First solo sail on Zoe

We received a phone call from the marina staff informing us that we had mail. Whenever they have called about mail, it’s always been official and serious. This time was no different. We both received letters from the health ministry, and of course we were unable to read them. Dan quickly sent a picture to our friend who explained to us we were required to go the ministry of health and purchase Croatian health insurance. Now mind you, we had already purchased travelers health insurance that included evacuating us out of the country in an emergency. No one said anything about having to buy Croatian insurance. But wait! It gets better (of course it does)….not only did we need to buy insurance for the remaining 2 1/2 months of our visa, but we had to pay for the year leading up to our entry in the country! We weren’t even living here! Are you kidding me??? Needless to say, we spent 2 days running around trying to get that squared away and figuring out where to even go. And, like everything else here, you cannot take care of everything in one place (payment in one place and paperwork in another). I believe that we are the most highly insured people on the planet now 🙁

With that all squared away, we raced to the ferry to make our way to the mainland since it was time to return the rental car. Life was about to get really interesting. We spent the day running around doing errands and buying those last few things for the boat. We returned the car and then had to figure out how to get from the airport to the ferry and then from the ferry back to our boat. After wandering the tiny airport trying to figure things out, we finally opted for a bus to a beautiful little town called Omišalj. This was a ten minute ride, and then we would have to wait for 4 hours for the next bus that would take us on the ferry and drop us in the city center of Cres. From there it would be 3/4 mile walk to the boat. Yeah, that was loads of fun. I want my car back! We had a weather system rolling in the next couple of nights, so we used that time to work on the boat and get her ready to head out once the storm passed.

One of our first projects was to replace our transducer which was no longer registering boat speed. This turned out to be one of those “you’re kidding me” tasks. I say this because it requires you to pull the transducer out of a hole in the hull of the boat. What is on the other side of this 2” diameter hole? A whole lot of water!!! This means you have to quickly pop it out, while water comes rushing in, and shove a special plug in the hole to keep from sinking your boat. And we didn’t just do it once. Nope, we did it twice! Once to take the old one out, clean it, and test it. Broken. So the second time was to put the new one in. Needless to say, we did not sink our boat and successfully completed our first repair job.

Our next task was to fill our propane tank and buy groceries (don’t forget, we are now car-less). The worst part of this task is that you have to drop the tank before 10 and pick it up after 2 (at the camp, which is no where near us!). So off we go, on our folding bikes, each armed with a big duffle on our back. It was a 2 1/2 mile ride (no big deal) with a very long ascent uphill (that WAS a big deal). I was super excited knowing I would get to make the ride there one more time today! We hit the grocery store, loaded up our duffles, and headed back to the boat. Chores were done, boat was ready, and our plan was to head south the next day. This would be our first handling Zoe with just the two of us. Similar to airplanes, take off and landing are the scariest parts….the stuff in between is a cake walk.

We headed out late morning while the winds were relatively calm. I scampered from one end of the boat to the other releasing all four lines and making sure they were clear of the props. We easily slid out of our spot for a clean exit….whew! We had a great day of wind (more than we expected) and hoisted our main and Genoa. We glided along at a peppy 8 knots most of our journey. We had a little bit of chop, but I managed to make us coffee and brunch without injury to myself or setting the boat on fire 🙂 As they day went on, the winds died down (as they typically do), so in came the Genoa and out came the big gennaker sail. Dan was a happy boy getting to play with all his sails! We arrived at the island of Unije about 4 1/2 hours later and proceeded to a very crowded anchorage. After one failed attempt at anchoring in very tight quarters, we agreed to ditch this area for a much more relaxed mooring field. Definitely a much better choice! We spent 2 wonderful nights here swimming, relaxing, and SUPing around the bay. The time came for us to venture on to our next destination….the island of Premuda.

