Winter Maintenance Day 1 – Margaret

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Bear nestled in her shade cloth

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A view from the cockpit under the shade cloth

Today we climbed aboard Bear for the first time since September and began to make a dent in our lengthy list of repairs and delayed maintenance projects.  While I worked on the list below, Jeff tackled a bunch of other jobs.  Though we are both self-sufficient workers, it is always nice to have each other close by when you need a second opinion or a helping hand.  I enjoy the time that we work through maintenance issues on the boat together.  We both learn a lot and equally delight in conquering technical and mechanical problems.
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Our last day in Florida before heading to St. Mary’s, GA

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Sandhill Crane

We have spent the last week visiting with family in Florida.  Tomorrow we will drive up to St. Mary’s, GA to spend the next few weeks working on SV Bear.  She has been on the hard since early September and we are looking forward to seeing how she has hibernated.
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New gear for SV Bear!

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New monogrammed towels and cutting board – mom said we needed something classy!

This holiday season we have been reminded of how lucky we are to have parents who support our sailing adventures.   Jeff’s parents in particular have helped us on multiple occasions to provision, clean, and even sail down the ICW last year.  This Christmas, Jeff’s folks were again extraordinarily generous, putting a bunch of our wish list items under the tree!
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Mariners Trading Consignment – Port Charlotte, Florida

One of the first things we do when we visit Jeff’s parents in Florida is take a trip to Port Charlotte to visit Mariners Trading.  This boating supply consignment shop has a wide variety of used gear as well as nautical decor.  We usually leave with a half a dozen books, a new chart book or two, and something swanky for our nautical-themed bar room.

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Mariners Trading 3622 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte, FL

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Winter work aboard SV Bear

It has been a hectic few weeks for us, which, unfortunately has meant radio silence on the blog.  While we are now relaxing in Florida, soaking in the warm sun and gentle gulf breezes, just a few days ago it seemed as though we would never escape the cold temps and blustery breeze of the Midwest.   I spent the last few weeks of the semester frantically grading portfolios, hosting critiques, and preparing two new bodies of work, including images from the Female Mariners Project, for exhibitions that will go up in January while we are out of town.
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Our Animal Sightings over Summer 2014

Here in Illinois, we are wrapping up the end of the semester and looking forward to escaping south for a few weeks of boat work and relaxing with family. This past Wednesday, we had a little faculty party at our house to celebrate the end of classes. There, a friend asked about the wildlife we had seen over the summer while on the boat. I figured some other people might be interested in the answer to that question as well, so I decided to write up this post on the topic.
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The Best Sailing and Cruising Books of 2014

If you are into such things, this is the time of year when all the “best of the year” lists come out. I always pay attention to the ones listing books, looking for interesting or important works that I may have overlooked during the year. As I was doing so over the past couple days, I decided I might as well put together our own list of the finest sailing and cruising writing of 2014 since I have never come across such a thing. So, here they are, the best of the year and a few late 2013 additions…
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Another Round of Great YouTube Sailing Videos

It is no secret that Margaret and I watch a lot of YouTube. Just last night we plowed through ten or so Jimmy Fallon clips, and I watch a climbing video over lunch nearly everyday. But sailing videos occupy most of our time on the site, and we subscribe to several dozen sailing channels, eagerly awaiting new posts.

Twice now we have posted about some of our favorite YouTube videos and channels (see the posts here and here). And with all the solid new videos we have been watching recently, we figured it was time to make a third post in this vein. It seems that many of the people who were inspired by some of the first cruising YouTube videos are now making their own films while they search for a boat, undertake a refit, and chase their sailing dreams, which is a good thing for those of us who enjoy watching or, like me, need the videos to make it through a cold and dark winter.
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In search of the perfect v-berth mattress: innerspring versus foam

How many of you have woken up in a beautiful anchorage with a sore hip from your lousy, old v-berth cushions?  Well, I am sick of it and have decided to do something about it – pronto.  While Jeff could sleep on almost anything and not complain, I really want to be comfortable, especially since we plan to spend months, if not entire seasons, living aboard Bear.
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Review: Starboard Collection – Carina Plates and Bowls

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A few days after I posted the Wish List for Sailors, I received a comment from Aimee Marti at Starboard Collection asking me if I would review her new product line.  After taking a peek at the well-designed website, I responded that I would be happy to write a review of her products on ReturntoSeasons.  About a week later, a package arrived containing several pieces from the Carina table top line, and, after a thorough review,  I can honestly say that I am eager to incorporate this tableware into our galley.
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