Winner Wednesday: S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen

Today’s interview is with Jennifer from S/V Mari-Hal-o-Jen! I think you will be as delighted to browse through her blog and her interview as I was! I felt as if I had taken a wonderful vacation. I could almost hear the waves lapping the side of the boat and feel the breeze gently blowing on my face as I sailed through Jennifer’s words!

I sat down and soaked in your blog today! What a delight! I can see why you won the Best Geographical Blog!

1. So, you have a daughter named Marianna… what a great name! She is your only child, right? What are the best parts and most challenging parts of homeschooling one child?

I feel that the best and the most challenging parts of schooling an only child may be deeply connected. With a single child we are completely free to pursue her interests, the challenge comes into play in knowing when and how to regulate those interests. It is quite easy to delve very deeply into a topic with single-mindedness but taking time for a break, for a breath of fresh air, for a change of topic, can revitalize the return to the task and avoid burn-out.

2. I actually thought you might have been a winner in the photo blog category. What kind of camera do you use and what do you love to photograph most?

Oh, thank you! You’re so kind. My camera is a Nikon D40 and I really enjoy photographing nature, the closer, the better! That up close and personal setting on my camera is one of my favorites, as is my telephoto lens. One of these days maybe I’ll get a chance to play around with a macro lens, I know it’d be eye opening!

3. How much does your faith play into your day to day life? Your homeschooling life?

One of the joys of homeschooling is the ability to integrate the things that are deemed important into daily life. Over the last year I’ve sat down and made a list of the essentials that I’d like to touch upon everyday. This exercise resulted in a list of 6 items – Faith, Arithmetic, Reading, Writing, Exercise, and Beauty. Taking the beginning letters of each word results in the acronym FARWEB. I find keeping in mind the mental picture of a FAR flung WEB of knowledge bracketed by Faith and Beauty to be helpful in guiding our day to day life. Living aboard a 35 ft sailboat forces you to consider what is most important and eliminate the things that do not support that. Pursue passions! Live life! Explore everything!

4. What is especially unique about your boating adventures? What a fun way that would be to homeschool. Can you tell us more about that?

The nature study leaps to mind as an incredibly unique part of our life on a boat. We may wake up one morning and find that a raft of Portuguese Man of War have floated into the marina, (Photos by Marianna here: ) a very large Horse Conch might be found during PE, ( Photos by Jennifer: ) or a manatee may bump into the bottom of the boat during math! (Photos by Marianna again: )

5. I love how your blog name incorporates each of your family members names. (Mine includes my children’s names, but in a much more cryptic way). Tell me how you came up with the idea.

I’d love to take credit for our awesome name but a great friend came up with a whole slew of absolutely terrific names one evening. Mari Hal-O-Jen was one that incorporated all of our names and so the main-ship received a totally unique moniker. I have her other ideas cabbaged away just waiting for a chance to use them. You can read more about our name here if you like:

6. When and why did you begin blogging? I take it from things I read on your blog that your daughter blogs too. Does your husband blog? Do you use blogging as part of your daughter’s educational experience?

I began blogging a few years after we were on our boat, in April of 2006. Having the ability to include pictures within the text was revolutionary to me! Both my husband and daughter do have blogs, Marianna just started her’s over the summer break and has mostly utilized it for her artwork thus far. Once we start back up with our more formalized schooling she will likely include narrations and projects on her blog too. Every now and then my husband tosses up a post on his blog, usually recording a mechanical task he has documented with photos, for example, a simple fuel filter change that lead to the discovery and subsequent cleaning of a carbon clogged exhaust elbow on a neighboring boater’s Yanmar diesel engine. Alternatively, he’ll toss up a ‘Blast from the Past’ whenever he finds a series of old digital photos on one of those CD’s that end up floating around the home unlabeled, everyone has a few of those, right? I think they’re the equivalent of the old shoebox full of photos in the back of the closet! The best memories come out of places like that!

7. How do you feel about the success of your blog? Do you enjoy the ability to inspire others? (You should because it IS very inspiring!)

I am completely blown away at the idea of how many people may check out the S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen. I hope they come away with the realization that no matter where you live, if it is the Florida Keys, New York City or China, simply focusing on the things that are important can result in loveliness. The by-line on my blog header is a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson who said it best, “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”

8. I loved your pictures from Epcot. I loved Epcot so much when we went there a few years ago. It was like a trip around the world in one day. What did you think of Epcot? What was your favorite part/parts?

