Sammy was so much more than a bird, she was a part of me.


I have had Sammy since she hatched in 2006, and she was rarely in a cage. When I was in undergraduate, she would frequently sneak into class with me. In dental school, she would spend many a lecture hidden under my shirt.


She lived inside my shirt and would remain there quietly without making a peep! This means that I could easily take her places where pets are not allowed. All I had to do was tell her to “go in my shirt” and she would dive down my collar! This worked out great because now she had a wonderful vantage point of the world around here without actually being exposed to any harm. Nothing could swoop down and steal her off my shoulder and a loud noise wouldn’t make her jump off of me. She was safe and content and spent most of her life right there.


This worked out great while I was a student and still a dirt dweller. When I graduated in 2012 from dental school, I had big plans to live aboard a sailboat and sail the world! Obviously, Sammy was part of the plan. Sammy adapted well to boat life because she didn’t care where I was, as long as she was on me. She did have herself a small cage inside where she would eat and where she would ride out bad weather (I didn’t want her getting blown overboard).


In all her years, the only time she fell in the water was when a kid jumped really hard on an aluminum section of the pier at a marina. Sammy was in my shoulder and about to go into my shirt when the loud bang scared her to flight (but she couldn’t fly) and she fell into the water right at the waters edge. I quickly scooped her up and all was well. In all her years, that was the only time she fell in the water; that is a pretty good track record!

Living aboard in a marina really isn’t all that different from living in a small apartment; the only difference is the view is much better! The big change came when Maddie and I decided to go cruising (oh yes, Sammy was around long before I met my wife). We set out and cruised down the Chesapeake Bay with our pets still aboard. When we got to the mouth of the bay, Sammy now 11 years old, went to live with my parents. Maddie and I decided that it would be safer for our pets (Morty and Sammy) if they lived with our parents instead of on an ocean going sailboat. My parents drove down to Deltaville, VA to pick up Sammy, beginning her life on shore once again.

Sammy enjoyed being at my parents house, and she got plenty of time out of her cage on their shoulders, but this phase of her life was short lived.

Sammy died on the June 8th, 2019. I was in the Azores at the time. I would fly home for a month at a time every few months and spend the majority of that time with Sammy who I missed so much. I had just flown back to the Azores to sail to mainland Portugal a few days before. We were getting the boat ready to sail to Portugal and return again in August to see Sammy again.

The voyage started off as a wonderful time with Sammy, who had always been a literal part of me. She was either on my shoulder or in my shirt for over a decade! Then we made the decision to leave them in the care and safety of my parents, but this was such a hard thing to do. I cried so much when my parents picked her up because I felt like if I was saying goodbye. Sammy always slept right next to me in her little bed, right by my bed. At night, the last thing I did before getting in bed was put her in hers; the first thing I did when I got up in the morning was get her out of her bed. To make the conscious decision to become separated from her was grueling!

I still remember coming home to visit the first time. Sammy was so excited to see me that she fell off her perch! As soon as I was home, the old routine was restored and she spent every moment attached to me. We visited as often as we could and for as long as we could, mainly because we missed our pets, but also to see our family.

I felt so sad when I left this last time because I wanted to spend more time with her. I told her that I was leaving again and that I would be back in about two months. As I arrived in the Azores, Wisdom was still on the hard and we were finished with our refit. We were splashing and setting sail to Portugal so that we could fly home for a family reunion in August. When my parents called, I was destroyed.

Suddenly, the dream of sailing across the ocean merely became a delivery to get me to the airport in Portugal so that I could fly home. A part of me had died and sadness poured into the necrotic hole in my soul.

Sammy loved strawberries. She would go berserk at the sight of the red fruit! She would always take a huge bite out of the fruit and mash it up with her beak, only eating a small portion of the original bite, then fling the red mash everywhere to clean her beak before the next bite. If you didn’t know, strawberry mash will stain everything it lands on, so I was always very cautious with how big of a bite she would take and promptly wipe her beak clean before she would shake her head with expert flinging motion.

Her love of strawberries didn’t just reach the fruit itself, she loved anything with strawberries in it! Strawberry ice cream, strawberry yogurt, even dried strawberries in cereal!

Since she loved strawberries so much, I decided to bury her in a planter with strawberry plants, wrapped up in one of my shirts. I might have not been there with her at the end, but she always loved being in the collar of my shirt, and while I wasn’t there with her at the end in person, this way a part of me will always be holding onto her forever. I figure that with time, a bit of her might end up in the strawberries, and that other birds might be able to take a bit of her with them. It really is a dumb idea, but it makes me feel better to think that she can still have her strawberries, even if it means her becoming strawberries!

And why the planter? Well, being how we live on a boat that is currently in Portugal, and being how I don’t want to leave her behind, I figured a planter was the best choice. Eventually, we will sail back into the Chesapeake Bay and our journey will come to an end. We plan to become dirt dwellers once more and have a home on land. If I were to bury Sammy somewhere in the Earth, that would be where she would remain. Somewhere far from where I am, and never somewhere I am going to be; so I decided to bury Sammy in a planter that way when we come back and settle down somewhere, Sammy can come along and be with me once again.

