Tony and I can't agree on the day our life on board began, he says mid September when we moved onto Spindrift and out of our home, but for me it was October 1st when we untied the lines and sailed away from Youngstown Yacht Club. A friend wrote recently, the year went by so fast and so slow, how true. Sometimes I find it hard to believe 365 days have elapsed, it seems in the blink of an eye, but our land locked life also seems ages ago. Days go by so fast, but looking forward to visit's from family and friends and trips back home make the time stretch out. We have logged 8300 miles at sea and have flown 16 courtesy flags at the different countries we've visited, and after this year abroad we can't help but ask ourselves, "what have we learned?" The list is long and I'm sure will continue to grow.
You fix one thing and another seems to break.
You learn to not say everything that comes to mind but to think about it a little longer, you have to be a little more careful of disrupting your space when you only have 53 feet to share.
Americans seem so much more modest at the beach than most other nationalities, almost everywhere else bikinis and speedos are for everyone, any size, shape or age, and sometimes optional.
Wine bottles will not break even in rough seas when stored in socks under the floor boards.
You can fit a year's worth of clothes in a tiny closet and two drawers, surprising how little you actually need to get by.
Manuals really do come in handy when read, you can fix almost anything if you look it up.
Most people are so willing to help, help you find your way, help you with the language, help you figure out what to make with the strange produce, help you fix things.
Finding what makes funky smells on board is really tricky, sometimes a year is not long enough to rid the boat of those smells but vinegar helps a lot.
The more places you visit the longer the list gets of places you want to go.
There are so many stars at night when you are out in the middle of the water.
You never tire of sunrises, sunsets and the natural beauty around you.
It's always exciting when dolphins swim by to entertain you.
Duolingo does not teach you very useful language skills.
You have to be careful piling your clean clothes in the wagon when coming back from the laundry mat or you may leave a trail of towels behind you that people are nice enough to pick up and return.
Most fish are pretty elusive, even when there's a feeding frenzy of birds on the surface of the water no fish will bite your line.
There's a fine line between seas rocking you to sleep and throwing you out of bed.
You can get used to taking quick showers, turning the water on and off to rinse, but you still totally enjoy a long, hot one when on land.
Auto pilot is your best friend.
Going to the grocery store is so much easier when you have a car and shopping cart.
A year is not enough time to master playing the flute.
The moon rises at different times each night, seems simple but one of those things you don't notice until you see the change for yourself when doing midnight watches nightly for weeks straight.
It's nice to have water for a backyard.
It is much easier than you'd think to fill your days when on a boat, and morning's always go by way too fast.
Salt water makes cuts heal incredibly fast.
Little bugs in the middle of the night can make you lose your mind.
First impressions of people are usually wrong, sometimes the crazy people make the best friends.
It's important to have a good playlist when you're far from wifi.
We have learned to be flexible and go where the wind blows us.
A boat gets really salty and polishing stainless is an endless job.
You have to be very trusting of the person that cuts your hair when you don't speak the same language.
Always eat and drink like a local except when it involves strange animal parts.
That on board washing machine that I thought was taking up valuable space has become priceless.
Cooking in the Caribbean has taught us to make do, the abundance in the Mediterranean is teaching us to make choices.
Portuguese drivers will stop for you if you are anywhere near a crosswalk, Spanish drivers will stop when you step into the street, but it's always a question if the Italian drivers will stop at all, you make it across the street on a wing and a prayer.
The busiest seller at the produce market is not always the best, sometimes the little old lady without customers is more willing to share cooking advice and recipes.
The fold-up bikes that always seemed to be in the way in the Caribbean have become indispensable in the Med.
Tony has learned you can be optimistic but sometimes things are still broken.
You learn to conserve when you have no garbage disposal, a small trash can and are far from land.
It's always thrilling to sail into a new port for the first time.
And a few things I've learned in the galley…
You can make decent meals when you're far from a grocery store and out of fresh produce. Canned hearts of palm, artichokes, dried mushrooms, beans, tuna in olive oil, can go a long way. Canned crab however is not so good.
Eggs do not have to be refrigerated and good New Zealand butter comes in cans to store on your shelf.
Making pizza dough in rough seas covers the galley in flour.
Heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk whipped together and put in the freezer makes pretty good ice cream.
You can make your own yogurt with powdered milk, water, yogurt starter, a thermos and 6 patient hours.
Cabbage lasts a long time in the fridge, porcini mushrooms just a day.
It's challenging cutting scallions in rolling seas.
But so far the number one lesson we've learned is that adventures are much richer when shared, so thanks so much for being interested enough to join us in our travels.