Rhapsody at 6 Months

Welcome Rhapsody to the ranks of the Newly Salted! Read this interview as originally posted on their blog.

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Newly Salted is a website that posts interviews of cruisers that have been cruising for less than two years. I read all of these interviews before we started cruising, and dreamt of the time when I could be a part of this project. Now we have officially been cruising for 6 months and I am excited to be able to participate.

A little about us: We are Bob and Sarah aboard Rhapsody, our 49' Jeanneau Sun Odyssey. We sold off our belongings in Oregon and began cruising in November of 2016. We bought Rhapsody in the BVI and that is where we began our journey through the Caribbean. You can follow our story at rhapsodyontheblue.com

What do you find the most exciting about your cruising life?
Sarah- We got into cruising as a way to travel and have our own bed with us, so the travel and seeing new countries is what I find the most exciting.  Meeting people along the way, the quick friendships that form, and getting to do it all with my best friend. I like being able to move to a new place on a whim, or stay put if we find somewhere that we really like.

What is something that you think potential cruisers are afraid of that they shouldn't fear? And what is something potential cruisers don't worry about that perhaps they should? 
Bob- Cruisers should not worry about the details of breaking free and beginning cruising. They should focus on the wonderful opportunity before them and remember that the overall experience will be worth it.  Don't sweat the small things, get away from the dock.
They should worry about knowing their boat, having enough information to stay ahead of repairs with the right maintenance first. This will keep you safer and happier. If you know your boat you will have less to worry about.

What is something that you read or heard about cruising that you found to be particularly accurate? 
Sarah - Don't make schedules. We learned this the hard way. We agreed to meet my brother in Martinique in March.  We made plans with him in January while we were still in the BVI, thinking that we would have plenty of time. We ended up going through countries much faster than we would have liked, leaving friends behind us in our wake. The flip side of this is that we were able to get a taste of the countries to whet our appetites for further exploration. Part of the beauty of cruising is that we can come back. As for friends, we are meeting more people, and have hopes that friends that we have made will catch up with us now that we have slowed down again.

What is something that you were dreading about cruising when you were dreaming that is as bad or worse than imagined?
Bob - Loud music from the beach. Bass pounding, large speakers aimed out at the anchorage, vibrating the hull until 3 AM.

Tell me your favorite thing about your boat.
Sarah- On a day to day basis I love the space that we have. The salon and the cockpit are both spacious and very comfortable to be in. On passage I love the feeling of safety that I get. Rhapsody is a strong boat and I am sure that she can handle much bigger seas and worse weather than I can.

Share a piece of cruising etiquette. 
Bob - Anchor as far as is reasonably possible from the surrounding boats while recognizing that besides added safety many of us prefer a little privacy. If we can hold a conversation with you from our boat to yours in normal tones, you are too close.

What is something that you read or heard about cruising that you didn't find to be true?
Bob - We had heard that we might need to budget $300 - $500 a month for Customs, Immigration and various fees for checking in and out of countries. We have found that checking in and out of countries from Puerto Rico to Grenada has not at any point been particularly difficult nor expensive. We probably have spent about $150 on this in 6 months.

What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?
Sarah - Rolly anchorages.  We did a lot of research about cruising before we started,  and I even read solutions that people had for stopping the rolling,  but all my research was done on land or in calm anchorages so somehow it didn't really sink in how it would feel. We have been fortunate to have experienced only a few really rolly anchorages, but that left enough of an impression that we avoid them whenever possible.

What is the key to making the cruising life enjoyable? 
Bob - A take-it-easy attitude combined with the right focus to keep the boat maintained, but most of all, a willing partner.

What are your plans now?
Sarah - One other thing that we have learned is the saying "a cruiser's plans are written in the sand at low tide". We have experienced this often as weather, health and friends can quickly change whatever plans we had carefully crafted. Our big picture "plan" is to spend the summer hurricane season in Grenada, possibly exploring Trinidad and/or Tobago. Early in the fall we would like to head to Bonaire to go diving and then in November head north to Puerto Rico to begin the loop again, slowing down for the parts we missed on the first go round. 

Unless something else comes up.

Final thoughts
Sarah -  As I am re-reading our answers there seems to be more negativity than we feel in reality. Rolly anchorages,  loud music, rushing for schedules. The truth is, we are really enjoying this lifestyle. The freedom to go where we want to go, the wonderful people we are meeting, and new places we are experiencing.  I am sitting in the cockpit, looking out at the turquoise waters surrounding the green islands with white sand beaches and I have a big smile on my face. Our intention is to keep doing this until it is no longer fun, and we are firmly ensconced in the fun zone now.

Posted on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by  and tagged   |  

Ruby Rose at 12 months

Welcome Ruby Rose to the ranks of the Newly Salted! Read this interview as originally posted on their blog.

