Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Foot loose and hands free

Thanks to our latest sponsor we can now carry important gear, camera and GoPro in a stylish messenger bag. 

We are stoked on our new bag that will carry anything our hearts desire while allowing us to be hands free to hold the hand of a daughter or carry a cold beer. Or both. Please check out our latest sponsor for your own cool design. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

40,000 pounds of fury

Sorry that we have not updated the blog in a while.  Things around here have been crazy around here as we are coming down to 5 weeks until we head south!

As many people have asked what our home looks like, we will be posting our first video featuring a tour of where we live. Soon you'll be able to see for yourself our mature, big boned, fun loving Terrapin, also referred to as the "Turd Pin" by my cousin.

Friends and family that have seen Terrapin in person are usually taken back by her size. 

Our beloved SV Terrapin isn't  exactly that young, busty blonde at the end of the bar.  Nope. She's a bit more mature in age and fills out her plus size outer wear. Don't get us wrong, she's not quite that mothball smelling grandma with dried milk in her mustache you're trying to avoid. No...not that bad. She's a bit more of a Mrs. Doubtfire. Looks can be deceiving. Underneath it all she's young at heart and ready to take this family for a trip of a lifetime.  For her exact specs look here.

Loaded down with sailing essentials and a few hundreds pounds of toys, we are literally one rocking chair placed on the bow away from looking like the Beverly Hillbillies.

There's no way anyone will not see us entering port.

I keep envisioning port authority boarding up within a nanosecond of spotting our floating awesomness and flipping on their "Closed" sign.

With the new stereo system and speakers in place you'll be able to hear us long before you spot us. Consider this a favor.

Finally, all new fabric on the settee. Back in June we started the process of recovering the settee with new fabric. A painful process that involved my mom's hairdresser / "upholstery guy".  Or not! Several months later and too much money spent to count, we fired him!  If you're in San Diego looking for a fantastic, family-owned upholstery shop that delivers totally awesome work call  Hillcrest Upholstery.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What's the most time consuming boat project? School Curriculum!

We've made great success over here on the Terrapin. We can officially say that if the Zombie Apocalypse were to happen tomorrow we could successfullysail off into the sunset, all of the BIG boat projects are done.

So what's keeping us from shaking our booties to the 'happy dance'? The one boat project trickier than any of them. More daunting than the standing rigging, more frightening than rebuilding the heads,  more intense than strapping down two 12 foot kayaks to the boat is building our girls school curriculum. Que the blood curdling screams and horror movie music.
Text books! State standards! Science! Math! Where does one begin?  Any chance we can get away with "do as I say and not as I do" for the next two years and just call it a day? Honestly if there was any way we could teach the girls to be underwater welders we could scrap the whole curriculum thing and have them on their way to lucrative careers.

Originally we had planned on buying "curriculum in a box" for each grade level, till we thought better of the idea. We really want to incorporate curriculum relevant to our travels while still incorporating material that our girls need to have.

First we downloaded and poured over the state standards. Each state has their own particular standards broken down by grade level and content.  We plan to keep the standards for Math and Language Arts but will be tweaking standards for Social Science and Science. We will not be teaching to tests, nor will we be incorporating Common Core into any subject.

For Math we plan to use Saxon Math. Saxon math is what Phil and I grew up with.
This math is easy to follow and more importantly it will be easy for us to teach using this type of curriculum because of our familiarity.  We have been able to download Saxon Math books (found free online) onto the computer and Ipad for each grade up till 9th. And just for good measure we are purchasing a high school algebra book (we already have a teachers edition) in hardcover.

We're covering the Language Arts content by purchasing workbooks our girls are already accustomed to using.  Since 1st grade our girls have used California Treasure workbooks. These workbooks are customized for most states. In addition to the workbooks our girls will be regularly posting to their own blog (which will be public soon) and required to write in a daily journal. We are requiring that they write just a few sentences in a daily journal as to have a momento from their trip. Their blog posts will help with their typing skills, grammar, sentence structure and overall writing.

With regards to Social Science we are only keeping the standards that apply to the US government. Regardless of the state you live in, there are social science standards you will learn in both 5th and 8th grades regarding United States History and Geography. For the remainder of this school year (we
5th grade social science
leave in January) we will be switching our social science focus to Mexico and Central America. This is where it gets tricky. Trying to find a specific textbook that solely focuses on these areas and their history is tough, if not impossible.

On the advice of Behan from Totem, we are using DK Eyewitness Books to fill in the gaps for relevant social science materials.  But don't go thinking it's just that easy. We can't randomly buy books that sound exciting. What about having two different reading levels we have to cater to? How can you tell exactly what grade level the book is written for?

This is where the "fun" part comes in. I have found fantastic books I thought would be perfect to cover content only to discover that they were college materials. Bummer.

Here's how you check the reading level of the books you are wanting to purchase.

