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S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I'm partial to the manatee,
Narration by Marianna
May 17, 2006, 1:22 pm, Blue Waters Marina

I'm partial to the manatee,
which emanates no vanity.
It swims amidst anemones
and hasn't any enemies.
~Jack Prelutsky

Manatees are kind, gentle mammals. They care for the waters and try to keep them clean. If a manatee is healthy, has a good supply of food, water and especially if he is not disturbed by unthoughtful humans, a manatee can live up to 50 years of age or more.

Manatees have a tubular shaped body and short flippers with fingernails on the tips. All manatees, except the Amazonian, have fingernails. The manatee gets slimmer the farther down the tail you go and ends into a broad circular shaped tail. The Dugong Manatee has a tail like that of a Dolphin. The manatee's face looks like it is in the body for he has no neck; the only part that is sticking out is the nose and mouth. The manatee has no front teeth, only a flat grinder. The lips on a manatee are two independent muscles. The mandibles are like the fingers of a manatee. A manatee has short bristly hairs on its mandibles to feel around.

A manatee does not have a natural enemy though sharks may attack. A manatee's real enemies are boat propellers, Locking Ports and trash. Manatee researchers have made propeller guards and lasers that will detect a manatee and stop the closing door for a few seconds, then begin to close again giving the manatee time to leave. If people start to help clean polluted waters, go slower in fast motorboats, or get propeller guards, and continue to invent items to help lower the deaths of manatees, they may become a Threatened, rather than an Endangered Species.

Nature Study
Flowers for the Star of the Sea
80's and Beautiful
May 16, 2006, 8:54 pm, The Florida Keys

Dear Mother of the Savior, yet remaining
Star of the Sea and heaven's open door,
Come when we stumble, lifting and sustaining,
For in our hearts we long to rise once more.
You who, defying nature, still continue
Virgin before and after Gabriel's call,
You who, defying nature, wrought the sinew
Of Him Who mad you, pity on us who fall.
Eve's angel keeps a garden ringed with fire,
But Mary's angel answers Eve's desire.
~James J. Donohue

Our Faith
78' no breeze
May 14, 2006, 1:33 pm, Tavernier, Florida

To breathe in this morning is to renew your soul with color. The western sky, drenched in purples and blues of the palest shades features a very large moon, smudged with lavender, just slipping behind an island of mangroves. The eastern sky has the most perfectly clear complexion, a lovely blushing peach, the envy of many. With no breeze the water is calm allowing the ripples thrown by rolling tarpon to travel and meet, blending and mesmerizing until the process begins anew with another prehistoric pelagic fish trying to break the watery bonds that have held it captive for so many years.

A definite odor of fish becomes noticeable, a pre-sign of dolphin. Sitting taller each splash is quickly turned to and examined for the tell-tale dorsal fin. As the rest of the basin quiets, the corner by the seawall erupts in a froth of fish chased and pinned there by several larger bodies, sleek gray curves cutting through the water pursuing prey.

The identification comes not from a tall dorsal fin or a whoosh of air exhaled but rather by a tremendous plowing splash by a very dark gray form, mottled with murky green. A gaping mouth-like opening oddly pale inside casts light on this mysterious figure. A large ray has been feeding this morning by curling its wings under to form a funnel toward its maw.

As it splashes past, the ray startles a small green heron. The heron calls out in annoyance and beats eastward into the sun sitting a hand's breadth above the horizon. The day has begun.

Lizard Identification Needed
80' Overcast
May 13, 2006, 12:55 pm, Blue Waters Marina

The other afternoon, Hal and I were enjoying the cooler air under Tiki Hut when a lizard caught our eye. It was a distance away, running over the gravel. As it continued towards us we realized how large and unusual it was. Hal followed at a distance and I ran to find Marianna and her new camera. This lizard is larger than any Anole we have seen, Green or Brown, approximately 8 inches minus the tail. We considered the possibility that it might be an immature Iguana but discarded that idea when we saw a similar sized Iguana on the way to the store that same day. The Iguana had a much narrower head and had visible spikes even at a young age and a paunchy neck. Our lizard had a flattened circular head with distinctive green and brown markings fading to a sandy brown color on the body and tail. Our trusty Audubon Field Guide to Florida had no listing for a lizard resembling this one, leading us to believe that it may be an exotic, an escapee or released pet. Are there any herpetologists able to identify this lizard? 'Add a Note' under 'Comments' with the answer, please!

Nature Study
Partake in the Feast!
77' very light breeze
May 11, 2006, 9:56 pm, Tavernier, Florida

There has been a great discussion on the 4Real Learning Bulletin Boards (scroll down the page and select the Bulletin Board Format for a wealth of information) on cooking with children today. Cooking is something that Marianna and I love to do together and with Daddy even better! Our style of cooking changed drastically when we moved aboard, with no oven, no stovetop, two grills and a microwave in port only, our recipes undergo a rigorous pre-cooking examination and/or adaptation. Some items change over easily and yet we find that we do not care to eat them as much as we used to.

