Date: 31 December 2016. Christmas
ran on at the fingertips today. Believe it or not, I have cut back the
length of this piece. Nevertheless, you might want to pour yourself
a beverage before reading. I think I would opt for eggnog though I only
sip it once or twice per year.
It's fun to have gifts to open on Christmas
2016 aboard Seaweed was laid back and relaxing. I saw friends, shared
meals (am still stuffed!) and thoroughly enjoyed the day. It was
wonderful. In 2014 while enduring the engine swap I saw
not a single living soul on Christmas day. Trust me when I say that
was The Worst Christmas of my life. Ever.
I confess my spirits were as gloomy as the above
There was a
pity party in Carrabelle that year. Fruitcake was not served. That is
because I could not find Claxton's in that small town. I tell you, I
This year I
laid in a supply. I will be enjoying
fruitcake in July if all goes according to plan.
I bought several and have them tucked away.
Having a Christmas treat on my
special plate is a simple joy...
All I have to do is show restraint and not eat them too quickly. I
am not known for showing much restraint when it comes to Claxton's
Fruitcake. I am trying to hold off until January before I open
another. I do not know that I will make it. [Fruitcake is in the same
category as my shrimp addiction. See the
article for details on that.]
Claxton makes the best fruitcakes. They are my favorite and a real
treat to have aboard. With a long shelf life that particular brand
makes a great boat pantry item. A little item, not bulky to store,
well, I do have a few stashed in my canned goods locker for later.
be one less very shortly!
touch via Telephone
telephone was a lifesaver Christmas of 2014. I spoke with Kidlet and
the Grand. Another soloist, my friend on Katja is on the east coast.
She and I chatted a few times that day. It was good to know that I was
not alone on the planet Earth.
was odd back in 2014 to look out Seaweed's windows and see no one. No moving
cars, no people... I felt like I was in one of those dystopian
novels that are so popular nowadays with the preppers.
Being able to contact friends
both by voice and text is critical to sanity. I touched on this
in one of my first articles titled
Lonely No More.
Social interaction is vital.
flip-phone is a part of my happiness quotient. Mine is a bit finicky,
having been dropped a time or three. It shuts itself off without
consulting me. Kidlet has me on her friends-and-family plan.
with good coverage in your cruising grounds is important.
I would go so far as to suggest an internet connection is critical
Originally I was able to find open wifi connections practically
everywhere. Times have changed. I do see internet access points. They are password protected and thus useless to a
off a condo used to be a great place to pick up open wifi. Not any
My solution is to spend the money ($76.57 per month) for T-Mobile with an
"unlimited" hotspot. Actually if you read the fine print, the
hotspot is capped at 26 gigs of high speed data usage before they *throttle you
back. When I got my plan that was the offer. As always, read
the fine print.
you back means the connection speeds are slowed. At 4G speed
everything plays fast. Below that level, videos will buffer (download
partially before playing starts)
Remote anchorages are favorites.
Folks do not realize how
isolating life afloat can be. As a soloist it can get mighty
lonesome. Having friends is paramount. The phone and internet
provide socialization that is critical for my continued happiness. I
rely on both real life and online friendships. Y'all are an
important factor in my success. I appreciate that.
I love the calm beauty of
waking up at anchor. Protected coves are a favorite. Generally I
prefer to be close to shore. I watch for wildlife and that is a real
There is a night heron in the melaleuca trees above.
Pronounced mal-a-loo-ka, they are also known as
paper trees. The bark peels off and you can write on it. They also
have blossoms that make me sneeze.
I do have my favorite bird book aboard. It allows me
to look up birds and find out what I'm seeing. The one
pictured above is a male Night Heron.
Having the paperback
Birds of North America
is helpful. Of course the internet could tell me the same
thing provided I had the search criteria correct.
Though some are good at
research and looking thing up, that has never been a strong
suit of mine. That is a real talent and one I lack.
Many folks use the internet to find
out lots useful information.