We said goodbye to our beautiful bay and sailed our way to Premuda. Again, this was about a four hour sail. We pulled into the mooring field and attempted to grab a mooring ball. The wind was strong and the current and swells made this nearly impossible. Up until now, we have really struggled grabbing a mooring ball. The tie point is at the bottom of the ball, and they have them strung so tight that you can only lift the ball up a few feet. We are very high up from the water making it incredibly challenging for me to hoist the ball up under pressure and run the lines through….my arms are just not long enough even laying down and leaning over the edge. We decide it’s time to try something new. I will be at the wheel and Dan will grab the ball at the back of the boat, run the line through, and as the wind moves the ball to the front he will walk the line up and tie it off. We already tried this with me at the back, and once again I came up short in getting the ball high enough to run the line. The role reversal went really well. We now have a new piece of learning under our belt. We headed into town as we were running low on cash and didn’t think to stock up before we left. Here is another fun fact….many of the islands only take cash AND do not have banks or an ATM on the island! Uh oh! We read in our guide book that the post office will act as a cash dispenser. Our book said the post office on Premuda was open from 2-4. It was now 3 o’clock so we hustled to shore and headed out in search of the post office. The sun was high overhead and it was blazing hot. Wouldn’t you know, the post office was located up a very long road…and I mean UP! We arrived at 3:30 only to find out the hours were 10-12….my heart broke 🙁 We headed back to the boat sad and defeated. Not feeling really impressed with this place so far. We spent an incredibly rough night pitching around in the rolling sea. If we didn’t have our sea legs before, we definitely would now. For the first time ever, things fell off the shelf (that’s how bad we were rocking). The next day we decided to hell with this and headed out of there.

Our next stop was the island of Silba. We found a beautiful little bay with only a few boats. We proceeded in, chose our ball, and took our stations….me at the helm and Dan on the back of the boat with the hook and our mooring line. Success! We finally landed it in one try! It’s the little accomplishments that bring us such great joy…haha. According to our guide, the town was a one mile walk from the bay, and we were promised an ATM, some markets, and some restaurants. We headed up the trail which was well shaded in the trees (luckily I did not notice the bazillion large spiders hanging from many of the trees until we were headed back!) We arrived in a beautiful little town with gorgeous villas and YES! that beautiful ATM right next to a market. We quickly replenished our cash (in case it ran dry) and wandered around taking in the sights. We found an amazing little restaurant for lunch (I thoroughly enjoyed my octopus salad) and wandered some more afterwards. Before heading back, we hit the bakery, a fruit and veggie stand, and the market. We happily made our way back to the boat proclaiming our love for this little piece of paradise. Definitely spending another night here! We spent the next two days SUPing around the two bays, swimming and relaxing. We also enjoyed a front row seat to the total lunar eclipse….which was spectacular. Tomorrow, we will continue to make our way south (but I will be very sad to say goodbye to Silba). Remind me next time to tell you about the 360 degree views of naked people….I’ve run out of places to avert my eyes and seen enough naked strangers to last me a lifetime. Oh! I forgot to mention the naked Italian lady who swam over to our boat to tell Dan about the great pictures she took of our boat and would like to share them with him! I bet I have your attention now, huh? Until next time…….

Robyn getting the new transducer ready. Note the hull plugs ready in case of problems!

Church bells gonging like crazy…..

Unije mooring ball field

Fruitless and rolly visit to Premuda

Goat path from anchorage to town….about a 25 minute hike

Charming town of Silba
Octopus lunch…Yum!!

Ancient pirate lookout tower
Our girl under a full moon
Aquarium under the boat
Real time position on the web

Becoming a resident


It’s a funny thing (okay, not at all funny when you are up to your neck in it), but government red tape is essentially the same every where you go.  We are now proud boat owners with our boat docked in the Mediterranean.  Our dream is to spend 5 or so years sailing all the amazing places located here.  This part of the world is a sailor’s paradise. For me, I get to explore a variety of countries with amazing histories, architectural styles, and varied cultures.  I love to see how other people live and want to experience it first hand.  I’m here…..this should be pretty easy, right?  