For instance, meatloaf, that ultimate comfort food, can be easily cooked on the grill in a disposable pan but it is a hot, heavy food not well suited for life in the tropics. It is brought out on cool days in January when huddling around the grill for an hour as the sun sinks warms one physically and emotionally. Never the less, meatloaf was one of the first dishes Marianna wanted to learn to make. As she explained it to me, there was no way I could refuse. In her mind meatloaf is connected with her family and is a dish that has been passed down for generations, I make it, Grandma makes it, her Mother made it, and now Marianna can make it. It comforts her to trace this lineage of meatloaf and know that each time it is served, it appears with scalloped potatoes and green beans. It is tradition and I really don't think it would taste quite right with any other sides.

With a recipe this special it needed to be copied down very carefully, and is now stored in her unique recipe folder that she has adapted from a coupon holder with similar recipes, Aunt Joyce's 7-Layer Dip, "The Girls" Strawberry Pretzel Jello, and Carol's Buttermilk Pancakes. All special and each and every one connected with a story in Marianna's mind. Of course, she also has recipes included that we have not made yet but she really, really wants to! Check out the very carefully trimmed Kitty Cat Cupcakes, a memory in the making!

Cooking is a very important part of life and as such it should be incorporated into life daily. Planning, shopping, cooking, eating, all happen on a daily basis. Therefore we have a daily pattern that can be utilized to apply education to real life and bring families together while doing so. Have your children choose the tomatoes for the tomato-basil salad or the potatoes for broccoli cheddar baked potatoes. After cleaning and slicing or baking, the sense of pride when the children can bring a dish to table is poignant to see.

The history in a dish that you learned to make at your mother's side and are now teaching to your children should be shared, tell those stories that might have taken 10 years to be funny but now are worthy of rolling on the floor laughing! Play 'Do You Remember?' Mom, do you remember when I launched the lid to your wedding Corningware across the table like a bowling ball, shattering it against the wall when the pot holder slipped? I sure do! And I remember that lesson quite well and always securely grasp lid and bowl now. Haste makes waste. Cooking is fun! Share the adventure! Go ahead and call Grandma to confirm that story and after chatting maybe make a few notes on the recipe card to prompt the story the next time. Memories are very sweet. Savor these recollections like a rare delicacy, or gorge like it is common popcorn, the point is to partake in the feast.

I'm all at Sea with this Recipe!
Our Nature Notebooks
85' sunny, light breeze
May 11, 2006, 8:38 am, Florida Keys

Our nature journals are spiral bound, thick watercolor paper. We have used watercolor paints, colored pencils, ink pens and watercolor pencils in our journals with our favorite being the latter. The watercolor pencils are easy to use and result in fabulous effects with a dab of water on a small paint brush. There is no drying time and perhaps best of all, they came in a very flat metal box exactly the same size as the journals. This pile of three items sits nicely in the back window of my car waiting for inspiration to strike, which definitely happens sporadically.

We have even wet our brushes in a splashing fountain to swirl and darken the colors of the stripes on a lizard's back.

On occasion Marianna and I will treat ourselves to lunch out at a restaurant on the water and share a sandwich and jar of water for our paints.

A favorite trick is to draw the trunk of a tree, getting the shape just right, and then take multiple leaf rubbings to fill in the canopy.

The Adaptation of a Recipe
Upper 80's Sunny
May 9, 2006, 11:09 am, The Boat

In thinking of ways to remember and honor Mary during this month of May, we knew we'd like to do something with food. For the Assumption we'd made cream cheese Lily cookies and might again this month if we have access to an oven. But with no oven available at this time and the muggy heat that has descended on the Keys this month, a cool refreshing dessert was in order. First thoughts ran toward Key Lime Pie, our favorite is light and frozen, not cloying and heavy. But we wanted to make, not buy, our special dessert. A second favorite local dessert is a towering Coconut Cake. The homemade cake part is out, but coconut is white, a symbol of purity and used in Crème Pies, which bear resemblance to fluffy clouds, a classical reminder of heaven. A visit to the store was in order now that we had our inspiration.

Standing in the pudding section I was hoping to find an instant coconut pudding but the only coconut flavored pudding was a stovetop version that I knew I would lumpify. So I picked up a box of cheesecake flavored instant pudding and cute little graham cracker tart shells.

Back at the boat I felt that we'd need more flavor to follow through with the coconut inspiration behind this dessert and briefly considered sending Marianna out for a fresh coconut and either mixing the water in the pudding or grating it over the top of the finished tarts. Anyone who has ever dealt with fresh coconuts from a tree knows this is not a decision to be made lightly as big heavy tools and an audience will be acquired.

