Isla Mujeres

12/11/2021 

The last few days have been spent hanging out in Isla Mujeres. Our crew from the Florida to Mexico crossing left on Tuesday to head to mainland and explore some Mayan ruins. Kyle and I decided to stay put and enjoy a few days of relaxing. Well, some small boat projects and relaxing 😉 

The marina where we are docked is rather nice. The entire place is built and decorated with mosaic tiles. The showers, which are also completely laid out in mosaic tiles, are outside and have a large rain type shower head. The water gets hot and I love the roof being open to the sky. While I shower the palm trees above my head sway back and forth, and when I shower at night, I can see the moon. Kyle and I have been going swimming at sunset, or shortly after, off the beach. There are two cement tables covered in colorful tiles a few yards out into the water. The other night we brought some wine, a tray of nuts, raisins, cheese, and crackers, and waded out into the water to sit at the tables. There we watched the sunset and eventually as it got dark, went for a swim.  It was romantic and quite lovely. I found myself watching the sunset, Kyle sitting next to me, our lower bodies submerged in the ocean water, the sky clear above us, and feeling incredibly grateful. I then started laughing at myself as I realized I was then feeling grateful for the wave of gratitude that came over me. It was a special evening. 

The days sort of blur together here. The other boats next to us on the dock all had only planned to be here for a week. The one next to us has been here for 6 weeks, the one across from us a year, and the one to our left a couple months. I can see why. The level of relaxtation, easy going-ness, and simplicity at this little marina is something unique. On top of that, all the employees are so friendly, seem to like their jobs, and have a commradere that is wonderful to watch. So anyway, that being said, I told Kyle we better get out of here before we don’t leave. 

Yesterday afternoon after a slow morning on the boat, we walked down to the ferry dock. There, with hundreds of tourists, we waited in line for the ferry to take us over to mainland Cancun. Once we arrived in Cancun, after saying “no gracias” innumerous times to taxi drivers, we found a marine supply store. We needed a new bulb for our gasoline hose for the outboard, and they had one in stock. 

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around Cancun looking for various things we needed for the boat: some small rope, new clips for our snorkels, a bolt, a yoga mat. It was an adventure to say the least. In running these errands, we quickly left the tourist area behind, and found ourselves at the local hardware store, a department store, and a local fishing store. I enjoy errands like these because I feel like I get a more authentic experience of the place we are visiting. Staying on the tourist stretch seems to be a bit of an artificial experience of what the locals are actually living. During the two hours we traveled around looking for things, I only saw locals. The people in Cancun were very friendly. Each store employee took their time to work with us through the language gap, and we laughed and figured it out together. I speak some Spanish- but the problem I have is how quickly the locals speak. I can’t keep up! We were having a difficult time trying to explain that we needed a clip for our snorkel and when the employee finally figured out what we were trying to say, he cheered and laughed and showed us where they were. 

Around 4pm we finished our errands but still had an hour or so until we needed to meet our new crew at the bus station. We ducked into a local bar and had a beer while we waited. The experience at the bar was hilarious. This again, was not a touristy bar. And they had this huge screen playing music off of Youtube. So you have to picture this- a bar in a neighborhood in Cancun. Kyle and I are the only Americans in the bar. There are zero children in this bar. It is mostly men who look like they just got off work. And on this huge screen they start blasting “Baby Shark”. If you don’t know that song, good for you, if you do… Baby shark doo doo doo doo.. Baby shark doo doo doo doo.. baby shark. (You’re welcome 😉 ) The music was SO loud. Kyle and I have decibel readers on our phones so that when using tools and doing various things in the shop we can know how loud things are. Kyle pulls out his phone and we were reading 101 decibels.. anything over 90 decibels for more than 15 minutes can damage your ears. So needless to say, the music was too loud. But it was hilarious. The whole thing made us giggle and we had a great time. 

We made our way to the bus station and found a spot to sit outside while we waited for our new crew to arrive: Mason and Zoie. Mason and I went to middle school and high school together. We were acquaintances and had some of the same friends, but weren’t particularly close. A couple months ago I posted on my Instagram looking for crew, and he responded. So after a few Zoom calls, emails, and messages back and forth, Mason and his girlfriend, Zoie, decided to join us in Isla. 

Once they arrived at the bus station, we took a taxi to the ferry dock and hopped on the next ferry back to Isla. The ferry ride was incredibly windy, and we had a great time standing on the top deck, trying to stand up against the wind. After we walked back to the marina, we introduced Mason and Zoie to Safi. I showed them their cabin, where to unpack their stuff, and some of the basics of the boat, but decided to leave the knitty gritty for the following morning. Kyle and I made kabobs for dinner on our little cockpit grill. They turned out great and we all sat around in the cabin eating terriyaki veggie kabobs with rice while getting to know each other a bit more. After dinner we went swimming off the beach at the marina and took outdoor showers. It was a lovely first evening with our new crew. 