Here comes the fun.  As an American citizen, we are only allowed to stay 3 months, and then we must leave for 3 months before we can return.  Hmmmm, that’s just not going to work for me.  So let me take you back in time a little bit…..

For those of you who may not know, Dan’s parents are first generation immigrants from Croatia.  This makes it possible (in theory, anyway) for Dan to become a dual citizen.  For the last few years, Dan has spent countless hours pouring over websites, Internet forums, and various other sources to see what paperwork is required and the steps we need to take to accomplish this task.  He spent months acquiring all the necessary paperwork from his parents to prove their connection to Croatia.  Enter red tape, crazy challenge number one.  When entering the U.S., the spelling of their names (first and last) were “Americanized” thereby no longer matching their original Croatian paperwork (birth certificate, etc).  Dan had to now find and/or file legal paperwork to prove that the different spelling of the names did in fact belong to the same person.

Of course this was just the beginning of the problems.  Our next hurdle came when establishing Dan’s identity.  All of Dan’s identifications (passport, driver’s license, etc.) listed him by the formal version of his name.  Unfortunately, his birth certificate named him using the very casual form of his name.  Nope, we have no way to know this is the same person!  Seriously?!  Dan had to then file legal paperwork to formally change his name on his birth certificate so that all his documents matched.  Another challenge conquered!

The next challenge was for me.  In order to establish my identity, and connection to Dan by marriage, we had to have a foreign apostille attached to my documents.  This required original documents being sent off to a place that notarizes documents on an international level.

Dan and I went back and forth between the decision to apply for full citizenship or just a resident visa.  We attended several local consulate visits where his paperwork was analyzed, and we were told what additional things we either needed or needed to do.  On our final visit, the consulate representative misunderstood Dan’s status (having both parents from Croatia) and told him he needed to take the history exam.  He told us to take the exam and head over to the coffee shop to complete it (and reminded us to take our phone….wink, wink).  Message received.  The exam was only 15 questions, but they were 15 very long questions written all in Croatian.  Sweat began to bead on our brows….yep, we were in big trouble.  We quickly divided up the test and both began to google translate the questions.  At this rate, it was going to take us 2 days just to read the test.  The guy told Dan he passed, but it would be much easier to apply in person when we got to Croatia.  Oh how wrong he was!

So fast forward to my solo trip to Croatia.  As you will recall, Dan had 1 week here with me to try and get done as much as possible before he headed back to the states.  My residency was number one on the list since I would be here a month and a half before we returned together, which would blow up half of my stay allowance (and you know how fast bureaucracies work!)  We headed to the police station with a good friend who would translate for us.  We filled out the applications (in Croatian….which meant everyone around us was watching our friend write out our statements so that we could copy them onto our application).  After waiting in line for over an hour, it was our turn with the now highly agitated lady who has been yelled at by numerous people before us.  She looked at our paperwork, threw it back at us and told us it was no good.  Dan and his sister are listed in his father’s will as the owners of the house (the address we were using as our reason for being in Croatia).  Here was the rub….the apostille we had done on our marriage certificate was now more than 6 months old and no longer valid.  Okay, no problem.  Our friend explained that I was named as joint owner of our boat, which resides in the marina, and I would be living there.  Nope!  No good!  We already told her we were living in the house and can’t change our story.  We walked away frustrated and defeated.

