[Maryanne]Well, if you’ve been keeping up with the blog you will know that we’ve been busy and jetting about (as best you can on a sail boat) in the Med. The blog doesn’t accurately reflect the huge struggle this current lifestyle it is for Kyle. He often only has 2 nights at home after an overnight commute home. He’ll want to night sail through one of those nights to the next place on the agenda, and gets up early the next one to find a train or whatever transport to the airport to start all over again. Right now we are just outside Pisa in Italy. Kyle had a two-hour walk (in torrential rain) to get a 2:15am train to Rome for his flight back to work (where he will eventually check into a hotel for a well deserved rest). It is ridiculous and I can’t persuade him to change the plan much.
In order to negate the need to pay import tax on the boat (at 20% of the boat value) we must make it to Turkey by the end of November, and Kyle is keen to spend most of his vacation time really relaxing in Greece where we also hope to meet up with some very good friends. To do all this we must put in the miles now. Kyle likes sailing and he is resisting having me move the boat while he is at work; he doesn’t want to miss out on the fun, but of course he misses out on being the tourist!
He is a complete hero, he wants to leave me in safe marinas while he is off to work, and he won’t even let me walk with him to the train stations at such early hours. There seems to be nothing I can do to help except make sure he is well fed and looked after when he is home. We both look forward very much to his eventual retirement.
Things are also proving to be much more expensive than we imagined. Kyle’s commute, his train and hotel fees, are one obvious big expense. Marinas are generally expensive, and where we’ve sought out the rare cheaper ones (described in our guide book as in the range €25-40 a night) they are always exactly at the top end of that range (or well beyond), and normally with a catamaran surcharge and with no weekly discounts. All the reasonable anchorages have long ago been turned into marinas, so if we want to save money we are left with questionable anchorages in inconvenient locations.
While Kyle is off at work I try and do a mix of being a tourist, connecting with locals, and boat and household chores, while also keeping in touch with family and friends across the globe. I seem to be doing a lousy job at all of these, and Kyle has little chance to even try.
Wi-Fi is rare in marinas, or anywhere in fact, I’m always very excited if we do have a reliable connection. The odd coffee shop will have it, as will McDonalds, but these sites are not so common (or convenient to our boat), and these are nothing like logging in to check your mail with your breakfast aboard. Even for Kyle and me to keep in touch with each other is a struggle and/or an expense as we keep changing country and don’t have the right SIM in the phone for the ‘local’ calls.
On a practical note we have become fans of RebTel, a phone service that allows us to call each other back and forth at a more reasonable rate than our phone companies allow. As soon as I have a SIM card for each country and find Wi-Fi, I set our RebTel account up so Kyle can call me from the States at a much cheaper rate than through his AT&T account – in fact we can each use our individual phones to call each other on ‘local’ number and then just pay a reduced ‘RebTel’ fee for the international part of the call – it helps. Of course if good Wi-Fi is available then Skype is much preferred and I pay something trivial like $4 a month to make unlimited calls to the USA. On another practical note – our French Orange SIM kept losing credit inexplicably, and rapidly. I assume other provider SIMs will also do this in the future. It turns out simply installing the SIM in the phone (in my case an iPhone) removes/blocks the menu that you can use to manually prevent Internet through the phone service provider. Opening many apps, or checking already downloaded emails was (unbeknown to me) racking up Internet minutes off my phone credit at a disgusting rate. Eventually I came across a 3rd party app (optional donation) to stop this and will share and recommend for those who follow: with wi-fi/internet on your phone – go to web site unlockit.co.nz and download the software/app to turn off phone internet behind the scenes – easy and has saved me a fortune of money and frustration.
So yes, we finally left France and are now in Italy; so I must turn to my Italian lessons. In my naivety I had assumed Italian would be fairly straightforward with its similarity to French (both romance languages) but this isn’t the case (at least not so far, for me) and I’m struggling to get past the first lessons. This both takes up time and limits the interaction I can have with the locals; I feel very rude and will just have to keep working at it, especially since we plan to overwinter here.
I know we lead an amazing lifestyle, and get to see fantastic places and live incredible experiences. These are the things we normally post about in the blog. This post is to add a little more balance to those viewing from the outside.
Finally a big thank you to all of you who have hosted Kyle on the odd weekend or evening he has been in your neck of the woods, he really appreciates having your friendship and company – and I really appreciate you looking after him.