Every book has an ISBN number.  You need this number to be detect the grade level. There are a few different ways to do this.  Accelerated Reader (AR BookFinder) through Renaissance Learning will give you access to check the grade level of books. 

There's also an app called which will allow you to check grade level of books called Level It Books.

You can also check your student's Lexile by using their website.  What's Lexile and why do you care? The Lexile measure can be used to identify material at the appropriate difficulty level for the student regardless of the student's grade level. Check out their website for a better definition.

For Science we've purchased two books to satisfy Emma, who's in 4th grade this year and 5th next. We've yet to purchase any specific science books for Jessica (6th grade this year).  One major advantage for our girls (and me) when it comes to science is their dad has a PhD in Science.  With the help of a microscope and slides we plan to dive deep into science primarily focusing on the ocean and the many different animals we plan to encounter. In conjunction with any science text books we purchase to co-inside with the state standards we will be teaching them Marine Biology.  We have some DK Eyewitness Books to help with this subject as we continue to search for an age appropriate textbook, most Marine Biology textbooks are geared towards college level.

Living on a boat reveals tremendous learning opportunities for our girls not offered in a regular classroom.  We've yet to set sail and they've already been introduced to and will continue to learn more about weather patterns, engines, electricity (rebuilding the battery bank was a great learning opportunity), ecosystems and other cultures.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In search of Fall weather

Last weekend we headed out of town in search of cooler weather.  We're desperate for cooler weather. Knowing that the next two years will feel like we're afloat in a sauna we're in dire need of cooling off before heading.  In a little more than an hour we were in Julian, renting a cheap cabin, stuffing our faces with pie, hiking and enjoying what others refer to as Fall.

In typical Nance style we hit up the local brewery for a quick try. Nickel Beer Brewery offers a wide array of tasty beers. We enjoyed everything from Pale Ales, to a creamy stout and somewhat enjoyed their Apple Pie Ale. However if you try their habanero beer, hold on to your hat. This "beer" will scorch your throat the entire way down to your rectum. 

The girls LOVED spying on the wild animals that freely walk through Julian.

Is it bad that watching giant wild turkeys roaming around the woods made us hungry for Thanksgiving dinner? 

We hiked the Stonewall Peak Trail which offers switchbacks for two miles then a straight ascent that last .2 miles to the top. 

Cutest little hiker.  Ever

It was a great view from the top and made the hike well worth the effort. Unfortunately, the view was also a stark reminder that Southern California is suffering a horrible drought for the third straight year. As far as the eye could see if looked like a tinder box.

As quick as we made to Julian is as quick as we made it home. Home to where the illusive pending boat project list, now made into sticky notes lives.  As cruisers come into our marina to get ready for the Baja-HA-HA, we've met some great people and other families.  The Baja-HA-HA is a rally that leaves in less than week from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas.  To date there's 171 boats all going down together, 9 of these boats are "family boats" (see Mom, we're not the only crazy people).  Some of these cruisers will just chill in Mexico and eventually make their way to La Paz or other various locations, others will join the Pacific Puddle Jump and cross the Pacific to Tahiti starting in late February.  This week there's plenty of Baja-HA-HA parties to attend including the one our marina is throwing.  Did someone say margaritas?? No we are not joining the Baja-HA-HA, but we sure are enjoying meeting other cruisers who are doing the rally, some of who we hope to meet up with again in Mexico.

We recently met Tom, Kelly and Sophie (a kid boat with a  little girl who turned 11 last week!) who are leaving on the rally. Tom shared with us the great idea of using sticky notes to post our never ending boat project list.  So there they are...post it notes stuck all over the boat. Yippie. Actually we're dwindling down to the "important stuff" and we've taken off some sticky notes, crumpled them up and said "screw it" while tossing the note over our shoulder. This little post it note game could go on for years if you let it.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Wait. What? Summer's over? Didn't get the memo

This is literally the first time since sometime in May the weather made me think about putting on pants. Don't get all crazy....I didn't actually shoehorn myself into a pair of pants, I just thought about wearing something other than shorts. 2014 will be the year remembered for the perpetual summer. 

Summer. Wont. Go. Away.

While some states are reporting their first snow fall of the season this is what Endless Summer looks like



Anyone who knows San Diego knows Hamel's. The better part of my childhood was chillin' at Hamel's


Friday, October 3, 2014

Enjoying some solid ground

Just hanging around
It's October 3rd and in parts of San Diego it's pushing 100 degrees.  I'd like to act surprised, but this is   somewhat typical weather for this time of year.  In an effort to escape the heat and relax my (Aimee) parents  have left on a two week vacation.  About 30 seconds into asking us if we'd like to housesit, our bags were packed. Huge comfy couch, cold beer, large TV...we're there! We've been having fun off the boat, no guarantees we'll leave even after they come home.