I went to Epcot more than inclined to hate every minute I had to be there. I am so not an amusement park sort of girl! I’d never been to Disney before and my daughter had never experienced anything remotely like it at all. As I wrote to a friend when facing having to plan what to do in Orlando: “Help! I have never devoted one ounce of thought to going to Disney World or Land or whichever is here in FL so I’m a blank slate here! Also very open to alternatives to Disney as well…ARE there alternatives in Orlando to Disney? What would you suggest for a gal who hates rides and a 13yo who loves adventure?” Thank goodness I was steered in the direction of Epcot, everything about it was right up our alley, there were rides for Marianna, (and yes, I went on all of them with her!), the scary lines were non-existent since we did the homeschooling thing and went mid-week but the best fun was browsing through each country. Marianna and I shared a dish from nearly every country and found a memorable little souvenir from each locale that she still has displayed prominently in her cabin. Personally, I really enjoyed England. After an incredibly hot day it began to rain as we crossed the bridge into the village. That tickled me as I have great memories of dashing around Britain in the rain. Marianna and I ducked into a little shop and I found my favorite tiny candies in a charming little tin to nosh on while watching the rain slide down the windowpanes. For the memories it inspired, England wins my favorite part vote!

9. I loved the photos of your field trip to the mangroves… what other field trips does your location enable? What have been your favorites?

The field trips are what make this lifestyle an adventure! We’ve had so many wonderful trips over the years, the mangroves are a reoccurring favorite, though we are staying well away from them at this time of the year. If you glide up in a kayak or rowboat to a certain mangrove island nearby you can hear the mating call of either the crocodiles or the alligators, (we have both in this area) it is a low reverberating grunt that I understand clearly. That call distinctly says “Stay Away” to me! LOL! Other field trips we’ve enjoyed revolve around the Spanish Armada’s treasure and the local pirates that preyed upon it. The Florida Keys made a fabulous hideout for small, quick, shallow-drafted sailboats to dash out and harass the slow, cumbersome treasure ships. Within 50 miles of our homeport one of the largest treasure hauls ever recorded is still being excavated, the tally so far is over $400 million dollars worth of treasure. Pirates were not the cause of the demise of that particular fleet though. They had the misfortune of sailing into a hurricane. The ship sank in 55 feet of water, 5 people survived by clinging to the mizzenmast and were rescued. However, the depth was too great for the treasure to be recovered. It sat on the bottom of the ocean for over 360 years waiting to be rediscovered. Which leads me to our very favorite field trips, diving the coral reef. Last year Marianna and I obtained our scuba certification and it has opened up a wonderful, technicolored world. There is nothing I have found on dry land to compare to sitting on a sandy patch in a coral reef canyon watching the air bubbles drift to the surface while the sea life becomes acclimated to your presence. The goby’s heads ease out of their sand holes, the sergeant majors begin patrolling their territory again and as you settle in further you can hear the shrimp clicking away. It is incredible!

10. Of all that I read on your blog the imagery of the following paragraph was my very favorite:

Beautiful evening tonight, Hal and I wandered down the docks to view the sunset with a fine glass of wine. The air was warm while the breeze was cool. I took a million photos of clouds that look like they’d be perfect backdrops for those celestial infant photos new mom’s are drawn to purchase. A few turned out slightly more vivid as the sun sank lower, more sunset while listening to Beethoven rather than Brahms, if you know what I mean!

Can you share some of your personal favorites… maybe include links?

Walking dockside now, I can take a moment to look up through the palm trees to check the phase of the moon, glance south over the water to watch the wind ripples or if the predawn is still, to see the sailboats sitting on their reflections.
Hal and I take our mugs, mine much frothier than his and climb back up under the bimini to sip the drink and watch the morning unfold. Perhaps the sun will rise in orange and pinks today, perhaps there is a storm to the east and it’s a fantastic lightning show we’re treated to.
The boat moves gently from side to side, half a dozen beats to the left and six back to the right. I prop my cushions behind me and facing aft smile with delight as another day begins so beautifully.


Ahh, Jenn… how wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing your unique perspective with us! I will definitely be back reading your blog next time I need a little refreshment!


Christina (6 Posts)

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