Christmas Prep from Miami to Marathon

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 School work and art time onboard CORTADO.
Miami has been full of school, holiday surprises, and meeting new friends. What great fun (and equally, great CHALLENGE) to try to  create and replicate our old 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 CORTADO! It was a sign that we would not be forgotten come 25 December.

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We love 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 warm-weather Christmas’ in the past. One morning we explored Biscayne Bay and found a cool inlet called “No-Name Harbor” to anchor for the afternoon. Paddle boarding there was so much fun. No-Name is a small inlet in Biscayne Bay, popular for day cruisers and sailboats waiting to cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. It is also rife with large, bright-green, swimming iguanas. 
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. With little 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 expanded our realm of adventure and possibility for future voyages. 
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Sydney’s arrival completed our family unit aboard CORTADO. This was pure bliss for Tony and I, to have all three of our kids on our family adventure. Sydney joined school on our last day before taking a holiday break, which included Christmas crafts and cookie-making… she arrived at the perfect time.

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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 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 with 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!
DSC_0152-MOTION DSC_0150 Sophia and Oliver swimming, playing and chasing fish and crabs in Islamorada.

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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 already grown into something much bigger than us. The relationships we are building are solid. We are learning as much about ourselves, as we are about each other and the world around us.

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

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