How to Be Ready When Faced with an Emergency Home Repair

Emergency home repairs come for every homeowner. It may be a failed water heater, a crack in your foundation, or a sinking roof, but whatever it is, you will eventually need to fork out the money for costly fixes. Though unexpected repairs never come at a good time, doing a little preparation can keep your stress levels down when the day does come. If you’re a homeowner, these tips can help you plan for the major repairs you will need to pay for.

Build your savings

The ideal financial situation is to be able to pay for major home repairs on the spot. That way, you’re not piling up debt through high-interest credit card payments. The best way to achieve this is by starting an emergency repair fund, or building your fund up if you already have one. 

A good starting point is to set aside at least one percent of your home’s value for repairs every year. For example, if your home is valued at $500,000, you should save at least $5,000 in your repair fund each year. Some experts suggest building an emergency fund until you can cover three to eight months of monthly expenses. However, since you can always count on big-ticket components of your home (e.g., foundation, roof, siding, sewer line) eventually needing to be fixed or replaced, planning to contribute to your fund indefinitely may keep you in the best financial position. 

Use your home equity 

Sometimes, an emergency repair is needed before someone has their fund built up enough to cover the cost. If this happens to you, consider using your home equity to access the cash you need. For relatively low out-of-pocket costs, look to a cash-out refinance to pay for home improvements or repairs. How much equity you have in your home will determine whether you need a conventional or FHA cash-out, so do your homework to learn more about your options. Cash out refinancing will not only supply the money you need for repairs, it can even result in better terms than your current loan. 

Explore personal loans 

Another option for paying for emergency repairs is to take out a personal or home improvement loan. There are many loans available that begin with an interest rate below 5 percent. While it’s not ideal, it’s still much cheaper than swiping your credit card. Search online for the various home improvement and personal loans and compare so that you can choose the best one for your situation. For many loans, you can easily apply online. 

Be picky with your contractors

Lastly, the contractor you pick for each home improvement or repair can make a significant difference in how much you pay. Choosing a qualified contractor that fits within your budget is the best way to go. It’s important to remember that just because a contractor charges higher fees doesn’t mean they do the best work. On the other side of the coin, if you hire a contractor because they charge the least, you could end up with more to fix than you started with. For example, there’s a reason mold removal costs most homeowners an average of $2,000 - $6,000; if you suddenly find your basement covered in fungus or discover growths in your HVAC system, a true pro will not only do heavy cleaning, but likely drywall replacement and appliance repair, respectively. If a prospective contractor gives you a bid well under that national average, they may not be doing the quality work you need to remediate and keep the problem away.

Make a point to get referrals from friends and neighbors, interview three or more candidates, check each candidate’s licensing and insurance, and research their previous work. Ask each contractor for an estimate, and consider your options before committing to and signing the contract. 

Being financially prepared for emergency home repairs can save you a lot of stress and money. Start contributing to a repair fund as soon as possible, and look into cash-out refinancing and personal or home improvement loans as other options. Last but not least, be especially selective when hiring a contractor. The sooner you start planning for the inevitable, the sooner you will gain the peace of mind of knowing you’re covered. 

Photo Credit: Pexels

Fishing in the Open Ocean

Every fisherman dreams of deep sea fishing! The rush to get out past the continental shelf into the deep ocean water where pelagic fish swim. Catching giant meals like marlin, dorado, and wahoo!

We are way beyond where they dream of going, so we do take up the opportunity to catch something amazing.

We fished from Florida to Bermuda, and from Bermuda to the Azores, and hooked a whopping two small fish! Thanks to viewers on our YouTube channel, we were able to get the fish identified as Almoco Jacks. They were delicious, but provided nowhere near the satisfaction and meal capacity of a large game fish.

Obviously, we suck at fishing1 While in the Azores, I spoke with local fishermen and talked with other cruisers who have made successful catches while out at sea to figure out how I could do this better. 

When we left the Azores, we were equipped with new gear and new tactics, but so far, 700 miles later, we still have not hooked a single fish. 


Azores to Portugal: Day 9

High latitude Cruising is famous for bringing you sights few see. Why don’t many see these sights? Because it’s cold and rains all the time!

When we sailed to the Azores in 2018, it was warm and sunny. By day we would wear short sleeves and on night watch, a simple jacket was plenty to keep warm. We were sailing below latitude 40N. 

In 2019 when we left the Azores, we headed straight north to go around the eastern limit of the Azores High. This has taken us as far north as Latitude 46N. By day, it will be 61F, by night 50F. 

To make it even worse, you never see the sun because of all the cloud cover. All this cloud cover leads to perpetual rain!

Cold and rainy. That pretty much sums up our experience with higher latitude cruising in June.

Azores to Portugal: Day 8

We are making progress! The winds are out of the ESE once again and we are rocketing north on a beam reach! We are about a hundred miles from our first waypoint and that is making Maddie feel better about progress. 

I view the journey as 1/3 complete because we have 3 turns to make. Maddie views the journey as 1/2 complete because of the number of miles covered and miles remaining. 

It’s interesting how both of these perspectives are correct and yet paint very different pictures about the situation.