You don’t really believe that, do you?  We were very frustrated, but we regrouped and re-strategized.  At this point, we have gone from the mainland of Croatia to the island of Cres where both the house and the boat were residing.  Prior to leaving our friend on the mainland, we completed new applications using our boat as our legal residence while overseeing the renovations of the house.  By doing it this way, I no longer needed to show a legal connection to Dan because we were both on the title to the boat.  Ha!  We got this.  One small hitch (come on, you saw that coming), we were required to have a translator with us at the police station which was a 45 minute drive to another town on the island.  Our contractor and his family to the rescue!  His daughter called her cousin who agreed to meet us at the police station the next morning.  As we began the process again, new complications arose.  Of course this was not going to be a one shot deal!  Silly me for being hopeful.  It took a great deal of conversation and explanation with the marina agents to convince the woman that we were in fact living in the marina on our boat.  Next problem, the contract had Dan’s name on it and not mine (they only issue the contract to one name).  No biggie, he was still owner of a home, so we’d just switch the marina contract to me.  Oh, and the contract was in English, and they wanted it in Croatian.  Off we run, back to the marina (45 minutes away).  New contract printed and signed, and we once again raced back to the police station (adding to the challenge was the fact that they are only open until 1 p.m. each weekday).  Wait!  We have another complication….the marina did not stamp the contract!  Doesn’t matter that we have one already in their possession with a stamp (Croatian authorities LOVE official stamps on things). This would require yet another trip back into town 🙁

At this point, all of our paperwork has been submitted, and we wait.  A couple of weeks later, 2 very official letters came for us at the marina.  Shockingly (no…not really) they were written in Croatian.  I politely asked the lady at the marina reception to tell me what the letters said.  She explained that we had an appointment at the police station, for an interview, in one week and we were not to miss it or our visa would be denied.  Holy crap!  Dan was already back to work in the states, but we were both required to be there.  I quickly called Dan and explained the situation.  Dan pretty much dropped everything and arranged a quick trip back out over the 3 day holiday weekend.  We also decided that he and I would travel home together rather than me flying home alone 3 days later.

Dan made the very long and painful journey back out to the island just in time for our appointment the next day.  Now, a new problem has arisen (bet you thought a happy ending was close at hand).  Our first translator was not available, and neither were the few other resource people we have relied upon.  Just when we thought we would be standing on the street corner pleading for someone to translate for us, our contractor’s daughter came through for us again, and her friend agreed to translate for us.  We spent 2 hours going through the paperwork and making statements which were translated into Croatian.  In the end, we were told that several of our documents needed to be translated into Croatian and all of this had to be submitted within 10 days.  Mind you, we are flying home in two.  The outline of dates was very tight for the next few steps, and we were basically told that if we missed any of the deadlines then we were dead in the water….game over.

Our wonderful new friend scrambled to make a number of phone calls to get our last pieces of paperwork translated.  Sooooo, there is one official translator on the island (of course you can’t just have anyone translate the papers….that’s not official!)  Here it comes….the translator was out of the country for the next 3 days….At that point I thought I was going to cry.  Our friend calmly told us not to worry.  She would take the papers to the translator, pick them up, and then deliver everything to the station on the last day they were due (thereby buying us maximum time before we have to come back again).  She also ran us over to the small photo shop to get our pictures done ahead of time so that we would be ready to go.  We were told we would receive a letter of approval, and we would have 8 days to appear back at the station to finalize the process.  Are you kidding me???

We anxiously waited as each step of the process and deadline came and went….so far, so good.  Our friend took care of everything, and now we had to wait for the official letter.  The lady who had processed our papers had given us a rough idea of when to expect the letter (which would go to the marina….not the U.S.)  As the date drew near and we had received no news, we decided to go ahead and book another very quick trip out to Croatia.  

The first thing we did when we arrived was to check for mail….nothing!  We checked again the next day with a different person working in reception.  She told us that a letter arrived 5 or 6 days ago, but the postman would not leave it because we were not there.  OH NO!  The lady in reception was kind enough to call the police station and explain the situation.  The person at the station did some checking and told us to come right away.  We raced down to the town (remember, 45 minutes away) where the poor woman had to fill out all our special forms by hand…again (apparently this was what was in the letter).  We raced next door to the post office to buy a series of official stamps (yep, we are back to that whole stamp thing) to go on our documents.  Now we were racing the clock, and our hearts were pounding.  So close, but you know how that goes.  We submitted our stamps, our pictures, our fingerprints (and our first born, if need be)…..and we were finally done!  Our official residence cards would arrive at the police station for us to pick up in 3 weeks.  Success!  So 3 months of our 6 month visa was used up on completing the process….but we are now official and legal…woo hoo!

