Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Touch of Class

When I was a little girl, I had two dreams—to have a home with at least one large crystal chandelier and to inherit my parents’ collection of crystal drinking glasses (what fulfilling dreams, I know). To date, I have been unable to identify a suitable chandelier for the boat (and believe me, I have tried); however, I am happy to report that the other of my two dreams has been realized. The crystal drinking glasses that I ogled as a child are now in my charge for the next several decades.

As a child, I loved these glasses—mostly because we shared the same name (although not the same spelling). The cut of the crystal is “Christine.”
Given our space limitations, Eric and I don’t make a habit of owning impractical items. Uni-taskers are all but forbidden aboard Sea Gem (although we do own a kiwi peeler—eek!), as are non-space-savers. To say that we were not in the market for an entire collection of fragile drinking glasses (water goblets, wine glasses, and Champaign glasses) would be an understatement. That being said, I knew these glasses would one day be mine, and I was prepared for their arrival.

This past weekend, my parents hand-delivered the set to me, and wouldn’t you know, they fit perfectly aboard Sea Gem:


I think poor Eric was a bit overwhelmed by just how many glasses were in the set (the above image only shows half of the collection), but as I explained to him, he was getting to live out his boyhood dream of living on a boat, so now it was time for me to live out my girlhood dream of sipping from these glasses. Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor the gloom of Eric was going to keep me from fulfilling my crystal-owning destiny. 
When Eric expressed his concern over the number of Champagne glasses that had made their way aboard, my parents were quick to point out that the Champagne glasses also doubled as ice cream dishes, which meant they didn't fall into the dreaded category of uni-tasker (and we do eat a lot of ice cream aboard Sea Gem).
Begrudgingly, Eric eventually conceded, and has since admitted that the set looks rather handsome aboard. 
So this is quite the upgrade from our current set of wine glasses. Now, I just need to keep Helina away from them.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mixed Feelings

Overall, we are very excited about our upcoming move. However, unlike our last move, much more than our view will be changing. We are going to be in an entirely different area of the city--one that is the cultural opposite of where we currently reside (which is kind of the whole point). If you haven't been to Miami (or if you have, but haven't venture beyond the beach), when someone says "Miami," you likely think of South Beach. And in reality, South Beach is pretty much exactly how it is portrayed in movies and on TV (the rest of Miami is much different than what you might think). South Beach is extremely flashy. Since moving here, I can't remember a day that has passed in which I didn't see at least one Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Bentley, Rolls Royce, and Aston Martin. And I'm not talking about seeing one of these 6 cars each day. I'm saying that I see at least one of each of these cars, every single day. Modest people drive lesser cars, like Mercedes, BMWs, Teslas, and Porsches. And let's just say that no one is driving the base-model of any of the cars mentioned. (For the record, I drive a base-model Mazda). This is a typical sight in our parking garage (And yes, that is a chrome Bentley. There is also a chrome Lamborghini in the neighborhood.):

Not My Ride
Despite all of the excess, I think the culture of South Beach is fun to observe and fine to be around, but that is only because I don't aspire to be a part of it. If I were, however, a--oh I don't know-- young child, I might not feel so indifferent. I worry that Helina will look around at her surroundings, see how everyone is living, and think that it is normal (because around here, it is fairly normal). It just isn't a perspective I want her to have. Too bad, because how cool would it be to tell everyone you grew up on South Beach?!

The excessive nature of South Beach extends beyond just cars--but not in a bad way. Among other things, there is excessive sun, excessive ocean breezes, excessive sand and surf, and excessively beautiful Art Deco architecture. This is just blocks away from where we're docked:

South Beach
Despite all of the loveliness described above, the best part of our current location was our proximity to a yummy bagel shop. I say "was" because it just closed (carbohydrates and South Beach don't pair well). Well, as soon as we realized our bagel haunt was no more, Eric and I suddenly felt little desire to live in our current location. With our bellies full of bagels, we were happy to overlook all of the flaws of our neighborhood (traffic, flooding, crazy drivers, general rudeness, honking horns, flashiness, etc.). But, with our carb-goggles off, we are seeing things clearly, and we know it is time to move.  

Where we're going is much more family friendly, but we won't be around the corner from a gorgeous beach that extends for miles. We will, however, be around the corner from multiple parks, a library, boutiques, and dozens of casual restaurants. The atmosphere of our new neighborhood is much more laid back than where we currently live, which is exactly what we are looking for at this stage of our lives (plus, our 2nd favorite bagel shop will be close by). 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

We're Moving! (Again)

Earlier this year, we moved from one pier to another in our marina. Our new "home" is maybe 100 yards away from our old one.  Why the move?  There were a few reasons, as we explained in an earlier post, but the main reason was that we wanted new neighbors.  And, of course, because it was easy to do.  From start to finish, our move required maybe 20 minutes, highlighting an advantage of living on a boat: a move is nothing more than going for a sail and returning to a different place.  No packing, no stress, no decorating, etc., etc.

