Introducing my Portable Profession

When we set off on our cruise, I had envisioned that somehow, someway, I would run across my next opportunity (of the paying sorts).  It would be big and bold and obvious. It didn’t quite happen that way.  Admittedly, I didn’t put much effort into looking; I was busier searching out fish and conch and sea glass.  Back where we started from, I realized I was going to have to MAKE that opportunity myself.

The brainstorming began.  I made a list (I know, I know, you’re surprised by that), anyway, I made a list of what I was good at, what I liked, and what could bring a real income.  Let’s be honest, that last one is important.  I whittled and waffled and eventually came up with what seems so obvious to me now- to become a technical copywriter for the marine and boating industries.

I am thrilled to announce my company, Voyager Ink.

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So, what do I do as a technical copywriter?

I work with businesses and organizations to help them write content that gets results (as opposed to writing for entertainment or journalism).  Sometimes the goal result is a sale; sometimes it is a sign-up. Sometimes it is as abstract as increasing confidence or awareness in a product or service.  There is a mix of art and science in finding the perfect arrangement of words powerful enough to persuade.  That is what I do, and I enjoy the challenge.

Where does the ‘technical’ come in?

In some cases, the subject is data-heavy (think solar controllers or chemical characteristics of caulks).  The technical information needs to be distilled down until it is comprehensible and useful.  In other cases, it is simply understanding the unique environments in which a product will be used and having the ability to connect with a specific audience in a way that a generalist copywriter may struggle with. When the subject gets a bit more nautical than sailing off into the sunset with rum-punches in hand, I don’t mind getting down and salty.  Am I an expert of all things marine? Nope, not at all. That’s not my job, and I will leave that claim to the businesses themselves.  I simply use my experience to ask the questions needed and do the research required to present my clients’ data in a clear and compelling manner.  My job is to make the words work.

Call me nerdy, but I even enjoy writing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) and user guides, a spill-over skill from my clinical and forensic laboratory days.  In fact, for a short moment, I even thought about writing for the laboratory niche instead.  But, if you are reading this here, you know my soul belongs to boats and the waters they float in.  I’m keeping it salty all the way.

So, that’s it! An overview of my new portable profession. The learning curve to starting a business has been steep.  A few times I’ve felt winded.  (FYI, creating a website is NOTHING like creating a blog.) It’s also been fun. I’m confident in my foundation and new career choice.  I know there will be bumps, it’s inevitable.  Kind of like sailing, I guess, running aground will happen.  You get off, get in the channel, and keep on going. Right?

Want to know more about Voyager Ink?  Check out the (still in progress) website.

Or, hop over to Facebook, Twitter, or even Linkedin and say Hello.  I would love to connect with you.  It will make my day.

If you’re a business owner, and are curious how I can help you make the most of your written content, send me an email. Let’s chat.

P.S.  If you are reading this and thinking, “Yikes, I’ve read this blog.  The girl can’t even spell…” You’d be perfectly correct in your observation.  When I started this blog, I took advice from a sailor just completing her circumnavigation, and she told me not to be so busy writing about what happened that I miss what is happening.  That night I gave myself permission-in writing of course– to not edit this blog.  It’s a dumping ground for unedited emotion, and opinions, it is filled with typos and run-on sentences. Maybe I regret that a bit now, but it is what it is. It captured my raw memories and communicated well enough to make new friends.  And, I watched the sunsets. I could go back and edit, or, I could keep moving forward.

What I am getting at is, my professional writing is edited. A lot. This blog is not.

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4…3…2…1…

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FOUR jobs, THREE vehicles, TWO boats, and ONE grand plan.  Whew! We’ve been busy!

Where do I start?  The biggest, yes, we are juggling FOUR jobs. Just the two of us.  Long gone are our relaxing days of watching the tide roll in!

Both of us stepped back into our pre-cruising jobs a few months ago. In addition, we have both started our own business adventures.  Keith has always wanted to buy and flip boats.  He is now co-owner of a sweet Island Packet that he has been laboring away the last few months.  This one isn’t even on the market yet, and he is looking forward to another boat. Oh boy.

