Sophia turns 11!

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  School work and art time on    board CORTADO.
 Miami has been full of school,  holiday surprises, and seeing  old/meeting  new friends. What  great fun (and equally, great  CHALLENGE) to try to  create/replicate our learned ways  of celebrating the Christmas season  without the comforts of our house, decorations, friends and traditions we  know and love so well.
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We spent a good deal of time discussing what size of  tree to get and where it might go, and of course, if and how Santa would find us on a small boat in the middle of foreign-to-us waters. It was a relief to all when our “Elf-on-the Shelf” Francisco found us in Miami on the CORTADO! It was a sign from above, as well as the big man in Red, that we would not be forgotten come 25 December.

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Paddle boarding in No-Name Harbor, looking for giant swimming iguanas. Decorating CORTADO, our Christmas home this year!

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Tony paddle-boarding for Cuban dinner. Christmas lights and stockings. 
So we went back to fishing off the boat, paddle-boarding and exploring new inlets, reefs and islands. We decorated our boat with colored lights and a small travel-tree that has seen many a warm-weather Christmas in the past. One morning we left our dock to explore Biscayne Bay and found a cool inlet called “No-Name Harbor” and anchored for the afternoon. We had no intention of staying past sundown, but learned the annual Christmas Boat Parade would be passing through the enclosed harbor at night, so we stayed! Without any food on the boat, but plenty of water and a full wine cellar, we were excited to make it work. Tony paddled to a Cuban restaurant in the harbor and came back (dry, and) with a delicious fish and rice dinner for all of us. This being the first time we anchored at night, we ecpanded our realm of adventure and possibility for future voyages. Remember… owning a 40′ motor yacht is new business to all of us. We have been, and continue to be, conservative in all our boating decisions but it is exhilarating to try something new and see that we can, in fact, do it. And not only survive, but thrive!
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Sydney arrives! First thing we did, was get her out on the boat…
Sydney’s arrival completed our family unit aboard CORTADO. This was pure bliss for Tony and I, to have all three of our kids in close-quarters and experiencing life as a family. Sydney was a great trooper: she joined the last day of Adventure School (now on xmas break) with the kids, which included finishing up some English and Math, and Holiday Crafts! She arrived at the perfect time.

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Above are more state posters that Sophia and Oliver completed prior to Christmas break. Each has completed four state presentations… 21 more to go each! Agh!

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Dinner and gelato in Coconut Grove with friends. 
There are parts of Florida that are beginning to feel very much like home and people we spend time with that are beginning to feel very much like family. This journey, with a singular purpose of experience life and bonding with our children, has grown into something much bigger than us. The relationships we are building are strong, plentiful and solid. We are learning as much about ourselves, as we are about each other and the world around us.

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Together-time:  Cruising and knitting through the Florida Keys.

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Fishing and swimming on Sophia’s 11th birthday.

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Happy Birthday Sweet Sophia!
The morning of Sophia’s 11th birthday, we left port in Miami and cruised south to Plantation Bay in Islamorada. We stayed on the inner course, the calm and lovely ICW, and dropped anchor to fish and have a picnic lunch. Sophia made us all paper invitations to her “Birthday Party” which promised to be the most fun party ever – she was right. We cruised, had dolphins jumping in our wake, fished, swam in the salty ocean, and finished the night with birthday cake and presents. It was for sure the most unique birthday party we had ever been to!
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Sophia and Oliver swimming, playing and chasing fish (and crabs!) in Islamorada.
The following day we slept in (for the record: Tony was up early, as usual, and worked the entire morning), but the rest of us swam in the ocean a bit, then we all pressed on to Banana Bay in Marathon.

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Docked in Plantation Bay, Islamorada. Next stop, Marathon!

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