Ocean Mist


To put it simply, in recent months my sense of peace has been anything but a misty shade of ocean blue.     Clang. Clang. Clang…

From March to July, a persistent gale of 4G mobile internet established itself as a menace; thunderous headlines, blustery opinions, and somber data – walloping my shutters almost clean off their hinges.   Grappling with putting my phone down, a gloomy front moved in and stalled over our salon.  Severe skepticism hung in the air.   The Caribbean Blue fabric covering our settee no longer inspired living by island time but rather adrift in the doldrums.   

It sounds very silly, but a small natural soy blend candle, purchased from Marshall’s, would ultimately coax me away from the clutter taxing my disposition, and over to a space where brighter possibilities could exist. 

How extraordinary to cross paths with this candle.  I remember the moment well.  As casual as the moves of a seagull when it spies giddy tourists offering up French fries, the candle’s coconut white glass and solar kissed aqua letters O C E A N M I S T pegged me for a saltwater hippy the moment I rounded the aisle and came into view.  Whoosh.   Reaching over a crowd of Cranberry Croissant, Earth Worm, and Laundry Day scent candles, I plucked Ocean Mist from the debacle of marked-down merchandise…like a seagull swooping down for a fry.   

With obvious reason, burning a candle on a boat takes careful consideration.    My rules of thumb: no rocking and rolling; the candle is where I can see it; and Francis isn’t in a flit zing mood where he knocks stuff over.   Burning or not, candles bring to the table their own unique presence of persuasion.   And if I’m to be persuaded, it won’t be to do more laundry, dig for worms, or eat more croissants.   

Ocean Mist is a candle that starts my day with a bright and breezy “Good Morning” smile –  sand pushes up between my toes, blue sky and Azul water…a frangipani blossom for my hair… fragrant coffee…sliced mango, and macadamia nut bread offered and served in the galley.   

At dusk, Ocean Mist accompanies us to the aft deck.   With a ‘one, two, three’ by a rusty fire-starter, a flickering dance quietly begins, under the glow of the Evening Star (Venus).   Gazing the changing sky, memories return and stories are retold: evening runs with friends with Saturn and Jupiter pulling us along; checking out the planets with a friend’s new gigantic lunar telescope; watching the stars fall during overnight passages.      

Tranquil.  Uncomplicated.  Coastal.   But, certainly not subtle.  Ocean Mist is the coach with a megaphone, shouting from the sidelines, “TAKE THE SCENIC ROUTE.  How many times do I have to repeat myself?”   What the scenic route looks like, feels like, or sounds like is so very individual.  However, if I think about the generic interstate system and compare it to the more scenic roads, I’d guess the scenic way of life isn’t fast or efficient.  And that’s where I’m trying to apply the lessons by Ocean Mist.  

Several mornings ago, I was standing on our swim platform shaking out rugs, when a fragrant coastal aroma seemed to reach out a hand and whisper, “This moment is now.  You can take it.  Or you can let it pass.”   It was low tide, one of my favorite times for exploring mangroves; watching crabs scurry up and down freshly exposed roots, herons fish the shallows, a smell so pungent you can see it.  Kind of like the mist that blows in off the ocean.      

I took the road less traveled that day.  Over to the mangroves in my little red kayak; an end of the year clearance item from Walmart, discounted even more because the paddle was missing.  In my rush, I didn’t brush my hair, or change out of my twenty-plus year old – thread bare 7Mile Bridge Race t-shirt.  I forgot sunscreen, and water, and to apply any lipstick.  My phone stayed home.

I don’t know what it is about a candle that can persuade me to push the storms away, feel the ocean when it’s not there, take the discounted scenic route, or sit down and write about the very simple.  But I’m content to accept it.  Even without headlines, opinions, and data. 

In all seriousness, in addition to handling information overload, I struggle with getting into a daily habit of writing.  I can list a dozen reasons that have become excuses but none of that really matters unless I dare to make some necessary changes.  First blaming it on Facebook, I took a leave in order to have the time to write.  But that wasn’t the answer.  Thinking I needed a special place to create and think, I moved my laptop to the pilothouse and agreed with the Captain that as long as we were docked in a marina, the pilot house could serve as my writing studio (tropical writing nooks seemed too worked for Randy Wayne White and Ernest Hemmingway).   But that hasn’t worked either.  A rut of chasing down chores rather than jumping off into the sea that I adore, and pouring over the news…thinking about the news…absorbing the news…letting the news take my joy…is counter to taking the scenic route in life.  