I also have recently launched my own business.  The amount of work has been incredible, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.  I’m going to give it its own post in a few days.  For now, I will just say “hello portable profession!”

So, that covers the four jobs and two boats.  The three vehicles is a much less interesting story and can be summed up by saying one was a lemon. Boo.  And a grumbly observation that living in the US is horribly expensive, even having a job is expensive.

Now we are down to ‘One Grand Plan.’  You know I always need a plan.   Our plan is titled “Project Blue Space.” We named it after an article that one of our friends shared stating that living in a place with visual access to an open body of water is more restorative and calming than any other.  Well, I’ve always known that!  Duh. But, ‘Blue Space’ has become our buzz word.  As in, we need some.  I’d share all the juicy details of our plan, except we don’t have them fully fleshed out.  It’s a scribbly pencil outline really. That, and I am slowly learning my lesson that plans will change.  Instead of taking the time (that I don’t have) to list what we are going to do, I’ll stick to posting our milestones as we meet them.

Now, at this point in a post, I usually upload a handful of pretty pictures.  I sadly I don’t have a single one. Not even of the Falcon Heavy launch that happened right over our heads yesterday.  We were both at work (the ones with bosses). The six sonic booms SOUNDED and FELT impressive.

It’s okay, though…. #BlueSpace

P.S.  If you are a co-worker reading this, we don’t need to talk about this. That could be awkward.

We are Back (and why we dissapeared in the first place)

Ooof. Where to begin?

I wrote the post below months ago. I procrastinated a day and Irma happened. Then Maria happened. While we came through unscathed, we were the lucky ones and so it seemed petty and selfish and childish and every other unflattering word to post the following. Our hearts ache for those who lost everything but their lives to the storms. We also know the numbness may just now be fading and the full force of raw emotions might just now be surfacing for those hit. With that in mind, I almost hit delete on this completely. But, still, it accurately depicts our transition to land(ish) life.

Things have been put in perspective since I wrote it, that’s all.

Re-Entry (September 7)
Sorry for yoinking the blog down with no notice. There was a reason and I will get to explaining why in a minute. First, what have we been doing the last several weeks? We have been “re-entering” the real world. Unfortunately, we did so in an incredibly cringe-worthy, ungraceful, manner.
I would liken our transition to that of landing a small boat, say an inflatable dinghy, on a beach. Through pounding breaking surf. From a distance, from, like, way out beyond the surf where the water is calm, transitioning our cruising direction didn’t look too difficult. Upon approach, though. Yikes. It was ugly for moments. We hadn’t expected to end our cruising season so early, we hadn’t thought it would end where we had started from, and we didn’t know where we were going next. I already wrote about how lost we were. Swirls of indecision, doubt, uncertainty, excitement, and a sense of loss overtook every thought and discussion. Like being tossed in confused seas, we clung to thoughts for only moments before clinging to the next. We do this when what is in front of us isn’t wholly grasping our attention, we’ve experienced this before, but we have never experienced this so intensely. It was a ride. Sometimes a random feeling of doubt just drenched me, like being slapped in the face by a cold wave of water. What now, what next, is this really the end? I did not process this transition well. At times, it felt like we were going to capsize. I mean, we almost sold the boat—WTH?! They said untying the lines was the hardest part of cruising. No. Retying them is the hardest part!
We didn’t capsize. Our little emotionally drenched selves pulled both feet up on the sand. And, now, as we look out at where we came from, we can now put it all in perspective. It is not where we envisioned ourselves to be right now, but that is okay. Life is good. While we debated sell, don’t sell, Alaska now, Alaska next season, turn around and sail right back out…. Life, in the background, just sorted itself out for us. Keith effortlessly slipped back into his old company. I sent out one resume and had a response within thirty minutes. And easily as that, some of the questions were answered. I guess we are settling down- right here-and making some money-right now. My windows at work overlook the water and if I took my binoculars in, I think I might be able to even see our mast. It’s been a long time since I spent eight hours in doors, those windows have been my lifesaver the last two weeks! I have a feeling they will continue to be.
This also answers what happened to the blog- I removed it because I know social media checks would be part of my pre-employment background check. I thought my nomadic ways might get me rejected before making it through the first gate. In fact, I suspect that there will be much fewer posts for a while. Posting big dreams on social media while trying to remain employed in a corporate environment is probably the equivalent to throwing water in a diesel tank. For now, I am going to go old-school with a pretty, paper journal and a fancy pen. Though, I do have some posts planned for our recent boat projects (she is looking pretty) and some recaps/reflections on our first few years of cruising (what an amazing time).

