   How about that!   It wasn’t a great ride, but definitely not horrible, but a ride better on a catamaran.

One of our rituals is to find a conch salad stand – our favorite food in the Bahamas. Our next ritual is to find a bar to order a Goombay Smash – our favorite Bahamian drink.   We found both, I am happy to report!

The marina was mostly deserted because for the next two days there was no weather window from the states. We had the marina mostly to ourselves.

Old Bahama Bay
Old Bahama Bay Resort
Old Bahama Bay
Beach at the resort

One thing that was a nice surprise is that there was a large group of “jumpers” and we were entertained by their parachuting several times a day.   You just never know when something totally unexpected happens!

Our 2nd day we decided to go out fishing since we had to speed up our crossing the day before and couldn’t fish on the way. Steve had bought bait and we were searching for something edible – dolphin (mahi mahi) or tuna. We rode around for a couple of hours and decided to head back in.   Close to the marina we had “Fish On”!   I was nearly asleep and Steve was lost in looking at the fish finder so we didn’t react right away.   In fact, we were very out of practice and had never caught anything on Gypsies Palace.   What was bad is that we didn’t realize that we had a second fish on!

First fish
1st Fish!

I was jumping up and down with the net while Steve was reeling in a 10 lb dolphin.   He landed it in the boat and I was afraid that it was going to jump out so I put the net over it and got it all tangled in the fish and hook.   What a comedy of errors.   We were too busy to think about the other line and by the time we did, it had gotten away.   We also had another dolphin circling the boat while I was jumping up and down.   We were laughing and trying to do something with the fish.   We had forgotten to bring the ice chest down so we just laid it on the back of the boat.   We tried to see if we could find the school again, but they were gone.   We decided that we were very happy with our dinner for the night and we go back in.   Let me tell you that it was delicious on the grill that night.   We have enough for 4 more meals, too!

After all of that excitement the local lobster guy comes to the dock looking to sell us lobsters.   Well, of course!   They were $48 for 6 with a “shortie” thrown in. I got out the Food Saver and packed everything into my already stuffed freezer.Lobster

What a day!   Our first fish on Gypsies Palace.   Lobster bought at the dock. Marina mostly empty.   Perfect weather. What more could you ask for on the start of our next chapter of Coastal Journeys?

 

 

Gypsies Palace Completes the Great Loop!

Boca Hotel
Returning to Boca Raton

Gypsies Palace officially crossed her wake on January 13, 2017 after traveling 6,269 miles. We left Boca Raton, FL on April 1, 2017 and returned to our starting point 9 months later on our Great Loop adventure. Loopers call this “crossing our wake” when we finish where we began. Our average speed was 10.5 mph – our “Looper speed” and maximum speed was 25.1 mph. We went through nearly 100 locks along the way.

Gypsies Palace Loop Track
Gypsies Palace Loop Track

WHAT ARE OUR TAKE AWAYS?

  1. We have seen this country by water which mostly means “small town America”. Our world was about a one mile radius of where ever we stopped.   We saw no chain stores for most of the trip. We experienced the goodness of people in these small towns where they were able to take the time to be polite and provide good service.   It restored our faith that people truly care about others and are willing to lend a hand.
  2. There is something unexpected and delightful around every bend. Each day we would start out with a route that would come alive with beautiful scenery or something unplanned. For example, sitting on the boat in downtown Nashville where we had front row seats for a great fireworks show. We loved going places where we had no idea of what to expect.
  3. We loved traveling through Canada. It was the highlight of our trip. We spent an unexpected 3 weeks in the Niagara region and loved exploring the wineries, farmers markets and golf courses. We fell in love with Butter Tarts and ate more Fish N Chips than we can count!   The beauty of anchoring in the North Channel and exploring with our kayaks was something to cherish.
  4. We are resourceful in solving problems. When we left our water hose on the dock in Jekyll Island we asked the Looper group for help in transporting “Waldhose” back to our boat. The hose was passed along by 5 boats finally reaching us in Annapolis and creating a Looper Legend of Waldhose.
  5. Never travel on a bad weather day.   We never put ourselves in a position to “go” because we had no schedule. We never had a scary day on the water because of that. We became experts in using every weather app available!
  6. The coast of Michigan is a boater’s delight! Approximately every 25 miles there is a Safe Harbor with a protected marina with inexpensive dockage. The little Michigan towns were wonderful to explore and are located within walking distance of all of the marinas. Craft beers and ice creams shops were everywhere!
  7. Big cities are fun, too! We docked at the Rock and Dock in downtown Cleveland to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Charleston is a gourmet delight with wonderful restaurants. Chicago was over the top in things to do that were accessible.   The Honky Tonks in Nashville were fun since we could crawl back to the boat late in the evening.
  8. Starting every morning on the water is a mood setter for the day.   There is nothing like watching a sunrise or sunset from your boat.
  9. Owning less is setting yourself free!   We were on the rivers when Hurricane Irma came through Florida. It was such a relief to not own our house or a car. Our worries are all confined to our boat now. And, there can only be so much “stuff” that can go on it. What do you really need in life?   Stuff is clutter.   We recently went back to our storage unit and I was amazed that we kept that much “stuff”.
  10. It is the people that you meet that make the Great Loop experience memorable.   Everyone says that when they complete the Great Loop, but it is so true. We have collected 160 boat cards from other Loopers as we have traveled. Most were people that we ran into several times along the way.   We have shared Docktails, stories, laughs and struggles.   Truly all boaters are helpful to other boaters, but the Looper flag is family.   We have more friends than we have ever had in our life.
AGLCA Gold Loopers
Gold Looper Flag