My humble opinion,

Seamore Nautical Spirits

Docked in Manatee County, Florida for hurricane season.
Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve
Bradenton River Walk at Sunset
Riviera Dunes
My Florida Panther
Check of the weather in the morning.
Time to curl up and read a book
Nautical Rummage Shopping. And what my brain feels like after reading the news.
Evening walk. Riviera Dunes.
Anclote Key State Park. We anchored 2 nights here. Very peaceful and pretty.
After the storm.
Paddling back to the boat after checking out the rookery on Anclote Key
Anchored at Gulfport for one night.
The Galley Spirit
Morning Coffee
Clearwater: a sweaty runs with my friend (she also lives on a boat full time).
Some like their fruit blended (Captain) and other’s like it with hemp hearts and a squeeze of lime (me). Long ago a dear friend gave me some sage advice…take the time to cut up your fruit and serve it in a pretty bowl.
First attempt making homemade Vegan Pho.
Onions with a side of black beans and rice, and plantains. Not as good as my friends B&T make, but will have to do for now.
Storm Shelter for Francis. Thunderstorms roll in daily and Francis hates it.
Our neighbors. Will stay here thru hurricane season then go south.
Fiesta Ware Coastal. It is too pretty not to pose with our dock lines.
Candles bring to the table their own unique presence of persuasion.

Seamore Odyssey Playlist:

Needing Answers (Part 2: The 18 Mile Stretch 1992)

It was close enough to midnight when he stopped checking the clock, switched off the brass salon light, and turned towards the companion way.   Reaching for his flashlight, he used his other hand to loosely hold and guide himself up the creaky teak ladder.  Stepping out and into the dark, a curtain of humidity and stillness greeted him.  Drawing in a slow deep breath, he pulled his shoulders back, rolled his neck slowly to one side, and casually appraised what he believed to be every sailor’s idea of paradise; the Florida Keys.  Exhaling, his senses had already finished collecting and processing the moment: it was a pungent infusion of outgoing tide; exposed mangrove roots, seagrass beds, and millions of crusty barnacles on every piling – from Key West to Miami. 

He looked upward, along the mast.  Confirming Maria’s anchor light was shining bright, his curiosity ascended to the dome of brilliant stars that seemed to exist, if only for the sake of this one particular harbor.  Noticing the absence of any wind, his gaze settled onto an imaginary line of a hundred or so other swaying anchor lights – Maria’s neighbors.   It was a field so to speak, of nautical wheelers…Magic, Namaste, Wanderer, Free Bird.   

The music of Santana, wafting from Dockside had just stopped, signaling closing time and last call at the bar.  If he hurried, he might reach the dinghy dock in time for a Captain Morgan and coke.  Not his usual habit, but tonight it made sense.  He’d order his drink, and then check the worn corkboard located at the end of the bar for thumbtacked notes scribbled with the name, Maria.  Between the bartenders taking phone messages for the live-aboards, and the coconut telegraph, information got around.   None of the boaters in Boot Key Harbour seemed to miss or need a phone.  Consider it one less string attached.

Pleased there were no new messages, he tipped his glass to drain the last bit of vanilla infused rum when the glass sliding door signaled that Dockside was done for the night.  Stepping outside onto shadowed planks, he watched the last of the last fumble into their dinghies and putter home to their boats.  Smiling and very much awake, in spite of the late hour, he walked over to an outlying bench, sat down, and waited for her to arrive…any minute.

Minutes multiplied to an hour.  At least a dozen pair of approaching headlights had danced among the palms, growing brighter and brighter; each time, he watched and hoped it would be her car rounding the corner.  Where was she?  If she left work as planned, she would have had plenty of time to make the drive from Miami.  Yes, he barely knew her, but at the same time he really liked her…last time they spoke, she was looking forward to a visit to snorkel Sombrero reef.  Digging in his pocket for quarters, he made his way to a payphone, dropped the necessary change in, and dialed her number.  


