Friday, August 18, 2017

Return to Isla Mujeres!

Ken & I love Mexico, so when we saw a "Living Social" non-stop airfare deal from New Orleans to Cancun .. we jumped on it! Yeah, we moved onto Nirvana a couple of months ago & are prepping her for cruising this winter, but traveling is our main goal so why wait?! The deal required us to fly on certain dates, which meant we needed to spend 6 nights in Mexico. We decided to spend 3 nights on Isla Mujeres, and then another 3 nights in Cancun.

On the morning of July 30th, we hopped on a plane and arrived in Cancun 1.5 hours later.  After a 20 minute ferry ride through gorgeous, blue waters we arrived on Isla Mujeres.  Here are a few pics from the ferry ...

We love all the palm trees!

We were there for a late lunch/early dinner of tacos & beer. After a series of tough events the past two months, we were so ready to chill out! How does three tacos & two beers for $5 bucks sound? So good!

We stayed on the little island of Isla Mujeres last year, and we loved it. It's full of palm trees, beautiful beaches, gorgeous rocky shores, spectacular sunset views, golf carts & scooters to get around, and really inexpensive food, beer & fresh margaritas!

We stayed at the same hotel as last year since the price was right & it's located on one of the main streets of the island .. lots of bars, restaurants & activity with live music in the evenings. Ken forgot how hard the beds are at this hotel .. he needed about 30 minutes every morning to work out the kinks in his back! Other than that, we still loved the location and the pool.  Here's a pic of the Hotel Plaza Almendros from last year ...

See that guy sitting in front? He books tours, and was there again this year. We decided to take the advice of our new friends at our marina back home and book a "Whale Shark" tour with this guy. More about that in the next post! 

We spent the first two & a half days chilling at the beach ...

and touring the island on a golf cart.

I've mastered the "selfie"!

We stopped at one of our favorite places from last year .. "The Joint". We had nachos & beer, and listened to live music with a great guitar player!

We stumbled across the only brewery on the island .. Isla Brewing Company, so we had to stop in. The owners are from North Carolina & fairly new to Isla. They had four beers, and we sampled two of them. They were really good!

See the woman Ken's talking to in the picture below? It turned out that she lives on a sailboat & arrived with her husband just 4 months earlier! They planned to stay a few weeks, but fell in love with the island and decided to stay through hurricane season. We enjoyed talking with her, as we hope to sail our own boat to Isla Mujeres someday!

 As I mentioned last year .. I'm not a big margarita fan, but the fresh-made margaritas on Isla Mujeres are really good! Those two margaritas were fixin' to be ours!

While the island has great Mexican food, they also have a great variety of other food too. We tried  Italian food on both of our trips, and it was really good. We've been told that the island has quite a few Italians that have moved there & opened up restaurants.

We enjoyed the island as much as last year, but we didn't take near as many photos this time around. If you want to see a lot more .. check out these posts from last year or this photo album! Last year we rented a scooter instead of a golf cart & I made a little amateur video .. check it out here!

Next up .. swimming with whale sharks!

Hasta luego .. until then. Mid-Life Cruising!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Two Months As Liveaboards!

It's been just over two months since we moved aboard Nirvana. Man, time flies ... especially on a boat!  A lot has happened the past two months .. good n bad!

While at the boatyard, we had a local rigger inspect our rigging, replace the mast lights with LEDs, and replace our three mast-head sheaves with upgraded ball-bearing sheaves ... this should make raising the main sail much easier! The inspection went pretty well, but he did find that our halyard "retainer" needed replacement, as well as our spreader boots & a shroud. He came back another time to replace the shroud & retainer, and we're hoping that we can replace the boots ourselves soon .. time to buy something to go up the mast!

After a couple of weeks of living at the boatyard where Nirvana had been for over a year, we moved to the local marina, which is so much nicer! Our "kids" came along for the ride .. no sails yet. It was a great day to be on the boat .. it's been way too long!

Our new home .. and only $150 a month! The first photo is from our cockpit .. what a view!

Nirvana's new slip .. notice our "cajun a/c".  The Bristol next to us sails to the Bahamas every winter!

Our first night .. so pretty. We're really enjoying the sunsets!

The marina's restaurant (really good) and Yacht Club ...

Nirvana under the moonlight!

We celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary by washing Nirvana and adding some much needed shade!

I wish that I could say that we've tackled all sorts of major projects on the boat and we've been "living the dream", but I'd be stretching the truth a bit. We're still working on wrapping our our businesses, and we've had quite a few unexpected things occur that were really tough to deal with. 