On a side note, I arrived back in Croatia a week and a half before Dan and raced down to pick up our cards on Monday.  After all, the way this had played out, I was terrified they would send the cards back if we didn’t come get them when they arrived.  Was this a smooth process?  Of course not!!!  They would only give me mine.  He needed to come in person.  I told her when he would arrive to pick his up, and she was very put out that he was not coming the next day.  I explained to her he would be arriving from America over the weekend, and we would come first thing Monday.  She curtly told me okay and sent me on my way.  I can’t WAIT to go through the renewal process!  NOT!  But I promise to spare you that story 🙂

The much awaited approval
Headed to the police station to finish this thing!

Our location:


My First Solo Trip in a Foreign Country

I have been an airline brat my entire life.  Growing up my dad was a pilot, so our family traveled quite a bit.  I have always been fascinated by different places, cultures, and ways of life.  So no great surprise when my soul mate walked into my life and also worked for an airline.  We traveled extensively (thanks to me no longer being a stubborn teenager who never wanted to leave friends or boyfriends…dumbass!)  The key was we always traveled together, and Dan handled everything!  I just got to show up and enjoy!  No stress or scary stuff for me…I could always trust that Dan had everything under control.

I like to think I’m pretty independent and adventuresome in my own right, so when we decided we were ready to redo Dan’s ancestral home, I was no longer working and so the natural choice was for me to go to Croatia and oversee the work.  I would also be tasked with getting our new (to us) boat set up and ready for adventures.  Sounded pretty good….I could handle this, right?  As planned, my wonderful husband made all the arrangements which would include accompanying me to Croatia and spending a week getting me squared away.  “You can drive a manual, right?” He asks.  “Ummm….I guess.  My first car was a manual, but I really haven’t driven one in probably 25 years.”  I figure it’s no problem….kinda like riding a bike, right?  Except, I have NEVER driven in a foreign country (never mind an island that has steep cliff drop offs and crazy winding roads that in America are considered one lane, not two).  Okay, feeling a little queasy from the stress, but I got this….right?  Oh, I forgot to mention the ferry that I have to drive the car onto and get myself off of like something out of the starting line up of a NASCAR race.

On your mark….get set…GOOO!

Prior to leaving for this trip, we loaded up 6 large duffles with clothes, kitchen items, and boat things we have acquired over the years (careful to ensure that no bag is over 50 pounds).  We also pack up 3 large boxes with more household goods and things to furnish our boat (shopping is immensely easier in America).  We Fedex’d the boxes 2 weeks before our departure to a receiving facility in Trieste, Italy (Croatia did not have this available and would’ve charged a 25% tax on whatever we brought in).  We figured everything would arrive while Dan was still here so that we could drive together and pick up the 3 fifty pound boxes.  Can you guess where this is going?

My back hurts looking at this picture     

Dan and I scrambled, fast and furious, to try and accomplish as much as possible before he had to leave me to return to work.  Keep in mind, we now own a boat that is wired for 220v which means none of our household appliances would work on the boat.  Finding the creature comforts I am use to in America meant trips to a ridiculous number of stores (and odd looks when they had no clue what I was looking for).  For example, I was looking for new bedding.  They do not understand “queen” sized.  Sheets and blankets are labeled by size in centimeters!  I am out shopping armed with the knowledge that I have a queen sized bed, I don’t even know where to begin with sizes in centimeters!  And, they do not do top sheets here.  It is a bottom sheet with a duvet on top.  Needless to say, I brought sheets from the US 🙂 While we did get an incredible amount accomplished, it was not everything 🙁

As I said goodbye to my husband for my 1 month solo run, I naturally (for me) felt a little apprehensive (okay, a lot apprehensive) and very lonely.  Although I didn’t know anyone or have anyone to talk to, everyone was very friendly and helpful to the crazy American who could only speak English.  