Now we are Gold Loopers!   We replaced our White Looping Flag with a proud Gold Flag. This signifies that we have completed the Great Loop and crossed our wake.

AGLCA White Flag
Loop Departure 4/1/2017

WHAT IS NEXT FOR GYPSIES PALACE?

We will spend February, March and most of April in the Abacos, Bahamas.   Then we will travel up the east coast of Florida and north to the Chesapeake Bay.   Along the way we will stay longer in places that we may have hurried through or find new places to visit. Our plan is to explore the many areas in the Chesapeake and anchor out most of the time.  Additionally, we will travel up the Potomac and visit the monuments and museums in Washington, DC.   Then we will return to Florida somewhere and go to the Bahamas later next year.

Each summer we will select a place out of Florida to take the boat i.e. Maine, the Pickwick/ Kentucky Lake area.   We also have decided that we loved everything about the Loop.  We now have our on calendar that we will loop again in 2020 and earn our Platinum flag!

We were sent this poem by our friend, Terry Moy, of Happy Happy upon completion of the Loop.

Congratulations Steve and Debbie!
This is your “Whoop”!
You’ve been to great places,
And done the Great Loop!

Out there things can happen
and frequently do,
even to cruisers
as handy as you.

And when things did happen
you said, “no worries!”, you didn’t stew,
you rolled with the swells
and comforted the crew.

You never waked us, though you had the speed.
You passed the whole gang and have taken the lead.
Wherever you cruise, you’ll be the best of the best!!!
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest!!!!

We will see everyone out on the water as we continue to cruise.   We have no desire to end this journey on Gypsies Palace!

“To The Loop!”  This was quite a Coastal Journey!

 

 

Gypsies Palace Cruising Waters – Heading to the Florida Keys

Gypsies Palace In Florida Keys
Gypsies Palace in the background

The further south that we go the more catamarans we are seeing as we enter what I would call Catamaran Cruising Waters. There are lots of sailing catamarans along with a few power catamarans. Our next stop was Marco Island, which is past Naples. We noticed a definite uptick in the number of boats that we are seeing especially fishing boats.  This is our route to the Florida Keys.

One thing that we enjoyed during our stay at Marco Island is that we took the dinghy to the grocery store and farmer’s market.   They have a Winn Dixie with a very long dinghy dock so they do cater to boaters. There is just something about grocery shopping by dinghy that makes it fun!  We stayed 3 days and the weather was nice.

Everglades City Rod & Gun Club
Rod & Gun Club

A special stop that we made was a little bit out of our way and that was Everglades City. This is well worth it the 7 mile trip up the river to get there.  I have known about this place for years. This is part of “Old Florida” where a living was made by hunting and fishing.   The marina there is called the Rod and Gun Club. It was built in the late 1800’s and is definitely a step back in time.   It is perfectly restored and maintained.   There are lots of mounted fish and game on the walls, a pool table room, an intimate bar and white cloth dining room.   Read more

Gypsies Palace is in Home Waters!