Instead, I reached for our bottle of Pina Colada Mix and added ¾ cup Mix and 1 cup of milk to the box of pudding. I set Marianna to swirling it together and began setting out the tart shells and some leftover sliced almonds for decorations. Marianna called me back as she said it looked funny and boy, did it! Lumps everywhere! A new discovery, forks do not always work as well as a whisk. So, if there is no whisk available, pull out the blender! If it can make coladas out of ice, pineapple or mango and mix, it can surely take out pudding lumps, right? Not only did it take out the lumps, but it aerated the pudding much more than a simple fork, nearly doubling the volume. After pouring the pudding into the tart shells and adding a few almonds, we chilled them in the fridge.

Later that evening we pulled out our new favorite dessert, cool and creamy and refreshing. Deliciously delicate, piled cloud-like around a brilliant blue daisy, a towering triumph, reminding us of Mary's quiet accomplishments.

I'm all at Sea with this Recipe!
Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink!
Hot and Humid
May 7, 2006, 7:50 pm, The Florida Keys

A quote that is generally fun to say on a sailboat especially if one happens to be headed out onto the salty sea for a weekend of sailing. But this weekend has brought a different connotation to this quotation as a 36' transmission main broke at the entrance to the water treatment plant on Thursday, May 4. Immediately, a boil water order went out for the entire Keys, from MM126 to Key West.

Did this bother us? Not a bit, we usually fill our water tanks twice a week, 40 gallons each time on Mondays and Fridays. We simply skipped Friday's fill up and hoped that we could make it to Monday using the water in the tanks strictly for drinking. It felt really good and very self-sufficient (okay, maybe a bit sanctimonious) to be able to tell friends that the boil water order didn't apply to us as we do not draw our water continuously and directly from the public water supply.

But. Today is Sunday. Our tanks are empty now and I am boiling 8 cups of water in our largest bowl while checking the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority's website for the cancellation order while drinking an Iced Macadamia Latte (milky since water is non-applicable). The stores look as if a named storm were bearing down with empty water pallets scattered in the aisles and very few cases of beer left chilling and I am contemplating things one can do with an empty water tank.

1. I could empty ice cubes into the tank and call a bunch of kids over to rock the boat. Supposedly the ice bouncing along the bottom of the tank will scrub up any deposits then melt allowing the debris to be pumped down the sink. Rinse well after.
2. Ignore the situation and sip another latte.
3. String garden hose down the hatch to sink and wash dishes and entire galley with excess spray as the nozzle appears to have three settings - off, mist, and jet.
4. Add smidge of rum to latte and check FKAA's website. Again.
5. Read about benefits of hydrogen peroxide as a water purifier (non-toxic to humans, ½ - 1 oz of 27% solution to 10 gallons of water, too much will result in a harmless chemical taste) vs. chlorine bleach (6 drops of 6% bleach solution per gallon of water, too much will result in entry in 2006 Darwin Awards)
6. Add smidge of latte to rum. Sip.
7. Check our hydrogen and ice supply. Poke head up hatch and survey docks for stray kids and/or friends who will help and/or hinder me.
8. See instead, husband and daughter laden with dive equipment. Explain science experiment involving ice and hydrogen peroxide with result of clean tanks for clean water on Monday.
9. Hear explanation from husband on reason why under-sink cabinet glows blue. Not, as previously thought, so people hit trashcan with their banana peels, but rather as water is being purified by ultra-violet light, charcoal and sediment filters, and oxygenated with O3. The result is eerily similar to boiling or so my husband says.
10. Hmmph. Add ice to rum. Sip.
11. Call friends, smugly inquire after boiling water efforts.

86' Sunny, light breeze
May 5, 2006, 11:35 am, Blue Waters Basin

This is what happens when you swim twice across the basin in one hour.

The Distracted Centipede
71' lovely cool morning, light breeze
May 4, 2006, 9:07 am, Key Largo, Florida

A centipede was happy quite
Until a bird in fun
Said "Prey, which leg comes after which?"
This raised her mind to such a pitch,
She lay distracted in the ditch
Considering how to run.


We have a new pet! No, definitely NOT onboard. In fact, Herbert is kept 10 miles away at his capture point. He is a Florida Blue Centipede, a very popular pet as far as centipedes go, according to our research. A native Floridian, most reach lengths of 3 inches with a flattened, segmented body. Herbert is 6 inches long. Florida Blue Centipedes are very fast moving and commonly live under logs and rocks, and in trash and debris piles. This Centipede is venomous and preys upon insects and spiders. In the photo his head is at the lower corner with two curving mustache-like antennae and two rear-facing longer legs at the top left corner. Herbert was found in an old Woodrat hole on the ground floor of a stilt house. He will be released.

Full Taxonomy
Common Name: Centipede - Florida Blue
Category: Insects » Millipedes
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Chilopoda
Order: Scolopendromorpha
Family: Scolopendridae
Genus: Hemiscolopendra
Species: marginata

Nature Study

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S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen
Who: Capt. Hal, Jennifer, and our daughter Marianna, a great photographer!
Port: Boca Chica
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