Emma's out of control

Playing hide n seek in the citrus trees
Who doesn't love driving a golf cart? Harrison sure does

Just across the valley the girls are able to spot elephants and giraffe.

Just as my parents were getting ready to walk out of the door, my dad in all seriousness asked if I had any intentions of having people over or having a party. I literally just sat there stoned faced with zero response. Is my dad not aware I'm 39 years old?  I'd love to somehow interpret his statement as a compliment that maybe I still resemble a 19 year old, but that's not the case. 39.  Thirty Nine. One year away from 40. Old.  Party? More like in bed by 9pm. 

Apparently he should have shown more concern for his cats. Talk about party animals! It wasn't but 30 seconds after they heard the door shut that they all hoped in the bathtub begging for bubble bath and beer, asking me to kick down the cat nip. What the hell kind of place are you running here Pops?

Friday, September 26, 2014

We've got Sea Fever! (and kayaks)

A few weeks ago, we were contacted by Pixie at  Sea Fever Gear who was interested in partnering with us and designing some custom sail bags for the girls. Last weekend we finally got the chance to meet Pixie in person and she showed the girls how old sails are recycled into fun new gear.

Both Jessica and Emma had picked out their own designs and I had asked for a colorful bag of my own. We absolutely love our bags! My bag is made from old spinnaker and makes the neatest crinkle sound. Pixie made the girls each a custom bag that they absolutely love!  Each bag is locally handmade from sturdy, recycled sails.  And the best part?  These sails won't end up in landfills. Sea Fever Gear  uses these repurposed sails to also make everything from shower curtains, to wallets to apparel.  Check them out on our sponsors page and see what they have to offer!

What does preparing to cruise with two kids mean? Well it means they want everything: Kayaks, SUP's, surf boards, snorkel gear, you name it, they want it. This has left us needing to think outside the box when it comes to approaching potential sponsors.  In our search for two tandem ocean kayaks, we scoured craigslist, ebay, and sporting goods stores, but still couldn't find anything for a reasonable price.  Finally we decided to hit up kayak rental shops, now that it is the off season, and ask shop owners if we could purchase their old inventory.  A few months ago we left our name and number with a few different owners and had high hopes. Finally, we got a call from La Jolla Kayaks.  Say hello to our tandem ocean kayaks! Are they brand spanking new? Nope. Do we care? Not a chance! Did we purchase two ocean kayaks for less than the cost of half of just one?? (you read that correctly)  Better believe it!

Our new kayaks are large enough to hold a family of four so long as both children are small.
We could easily get the three ladies in one and have room left over for gear.  These will be great for exploring!

Who's got 8 thumbs and is super stoked on the new toys? 
Say hello to our new 11 foot tandem ocean kayaks made by Riot.

Think the girls love their new Sea Fever Gear tote bags? They had to take them with on our first paddle out.

Beautiful San Diego in the background

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Christening of s/v Terrapin

This past weekend we decided to put off some of our typical knuckle-busting boat projects and finally get to the important task of officially changing the name of our ship.  Those of you that have been following us know that when we acquired her, she had big green hideous dragons on both sides of her bow that we promptly removed.  She was also given the equally hideous name of "Fafner" by her previous owners, a name that she did not like very much.


We had chosen the name "Terrapin" before we had even began boat shopping for two reasons.  First, like terrapins, our boat is an aquatic (duh), self contained home that protects us from the elements, and it is slow.  Very slow.  The second reason is that we are shameless deadheads and Terrapin Station is one of our favorite songs.  So, several weeks ago we had our good friends at Invisible Mask help us design the boat name and logo.

Both the name and logo were given to us as adhesive vinyl cutouts.  We simply had to peel off the backing, stick it on and smooth it out.



Before we get ahead of ourselves here, it is important to point out that you cannot just go changing the name of a boat willy-nilly, lest you may tick off the gods of the sea and wind.  Now, those of you that know us also know that religion and superstition are not really our thing. However, when it comes to pissing off Neptune, why take a chance?

The ceremony to change a boat's name involves several invocations to Neptune, Poseidon and Aeolus, the god of the winds as well as some booze, and plenty of pomp and circumstance.  First we had to appeal to Neptune to strike the old name from his records for eternity, then we pass around the champagne, pour off most of it to the gods, appeal to them to accept her new name and then pour the rest of it over the bow for the official christening.  This is, of course, the much abridged version of the events, if you are interested in seeing the whole script click here.

Yes, even the kids had a taste of the champagne, but they are crew too and thus entitled to the perks.


The finished product:  A properly renamed vessel, some good karma with the sea gods and a happy crew.  Finally having her name on the stern gives us a great feeling of satisfaction, like we are no longer living in limbo with her, and we think the new logo on the bow looks amazing!

Apparently, even the gods were pleased and we were rewarded by this beautiful sunset to end our weekend.  Red sky at night, sailors delight...