Thank you so much for understanding! I’ve felt out of touch since not blogging, good to be back.

P.S.  Boat NOT for sale (you may read between the lines if you’d like)

Lost

I guess I am about 400 miles and a month or two behind. When I left off we had just gotten back from the Jumentos and were planning a slow sail through the Bahamas for the summer.  All was peaceful and good. We are in sweaty-hot Florida now.  What happened?  Well, after an afternoon of soaking in the pretty Bahama water and listing the places we wanted to see there this summer, we came back to the boat and were greeted with a copy of our new insurance policy. I am a good girl and read it start to finish-not just the summary of changes.  I was rewarded with learning that we were about to ONLY be covered in the USA-in like three weeks.  SHIPS! Um, glad we were not in Grenada when I read that!  Or hadn’t just paid for the entire summer of arrangements in the Bahamas! Bahamas in hurricane season, without a secure plan and without insurance just wasn’t happening for us.  So, a leisurely gunk-holey cruise turned into a two-stop run up to the Abacos while we had a good window to do so. Zoom-zoom. Of course, once there, we got the insurance mess cleared up.  Just a little computer generated error. Of course.

Somehow, though, the damage was already done.  We had already mentally switched gears to H-season in Florida.  Absolutely what we said we didn’t want when we turned around in the Virgin Islands.  Strangely, we were ready to head back to Florida-even after we didn’t have to go. I still don’t really understand it.  In those days I can’t count how many time we said to each other “I thought we’d want to do this for longer” and also “I think I’m ready to try something new”. It befuddled us. Completely. But it was, however odd, how we were both feeling.  And as simple and quiet as that our cruising came to an end. We sailed back with plans to haul out the boat, put her on the market, follow through with our road trip to Alaska and go on from there to who knows where.  There was no frustration or disappointment, in fact our whole crossing we spent recounting what a wonderful, amazing, adventurous two and a half years we just had.  Hell, we had just crossed off our number one bucket list item not once but twice! Still, maybe you can understand how I wasn’t keen on writing about our final sail.  It made it too real, too done, and I hadn’t quite come to grips that it was over and so I just kept putting it off.

Here is where it gets messy though.  Part of putting the boat on the market meant giving a new coat of bottom paint and a good scrub top to bottom and some touch ups.  First, though, we took a few days and found our selves a truck, you know, to haul the 14 foot camper we plan on living in while we drive across country.  Then we hauled the boat. Next we rented a storage unit so we could unload everything single thing off of it to sort what we wouldn’t need any more and make deep-cleaning the boat easier.  I think here is where our “new plan” showed its first few cracks.  As we unloaded and sorted all of our belongings we were unable to put a single piece of fishing gear or snorkel gear in the “get rid of pile”.  Not a thing. Same with our safety harnesses, binoculars, or almost any other piece of sailing gear.  Not sure what we are going to do with it on our road trip or when we don’t have a boat anymore, but we can’t imagine parting with these things either. More cracks showed up while putting a coat of varnish on the teak and I realized I had spent the entire time envisioning cruising. On this boat. In the future. To places we have yet to go. Hmmmmm. 

Fine, plan adjustment, don’t sell the boat.  Keep it, do our road trip/Alaska thing and come back and go sail again. Problem solved.  Except vehicles, boats, campers, insurances for all, storage fees, and State-side living totally blows the budget. Not to mention it doesn’t seem to be the simple life we are working toward. Urf.

Oh, and tangent, we found a little wrinkle in our original drive to Alaska and start a job there in the Spring plan.  It would mean doing our cross-country part of the trip, which we are really excited about, in the dead of winter.  I don’t have a good grasp on the concept of winter, I know this, and it is probably even worse after spending the last two in the islands, but when I read I needed a special little heater for the holding tank in the camper to keep the poop from freezing-I started to get a clearer picture.  We’ve decided we will definitely need to make some adjustment to when we make our trip! It will NOT be in the dead of winter.  No poopsicles.  