Hours and hours overdue, and no answer to his calls, he drove north to retrace the only route linking the Keys back to Miami.  Stopping ever so often to feed another payphone and leave another urgent message on her answering machine, the night had suddenly gotten very long and confusing. 

Early dawn, her abandoned Toyota 4Runner was found.  At a convenience store where the 18 mile stretch becomes north Key Largo.  The guy working the night shift confirmed he saw the red Toyota pull in and park near the door, during a particularly strong down pour.  A lady with long hair was driving.  What he knows is that after the rain let up, no one came in, the car remained in the same spot, but she was gone.  That was quite a few hours earlier.

It didn’t occur to him until now, that he probably should have called the police.

to be continued…  

18 Mile Stretch (Part 1) https://seamorenauticalspirits.com/2017/04/05/the-18-mile-stretch-1992/

Three years ago, I set out to write a short story about a particular event. I thought after the first story was posted, the second piece would come about rather quickly. But that’s not what happened. And that’s ok. When I woke up this morning, I had no agenda but to first enjoy my coffee. Within five minutes I was fixing breakfast for Captain Chameleon. Sometime between that second cup of coffee and drinking a glass of fresh squeezed Florida orange juice, the energy, the desire, the ability to sit down and create part 2 happened. It’s not polished but that’s ok also, because I fear if I were to sit on it…it would be another three years. These challenging weeks, this month especially, I really need a diversion from 2020. So I hope you enjoy a blast from the past…1992

Seamore Nautical Spirit is isolating on a boat in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

Prayers that you, your family, and friends are well, and that we find ourselves on the other side of this great challenge, as stronger, kinder, and more in love with life.

Seamore Nautical Spirits

Story from a bottle. Mexico
Anclote River, Tarpon Springs. Sunrise.
Sponge Docks, Tarpon Springs.

The Colors I Sea

Nautical Spirits

Nautical Spirits

Seamore Nautical Spirits began a very, very long time ago; way before the dock lines were untied or sails raised and trimmed. It began when assembled years of quiet reluctance gave way to raucous longing.  She was twenty-six years old looking down the barrel of a “good life.” But a mental image of the ocean, collected from a few trips to beaches in Florida, was like a painting that was half complete.  Collecting dust on life’s easel, did she dare complete the painting?

It would require her to select a brush, choose a color, and paint herself in. Without being an accomplished artist and all, could she really be so bold as to believe she could pull it off? Move from Missouri to the ocean? Yes. Yes, she would. Just like she did once the professor went on a royal rant about her still life painting: unimaginative, predictable, safe, boring. She took his message to heart, “Trees don’t have to be green; the sky doesn’t have to be blue. DO NOT paint what you see. Wake up to what your other four senses see… and paint that. “

Hands quivering, she pulled the piece of paper advertising travel nurse assignments, dialed a 1-800 number, and asked about assignments by the ocean (according to NOAA, there are 95,471 official miles of shoreline in the United States). By the end of the conversation, having blindly accepted the only beach town assignment available, she reached for a road atlas that could give her some artistic guidance – to Torrance, California…




…But, it wasn’t California that I drove to. It was Florida. In the midst of tying up loose ends in Missouri, I received a call from the placement agency, wondering if I had any interest in working in Homestead, Florida. Not exactly a beach town, but it was close to the Florida Keys. I’d never been there, but funny thing, my landlord talked incessantly about his annual fishing trip to the Keys. The deciding factor was what a co-worker said to me when I told him I was moving to Torrance. “That place is all wrong for you. You don’t want to go to Torrance.” He was from California.

An ordinary person imparts an extra-ordinary impression. It is how Seamore Nautical Spirits began – artless, unscripted, and spontaneous encounters culminating into hundreds of oddball stories with modest charm. Countless moments become extra-ordinary years…years of living and working in the Florida Keys. Celebrating being 50 years old, I wanted, needed, to run along the Overseas Highway.