Continued 12/15/21 

The following day consisted of errands, boat projects, grocery shopping, meeting with Custom and Immigration to check out of Mexico, and relaxing in the evening. The evening and day together made it very clear that we were all going to get along great and have a wonderful time. Mason and Zoie are both very easy going. They don’t know anything about sailing, and have never been sailing before, but they are relaxed, excited, and eager to learn. Which for me and Kyle, is all that matters. 

The original plan had been to sail from Isla Mujeres to a small island called Santanilla before heading south to San Andres, Colombia. However, a front from up north was coming in, and it was becoming clear to Kyle and I that this plan would not work out. We could have totally made it work, but it would have been rough conditions and not a great introduction to sailing. So thus, we had to come up with a new plan. That’s just part of the game in sailing. You go where the weather says to go. You try to plan in order to come up with a direction to head, but part of being a good Captain, in my opinion, is having the willingness to say “this isn’t going to work”- regardless of who it may disappoint or what the implications may be. Kyle is good at this, and he made the final decision that San Andres was not the right choice for the crew and so we spent an afternoon coming up with alternatives. Roatan, Honduras is closer, a better heading for the wind and wave conditions, and equally as cool to explore as San Andres. On top of that, none of us have ever been there. So just like that, we decided to head to a new country all together! We were all excited about this plan, and made the decision to leave on Sunday morning at first light.  

Isla Mujeres was a great time, and we enjoyed our stay at the marina, but I was feeling ready to move on, and went to bed on Saturday night feeling all the same feelings I felt before leaving Florida, but this time not as strong. I felt calmer, but also nervous. I felt excited, but also trepidatious. Ready and prepared, but not without the small voice in my head saying things like, “but are you really ready?” I have come to know this voice intimately. It seems to always be there, just lingering, waiting for a moment that I feel a little vulnerable. I used to try to ignore the voice, but now I allow myself to listen to it. I take the thoughts into consideration, I weigh all my options, and I then move forward with confidence, which quiets the voice. I wonder why we have these voices in our heads. I know not everyone has it, but I also know many people do. When you make a decision to do something big, something different, something scary. You feel good about the decision and are all ready to move forward, and then all these “what ifs” start popping up. Kyle tells me that’s the definition of  “cold feet”. I don’t know what it is. But I do know that if I gave in to this inner doubt, I wouldn’t have accomplished half the things I have accomplished in this life. So this is just a little reminder that you don’t have to live your life by the doubtful voice in your head. You can break free, and live the life you have always desired. I know this because I have to do it everyday. It’s a conscious choice to live the way we do. And it’s not easy, but based on where I am sitting right this moment, I can promise it’s worth it. 

Speaking of where I am sitting right this moment, it’s not Isla Mujeres, and it’s not Roatan. It’s this unexpected space in between that has turned out to be a magical few days. But for now, I’ll leave you with some photos from our time in Isla, and i’ll write more later. Thanks for reading. -D 

Let the adventures begin- again :)

11/29/2021

I have tried to start this blog post multiple times, but each time I find myself overwhelmed with where to start. So I decided to just start with right now. At this moment, I am sitting cross legged with my back leaned against my pillow. Kyle is laying next to me watching a movie. We are in our bedroom in the stern cabin. One of our crew members is asleep in the forward cabin. It is chilly outside, and I am sipping on hot throat coat tea. I feel calm. I feel nervous. I feel overwhelmed. I feel excited. I feel proud. In less than 2 days, we will untie our dock lines and motor out of our marina slip. We will motor out of the marina basin and then raise the sails, shut off the motor and turn our bow south towards Isla Mujeres, Mexico. We have done all of this before, but this time, we are in our own boat. In our new boat! Meet Safi. 

Some Specs about Safi: 

-40 feet long 

-11 feet 6 inches wide 

-all aluminum 

-2 cabins 

-1 bathroom/shower 

-2 settess that also convert into berths 

-a spacious galley (kitchen) 

-a hard dodger that we built from scratch 

-water maker 

-100% self-sufficient and solar powered 

It has been over a year since my last post and I can’t seem to find the words for all that has happened in a year. So I will again go to bullet points that are in no particular order. 

