Thursday, May 7, 2015

Finding Solid Ground

Since we set out on this adventure, I have learned (and observed) that every cruising family is eventually faced with our situation. For some combinations of reasons: money, family, health, job or simply life preferences, a time comes when the family begins to wrap up their aquatic adventure and move back to the more ‘normal’ life on land. For the Millers, that time has come.

Fortunately for us, the reasons come down to life preferences. When we made the decision to move onto Stochastic and head south, we had an open-ended timeline. We knew this trip might be for 5 months or 5 years, and as many of you may have heard us say, we will be taking baby steps. While we fantasized about sailing to the Marquesas and other far off places, we also said that at any point if we were not having the time of our lives, we could move on to the next adventure...

For us there were several things that led up to the decision. I like hot weather, but I also like air conditioning. Being on a boat does not allow you to get away from the sun very often and a cool refreshing shower lasts about as long as it takes to towel off. Oh, and we haven’t been here for the HOT season yet. Really! It get’s hotter….

Sailing is romantic, captivating and peaceful, most of the time. Other times you find yourself in 20’ seas (waves) crashing into the cockpit, rocking back and forth for hours on end, trying to find a safe place to vomit without falling overboard. Sophie became an expert at this; I think she could throw up into a Coke bottle if necessary. Seriously, this is a skill set that can’t be acquired; cruisers are born with it. J  Many cruisers get accustomed to being seasick and we were ‘OK’ with it, but it certainly was a bummer.

Owning a boat is a lot of work! There is a saying, “Cruising is fixing you boat in exotic places.” Truer words have never been spoken. I talk with friends and family and often have to reassure them that I don’t get to spend every day sipping Pina Coladas (though we did plenty of that, too). Some folks we have sailed with have older boats- ones that require constant attention. That is not the case for Stochastic. She is in great shape and despite her age, most everything is new. And yet, daily maintenance and new things breaking, compounded by trying to find replacement parts in a foreign country - well, it wears on you. Some cruisers embrace it like a challenge, for me it was just an obligation like mowing the lawn (only it would be like having to walk to the gas station in 95 degrees and 300% humidity before you got to cut the grass).

Probably the biggest factor for us was both a positive and a negative. While cruising you have the wonderful experience of meeting absolutely amazing people. We have made friends that we will stay in touch with for life, based on a bond that could only be created by sharing similar experiences and helping out when help was needed (cruisers bend over backward for one another – it is special). The dark side to all of this is that, well-we cruise, which means that we move on. So, for every friendship that blossoms, an inevitable goodbye is looming over the not-so-distant horizon. For adults this can be difficult. For cruising kids, it's twice as hard. Sophie is remarkably social and makes friends easily, but having Mom and Dad as the "anchor" friends in her life must be a huge challenge.

So, I need to be careful. Reading this, one may come to the conclusion we had an awful trip. That is so far from the truth. If given the choice, each of us would choose to do it all over again, with a few improvements of course.

As I mentioned above, we have made friendships that are immeasurable. We have experienced new cultures and observed families finding happiness regardless of how much money they possess. We have volunteered with a Christian organization whose works are far more meaningful that I can express. I have had the pleasure of homeschooling Sophie, something I had serious reservations about when we set out on this trip, but now feel quite positive about. 

Most importantly, I have bonded with my wife and daughter in a way I certainly could not have had I been on land. That alone is something I wish every father could experience. And yes, we had our moments of Pina Coladas in the warm sand, tropical breezes blowing through the palms and any other stereotype of life in paradise. Now, however, it’s time for this cruising family to turn life in paradise into fond memories and begin the next chapter of our adventure.

As I write this, the girls (and Monty) have made their way back to Wisconsin. I will be departing Banderas Bay (with crew) mid May and making my way back north (did I mention it's hot here?) I should be in San Diego by the end of May. I will keep you posted.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Zip Lining


Today I will be telling you all about zip lining. Yesterday my dad and I went to Los Veranos along the Rio Horcones River. When we got there we checked in and harnessed up. The workers and " Paparazzi Team" where extremely funny! The first 5 out of 14 lines where for practice, the next 9 we were allowed to go upside down, spinning or do both at the same time. The first line was a bit scary, though you get used to it after the second or third line.  The last line, my dad and I got to race on two parallel lines. After zip lining, I and another girl, named Grace, went swimming in the lake - it was cold! I would totally go back!

                         Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spending Some Time on Land

Hi there!

   Well, my mom, dad, and I, (plus dog) have spent a little over a week in this beautiful place called Bucerias. A few bugs here and there but otherwise, great. Because we're on the 3rd floor, every evening we see an amazing sunset.

   Now I'll give you a tour of the house. First of all, we have an open-air living room. What I mean by that is, in our living room we are missing two walls. We have one breezy window and two door-less balconies. They all have protective awnings that go over them. We also have quite a few plants and wooden pieces of furniture. It's homey and all until you learn that all the ants and other bugs are living in them! Yep, we've had a few obstacles here and there, but I'd say we've hurtled over them.
  Then to my room.
Quiet but stylish. I like to refer to it as "quiylish". It was fun to decorate it, such as putting up  posters and my fringe door curtain, which you can see in this picture.