Last month, starting at mile marker 50 at 6:30 am and calling it a day at mile marker 0, just before 11 pm, I journeyed the distance with a girl from Cali that I met in Mexi’. We were accompanied by her Harley-man, who at dark escorted us under a bridge and past some “trolls”; Captain Chameleon who waved a Pink Flamingo party sign and pickles in his role as Crew Chief; another running girlfriend that I admire for her snake squeal and campfire song repertoire; a doctor turned cage fighter; and a Gorilla in a bikini, lurking from the mangroves…yes, the mangroves just before Kickin’ Back Food Mart and Mangrove Mama’s down on Sugarloaf Key.
Do you now have a better understanding of my definition of “extra-ordinary impression?”  And, why trees don’t have to be painted green or the sky painted blue?

This post is dedicated to all of the ordinary people who helped me  to “sea” more of life’s colors (you may or may not know who you are), and to the beloved Florida Keys.

Seamore Nautical Spirits






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Overseas Highway- Bahia Honda


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Flagler’s Railroad Bahia Honda


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Brave People

Brave People

Divine People

Divine People

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Ordinary People

Ordinary People

Spiritual People

Spiritual People

Nautical Spirits

Nautical Spirits

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Bird People


Friendly People

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7 Mile Bridge

7 Mile Bridge

Pigeon Key

Pigeon Key

Boot Key Harbor

Boot Key Harbor

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Multi-tasking People

Sea’s the Day

Seize The Day

Simple Times


“If I could turn back Time, if I could reach the stars.”

     The last few months passed by way too quickly. A sailing season that came and went so fast that there was hardly enough time to break out my Cher CDs, Lawrence Saunders paperbacks, or bikini – the one that I bought in 1993, at Bayshore Clothing just after moving to Marathon, Florida. No, the pink ruffled swimsuit doesn’t fit the same as she once did, and whether she is even age appropriate is a subject I’m woefully ignoring. But, she takes up so little space that it seems unreasonable and insensible to toss her out. Parting with her would be akin to relinquishing a piece of time – Key’s time. And I can’t do that. Because for every measure of time that was fraught with insecurity or distraction, there would emerge profound significance that very much matters to me today.

With our sailboat battened down in Mexico for the summer, Captain Chameleon has agreed to take me back to the Florida Keys so that I may retrace, reclaim, and relive…the very first time I climbed aboard a sailboat, maneuvered through a tack, took the helm for a spell, scrubbed barnacles from a keel, and learned that as far as material possessions, less is more. It is also where I completely and unexpectedly fell in love with seeing patients in their home rather than the confines of a hospital. At first it was almost too much to take in: commingling death and hope; courage with honesty; tears on laughter; and in many instances, complete acceptance garnished with tepid forgiveness for “what might have been if only things had been different.” Oh yes, running – the old 7 mile bridge is where I became a runner.

With a new Walkman cassette player, a Guns N’ Rose’s cassette, and a pep talk that sweating is not a terminal condition, my first run was the distance between two utility poles; about 250 feet. It was horribly awkward and I’m sure alarming to the tourist driving by. Consumed by the effort required to lift and extend my legs, I couldn’t begin to think about what to do with my hands, except use them to keep the sweat from drowning my eyes. The more my lungs burned, the wider my arms flailed to bring in precious air. With Slash playing guitar in one ear, and Axl Rose singing in the other ear, I gasped, sweated, and flailed myself across the imaginary finish line of the utility pole. We didn’t know that a runner had just been born or just how crazy far I would eventually be able to run. Fumbling with self-discipline, I depended on the musical artistry of those two to provide distraction and get me through a lot more newbie runs. Aside from my initial investment in the Walkman and cassette, it was a work out that didn’t cost me any money. Staying the course, eventually it happened, where the legs, arms, breathing, and mind started working together in happy fashion and I could run a mile.

I had complete contentment with running a mile. Not a thought in the world or a desire to run further than that…until one day I got stuck in traffic because the 7 Mile Bridge was closed for the Annual 7 Mile Bridge Run.
“What did that person just say?” One thousand, five hundred runners are racing across the bridge today. It’ll be an hour before it’s opened back up to traffic.
“You have GOT to be kidding me?” You heard it right. Somewhat of a cult-following, they come from every nook and cranny of the world to run this race. Thousands more want to participate, but are turned away each year. Crazy fools.