We got notice that two of our 3 boxes had arrived in Trieste which meant  I had to drive alone to Trieste.  It’s a 30 minute drive to the ferry, a half hour ferry ride, followed by a 2 hour drive to Trieste, crossing 2 borders.  Uh yeah, I’m a little freaked out!  I find my ferry time, work backwards with my time, and begin my journey.  I decide to spend the night in Trieste in the hopes that the 3rd box will arrive the next day, and I don’t have to make this drive again.

I’m ready for my big adventure!  I head out making my way to the ferry.  What follows is a recap of an earlier Facebook post about the scariest drive of my life:

“It’s been a wild 26 hours!  Went to the ferry at the farther end of the island.  This requires driving a narrow road that winds along the top of the island and without a guardrail between you and a 1000 foot plunge to the sea.  Normally not a huge deal, but yesterday the island was engulfed in fog.  I could not see more than 2 feet in front of my car.  I watched the white line like it was a life line and drove 12 mph, praying anyone else driving was being as cautious.  You are probably wondering, as any seasoned driver would, why didn’t you pull off the road and wait?  Well, here is a Croatian fun fact….there is no such thing as a shoulder here on the island.  Rarely you might find a tiny pull out barely big enough to fit a very small car (and remember, I can’t see what lies beyond that white line).  Then I hit the old road, no more white line, so I watched the dirt edge.  Eventually I came upon some large flashing lights and discovered a cement truck stopped in the road.  I stopped behind him and waited.  After a bit, I decided to get out and see if he spoke enough English to tell me whether to go around him or stay put.  At that point I see head lights emerge and someone starts yelling in German.  I understood 1 word (trajekt), but it was the word I needed.  Ferry traffic was coming up the hill so stay put!  Once clear, the truck began moving again.  I was completely content to sit behind him (safe barrier, right?). He pulls aside and waves me to pass…noooo 😞

Whew, survived that ordeal.  The drive through Slovenia and Italy was painless and beautiful.  And then I hit Trieste…ack.  Total chaos and me trying to find the place that has our shipped boxes and close parking since each box weighs 50 pounds.  I think I may have pissed off some of the Italians with my driving. Ordeal complete…yeah me.  Off to find the Airbnb Dan booked for me in this little hillside town.  Perfect.  Out of the city and off the beaten path.  I wind through tiny little one way streets and dead ends (which you don’t know ahead of time) and have to back down them.  After repeated, failed attempts the owner walks to a corner I am now very familiar with and guides me in.  I think I will stay a few days since we are waiting for one more box to clear customs.  Nope, could take 3 or more days to clear before being delivered to Trieste.  So back to the island I go.  And I have several days to fret over making the drive into Trieste once again 😥”

So needless to say, I had to make one more trip to Trieste.  This time, no fog, I knew exactly where I was going, and I left early enough to miss the chaos of lunch hour traffic.  Yeah me!

Well, I survived my solo month and actually learned to enjoy it.  The winter storms on the boat kept things interesting (including preventing me from sleeping) but in the end, she looks great and very livable.  Our next few trips out here brought more bags as we shuttled goods, so I am looking forward to the day that I am no longer unpacking stuff!

Story of buying Zoe Part 2

After Zoe’s successful haul out, papers were signed and she was quickly returned to her berth.  Our new friend, Oliver (Zoe’s owner) broke out a wonderful bottle of Champagne, and we toasted our deal.  It was a quick celebration as Dan and I needed to hustle back to the airport (about an hour away) to catch our flight to Madrid.

We landed in Madrid with plenty of time to catch our connection back to the US.  As we sat in the lounge, the shock of the whirlwind weekend began to wear off only to be replaced by the overwhelming feeling of the many hurdles we needed to navigate our way through in a ridiculously short period of time.  As we discussed the many things that we needed to do to ensure this deal went through, snow had begun to fall.  I can’t say I have ever seen or heard of it snowing in Madrid.  The longer we sat there, the flakes became very large and began to fall at a much more rapid pace.