-Started a business called K & D Concepts LLC  which specializes in design, consultation, and execution. The last 6 months have been spent converting vehicles into tiny homes. After we finished the airstream, we realized we had a skill set that we should utilize, so we built out a shuttle bus and two sprinter vans. The amount of work we accomplished in such a short period of time is something that I am both proud and ashamed of. I am so proud of how hard we worked. Of how good we did. Of how our builds turned out. I am ashamed of how hard we worked. The amount of physical and mental stress I put on my body is not something to be proud of. We worked 14 hour days 6-7 days a week for 6 months straight with very little breaks. The work was hard. Laborious. Frustrating. SO frustrating. It was rewarding. It was filled with so much growth. Growth of skill sets, of our relationship and working together. Of what we are capable of. It was filled with arguments and tears. Of laughter and joy. But mostly it was filled with a sense of accomplishment. 

-Unexpectedly bought an all aluminum sailboat out of the Bahamas. Kyle flew into Marsh Harbor for a weekend to see  the boat and we bought it. It didn’t have a mast. It had been damaged in the hurricane and it needed a lot of TLC. But we knew the bones were good, and we knew it was a chance to create the home we have always wanted. Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE Sirocco, our previous boat, which, by the way, is currently for sale- but we wanted to bring on crew. We wanted to go bigger- both figuratively and literally. The Bahamas were great, but we were ready to expand and we wanted to invite others to do that with us. So we needed a bigger boat, and thus, we found Safi. 

-After we finished the van builds, we went straight to working on the refit of Safi. This again, is something that I can not believe we pulled off in two months. The list of things we did to the boat is pages long, and it was just as much work as the vans. But we did it. 

-Traveled to Virginia to work on our property a bit and begin the permitting process for building next summer. 

-I finished my book about the river trip! Over 300 hours and 138,000 words later, my first draft is finished. I am almost done editing myself, and then it’s time to find a professional editor/publisher. So I am really looking forward to that journey this year. 

-Kyle expanded his skill set in Solidwords and computer-aided design with a various amount of projects and ideas that he has developed. He used this skill set during all of the build-outs and the boat refit. We could not have accomplished what we did without his ability to design and execute. 

-Spent lots of time with family and friends. Grew some roots in Florida. This made it much more difficult to get ready to leave- but all of the friends and family that we spent time with helped us so much in preparing for this trip. I know for a fact that we would not have pulled off what we did in the time period in which we did, without their support. Thank you so much to every single one of you who helped us in this journey. We are thinking of you the entire way. 

-And lots more- but I think i’ll continue on to the present moment now. 

12/7/2021 

This morning I find myself, yet again sitting cross legged aboard Safi. This time, I am in the cockpit and  in a different country. We arrived in Isla Mujeres, Mexico on Sunday December 5th after 5 days and 4 nights at sea. We left St. Petersburg on December 1st in Safi with two crew members: Cary and Ian. This was our first time taking on crew, and it was wonderful. Not only were things easier because we had longer off watches, more hands to work with when sailing, and all the added benefits of extra people cooking, cleaning, and generally just living- but more importantly it was so much fun. It was so special to get to share such an intimate experience with new people. It was just the 4 of us out there aboard Safi. We saw a couple cargo and cruise ships in the distance and some dolphins visited our bow from time to time, but mostly for 5 days- it was just the 4 of us. And we shared all the highs and lows that come with living at sea for that long. The nervousness that overcomes when you first lose sight of land. The joy when the wind picks up and Safi surges through the waves. The excitement over a shared dinner at sunset while Safi sails into the horizon. The smell and feel of salt water on our skin and hair. The laughter we experienced jumping off the back of the boat and quickly grabbing onto a rope. The disappointment when we hit a 2 knot current against us and slowed down for an entire day. The exhaustion experienced when on watch in the middle of the night by yourself. The fear that sometimes creeps up when the seas get bigger. Followed by the complete awe of the power of the ocean and the simplicity of being a small boat floating along. 

It is hard to put into words, and this is part of the reason we chose to take crew. We want to share this rare experience with anyone who is interested. We posted an ad on Crewseekers and on my Instagram, and after months of Zoom calls, emails and conversations with strangers, family, and old friends we have crew for the next few months. Kyle and I are very excited. We are very proud of Safi and we are proud to share her and the experiences she brings with others. 

Cary and Ian are both engineers. They knew each other in college, and Cary introduced us to Ian as a suggested 4th crew member for the Florida to Mexico crossing. Kyle, Ian and Cary had a lot in common in the engineering world. I was so glad Kyle had people to talk to who understood what he was talking about. I try, but that is not how my brain works, so it was lovely to have like-minded people on board.