Anyway, if you are still reading this rambling mess, at least you might understand why I haven’t written in a bit.  It’s kind of hard to open yourself up when in such a state of transition or uncertainty. It feels extremely vulnerable to do so.  I just kept thinking we’d have a clear path soon enough and I’d write then. It just doesn’t seem to be happening.  We are lost at the moment.  Not unhappy, not at all, just lost. 

In all of this, I don’t have current pics ready to post so instead of using that as one more excuse not finish this post, I’ll add these old ones instead.  I still laugh when I look at them:

Kai, despite having grown up a beach pup, had never discovered crabs-no matter how many we pointed out.  When we were at Attwood Harbour he finally discovered them.  I caught his first encounter on camera. 

And the winner is………

“Not all who wander are lost”  

…..then again, some are.  We know because we are in that other group!

 

 

CruiseRO, Our Thoughts One Year Later

We have had several inquiries about how we like the new water maker we put in, a Cruise RO system.  It’s been almost a year since we installed it so we have had a chance to really get comfortable with it and put it through the paces so I thought I’d share our thoughts.

The super short story-we love it.  

First, simply on having any large output system onboard:

The water maker is probably the system that has the most dramatic positive effect on our daily living comfort.  We shower whenever we want, and for almost as long as we want, often more than once a day if we go swimming.  We almost always go swimming.  We have a furry little pup who takes great joy in getting as sandy as possible so he gets showers too.  (He, however, might not agree with us about it being a plus.)  Everyday chores are simplified too.  Washing dishes is no longer a struggle to conserve every drop-we just get them clean and move on to something more fun.  We now do most of the laundry onboard too.  At $5.00 a wash and $5.00 to dry here, it is a perk.  The boat and our gear gets rinsed regularly now as well.  It swings the balance from camping to living and this is our life.  The water maker goes a long way in making it a comfortable, clean, un-salty one.  

Beyond just improving daily comforts (which, at least for us, is BIG) it also gives us freedom.  As I write this right now we are in the Jumentos a little island chain in the Bahamas that has only one tiny settlement of maybe 50 people in the whole chain.  There is no water to buy here anywhere.  Making our own gives us the freedom to enjoy these beautiful uninhabited islands for almost as long as we like. It also frees us from being dependent on less than ideal water sources.  And, big perk, we don’t have to find it or lug it!

^^ Pre Bath.  

^^ Post Bath.  Okay, maybe Kai isnt always thrilled that we have so much freshwater.  

Second, how do we like the unit we chose?

Not one complaint.  We haven’t had any issues with the unit since installation.  Keith has been impressed with the quality of all the components, we’ve not seen any wear or corrosion on the pump or any of the parts.  Our water quality is fantastic. Really there isn’t much more to say than we are happy with our choice. (To read more about WHY we chose this unit click here, to read about the INSTALLATION of the unit click here).  Would we do anything different?  Maybe.  There is an option to add a second membrane to the unit we have, converting it to a 30gallon/hour unit and if it were not for money we might add it.  Not that 20 isn’t enough, it is, but we could run it for even less time increasing the efficiency even more.  It also provides you with a built in back-up membrane.  

Jumentos

We’ve had an anchorage all to our selves before, we have had beaches all to ourselves before, we have even had entire islands all to ourselves more times than we could count.  This is a first, though.  We have an entire chain of islands to ourselves!!!  It is the beginning of off season, and, yes, the Jumentos are lightly traveled but we didn’t expect to not see a single other cruising boat our entire time here!  We’ve sailed from one end to the other and back and we are the only cruising boat here! It is the perfect time weather wise to be enjoying this area so we are surprised.  A few times we even remarked that it felt a little weird.  Most of the time we simply soaked up and enjoyed the solitude.  With no cell service our only communication has been SSB radio and even that we haven’t used much beyond getting weather. No news!!!