 Now I will move on to the town. It's small but still holds 17,000 people. The name Bucerias comes from the Spanish word buceador, which means diver, because it's been known for its fishing and diving community for a long time.
  Another thing are the roads. Hand made and pretty, these roads are made of stones cemented together to make beautiful, old-timey roads.
  The people here are so kind and even though they're working so hard, they always stop to give a smile. It makes Bucerias such a nice place to stay.
                      Saturday, February 28, 2015  


  Today I will be doing an entry on my astronomy studies. I think the best part of astronomy is identifying the stars. Here is a  list of the stars and constellations I have found:
1) Sirius (star)
2) Capella (star)
3) The North Star
4) The Big Dog (constellation)
5) The Water Snake (constellation)
6) Orion (constellation)
7) Gemini twins (constellation)
8) Pollux
9) Castor (star)
10) Betelgeuse (star)
11) Rigel (star)

I know I have seen many more stars and constellations than that but I'm not aware of the names. One night I even saw Venus, Mars, and a crescent moon all together. This rarely happens so it was quite the honor to see it!
  Now I will tell you about the moon. The moon is a very interesting piece of cheese. O, my bad, the moon is a very interesting piece of rock, not cheese. The moon has seas and oceans, craters and landing sites. First you have the seas and oceans. I know, I know, there's no water on the moon (or any other planet, or so we think). But these aren't water spots, they're large dark dots that look like seas from Earth. Here is a list of the seas:

1) Sea of Rains
2) Sea of Serenity
3) Sea of Tranquility
4) Sea of Crisis
5) Ocean of Storms

   Next are the craters. "You can make a crater by dropping a stone in a sand box", says my astronomy book. They are extremely large divots in the moon. Here are the names:

1) Tycho Crater
2) Copernicus Crater

   Then there are the landing sites. There's not much to them, they’re just the places where Apollo 11-17 landed from 7/20/68 to 12/11/72.
   So there's my astronomy update, thanks for reading.
                           Friday, January 30, 2015

               Up-dated Thursday, March 5, 2015

Saturday, February 7, 2015

This Place is for the Birds....

Continuing our stay here in Paradise Village has it's unique experiences. We recently enjoyed a show put on by the local bird brains and Sophie and Kelly got to join in the fun. Sophie got to pose with one of the more colorful participants.

One of these Romeo's even got a bit fresh with MY lady.....seems you have to watch these hombres.....note the thousand shades of red on Kelly :) She clearly did not see this coming as she was selected from the crowd to be part of the show....Priceless....

We are continuing to enjoy our stay here. We have fallen into a bit of a in the morning, boat project mid day and a trip to the beach or pool in the afternoon, short walk of the monster and crash with the sun set.

This next week will be dominated by "maintaining" the brightwork on Stochastic. Three days of sanding, one day of taping, three days (or more) of applying the Cetol and sealer. I see a lot of acetaminophen in my future.....

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Turtle Release

Hi guys!

  Today, I'll be talking about one very fun and interesting activity. A "save the turtles" turtle release here in Banderas Bay. Every day if turtles have hatched in the hatchery, they release the baby turtles into the bay. The night we were there, there were maybe 90-100 turtles released! Here is a picture.  See how little they are! The only down side to being so little though is, well, they’re just big enough to give a bird or fish a good-sized snack. Yes, I know the birds and fish have to eat too, but still with poachers (now illegal) and predators they're getting to be very endangered. So, despite the sad talk about all the things these little guys have to escape on their way out to the bay, they are quite the little survivors.  

  When it came time to release them, the lady came around and gave us all a turtle; she said they were only about 24 hours old (or less).
My turtle, (who I called Kelly) was very pushy; it really wanted to get out there! Here's a photo.
If you can't see in the photo, my hands are really sandy. The reason for that is that they use scent to remember their birthplace. In about 10 years the females will return to lay their eggs.

In the end, I walked home hoping they someday would reach the big 'ole blue.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas From Paradise

Merry Christmas to all our friends and family!

We are counting our blessings today as we celebrate our Lord’s birthday, though we have lost count of all the blessings we have received….

Yes, we are in Paradise, literally….While life is a balance of boat maintenance and home school, we have been quite happy with afternoons on the beach, by the pool, diving with sea lions, horseback riding and simply enjoying time with family like we never have before.

This morning, we opened gifts that were placed under our 1 foot Christmas tree,  enjoyed the lights hung by the mast, and reflected on our recent experiences in a foreign culture and how they celebrate Christmas.

Christmas in Mexico is rather understated. There is very little gift giving (getting) and instead the time is dedicated to family and food. The time of gifts comes on January 6th, Kings Day, in remembrance of the three wise men's gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.

We plan to spend the 6th with Families de la Esperanza - a missionary team that has helped families rise up from shanties in the dump in Puerto Vallarta.  We visited them earlier this week and it was a touching experience, one that made us appreciate the blessings we have and thankful for those that give their lives to sharing the Lord’s message and helping others.

Merry Christmas All!