liebster

Of all the benefits that come from keeping a sailing blog, the networking aspect is by far my favorite. Blogs (and their companion Facebook pages) connect the sailing community. We use them to learn about boat stuff and traveling destinations, check in with friends (even when internet connectivity is terrible), and make arrangements for meeting up when fate places us in the same geographic area at the same time.

The Liebster Award is a chain-letteresque tradition that celebrates the sailing network by highlighting unique qualities of each crew. How it works is simple: one crew nominates another and asks them to answer a series of tailor-made questions. The nominees answer the questions and nominate a new crew. And so on and so on. Given the spirit of the award, we were stoked to be nominated by our friends Ed and Vicky of Catching the Horizon. Here is why.

Last summer, as we wrapped up things at our jobs and made final preparations to go cruising, I stumbled upon Ed and Vicky in a sailing group on Facebook (probably the one for people living aboard with cats). Their blog caught my eye because of the spooky amount of common ground – our ages, our occupations, our interests, and the fact that we were both preparing to sail away from our home cities – New York and Philadelphia – on the very same day, en route to the Bahamas.

When we finally met in person at the Annapolis Boat Show, it felt like we were meeting old friends for the first time. We’d looked forward to many future sails together, but unfortunately, this is sailing and circumstances have kept us apart since we last saw them in Virginia. Until we meet again, we will always be just a Facebook message away.

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Ed and Vicky (2nd and 3rd from the left) aboard Nightingale Tune for a happy hour in Weem’s Creek, Annapolis, MD

Vicky and Ed on s/v Elara nominated us for a Liebster Award!
Here are the questions they asked:

1. Did you have any misconceptions/expectations about this lifestyle going in? What have you learned since?

I’m the kind of person who likes to have a plan, but it turns out that plans (in terms of destinations and dates) and cruising don’t mix. Case in point, Brian and I left New York with a pretty specific itinerary for our journey south. However, as soon as we set sail, things started happening that we hadn’t anticipated. An alternator failed. A water taxi damaged our rub rail in Annapolis harbor. We ended up on the hard in Virginia for a month instead of a week. It was the kind of stuff that used to make my little plan-addicted brain explode.

But something wonderful happened when our plans started to go awry. Stuck in the boatyard, we befriended some inspiring sailors who became our second family. We decided to sail offshore down the East Coast with them instead of taking the ICW, as we’d planned. It was an amazing experience that forced us learn and grow as sailors. We ended up ducking into Cape Lookout in North Carolina to wait out some weather (yet another plan gone awry), and that anchorage stands out in my mind as my favorite so far in the United States.

Since then, we’ve adopted a new attitude where we take plans one step at a time. It’s an approach that has paid off in spades here in the Bahamas. Many of our favorite memories here – the 5F Bahamian sloop regatta, running with Laura and Stan in Pipe Creek, having a mini vacation in Bitter Guana Cay – were the result of last minute, “what the hell, let’s just go” decisions.

2. Best experience? Scariest experience?

Cumulatively, the experience of working with Brian as a team on a daily basis has been pretty amazing. We’re learning all kinds of new things about each other and ourselves (not all sunshine and rainbows, mind you) that strengthens our relationship. Cruising has had such a positive effect on us as a couple and I can’t think of anything better than that.

Our scariest sailing experience to date occurred on a boat we chartered in the Virgin Islands, long before purchasing Nightingale Tune. We got caught in a squall between two jagged, rocky islands. That sails were not reefed, the rail was buried in the water, and we lost a jib sheet (the line that allows you to control the boat’s biggest sail) which I had to venture out onto the bow in the wind and the waves with the sail whipping me from above, to retrieve. In hindsight, there were about twenty obvious things we should have done differently to prevent that scary affair, but at the time we had been overly eager and excited to get out sailing, which made us foolish. Since that day, we’ve gone to great lengths to prevent future scary moments and be prepared if the shit hits the fan.

3. How long do you think you’ll keep cruising? And how far?

This is the big question that friends and family are always asking us. The answer is, we simply do not know. We talk about sailing around the world – could we do it? Would we want to? It’s too hard to plan anything, so we plan to keep cruising until one of three things happens: A.) we don’t feel like doing it anymore, B.) we kill the budget we set aside for this adventure, or C.) we come up with an idea so great that we’ll drop cruising and chase it instead.

4. Your galley is known for amazing food. What are you most proud of cooking in your galley so far and what else are you hoping to attempt?

I take food really seriously. Cooking in shoebox restaurant kitchens of NYC taught me that having a small kitchen and lacking equipment is no excuse for uninspired cooking. My galley has turned out layered birthday cakes, deep fried fish and chips, all kinds of pickles and jams, conch fritters, an entire Thanksgiving dinner (minus the turkey, cooked aboard our buddy boat), Neapolitan pizza, slow-cooked BBQ brisket, New York bagels, gallons of Indian and Thai curries, and just about any kind of bread you can imagine, all completely from scratch. With that said, my favorite food memory aboard required almost no skill to prepare – it was the celebration dinner following our first (and only – so far) successful lobstering mission. I will never forget that gluttonous victory feast of grilled lobster tails, drenched in butter, lime, and Old Bay.

As for what I hope to attempt: ice cream.

5. How do you think the cat is enjoying this vagabond lifestyle and any advice for others hoping to cruise with a cat?

Nico is happy aboard 95% of the time. We lived in an apartment prior to moving aboard, and he is an indoor cat, accustomed to small spaces. Unlike every other boat cat we’ve met, he shows no interest in venturing outside the cockpit (even when we lived at the dock), which we count as a blessing. He likes sleeping in the berths and on the settee, has acquired a taste for fish scraps, and is enjoying all the extra time he gets with his humans now that we’re all confined to the boat.

The other 5%, the time we spend underway, is pretty terrible. When the boat is in motion and things start banging around (more than just rocking at anchor), he gets violently ill. We’re still testing new ways to make him more comfortable, but I’m overwhelmed with guilt each time we put him through another day on the move.

My advice to pet owners who are considering this lifestyle is this: get your paperwork in order. Get the titer test, the USDA pet certificate, keep all of the records of immunizations. Some countries care about these things and others don’t, but it’s a load off your mind when you have everything you might possibly need to clear into foreign countries.

Now, by the power vested in me by the sacrament of Leibster-fication, I hereby nominate Bo & Allison of S/V Selah and their blog Sailing B+A.

  1. You guys are newlyweds. Has cruising had an effect on your new marriage, compared to other landlubbing couples that you know?
  2. What is Jr. Captains? What made you decide to start it?
  3. You both work while cruising. Tell us about your jobs and how you make it work.
  4. What part of the cruising day-to-day has been most challenging for you?
  5. You guys are really good about keeping a strict fitness routine. Describe how you keep yourselves in shape. What’s your #1 workout tip for fellow cruisers?

So Bo and Allison – BAM you’ve been Leibster’d 🙂

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Bo, Allison, me, and Brian, at the 5F in Little Farmer’s Cay, Bahamas