The time came, and we headed to our gate and boarded our flight.  I’ve never seen anything like this in this part of Europe….the window on the plane had begun to accumulate snow!  No problem……everything appears to be under control.  The plane door closes, and we begin our taxi.  We are a bit behind schedule…but hey, that’s the nature of the beast.  As we sit on the tarmac waiting for our turn to take off, the captain comes on to inform us we have been put into a weather hold and needed to be de-iced.  We sat waiting for our turn to be de-iced, and the snowstorm continued.  Four hours later, we are informed that they have run out of de-icing fluid, and we have to return to the gate.  Uh oh!  Our tight timeline has just gotten a little tighter!  We are all told to deplane, and our flight cancels….noooooo!

We scramble to find a hotel and attempt to regroup.  The next day all is good, and we make our way home.  At this point, by the time we land, Dan and I are racing to get to the bank before they close so that we can wire the money to finalize this transaction within the time it needs to be done.  As you will recall, this deal needed to close in an unheard of period of time.

Now mind you, we are 8 hours behind where all this is happening.  This becomes a huge complication in communications and ensuring everything is running according to schedule.  Our first major complication hits when the Coast Guard did not accurately translate that the owner was using his sister’s address as a point of contact.  They insisted that she was also an owner in the boat and that she needed to relinquish ownership via notary.  Our owner is in Tunisia, his sister is in France and not readily available to sign away ownership that she doesn’t actually have.  After both sides scrambling, and a great deal of stress and emotional upheaval, we acquire paperwork that is acceptable to the Coast Guard.  Hurdle number one, overcome.

Our next HUGE hurdle, was simultaneously transferring title and bill of sale at the same time as the money.  This means, we have released our funds strictly on pictures of seeing the official title and bill of sale express mailed to the title agency.  Yikes!  There was no time for anything other than a leap of faith.  We had spent many hours with Oliver and had a very good feeling about our relationship with him.  I think he struggled greatly to understand our American nature of distrust in unfamiliar territory.  Our greatest fear was receiving an empty envelope, but we had to maintain our faith in human nature.  We were not disappointed!

Then began the waiting game of getting Coast Guard documented after being a foreign flagged boat.  Remember, our baby is still in Tunisia (complete with travel advisories).  We wanted her out and out quick.  It took weeks for the Coast Guard to process title paperwork so that Zoe could be released and sailed into international waters.  Paperwork finally cleared….whew!  Now to get her moved.

We hired an Italian crew, from a UK company, who headed to Tunisia to pick up our girl and safely (hopefully) deliver her to a marina in Croatia 20 minutes from Dan’s ancestral home.  The great part was that we could watch her progress through a maritime app and track her route.  The downside was we were able to see whenever weather was foul and seas were wicked, which was often during this time of year, which forced them to pull into port, slowing progress.  Just outside of her arrival point, she stopped transmitting…..seriously???  It would be another 3 weeks before we were able to get out here and lay eyes on her once again.  At that point, I spent the next month living on her and turning her into our island hopping, country exploring home.  I was busier than I have been in a long time with no time to get bored or lonely in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language or really know anyone.

Once our tracking system is up and running again, we will provide a link where you will be welcome to follow us wherever we go in the world.

Break out the bubbly…we have a deal!
Enjoying the moment
Tunis Airport at the start of a long trip home
DHL office in Hammamet Tunisia. A critical step in the process.
There the documents go…


Zoe finally leaving Tunisia a few weeks later. She has a transponder that updates near real time so we could track her journey.

How we felt in the weeks between visits…. 🙂


Story of buying Zoe

Love at First Sight

As the years passed, our vision of our dream boat changed, shifted, and evolved. What started as a 46 foot monohull, eventually morphed into a catamaran.  We came close to pulling the trigger on a purchase many times, but it just didn’t make sense.  Being landlocked and Dan’s limited vacation time just did not make it feasible to own a boat.  So we waited…and dreamed…and prepared.

