My favorite photograph of Omma (my mother) reveals a petite woman in her thirties sporting a cute bob haircut, sitting in a rowboat. From what I remember about this grainy image from the 70s, Omma sits alone, her back facing the camera, but she clearly propels that small boat with nothing but her own strength, her arms lifting the oars enthusiastically in mid-air, as if to say, You better watch out.
As Hurricane Florence barrels toward the eastern coast of the U.S., over 1 million people are preparing to (or already have) evacuated their homes, fleeing to surrounding states.
If projections are correct, Florence will have catastrophic impacts, with historic rainfall, flash flooding, widespread power outages, and a storm surge reached up to 13 feet.
When it comes to breakfast (or brunch), Michael and I love easy, comfort food recipes, preferably requiring no more than a skillet—and this sweet and savory plantain breakfast hash recipe checks all of those boxes!
When Michael first added ripe plantains to our breakfast rotation a few years ago, I thought, “Duh, why didn’t we try this before?” And ever since, we’ve lovingly referred to this dish as “Michael’s hash.”
The sweet, tanginess of the plantains offers a nice contrast to the savoriness of the potatoes and butteriness of the eggs. Pretty divine.
Okay, it’s been about a year since I took my very first sailing lesson, so I wanted to take time to reflect on my evolving relationship with sailing and to make a plea for more women—especially women of color—to try sailing.
Since my mother’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia a few years ago, I’ve had the opportunity to meet caregivers and their allies. Each time, I feel such awe and humility as they’re inevitably some of the most generous, patient, and deeply courageous people you’ll ever meet.
The caregiving experience for a loved one with dementia can feel particularly isolating and draining. According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s report, Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, “compared with caregivers of people without dementia, twice as many caregivers of those with dementia indicate substantial emotional, financial and physical difficulties.”
Do you have a friend or family member who serves as a caregiver (or “care partner”) for a loved one with dementia or other condition?
As someone who’s often felt sensitive to people’s energies since I was a young girl, I recently began to look more seriously into resources about what’s often called highly sensitive people (HSP)— otherwise referred to as empaths or empathic people.
Admittedly, I was a little skeptical at first to learn more and, as a writer and former teacher of creative of writing, my first connotation with the term empath was Octavia Butler’s incredible, dystopian novel, Parable of the Sower, in which the main character, Lauren, is afflicted with afflicted with hyperempathy syndrome, “a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.”
If you’re counting the days till your trip to the Azores or if you’re still on the fence about whether or not to make it your next destination (in which case, check our previous post about why you MUST go), then this post is for you.
We share practical tips based on our trip to this special archipelago considered one of the most sustainable places in the world, and hope they’ll help with experiencing the stunning and restorative qualities of the Azores.
When he was a kid, my husband, Michael, discovered a National Geographic issue about the distant islands called the Azores and thought, I want to go there someday.
Well, it took us a minute, but we made it!
These nine islands that make up the Portuguese archipelago are known for their stunning natural beauty of volcanic rock coastlines, biodiversity of marine and bird life, natural thermal pools, waterfalls, calderas, lush flora—and all of it surrounded by ocean waters so intensely saturated that Michael would sometimes stare at the expanse and say in a state of wonder, “That blue!”
Thankfully, traveling to the Azores is more affordable than ever!
For us, flying from Boston to JFK to Ponta Delgada was the most affordable. Little did we know that Delta had recently started a non-stop route from New York-JFK to Ponta Delgada on São Miguel Island, so we were able to partake in this option. We were pleasantly surprised to find how affordable the flights were (between $500–600 per person). We just tacked on a separate flight from Atlanta to Boston, which still ended up being a better deal.
Designated as a nationally protected area, the Azores are, indeed, incredibly special, offering the rare opportunity to see up to 25-26 species of whales and dolphins (a third of all known species!).
Yet it’s possible — even there —to see how climate change and our use of plastic are beginning to impact the islands, offering a profound, if not sobering lesson for us to take environmental stewardship to another level.
In fact, during a whale watching tour, we had the chance to talk with the boat captain who’s Azorean-American. He was in the fishing industry in the Northeast U.S. and then started his family-run whale watching tour business in the Azores about 15 years ago.
Talking with him—you get this palpable sense of what is undeniably delicate and profound about the islands, especially in terms of marine life and ocean conservation.
For instance, he told us about a pilot whale recently found nearby that died from ingesting over 80 kg of plastic. He also noted how tuna fishing in the Azores has decreased about a third within the last three years since the waters were warmer due to climate change.
When Michael asked the boat captain if he felt we had a chance in terms of fighting climate change, he said, “Right now, it’s not too late,” but noted that it would be if we wait much longer to turn things around.
You should visit the Azores for all the reasons you read about in travel articles. But we’d urge you to go sooner than later since the islands are becoming an increasingly popular destination for tourists, but also to experience a rare kind of place, one that may —as it did for me —leave you profoundly changed.
originally written on Oct. 11th, 2017:
Michael and I have been preparing our sailboat, Hope, for being back where boats belong — back in the water.
The past few weeks have had their moments — some admittedly hard and some sublime.
First, some context: Hope had been stored out of the water (“on the hard”) in Indiantown, FL for the past three years as the previous owners, Kevin and Velma, who live in Alberta had hoped to return and sail Hope again, but weren’t able to, so reluctantly sold their beloved boat.