I found myself spending a lot of time alone. Listening to my audio books, my favorite songs, and just simply sitting and watching the waves. After such a crazy few months leading up to leaving, the waves and stars were calming. I found comfort in them, knowing that regardless of how much I might have lost sight of myself and my connection with nature during the months leading up to leaving, they were still right there. Waiting to be appreciated. I am grateful for that. Grateful for the waves, the wind, and the stars. Grateful for the 5 days I was able to spend working through various emotions and exhaustion. Though many moments of the journey were quite difficult for me, I came out of it with so much more clarity. It was a clear reminder that I am on the right path. The path I want to be on. The path filled with an intimacy to nature that I can’t find anywhere but deep in the mountains or at sea. A path filled with adventure and new horizons. A path that has led me to the realization that the only certainty in life is uncertainty. We have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow. We don’t know how long we have on this earth. I like to think of it as a cosmic river. We don’t know the river’s destination or when we are going to arrive. We don’t have a lot of control in the big picture. But what can control is how we choose to spend our time.  We can guide ourselves down this river of life, and I know that when my time does come, I want to have felt truly alive. And expeditions such as these, give me that on a deep level. 

That being said, I still find myself feeling homesick. I miss my parents. Our dogs. My best friends. I miss the ability to call up a friend at any moment and get a coffee or have a sleepover. The simple walks with the dogs and my parents in the mornings and evenings. Shared meals and the inside jokes we all have with each other. Those are things that I miss greatly and those are also the reasons why I only want to do expeditions like this for 6 months at a time. Half the year adventuring, and half the year working to afford the adventuring which thus allows us to grow roots and spend that quality time with friends and family. Life is a great balancing act and I have yet to figure it all out. And i’m sure I never will. But for now, I look around me and see the crystal clear water of Mexico. I hear catamarans filled with tourists in orange life jackets listening to loud music and laughing and dancing. I notice the movements of the boat as a wake passes under her hull. I feel the sun on my back and the breeze on my face. And in this moment I find presence. I find peace in knowing that life is a grand adventure and i’m doing my best to enjoy the journey. 

I don’t have much written about our passage. I was acclimating to the seas and to being underway again. I wasn’t in the mood to write or get out my computer. Maybe one day soon i’ll do a little write up about what our days actually looked like and going into more details about our watch schedule and how things work on the boat. But for now, I wanted to get back into the rhythm of this blog which has been there for me during our expeditions. So for today, I will leave you with the one journal entry I did make on our crossing as well as a plethora of photos and videos which might provide some insight into what life on the water is like. 

Our next crew arrives on Friday and shortly after we will make our way to San Andres, Colombia- stopping at a few islands along the way. Stay tuned as I get back into the groove. 

Thanks for reading, I’m happy to be back. Cheers.

-Danielle aka Flipper 😉

12/4/2021

It is the last night of our crossing to Mexico. Kyle is down below cooking tacos and I can smell the taco seasoning from my seat on the foredeck. Ian and Cary are in the cockpit fixing their fishing lure as they just caught a fish but lost it at the last minute. The sun is beginning to set on the horizon. We are flying the pink spinnaker and between the orange glow of the sun and the pink glow of the spinnaker, I feel I am floating in an ocean of colors. The orange is reflecting on the ocean’s surface, and dancing with the surge of the gentle waves. Safi is gliding along the water’s surface, creating a small bow wake, which brings the sound of rushing water to my ears. All around me is the horizon. No boats, no land, just horizon and ocean- and the four of us on this little boat. This passage has been filled with a large range of emotions. There have been high highs and low lows. I am still processing the depth of what Kyle and I are attempting to do. I find myself feeling pure joy and hours later, confusion about what my life’s path is supposed to look like. But that’s the key word there- supposed to- Do we ever know what is supposed to be? I don’t think the ocean, the dolphins, or the birds think about what was supposed to be or not be. I think they just are. And that is why I like it out here. Despite the difficulties. Despite the fear and the anxiety. Pushing aside the grief of leaving behind my family and friends and dogs. Underneath the complete exhaustion of working so hard to make this happen – I am learning. I am learning from the ocean. From the waves. From the setting sun. All of these great forces around me are a constant reminder of my place in this universe. I am a part of it all. We all are. And that is incredible to me. I am filled with so much gratitude for that reminder. I am sitting cross legged on the bow of the boat, my laptop perched in my lap. I bob up and down with the waves. I feel one with all that is around me. And that is a feeling that I have found nowhere else except for in the depths of the ocean or the mountains.  “The sea is calling…” Onward

I have been unable to upload videos to this blog for whatever reason. If you’d like to see a couple videos of the trip, particularly the “Land Ho!” video, please scroll through these photos and the last 3 images are videos showing small snippets of the trip.

Photo credit give to: Myself, Ian, Cary, and Kyle 🙂