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There’s an awesome blog called Newly Salted who interview cruisers that have been underway for less than 2 years. Here’s our responses to “10 questions with Ruby Rose” about liveabord cruising. I hope this information might be useful or interesting to our readers and it’s a great way to round up our impressions of a year of cruising on Ruby Rose!


This selfie was taken as we left Conyer almost one year ago- wow, Nick’s hair was so short!

  • What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
    Well, people did tell us but we didn’t listen- slow down! We looked at a chart and said, “Oh yeah, we can definitely cover that distance in a season, no problem!” But the reality is that after 6 months, we started to feel tired, frustrated and increasingly irritable with our schedule because we had set ourselves a timetable that was unrealistic. Well, perhaps it was realistic, but certainly not enjoyable. I wish I’d listened to people who told us that we shouldn’t rush, but it’s the type of thing you can only learn yourself!
  • As you started cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?
    We had undertaken two ‘shakedown’ cruises on Ruby Rose to France the previous two summers before our actual departure. Both sailing trips were about a month long, and although we were in holiday mode, it gave us a real insight into what living on board would be like when we did it for real. We also lived on board for about 6 months before we actually left the UK, so the transition was a slow one and we didn’t find it difficult at all. The main luxuries we miss are regular hot water, air-conditioning and a front loading fridge!
  • What do you find the most exciting about your cruising life?
    Do I have to pick just one!? We love discovering and exploring new places, people and countries, and I suppose that’s the most exciting aspect of cruising. We also find the freedom we have exhilarating- to think we could simply point our bow in any direction and go wherever we like! We also love meeting new people and making new friends- that is one of the best things about cruising.
  • What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?
    I asked Nick this question and he replied, “Sailing!” It’s true. We thought we’d have ‘champagne’ sailing as soon as we reached the tropics- we couldn’t have been more wrong! Sailing in the Caribbean isn’t always pleasant. In fact, it’s often quite unpleasant. We’ve whinged about this to plenty of people who have just looked at us like we’re a couple of aliens- or, more accurately, like we not ‘real’ sailors.  But we just don’t like 2 metre swell on the beam and beating into 20 knots- sorry! Yes, we’ve had some very quick sails between the islands. No, we haven’t enjoyed the majority of them.
  • Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting out?
    We had planned to only use renewable energy- wind generator and solar panels- but we also really love Nespresso coffee and watching DVD’s at night which takes up more power than our renewables produce. We weren’t realistic about what our energy requirements were, and we also didn’t want the expense of a generator set or a suitcase generator. Plus, we wanted to be green! But after a year on board, we’ve decided to go ahead and buy a generator so that we never have to spend a windless, cloudy day without the convenience of our electronic devices ever again…
    We also wish we had bought a watermaker with a much higher output (ours produces 12 litres/hour)- at the moment we have to run it for several hours to top-up the tanks, and I’ve already mentioned our issues with power at anchor!
    One last thing. We bought a soft-bottomed dinghy with a 3hp outboard for this cruise, but we wish we had a RIB and a more powerful outboard. We’ll be upgrading as soon as we can!
  • Tell me your favourite thing about your boat.
    We adore our Southerly 38, Ruby Rose . Our favourite features are the big cockpit, the big aft cabin and the big saloon. Sensing a theme? Yes, she had a huge amount of living space for the length and other sailors who come on board are always surprised at how spacious our boat is. We also love her lifting keel, as going aground is one less thing we need to worry about (we hope!) and it means we can get into shallow anchorages. We think our boat is beautiful, comfortable to live on and she is very seaworthy.
  • Tell me your least favourite thing about your boat.
    All that living space comes at a cost- we have very little storage space on Ruby Rose  or room for plant machinery. We’d love a bigger fuel tank, a bigger water tank, and a gen set. We also heartily dislike our top-loading fridge- any time we want something from the baskets down the bottom we have to empty the contents of the fridge completely in order to get to it! Needless to say, we try not to use the baskets if we can help it.
  • What are your plans now? If they do not include cruising, tell us why. 
    We will definitely continue cruising! We’re storing Ruby Rose  in Antigua for hurricane season which has the double benefit of reducing the risk of damage if a hurricane does come through (plus we’re insured if it’s on the hard and tied down) and gives us 6 months to visit our families, travel and enjoy the conveniences of being a ‘land lubber’ for a time. We’re already looking forward to next season where we will (probably) continue north and visit the BVI, Bahamas and then cruise the East Coast of the USA. After that, who knows- but we have no desire to go back to bricks and mortar permanently. If we can continue to fly home periodically, we will likely carry on cruising for many years to come.
  • Is there anywhere you sailed to that was a disappointment? 
    The Tobago Cays! I thought it would be like paradise- but it was so disappointing! It was like a carpark: there were so many boats at anchor, it was like a forest of masts all around us! The boat boys hassled us and yes, we saw turtles which was awesome, but we’ve snorkelled with turtles many times since. The anchorage was also completely open to the wind which was blowing upwards of 20 knots while we were there, so it was generally not particularly pleasant. We left after one night.
  • What are your impressions of the cruising community? 
    One of the best things about cruising on Ruby Rose is meeting such an interesting mix of people. We have met young couples who barely have enough money to eat- but are living their dream anyway!- and retirees who have recently left very lucrative jobs, have bought the multi-million dollar yacht, and expect everyone they come across to drop to their knees in bowing acquiescence. We’ve met families who are cruising with their children and homeschooling, cruisers who have been living in the Caribbean for 15 years, couples on a 6 month sabbatical, and everyone in between. Even though there’s a minority of the sailing community we try and avoid like the plague, in the most part everyone is friendly, interesting, and sociable. Generally sailors are extremely generous with their time and experience, and if you need help or a spare part or another set of hands, there’s always someone nearby willing to help.
Posted on Monday, August 22, 2016 by  and tagged   |  