West Coast tripHome?   Are we home? No, but Gypsies Palace is.   We bought her in Tarpon Springs and thought it would be fun to get in touch with her original owners.   We have loved how she has performed and wanted to share our Loop experience.   Gypsies Palace was used to traveling the West Coast of Florida so these are her home waters.   She was commissioned in South Africa and the new owners took possession of her in 2010.   They now have a brand new 51 ft. Leopard Power Cat which we got to see while we were in the area. In fact, the original owners were so gracious. They took us all around the area and had us relate our Loop adventure with their friends. We also felt that we were in Home waters!

Harbor Host at Home
Herb Seaton greets us!

We had not really explored the West Coast of Florida by water so this was going to be a fun adventure as the warmer weather welcomed us. Tarpon Springs is a Greek community that was founded with the sponge industry so there are numerous Greek restaurants and shops that sell sponges. Sponge DiverUpon arriving we were greeted by the AGCLA Harbor Host of the Year, Herb Seaton. He makes sure that all Loopers that arrive in his town are welcomed personally.   A Harbor Host is someone in the Loopers Association that volunteers to assist Loopers in their home port. It can be providing transportation to stores or by offering restaurant recommendations.   As we traveled the Loop we met several Harbor Hosts that made our stay memorable. While we were in Tarpon Springs we reconnected with other catamaran friends on Colorado Cat who invited us over for dinner at their wonderfully decorated holiday home. This trip down the West Coast was really feeling like home! Read more

Salt Air, Oysters and Life in the Boatyard

Gypsies Palace
Crossing Mobile Bay

Inhale, we are done with the rivers.   Inhale, salt air fills our lungs.   Inhale, Floridians can breathe.   Inhale, Gypsies Palace is nearing her cruising waters where catamarans belong. Two things we love:  Salt Air and Oysters.   We were in the Panhandle where we can get our fill of both.   Many years ago Steve and I were bringing a boat to Texas and we stopped in the Panhandle to get oysters and there were none due to the beds being stripped out from the Gulf Oil spill.   Lucky us – oysters are in season and big and juicy!  Panhandle Oysters

Lulu's
Docking at Lulu’s for lunch

After crossing Mobile Bay the first town heading east is Gulf Shores, Alabama and that only means one thing – Lulu’s!   Lulu’s is owned and run by Jimmy Buffett’s sister and is home to a great waterfront restaurant, music and marina. We were Buddy Boating with Firestorm and we decided we needed to grab some gulf fish and fun. During our stay we actually went back another time during a song writer’s weekend. We were treated by a slide guitar player that had been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  That was Jim Vest and he was part of the Nashville Cats back with Dylan and Cash. You just never know what treats are going to be found along the way. Read more

1st Year on Gypsies Palace – Reflections Of Gypsies in the Palace

Gypsies Palace ReflectonsWell, we did it!   We have officially lived aboard Gypsies Palace one year! So, how do we feel about it? Any regrets?   Do we want to go back on land? Time for reflections on our 1st year cruising on our catamaran.

A year ago October we had so much going on in our lives in order to make the transition to full time cruising. We were truly in a frenzy. Our house closed at the first of the month and at that time we did not have a boat.   We were certain that we were buying a catamaran, but that was about it because our first deal fell through. We had been purging, selling stuff on Craigslist and trying to decide what items that we would need on a boat. Our storage unit was packed to the gills and we were homeless at our friend’s house.  My dad’s health was failing and he required more of my time. It was a crazy month to say the least. By the end of the month we had closed on Gypsies Palace.

We were fortunate to find this catamaran. It is a Leopard 47 Owner’s Version, which means that it has an owner’s stateroom. It was never in charter and a one owner boat. The former owner liked it so much he bought a newer version that is now a 51 ft Leopard. After we purchased it we spent 4 months adding things to make it a liveaboard that would work for us. Things like improving the refrigeration, adding an ice maker, increasing the holding tanks, increasing the water heater on the master side, adding solar panels, adding a watermaker, adding SAT TV, adding more exterior canvas, changing the anchor, fixing a fuel leak and the best gadget – the Docking Master, remote docking. If I could pick just one thing that I love best that we have done is to install the remote docking device.