After leaving behind the boatyard and the two weeks of rain, we were starting to get in our groove until ... a tropical storm that brought even more rain a few weeks later led to a flooded rental! We were quick to deal with the damage, and luckily we kept our tenant. Around the same time we had a vacant rental .. and a ton of disgusting trash left behind. Again, we wasted no time getting the house cleaned and occupied with a really nice woman.

Just as we were finishing up our rentals, we were dealt with some pretty tough, emotional stuff. Friends of ours lost their teenage son in a car wreck and just earlier this week Ken's younger brother suffered a heart attack and did not survive .. talk about a shock!

This photo was taken on our dock of the kids at Summer Sailing Camp just seconds before we got that terrible call about Ken's brother .. life can change so fast. We were really looking forward to taking Ken's brother sailing when we reached his hometown in Florida. Our hearts are heavy .. Steve was a great guy!

Needless to say, the past two months have been challenging.  However, life is short and we try to make the best of each day. Not all has been bad the past two months. In fact, this past Father's Day we learned we're gonna be grandparents!  We're really excited, and the baby is due in February. We'll definitely be around for the birth of our first grandchild, so we're gonna have to figure out our travel plans when we get our heads cleared.

The photo below was taken on Father's Day with our daughter, son-in-law, and his parents. We all got together at our beach-town condo, and the two "fathers" found pacifiers with a cute little note .. what a great Father's Day! We haven't stayed at the condo since Father's Day, and haven't been able to enjoy the condo as much as we'd hoped, but we plan on making up for it soon.

Our little salon has a place for the special gifts from our "kids" .. a sun hat, a knife .. and a pacifier!

We've made new friends at our dock, most of them liveaboards. In fact, the couple docked next to us sail to the Bahamas every winter .. we've been picking their brains! We've had many sunset "happy hours" on the dock and on our new friend's boats. The folks on our dock have been amazing .. our "neighborhood" is pretty awesome!

We now do our laundry at the marina's laundry room, walk to the marina's bathroom for showers, and get our water from our tanks that we fill about every 7-10 days. These little inconveniences have been worth it ... but the heat is a different story!  It's been hot as hell in the boat .. even with our a/c window unit. Yesterday, our thermometer read 95 degrees at 6pm! We're looking into different options, as we'll be at the dock until the Fall and the heat & humidity have been brutal!

Nirvana is starting to feel like "home", and I'm anxious to bring a few sentimental items on the boat. However, Ken has to run some wires soon so I'm trying not to fill up the boat until he's done. As shown in the first photo, I have added a "sun" tapestry and burnt orange sheets to the salon to give our little place a sense of my style. We've also added a couple of gear hammocks for storage, a hanging shoe storage in the "head" for random items, and some Steri-lite plastic bins in the aft cabin for storing tools & spare boat parts. While our boat is considered tiny by today's standards, we've been doing pretty well with storage .. so far. We still have quite a bit to bring on board, so we'll see. I'm optimistic!

Cooking has been a challenge on board, and it doesn't help that I'm not fond of it! After several times of pumping the alcohol stove's tank in the heat and then finding a leak, we decided to ditch the stove! 

We decided to keep things easy and just order a 2-burner propane stove to use with our Omnia Stovetop Oven .. not so easy. Most of the stoves were too wide for our opening, and when we finally found one to order ... it had a propane attachment on the side that just won't work for our situation. We returned the stove, paid the shipping fees, and ordered a "drop-in" that is used in RV's. The stove is on its way, and our fingers are crossed! In the meantime, we're using a Coleman one-burner propane stove. We even used the Omnia for the first time last night and it worked great .. chicken & rice casserole!

Through trial and error, we also ditched the idea of using our 12v Engel as a freezer .. it was just too much of a pain to switch ice packs daily to try and keep our icebox cold. Plus, all we were freezing was the ice packs! It just didn't make sense, so we now use the icebox for dry storage and the Engel as our fridge. It's so much more convenient, and we don't miss the freezer. Ken was a little pessimistic at first, thinking the fridge wouldn't have enough room for our food .. it's just big enough and he's been pleasantly surprised. It makes a great coffee table too. Whew .. the Engel was my idea!

So, the past two months have been a blur and we're looking forward to better days ahead .. and hopefully cooler ones too?!  Time really does fly on the boat, and I've even lost 5 lbs. with all the extra walking I've been doing .. and sweating too! I'm hoping to manage my time a bit better in the future and start keeping up with blog posts again. It takes much more time to write a post than you'd think, but I miss it and enjoy documenting our life to look back at one day.

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!
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