Being able to access wifi is also a safety
consideration. Having the internet available means I can look up
things online. When I had a clogged fuel line back in West Bay a
friend named Barb used her bandwidth to find solutions for me to
kindness and efforts were appreciated. They also made me realize I
wanted to be self-sufficient that way too. Thus began the desire for
my own wifi connection aboard Seaweed.
WEST BAY and PANAMA
CITY plus CARRABELLE
West Bay is at the far west end of Panama City. Frank
and Jewell live at the east side of Panama City.
the easternmost edge of Panama City I met another couple. They allowed me
to stay at their dock while Kidlet sent me a wifi gizmo from
Verizon. Frank and Jewell were true gems. You met them in the
By the Shipyard
well, I am a social creature. I make acquaintances with relative
ease. The internet has broadened my horizons. Now I can share my
joys with folks almost everywhere.
Joy #1: I
backed Seaweed into her spot like a pro earlier this week. It is the
first time I have done so with ease in a long time. I confess that it
was fear more than lack of ability that delayed me trying.
The internet has allowed me to make
new friends from across the globe.
It is always fun to put a face to a name at the
bottom of an email. Tracy is one such person.
Her family and I met at the local McDonald's when they journeyed
across the country from California.
The intention was to
bring Seaweed over to McDonald's. Unfortunately that morning
my water pump that cools the engine was not pumping. It did
not work when I tightened the fan belt on the alternator
either. Rather than attempt a repair in a hurried manner, I
opted to ride over with Mr. Uber to meet Tracy's family.
Ruwan, Nishan, Me and Tracy.
I had looked forward to
showing her and the family my home. It was disappointing to
not be able to do so as the day before the doggone boat had
performed flawlessly. I have learned one thing over the years:
Rushing a repair is a recipe for disaster.
It is always better to take my time and do a job properly.
In this case it could have been Very Serious had I not left
the boat at the dock. I will tell you about the alternator
fiasco at a later date. Suffice it to say, NOT going was the
smartest thing possible. I could have done serious damage
and was truly blessed to find the problem before it was
← Me and Tracy's Family
Tracy and I had corresponded a few times.
When she, husband Ruwan and son Nishan were crossing the
country they honored me with a visit.
I had looked forward to
showing my solar set-up to them. Seaweed is capable of
sustaining a decadent level of life on or off the grid.
Life afloat is truly
Side Note: the
alternator issue has been solved/resolved.
Going off-the-grid is doable on a budget IF you
gather your components over time. The life I lead is fabulous
however it did not happen overnight. I have been out here nearly nine
Being willing to put the time and
effort into making your boat home better is key. I am far more
comfortable than I was in 2008. This has taken time. I am grateful for
all that has been given me, but most especially for the time.
Do not let life pass you by.
If you want to be out here, find your Last Boat and buy it. Even
Dream Boats are not finished at purchase. Make your wishes come true
while using your boat. Seaweed was not perfect when I started and she
still is not. She is close though. Very very close.
Time does not stop for any
of us. Do not wait too long to have your boat life!
May all your dreams come true in 2017. Hoping to see you on the
I'd love to hear what your boat plans are for the new
And, are you boat shopping right now?
Pam in MN says on 3 January
2017: Iím glad you had a great Christmas with friends and
lots of good food, Janice! And, Iím glad to hear that you like
fruitcake. I love fruitcake and canít understand why itís so
maligned in general. Iíll have to check out your brand.
Me: I read about how
under appreciated fruitcake is... all the jokes made about it,
etc. And worst of all am usually surrounded by folks who like 'em.
The opportunity to have extras passed along just isn't there
like it used to be.
I did not yet open the
newest one so that's a good thing.
This year like others,
I'm going to attempt to get a bit healthier. It's just that food
taste so good.
And too there is a
comfort in being older. I've come to realize I'll never get back
to my original weight. Five pounds and a few ounces is a bit
In the meantime I've got
my stash of fruitcakes in the canning jar locker. They fit
nicely in there.
Claxton suggests their
fruitcake be chilled. It sure is nice to have a refrigerator
that is powered via solar panels. I am truly blessed.
For you, I hope this is
your year to find the boat of your dreams. Happy hunting.
Thank you Pam for your
Comment. It is appreciated. J.
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