While living on a sailboat comes with plenty of immeasurable positives—serenity, sailing adventures, enjoyment of nature, creating memories with friends and family, etc.—it also involves tradeoffs and ongoing challenges too.
In particular, battling the effects of humidity and reducing condensation are probably two of the biggest, unavoidable challenges for boat owners.
We’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) how to improve our ways of handling condensation and we want to share those tips with you.
How does condensation happen anyway?
Well, heat needs a place to go, whether it’s from your body while sleeping, from cooking, showering, or because it’s colder outside than inside your boat.
That temperature difference can result in condensation and if it doesn’t have a place to go (and evaporate), then it can result in mildew or mold buildup in your boat (or RV or tiny home).
So how do you prevent that from happening?
Here are some practical tips for how to keep condensation at bay:
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The previous owners included their old dehumidifier on board, but after we bought our boat, we thought, Ah, do we really need it?
Thankfully, we did keep the dehumidifier and realized it’s a godsend. We’ve learned that on rainy or humid days (or if we’re cooking a lot, for instance), the dehumidifier will do its thing, keeping the boat and our stuff dry, and collect several cups of water in a day!
We’ve been happy with our dehumidifier so far, but the model (GE ADEL70LR) is apparently no longer manufactured, so to give you more in-depth coverage about other types of dehumidifiers, check out this thorough blog, “Best Humidifier Choice.”
This Frigidaire model is highly reviewed on Amazon and is on the “Best Dehumidifier Choice” list. We recommend a 30-pint version for a 35′ boat (or smaller) as it will dry 450 square feet, which is plenty, and obviously takes up the least amount of space.
When shopping for a dehumidifier, make sure to consider:
- Will you be docked or cruising most of the time when you use it? If the former, you’ll have more options to choose from.
- Since floor space and storage are high commodities on most sailboats, make sure you look at the overall size and weight. Where will you keep it when in use and where can you store it so it won’t be in your way?
- Does it hold enough volume appropriate for your size of boat and humidity levels? Ours can hold 70 pints and, on the most moisture-filled days, we’re very glad about this capacity, but it’s possible that we don’t need this much.
- Can your boat (or whatever electrical system you’ll be using) cope with the load in a safe way?
- If you’re planning to leave it on when you’re not on the boat too, make sure it includes a humidistat feature, so it’ll stop running when the humidity drops below a certain threshold and an automatic restart feature (especially crucial in the event of a power outage). Keep in mind there’s always a risk, however small, with leaving any electrical device unattended.
- Does it have non-slip feet and a lower center of gravity, which is better for boats (or other types of homes) that they tend to move around, lessening the risk of the unit falling over. Though our dehumidifier is taller, we make sure to empty it out and set it down horizontally before sailing. When not in use, we store ours under our salon table and, realistically, we use it at least few times a week during the winter and less so during other seasons.
2) Aire-Flow™ Moisture Barrier
Basically, it’s a layer of woven polymer that allows air to circulate and prevents moisture buildup. Brilliant, right?
We suggest placing the Aire-Flow barrier under your berth mattress and, if possible, also under and behind your settee cushions (we learned the hard way that moisture buildup can cause mildew in and on the cushions themselves so check them regularly).
We used leftover pieces to line our storage lockers. Anywhere that mold and mildew can potentially hide, use Aire-Flow (and get our 5% discount)!
Using your galley stove for cooking is great, but guess what, the steam that you create from frying, boiling, using a rice cooker, etc. definitely adds moisture to the air and, hence, more moisture inside your boat.
Whenever possible (hopefully on days when the weather is glorious), try to ventilate by opening up nearby hatches and ports, turning on fans, or running the dehumidifier shortly afterwards.
Pretty ingenious products—they’re renewable (up to 10 years!), non-toxic, and don’t require batteries.
We bought the Eva-Dry E-333 model ($15-18/each) for one of our cubby spaces (apparently works in areas up to 333 cubic feet). So far, so good.
We leave it and when the silica gel crystals have absorbed their maximum moisture and turn a dark color (takes about a month or so), we know it’s time to re-charge.
We’re definitely considering getting more of them for the boat. One thing to keep in mind is, for small spaces, make sure you have an outlet area wide enough so you can easily recharge the Eva-Dry model that you have.
5) Use good-old fashioned elbow grease and NON-TOXIC cleaning supplies
On a boat, some condensation is, as they say, par for the course sometimes, so if you notice any signs of mildew, try these eco- and pet-friendly options:
- Vinegar and water (1:3 ratio): Not only affordable, but this all-purpose cleaner can help prevent or clean up mildew and vinegar kills about 80% of mold species.
- Sun & Earth Natural Biodegradable All Surface Wipes have plant-based ingredients and are biodegradable.
6) Reflectix Insulation
With one roll, we placed a layer against the hull liner, behind the settees. A roll (16 Inch x 25 ft Roll) costs between $15-25. Michael used white preservation tape to adhere it as well, which you can find online and potentially in local hardware store.
7) Passive ventilation
Dorade Vents (or cowl vent)
Keeping air flow is important, so from what we’re learning, passive ventilation options like dorade vents can be great because they allow you have to air circulation, even if the weather isn’t great and they also give warm air a means of escaping too. We purchases a slightly larger version of these cowl vents made by Sea Dog.
If you have any questions, please drop us a line at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you!