Now, we weren’t the only humans about- just the only cruisers. Out of a chain of about 26 islands two of them are inhabited.  Buenavista Cay has a population of one.  His name is Edward.  He is building a new home next to the one that his father lived in and before that his grandfather.  Edward hopes his son and grandson will join him on the island soon. He shares his island with lots of goats, sheep, chickens, and even peacocks.  He was a delight to meet.  At the southern most tip of the chain is Ragged Island; it has a small settlement, Duncan Town.  I read the population is about 100.  I’d be very surprised if it was that many.  It’s a sleepy and sweet town.  The town was once much bigger when it was a player in the salt industry.  Now more houses than not are unoccupied, but the island is still warmly welcoming and friendly. Things just run at a different pace here. If you would like to eat out you make arrangements a day ahead for the restaurant to open for you.  The grocery store, also open only upon request-at least this time of year, had a few staple items, but basically you place an order and your groceries will come in on the next mailboat.  The mailboat come 3-4 times a month dependent on weather and barring mechanical problems.  There is no place to buy fuel or water. 

 

^^ The settlement looked surprisingly big, but most building as are empty.

^^ goats were everywhere!  This one found shade in one of the many unoccupied houses.

The shark population continued to demonstrate its healthy numbers to us though. Jeez!  One one of our first dives down here Keith got a grouper; it holed itself up in some coral with the spear.  Just at this time I saw a nice hogfish close by and was thinking about going after it until Keith pointed out a reef shark coming up over the edge of the coral towards us. Not what you want to see with a bleeding flopping fish below you. Keith swam down for the grouper and figured he’d give one good pull if he got the fish yay, if not we would surrender it.  He got the fish and by the time we got to the dinghy the shark was circling where the fish had just been but it didn’t bother with us.  Just as it stated to swim off that same hogfish swam right under the dinghy.  Keith couldn’t resist and dove down and I kept an eye on the shark (that was swimming away).  As soon as it heard the “chink” of the spear it whipped around.  They have learned that sound!  That shark wasn’t aggressive towards us but we called it done after that.  It was pretty much that way for all of our dives here.  Keith surrendered one fish a couple days later-no reason to take the risk.  On one dive we were swimming up against the rock ledge of the island, I was maybe 20 feet away from the rock wall and was thinking that I kind of liked this-I only had to keep a look out on one side of me. Maybe three minutes later a large reef shark swam between me and the wall!  Because I wasn’t looking at the surface or to that side I didn’t even see him/her until he/she was less than 15 feet away and coming towards me. Then it just slid right down next to me-I could have reached out and touched it.  Startled the crap out of me!  A shark at the surface gives me the creepies much more than the ones swimming below me, I don’t like being eye level.  I called it a day when I had one go down the other side a few minutes after that.  Despite having company in the water, it felt awesome to have fresh fish for dinner every night!!!  The water and amount of life was everything we had been dreaming of it to be. 

Our last few days we finally had someone share the anchorage with us, a few of the commercial fishing boats.  One of them was on their day off.  It was funny to see that the guys spent their free time going fishing.  Keith was filleting our fish on the beach- he likes to take the cutting board over to the shallow water and put it on the rocks and just enjoy a beer and the beach while he cleans the fish.  One of the fishermen came over and offered him use of the work tables on the fishing boat, a generous offer for our two fish.  Keith showed him he had a little set up already in place and they enjoyed a few beers and the afternoon together, each getting a chance to talk to someone new.  Keith was happy that the fisherman thought he did a good job on the fillets.

I think these islands allure is equal parts of what they have as much as what they don’t have.  While, perhaps, not dramatic the water, fishing, snorkeling, and wildlife are stunning.  However, what they don’t have may be their biggest treasure. No crowds, no connection, no distractions.  Our weeks have been simple and calm here.  (Obiously, we’ve  found less rolly anchorages)  Our days are based on tides and winds.  Most of the day is consumed with meals-catching, cleaning, cooking, enjoying… Our entertainment has been fish and birds and goats and sunsets and stars.  Walks and snorkels have provided us with more entertainment.  Basically, we’ve been enjoying ourselves. A lot.

^^ Many of the islands were once settled by Loyalist and the ruins and rock walls are still around and made fun exploring.