During this time it really was hard to “love” living on the boat. Things were a mess because the boat was always being worked on. That limited the feeling of space. I won’t lie. The first few months it was hard to love the boating life because we never left the dock except to pump out.   I didn’t want to go back to a house, but I was ready to get rid of the chaos and get moving. These feelings are not unlike having your kitchen remodeled – there is nothing fun about that process.

Leaving on the LoopLeaving the dock on April 1st to begin the Great Loop was such a liberating feeling. I remember the day clearly and how beautiful it was. It was an omen that this would be a good life and we were doing the Great Loop!

Looking back the first part of the trip was such a blur as I am sure other Loopers would testify. We definitely planned more at the start. Now we are coming into Florida and we haven’t made any plans!   Our answer is that we will figure it out and we can always anchor. By plans I mean where are we going to be? Do we have a reservation? When we will arrive and how long will we stay? We are still Looping and in a transient state, meaning we do not spend much time in any one place. That will change once we complete the Loop.

We have adjusted to everyday life.   Laundry is sometimes done on board or sometimes done at the marina. Most marinas have had decent WiFi. We record TV shows just like at home. Jazzy has adjusted to life on board, including sometimes using the pee pad on the bow.  Gypsies Palace CockpitWe love our cockpit and outdoor living area.  It is so comfortable to enjoy a nice day or evening.

Maximizing the storage space is every boater’s challenge.   Because we have a catamaran we have more space than the mono hull boats. We are like a sailboat where we also have floor storage. The front of our boat has a tremendous amount of room that is why we call one hatch the “Man Cave”.   I have gotten good at buying the right amount of food and using it. In my house I was always throwing food away, but on the boat I find that I let fewer things spoil. We actually have things on the boat that we put on that we have not used. When we get back to our storage unit those will come off. Mine consist of clothes and shoes that I have never worn. Steve has some tools and misc. things as well.

I thought I would exercise more since I was committed to my Jazzercise workout for years. On the Loop this has been difficult because we are always moving to another port. We have used the kayaks and bikes, but not regularly. Some stops we do a lot of walking, others we don’t.   I confess to not always taking advantage on an exercise room at the marinas. This will be something that I change going forward after completing the Loop and settling into a cruising mode where we stay in places longer.

Stress – there is none! We could stress about the weather, but really what is the point?   The times when we are stressed is when we have to be somewhere on a specific date.   That is the hardest for all of us boaters.   It is usually weather or mechanical issues that doom the plan.

Speaking of mechanical issues, we have not had any except for the time when we caught the line around our props in Canada. Everything else on the boat has worked fine thanks to Captain Steve. We have come across many other boats where they hit their props or had a major engine problem. This boat has treated us well.

Most of the trip the temperatures have been cool.   Daytimes in the 70’s, but 40’s and 50’s at night. That was a surprise to us. Luckily, we had put warm clothes on board and bought some along the way. Coming back into Florida will be a shock.   We have run our heater and rarely the air conditioner. This week we actually bought a space heater!   We have even had nights in the 30’s which I would not have expected.

Before we started the Loop we did sit down to create a budget of expenses and to manage our money. I would say that we are right on target, if not under our projections. Where I fell off was that we eat and drink more than being home!   It is fun to shop at the various farmers markets and local grocery stores. It is also true that we eat out more than being home. Our fuel and marina expenses are under budget now, but we will be seeing increasing dockage charges as we enter Florida.

Looper Gold
April & Larry with Abby and Looper Gold

We haven’t ended the Loop yet, but we have made so many new friends that we will continue to see as we continue cruising. Meeting other boaters / Loopers make this lifestyle so special.   We have more friends than we would have ever had if we had stayed in the house. We have really appreciated the comradery.  Our buddy boat friends on One Eye Dog just crossed their wake in Fairhope, AL and we were there for their celebration.  They now flag the Looper Gold Flag for completing the Loop.

Early next year we will complete our Loop when we enter the Boca Inlet. We will end our “adventure”, but move to the “lifestyle” phase of cruising.   We are excited about this new chapter, too. So, after a year, I would say that this is just the beginning! And, no, we do not miss having a land based home!

“We’re gypsies in the palace, there ain’t no wrong or right
We’re gypsies in the palace, and we’re going wild tonight.” ……Jimmy Buffett