Hmmm. I didn’t quite know what to make of it. It didn’t seem crazy, but it didn’t seem like anything I’d ever want to do, or could do, even if I wanted too. “Obviously those guys are real runners,” I thought to myself.
To be continued…

Seamore Nautical Spirits is returning to the Keys to run 50 miles.  A celebration of turning 50, it’s something of a pilgrimage back to where it all began. With the sun rising over the 7 mile bridge to greet her and the sun setting long before she is finished, she will find company with friends and memories along the way.  A few will be at her side…but the majority are residing in her heart.

Final pictures from San Carlos 2016:

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La Manga

La Manga


Mamma Mia Pizza Maker

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Home when home is being put away for the summer.

Home when home is being put away for the summer.

Seize a Mango

Seize a Mango


Hotel Clothes Line…where the sheets and towels are dried.


Sweet Baby

Sweet Baby

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XX Men

XX Men

Out walking

Out walking

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The Good Stuff


Dock neighbors drying laundry.

Three months into a marvelous sailing season and Captain Chameleon and I have yet to do any sailing.

Really, you expect us to believe that not leaving the dock is something to write home about?

Roger that.

It’s our third year to back away from a Monday to Monday gravy train and venture out to the Sea of Cortez; where every day is Saturday and two shades of pink lipstick is one more shade than I truly need.  Keeping a sailboat in Mexico is for now, our means to simpleton. Spoken or unspoken, when people learn that Captain Chameleon and I divide up our time into 6 months of sailing and 6 months land dwelling in Phoenix, Arizona, opinions and perceptions abound. Prudent folks think it’s a bit careless to risk one’s career just to experience a few months of wind on cloth propulsion.   The practical ones roll their eyes but stay on task. Thrill seekers are already bored. And the remainder, either heat intolerant or mermaids at heart wonder why we even bother going back to Phoenix.   “Sail Forest, sail,” is their motto. Yes, it’s counter intuitive to believe a fantastic sailing season is possible when the main sail has yet to be unfurled. But my Dear Watson, that’s exactly how this mystery unfolds.

Being sailors we have our share of trying to keep up with the Sailing Jones. Limit sailing to 6 months a year and it doesn’t take much ambition to want to squeeze in as many nautical miles as possible. This year we whittled down our expectations, set aside Keeping Up with the Sailing Jones How to Guide, and the Outlook calendar.   Turning the bucket upside down and giving it a good shake, our “want-to” list of places to travel came out with enough sticky tape to hang on the fridge for another year. No longer keeping a list, the bucket, when turned over, serves as a step stool for seeing hard to reach places…high places where gladness, ease, serenity wait patiently in the shadows. A part of me believes I needed a sailing season like this one, where I encounter the technical “touchy-feely” side of cruising. Even Picasso, the grand-daddy of Cubism and abstract art, first learned how to draw objects in perspective.

Seamore Pacific, like many other affairs in our life, submits to a schedule. But this year, without a bucket list, Seamore Pacific has pointed us to dock neighbors that share similar stories….that some seasons are meant for going places and other seasons are meant for staying put.   Enthralled by their easy response to tedious projects, narrow time lines, and complex obligations north of the border, I‘m becoming a believer that cruising is not solely about sailing or keeping a schedule: it’s about meeting unexpected inconveniences without sarcastic resistance; noticing my breath…and that I hold it when I’m preoccupied; and waiting in the check-out line all day. And why not, I have all day.

But Seamore Pacific, nor her crew, are interested in being at the dock forever.  So with a bit of luck we will stow away what we have gleaned these last several months, and take our bucket and go sailing this week. First, to Bahia San Pedro and then we’ll see after that.

Sea You Later,

Seamore Nautical Spirits

I can do this with one foot tied behind my back.

I can do this with one foot tied behind my back.



Together. Walking the beach.

Common Ground.  Walking the beach and talking. Are they childhood friends?









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Maria and the Raven. I'd love to have met her.

Maria and the Raven. I’d love to have met her.

