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Date: 31 December 2016. Christmas Connections.

© janice142

I rather 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 morning...

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 photo.

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 suffered!

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
Time Stopped 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.

There will be one less very shortly!


Keeping in touch via Telephone


The 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.

Still it 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.

The Verizon 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.

A telephone with good coverage in your cruising grounds is important.
I would go so far as to suggest an internet connection is critical as well.

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 cruiser.

Anchoring off a condo used to be a great place to pick up open wifi. Not any more!

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.

*Throttle 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 treat.

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 try.

Her 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 is at the far west end of Panama City. Frank and Jewell live at the east side of Panama City.

Later, on 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 article.

For me, 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 Major.


← 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 wonderful.

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 years.

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 waterways...

I'd love to hear what your boat plans are for the new year.
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 unrealistic, eh?

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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