And so we are doing it again.  This time, our move won't be measured in yards, but in miles.  We are leaving Miami Beach and heading to the mainland (Miami).  Why?  Unlike our last move, which was motivated in part by wanting a bigger slip and more protection from the wind, our new move is not motivated by boat-related reasons, but rather family reasons.  We love our marina, but we want to live in a different neighborhood.

Now that Helina is the focus of our lives, proximity to bars and fine dining, which is unparalleled at our current location, is no longer an important criterion.  Rather, we are more concerned about pedestrian safety, available babysitters, and restaurants that don't mind screaming babies.  Really, we are moving for many of the same reasons many landlubber couples move after they have a baby (minus wanting more space, as Sea Gem is not getting any bigger).

Our move will be a lot easier than most couples', though.  Including juggling cars (unless you have a better idea, we'll need to both drive to the new marina, leave car A there, drive car B back to our current marina, and then drive car A back to pick up car B after moving Sea Gem to the new marina), we should be done in a few hours.  We probably won't move for about a month, but we did check out our new slip last weekend when we made the decision:

New Splashing Ground
Looks nice, doesn't it?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Captain is 1 Year!

So apparently a year has past since our baby was born. Officially, we celebrated Helina's birthday two days ago (coincidentally, on what was her due date), but today is her actual birthday. Although I've had a few days to come to terms with Helina being one, I still can't wrap my mind around it. On one hand, it seems like she was just born, yet at the same time, it also feels like she has always been here. It is a bit of a paradox, but I'm told this is what happens when you have kids. I'm not sure how I feel about time progressing in this manner for the rest of my life, but I'm guessing I shouldn't waste too much time thinking about it or another year might pass me by unexpectedly. 

As you can see, Helina is willing to wear the hat again:

1 Year!
Well, sort of. This was a lucky shot. She actually pulled the hat off her head moments after I snapped this picture. However, while taking this month's hat photo, I discovered something interesting about Helina's hat preferences. Although she is opposed to wearing the Commander's hat, she is more than happy to wear the Lieutenant's hat (I have several pictures that I can produce as evidence). She might be a big 1-year-old, but I guess she's just not ready to hold the rank of Commander. Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. So, moving forward, Lieutenant it is (although I think the hat photos might move to an annual schedule).

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Transitioning

Helina is getting big! I remember the first night we put her in her crib to sleep (she had previously been sleeping in our room). She was so tiny and the crib seemed so large--it looked ridiculous for her to be sleeping in something so big. Well, we're now at the other end of the ridiculous spectrum:

The Dreamer
Helina now consumes a good portion of the available space in her crib. She is still able to move freely and sleep comfortably, but clearly she is nearing the maximum size for the dimensions of the crib.

Preparations are underway for our baby's transition from crib to bed. We recently installed a guard rail on the bottom bunk:

Ready for Sleep
And although Helina is not yet ready to actually sleep in her bed, we are getting her familiar with the space:

Playpen
So far, she likes it. Actually, she likes it a little too much:

Bunktastic!
As soon as we placed Helina on her bed, she immediately discovered she was able to access all of the things sitting on top of the shelf in her room (which is the encasement of our washer/dryer) and dump everything in her crib. Here she is having a grand ol' time with her laundry bin:

Where's the Baby?
 And here she is moments before tossing her baby monitor into her crib:

Trouble
From the other end of her bed, she is able to access her changing station, and cause similar destruction.

So, it is going to be a little while before we trust Helina in her bed by herself. Hopefully she'll learn her limits before she becomes too large for her current accommodations. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Know your Limits!

With the exception of the companionway ladder leading in and out of our boat and the mini companionway ladder leading to and from our aft-cockpit, the interior of our boat has two "staircases." Steps, really. One step leads toward the front of the boat and one step leads into the galley toward the back.

In a conventional home, I imagine that staircases are one of the most dangers features, as far as childproofing goes. On a boat, the most dangerous part is--obviously--the exterior. Our steps are hardly steep, but none the less, they are wooden and a child could certainly take a tumble (albeit a minor one) down them. We considered getting a baby gate for both steps, but given that Helina can scale a wall with ease, we figured the gate would likely end up serving as a greater obstacle for us than an effective barrier for our daughter.

So, instead of barricading the interior steps, we have attempted to teach Helina that they exist and are not to be trespassed. Whenever Helina approaches one of the steps, we firmly say to her, "Helina, know your limits." Surprisingly, she stops in her tracks. She crawls (or cruises) right to the edge and then looks at us and smiles once she receives the command to behave.