When we reached the point that Dan considered retiring, we started combing the ads.  No rush….we still had lots of time.  Boats came up but none sparked that fire inside me.  It’s a lot like buying a house.  When it’s right, you just feel it down to your soul.  This was an important purchase, and it had to be just right.

One day, Dan was scanning the Facebook Lagoon owners group (dreaming) and up popped Zoe.  He was super excited….me, I was a little more reserved.  I had grown tired of looking at boats that just didn’t  feel right….or they did and they sold immediately.  Dan walked me through the pictures, and now I became very excited.  It was priced to move and move fast.  There was already a potential buyer coming to see it….noooooo!

We waited with baited breath to see if the owner would accept our offer (contingent on seeing the boat, a survey, and a sea trial).  What ensued over the next few weeks was an emotional rollercoaster, filled with highs and lows.  Here is where the story gets interesting….

Zoe was in port for the winter in Tunisia.  Tunisia?!  I’m not sure I even know where that is!  Zoe was priced for a quick sale because the owner decided to open a boutique hotel in Morocco, and the proceeds of this sale were funding that deal.  Wait, it gets better.  He was under a tight timeline or his deal would fall through and there would be no sale of the boat at this great price.  This meant we had to see the boat, do the survey and sea trial, commit to the contract, and the boat HAD to fund within a couple of weeks.  Impossible!  We were booked on a flight to Madrid and then on to Tunisia that weekend.  Everything was arranged to take place on Saturday and part of Sunday with us flying home that day.

When traveling to places unknown to me, I typically do a scan for travel advisories.

I found that Tunisia was partly ISIS controlled, and the state department warned against Americans traveling there.  Are you kidding me!? After an unsettling ride from the airport to the marina, through a bombed out town that reminded me of pictures of Iraq, we arrived at our hotel and made arrangements to meet Zoe’s owner.  Fortunately, the marina was several hours drive east of the troubled areas.  

She was everything he had said, and the pictures were actually true to what we saw.  We loved her.  Our host rolled out the red carpet, allowing us to spend hours on Zoe.  Visual approval….success.  Now for the survey and sea trial.  The next day we spent a grueling 8 hours as our Tunisian surveyor went through the boat with a fine toothed  comb.  Surveyor gave her a big thumbs up….great condition.  Next came the sea trial.  In the very tight marina, the skipper wrapped the prop on the sand line.  We had to pull the boat back into her slip (playing bumper boats as we went) and try to find a diver to cut the line away.  Now mind you, we are scheduled to fly out in a few hours.  The owner is freaking out that we’ve come this far and now the deal is going to fall through.  A diver is quickly found, prop unwrapped, and off we go.  We only had limited time to sail, but that’ll do.  Out we went, hoisted the main, unfurled the jib and let loose the huge gennaker….now, we were even more in love.  We still had time for the all-critical haulout.  This is where they lift the boat out of the water so the surveyor can inspect the hulls for damage or other issues that would otherwise be unseen.  Crawling around underneath the almost 24,000 pound boat, hoisted high in the air, was interesting to say the least.  But at the end of the day, Zoe was in tip-top shape.   

Gut check time.  Are we doing this?  Is it really happening?  Our life savings was on the line, and we had one shot to get this right.

We signed the deal and got scrambling.  Paperwork had to get moving so money could move, and money wasn’t going to move without a clear title and bill of sale.  So, you have two Americans in Tunisia using a Croatian boat broker, buying a Dutch flagged boat from a Frenchman, needing to reflag her American and up to Coast Guard regulations, and get her moved out of Tunisia to Croatia.  Here is where the hurdles really began…but that is a story for another day.

Diver needed!
Haulout to inspect the hulls
Signing the contract papers



Happy couple at sunset…our dream boat

Haulout of Zoe as part of the pre-purchase survey