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!

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.

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.


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

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

A post shared by kate zidar (@plankton_every_day) on

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!





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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More on La possibilità di un’isola

Farmers sailing

There’s a book called Sailing the Farm that we are in danger of becoming disciples of. It outlines a post-currency lifestyle where goods and services are bartered and it all boils down to how prepared you are. How prepared we are.

All things being coincidental, we very recently met a pair of sailors on a fully handmade wooden boat, with a greenhouse built into the v-berth and a perfect zero waste nutrient cycle on board. We spent a lovely evening poking around their boat and sampling from their pantry, the whole small space full of laughter and music.

Read more on Plankton Every Day

Lessons from coastal GA

Recently someone asked me how I like living here in coastal Georgia, and the question sparked three quick thoughts:

  1. I live here!  We are not “just visiting”.  That’s a new sense of status.  We will travel again, probably within the year, but nonetheless, I don’t think of this place as somewhere we are passing through.

  2. This place is teaching me a lot about my country, and as Americans I how we lie about each other. In the North we think the South is a certain way, and vice versa.  We are not so monolithic by region, and my experience is still quite small in total.

  3. I don’t even know what I know yet.  I had a teacher impress upon me the concept of “slow knowledge“, and how with experiential learning you sometimes only get the point years later.

In any case, I made a list of “21 THINGS I LEARNED IN COASTAL GA“. Enjoy?

Kate writes for One Hundred Miles

I have a job here on the Georgia coast, which is quickly becoming a place very near and dear to us.

Its not hard to see why!

If you live, work or play in coastal Georgia, then you already know what is precious about this place: the landscapes, wildlife and coastal communities that can only be found right here.  Unfortunately, what makes this place special could also be its greatest threat.  Without careful planning and a strong vision, the Georgia coast could lose its special texture, dissolving into another unrecognizable stretch of subdivisions.

Full piece at One Hundred Miles.

The time Fabio left Kate on the boat alone for two weeks

Last month, Fabio went on a delivery, meaning that he joined a crew tasked with transporting a beautiful luxury yacht from one sunny Caribbean island to another at the behest of the yacht’s owner.  He was away from SY Tranquility, and me, for about two weeks.  I spent that time in search of my own bit of work and trying to figure out what’s up in this strange world of Sea Islands and wild ponies.

Full post at planktoneveryday …

Long form post for Wandr’ly: “Living on a Sailboat”

This was the final post for my gig at Wandr’ly. A personal milestone for me – completion of a bona fide travel writing+photos gig. Whats next?!? Full article here.

Living on a small boat means changing a lot of your expectations, and continuing to adapt to reality as it emerges. For example, my early expectations of living on a boat were that the chatter of my mind would be drastically reduced, my daily life would simplify and therefore the most important things, my real values, would emerge as the central focus each day.

These types of lofty expectations are somewhat mitigated by the emerging realities of having very little privacy or personal space, essentially living outdoors in winter, and a precipitous drop in face-to-face interaction with my friends, family and colleagues.

To move on to a boat is to physically secede from your mainstream community. How do you remain empathetic, confident and sane? Next to this, getting rid of most of my worldly belongings was actually the easy part. Maybe I should start there.