We did the thing we said we wanted to do

Fabio just posted about our 2-year anniversary of living aboard, and I wanted to check in here with this video about out trip via the windward passage from the Bahamas to Panama.  It was a wet and wavy ride, and we were definitely slap happy  the whole way.

Since we met, we’ve been talking about this goal – fix up a boat and take it to Panama.  Now here we are…what’s next?


Beta Universe

Before we get any further into our boat cat training program, we thought it would be helpful to offer a nice overview of QM Beta’s life on the boat. It is a lot like any housecoat on land, in that he basically sleeps all the time, but he just happens to be very tolerant of water, and is able to get enough play and exercise snooping around the boat and chasing flies for us.

Even when we are underway, he seems to have developed his own way of coping with motion and weather, often joining us for naps between watches, or poking his nose into the cockpit to offer cheer to the watch keeper.

Here is a primer on the life of a boat cat!


One of the best things about sailing is that dolphins are often around. We notice them when we are entering or leaving a harbor, as if they were in charge of hospitality. When we are offshore, we may meet up with large gangs, who seem to enjoy rolling along the bow our boat. Day or night, thesigh sound of a dolphin breaking the surface is a welcome sound of good company…

Bahamas report: cat overboard drills

So a lot has happened. You can expect more activity on this blog soon! We have transited from USA to the Bahamas and are angling for the Windward Passage now. On a recent slow day, we took the cat our for some much-overdue safety training. He LIKES water, but he does not LOVE it.

Walking in America


As live aboard cruisers we end up in random places where we need to get supply, or just visit particular sites, and we don’t have a car, mainly because we cannot carry one with us onboard I guess. Everywhere we need to go, we go on foot, hire a cab or rent a car if that requires long traveling. And we feel strange.

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Newtown Creek homecoming

After two refits, and over 2,ooo nautical miles, we are so happy to return to the North Brooklyn Boat Club this week to visit with friends and have a good old fashioned slideshow. We hope to see you there, NYC people!


Illustration by Ed Hose

Kate and Fabio spent the last few years refitting a “vintage” Columbia 29 sailboat, and sailing it from Buzzards Bay, MA, to St. Marys, GA, and back again! Come gather round for a photo show of their adventure — the good, the bad, and the dusty. Topics will include electric propulsion for two, miracles in fiberglass, marina biology, advanced sanding, and more!

Kate Zidar was the head of NCA for several years and is a big advocate for the boat club.  She sailed away from NYC, literally, about a year ago, in a small boat with with Fabio, whom she had met on a boat in Panama, and they have had many adventures, including a focus on ecology and sustainability in various coastal towns along the Atlantic shore.

Come here their story at NBBC’s boatyard Thursday, October 13, 7:00-9:00 PM.

Fire, grill, and cocktails to follow.


Sea legs and watch system

It took a long time to get our sea legs and cruising routines back on track. Sea legs are what keep you standing (or sitting) on top of a vessel accelerating and decelerating under the action of wind and waves. I suspect sea legs are a combination of motor control (governed by the cerebellum in the brain) and muscle tone of the core, so it takes training and exercise to establish a harmonic posture in relation with a shaky floor…

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Shake down, inside and out

Ahoy! We find ourselves bobbing behind Waites Island, SC, resting from thunderstorms and burpy chop. We have reached the acceptance stage about the fact that our boat is more prepared for this than we are. We spent the refit period pouring our attention, labor, and pennies into making her as tough as possible, and at night we settled into a comfy sofa and watched NBA and Shondaland.

So our float plan has been revised to include a series of short jumps, ever northward, dodging the late season trickster skies, and resting often to regroup the team and make sure we are learning as much as possible from each exercise. And inside the boat and ourselves a great tide of personal work swells, each of us reading, writing, and sketching out new ideas and dreams.

team tranquility

Video tour of Tranquility

Thanks to our friend and mentor James Baldwin, now we have a youtube video that shows our Columbia 29 MKI in and out after the refit project.

We had always thought about making a video ourselves, that showed all the upgrades and modification, but as many other brilliant ideas it got buried under the contingencies of life until James decided to show up at the docks with a video camera. We probably were not “ready” and didn’t sport our best acting skills, but it’s D for done (as another mentor of ours, Mandy, would say).

James and Mei have been a point of reference in our most recent life. James circumnavigated the globe twice and lived many other sailing adventures before deciding to spend a little more time on land. We learned about him on his website, atomvoyages. James and Mei introduced us to Coastal Georgia almost by accident but sure enough Brunswick became one of our many homes, and the place where Tranquility took a new shape.

Here we enjoyed sharing our experience with other cruisers that were as well attracted by the gravity force of the Baldwins. Among them are Brian and Debbie, Fernando and Marlise , Richard and Bill. Even though now all of us have taken different courses I think we share a similar pattern and legacy.

Float plan

Inquiring minds want to know, “Where are you taking the boat?” We reply, “North!”

After delay and plans changing so often, we understand now that the boat really is running this show (is she the fifth Cylon?). So this is truly the float plan: we go out, we turn left, we come in when conditions change.

See you north from here!


Time to plug in/unplug…

We spent the last month at St. Marys Boat Services (highly recommended!) repainting the bottom, fixing our rudder, replacing the propellor, and a million other jobs, big and small. Right now our boat is up in the travel lift and we are about to go back in the water and point our noses north, north, north. We can be reached and tracked via our DeLorme InReach two-way messenger. Send us a message and follow our dot!

Last night on the hard. #betaboatchronicles

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Since Fabio and I got married, we have done a lot of normal married-people stuff like file joint tax returns, hold hands in public, argue over nothing which is also everything, etc. But we have not been able to merge our personal blogs into one tidy couple-boat blog. So when people ask us how to keep in touch, we don’t have a quick answer or slick boat card to slide over.

Fabio still has his blog called La possibilità di un’isola: Tales from an unlikely inhabitant of the sea, where he writes about his own observations on restoring our boat and his assorted sailing adventures. I still have my blog, Plankton Every Day, where I try to write about living aboard as a scientist and making a major life change leaving land. Lately its a lot about my cat.

When Fabio and I first met we started keeping this blog, named for the squid we spotted on one of our first dates while traveling in Panama.  We used it to bounce ideas back and forth over the long distances between NYC, Panama, Italy, and Newport. Now its the aggregator, a one-stop shop for all things SY Tranquility.

I tell you all this to say: keep in touch through whichever channel you prefer…just keep in touch! Fair winds!




The “good enough” boat

I spent a ton of time reading and researching about 12v fans, the ones that swivel and the ones that don’t, multi or single speed, and so on. When this was not enough I sought the opinion of experts and when finally I was very close to hit the Pay Now button the constant fear of settling for something not optimal made me delay the purchase. I was paralyzed by the fact that there could be something better or the same product for a better price, just few clicks away.

On a list of items necessary for a safe passage at sea fans surely sit at its bottom. So try to imagine how this would go for all the more important items an empty boat needs to be fitted for ocean passages.

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Painting and sanding punctuate our days. The weather rules our schedule, as we are doing everything in open air, vulnerable to atmospheric change. We look for dry days, the warmer the better, but this time of the year in Coastal Georgia warm means humid and we have to adapt to good enough conditions. It’s always a little too windy or too humid or too cold. We don’t have the luxury to wait for the perfect day and we do the best with what we get. Other events, from family visits to work obligations, decide when we are able to continue working. We keep pushing but we can’t always walk at the pace we would like and our March deadline is getting closer every day.

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