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Abuela’s Instruction


Kayaking to Martini Cove

Kayaking to Martini Cove

Just over two weeks ago I climbed back aboard Seamore Pacific. And nothing happened. It still hasn’t. Not a trace of adventure in any shape, color, or size. I even shouted out to the ocean that I had arrived and was ready to take on whatever was out there. “Come on, time is wasting. I have a self appointed timeline to meet. Send me a doozy adventure and I’ll write about it,” was beamed out to the universe, stark as a search light on a dark and starless night. What I got in reply…a sky full of diamonds, cold nights in the boat yard, and a memory of my grandmother having my brothers and I wash away the day from our grubby little feet, before crawling into her bed of crisp polyester- blend sheets.

Seamore Pacific, like hundreds of other boats in San Carlos, is dry docked during off-season.   Captain Chameleon and I take our chances that she will fare better in a hurricane, perched on blocks in a field, than tethered to an unmanned and moving dock. But, this arrangement is a haul in labor and patience. It takes a few days in the boatyard to get her ready for dry storage and another few days once we return, to get her back in shape for the marina. One might think the boatyard is a lonely place, but just the opposite. It’s a social hub. A social hub of optimists, realists, and dreamers; grinding, sanding, and pounding until the sun drops over the Tetekawi Mountain, leaving another day’s boatyard dust and grime for the reckoning.  Personally, I’d rather sand and varnish the Titanic if it saved me from the frigid waters of a boatyard shower. “Living the dream,” I sarcastically thought one night as I climbed down the cold metal ladder from Seamore Pacific, zipped my windbreaker tighter, and headed for the ladies shower.   But then my dread was replaced with profound aww. The stars were magnificent! I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen them shining so brilliantly. I was actually a tiny bit thankful that I had been forced to leave the comfort of our boat, even if it was for a cold, stark shower.   Mindful of how the moment was short on convenience and void of comfort, I thought of my grandmother and generations before her, leaving the comfort and warmth of their beds for a dark and drafty outhouse, or enduring uncomfortably tepid baths with water that required the labor of pulling it from the well by a bucket. In my grandmother’s case, her ongoing worry was the well running dry or at least that is what she would say at the end of the day where we had played long and hard on the farm. Handing each of us a clean washcloth, she gave stark instructions to wash the dirt first from our faces and then our feet. No dirt was to be tracked into her bed. Clamoring for who would get to sleep closest to grandma, three little kids would pile into bed next to her; proud of ourselves for the good job we did of washing our feet as instructed, and more importantly, relieved the well hadn’t yet run dry.

How clever. The universe had ignored my request for adventure and instead beamed back a memory from my childhood. In Mexico, a place my grandmother would have never, ever ventured, was speaking to me and giving me a darn good alternative.   If a wash cloth spiffing up was good enough for Granny, it was good enough for me. No need to dread a cold shower on a windy night.   Using a wash cloth and sparing water, like my grandmother had instructed, I meticulously washed away boatyard grime so as not to get Seamore Pacific’s fresh jersey knit sheets grimy and then made a plan to run the next day at noon….when it would be hot, hot, hot.   A cold shower feels darn good after a hot, sweaty run.

As it turned out, we were in the boatyard for 10 days waiting for a high tide that could accommodate Seamore Pacific’s keel and 6 foot draft. Staying first in a quaint departmente’ (hotel), then on the boat while she was on the hard, I became acutely aware of the conveniences of running water, warm showers, cozy beds, and new found mental space to enjoy forgotten memories. It is ironic how sometimes memories come full circle and connect us to the present. A few days ago, Captain Chameleon and I met a very old man, while we were picking up rubbish and plastic from a field bordering the beach and this gentleman’s acreage. Happy to have the assistance of picking up trash, he invited us to wash our hands at his home. Setting up a small pale of water, and a fresh bar of soap, he sweetly ladled clean water, much like a faucet, so we could wash the dirt and sand off our hands.

We are now in Marina San Carlos and as I patiently await a doozy adventure to come my way, I am truly enjoying this special time aboard Seamore Pacific. She not only takes good care of us, but she gives me the opportunity to cherish formative memories.

Friendly wash-up

Friendly wash-up

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Homemade Pizza dough

Homemade Pizza dough




Ruby on her daily walk to S – Dock


Security. This dog has been at the boatyard for over a dozen years.