Walking the Line
I'm not convinced that Helina actually understands the concept of limits (the command is less effective when she has her eye on a blinking light or switch she shouldn't touch); however, as of today, she hasn't fallen down the steps, so whatever her understanding might be, the desired outcome has been realized.

Limited
Don't worry though, we're not applying this technique to the exterior of the boat.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Our Flag has an Anchor (Happy 4th of July)

When we purchased Sea Gem, a U.S. flag flew from our rigging; however, about a year ago, we took it down because the colors had faded and the material had become quite tattered (and it is my understanding that flying a flag in such a state is a major flag offense). Most boaters fly the flag of their country, and because we always enjoy seeing where our neighbors hail from, we recently decided to buy a new flag, so we could join in the fun. Coincidentally, it arrived just in time for the 4th of July and flies high above Sea Gem:

New Flag
Our new flag has a nautical theme. Instead of 50 stars, it is embroidered with an anchor surrounded by 13 stars:

Stars, Stripes, and Anchor
In addition to where our new flag hangs, Sea Gem has a spot in the aft cockpit for a much larger, traditional flag to fly. We rarely put our large flag out back, but in honor of the 4th, we decided to get into the holiday spirit and display it proudly:

Aft-cockpit Glory
On the evening of the 4th, we enjoyed two spectacular firework displays from the comfort of our deck:

Boom!
After the fireworks were over and the smoke had cleared, we discovered that the large flag we had displayed in our aft-cockpit was missing! Presumable, it was whisked away by the wind and now rests at the bottom of the marina (which I imagine is a horrendous flag offense!). Looks like we're in the market for yet another U.S. flag.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lesson Learned

Remember when I alluded to an upcoming sailing adventure? Then remember when I said we were having second thoughts about going? Well, we didn't go. As we got closer to the date of departure, we decided that a long trip (with just Eric and I manning the boat) wasn't a good idea. Helina was battling yet another cold, and we were worried we'd be in for a repeat of our last overnight sail.

So, instead of setting sail, we hit the road and headed north. Before we moved to Miami, when we said we were heading "north," we meant we were going to northern Michigan, Maine, or Canada. Now, "north" refers to anything north of Miami-Dade County. The destination of this particular northern journey was St. Augustine.

Highlights from the trip included getting to spend the afternoon with Sea Gem's previous and original owners,  walking the grounds of the beautiful Flagler College (Helina's first official college visit), exploring the Castillo de San Marcos, and watching Helina's first encounter with a house-size toilet (she thought it was a drum).

St. Augustine 
Low points of the trip included Helina refusing to sleep in her crib, me having a touch of food poising, and us heading back to Miami a few days early because being on vacation wasn't relaxing. Upon returning home, we plopped Helina in daycare, and enjoyed a mini staycation on the boat. It was nice.

Our vacation (and staycation) gave us many happy memories, but it also taught us a valuable lesson: vacationing on land with a baby is just as stressful as sailing with one, therefore, it is best to just go sailing.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Paparazzi

Helicopters hovering in the skies above Miami are a common sight. I feel like I see (or hear) at least one in the air a few times a week. Not long ago, during our recent Memorial Day sail, the soothing sound of waves sloshing against the side of the boat was disrupted by the unmistakable beat of an approaching helicopter. However, instead of passing us by, the helicopter appeared to be circling Sea Gem. And, upon closer inspection, we noticed that someone aboard the helicopter was snapping photos of our boat! Then, we noticed that there was a website address printed on the side of the aircraft: BOATPIX.com. It didn't take a genius to understand what was happening. Clearly, this helicopter patrols the waters of South Florida, photographs boats, and then sells them online. What a great business! I always assumed that our boat neighbors who had photos of their boat had hired a helicopter to photograph their vessel (something that isn't on our list of priorities).

Just like the drill with school pictures, BOATPIX sends you a selection of photos and you keep (and pay for) only the photos you want and return the ones you don't want.

The other day, our pictures arrived in the mail (actually, they arrived several days earlier, but due to a delivery mix-up, it took a few extra days to locate them). We had three images to choose from:

Tough Choice
All of the images of our boat were beautiful (BOATPIX even Photoshoped out one of our bumpers, which we had accidentally left dangling over the side of our boat). Selecting just one pictures was difficult, however, since the price to purchase all three was steep for us, we were motivated to narrow it down to just one.

We were finally able to settle on one of the images, and our selection now hangs in Eric's office (or rather, it will once Eric gets around to framing it). Sadly, I'll have to wait until our next run-in with the paparazzi before my office walls are graced with a shot of Sea Gem in action.