Helio at 6 months

Welcome Helios! Read this interview as originally published on their blog.
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[Newly Salted is a blog Dominic and I found beyond useful as we prepared for our departure. They interview sailors who are six months underway. We took their survey, and hope our experiences are helpful to others!]

 Our Background: We are Dominic and Corinne Dolci, two longtime sailors from the San Francisco Bay. We have been cruising in our Island Packet 380, Helios, since January of 2015, enjoying the California coast, Ensenada, and French Polynesia as we journey to New Zealand. You can follow our adventures at www.svhelios.com.

1. As you started cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?

Sleeping in shifts while underway is rough. It's the one part of cruising we couldn't prepare for without actually cutting the dock lines, and both of us put huge value on sleeping an eight-hour night.

We've built a routine that works for us—Dominic is on watch from 8 pm to 12 am, I do the graveyard shift, and Dominic takes over again at 4 am, dozing if conditions allow, and taking a proper nap in the early afternoon—but we're both left feeling groggy, and I'm not convinced that Dominic is as able to really deeply sleep at all while Helios is underway.

We maintain a ban on alarm clocks in all other circumstances, so we manage to tough it out.

I've also never lived more than 30 miles from my family, so for me, not being able to have lunch or do yoga with my mom, hike with my brother, or make dinner with my dad on a weekly basis has been a huge, difficult life change.

2. What is the best cruising advice you've heard?

The sailing advice we live by: never enter an anchorage at night.

The best adventure advice I've heard: travel like you know you're going to return.

But there are a handful axioms we find ourselves often repeating: all plans are written in the sand at low tide; a quiet boat is a happy boat; red sky at night, sailor's delight; it's five o'clock somewhere...

3. What mistakes did you make as you started cruising?

We were lucky to have a lot of cruisers supporting us as we prepared for departure (living in a marina for 16 months before departure was invaluable on this front). They're still close friends, meaning if we find ourselves at a crossroads, we can send an email via the satellite phone and have a variety of experienced opinions in the next few hours. It's awesome.

There are things we've learned by doing (no wine for me on overnight passages, wipe down the bright work and stainless after every passages, tune in to the SSB nets regularly) and different choices we would make with the benefit of hindsight (getting a long-stay visa in French Polynesia), but neither of us can think of anything we'd really call a mistake.

4. What do you like the most about your cruising life?

Getting to have a relaxed morning, just about every morning. We sleep in, drink coffee, make a delicious breakfast, consider the day. Sometimes the morning is followed by chores, other times followed by killer sailing, fantastic scenery and magnificent wildlife. We spend the days together, at our own pace, and it's a beautiful thing.

It's also thrilling, to be out cruising, not knowing where you'll be in a week, or what adventure is swimming toward you.

What they say when comparing cruising to landlubbing life is true: the highs are higher, but the lows are lower. Sometimes it's raining and you're lugging groceries around town or cleaning out the icebox while your sister is getting married half way around the world and you're missing it.

The best frame of mind I've found is to consider that cruising isn't a vacation; it's a lifestyle choice, with ups and downs like any other.

5. What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?

I miss the food from home more than I thought I would. We've found a few tasty meals here and there, but there's a reason the tropics aren't known for their cuisine. We can usually find groceries and make ourselves delicious meals, but we're spoiled foodies from the Bay Area, and it shows.

It's also tough to have to pace our own adventure. We often find our selves in gorgeous anchorages where we want to stay longer, but our visas are limited and we have to be in New Zealand by a certain date, or a weather window opens and we have to move on. This is a challenge in most travel scenarios, but it's a series of choices we face all the time, and decision fatigue is real.

6. Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting out?

Dominic's wish list revolves around our energy consumption. We have 700 watts of solar power, but he would have a wind generator and a larger battery bank.

It would also be nice to have a more reliable dinghy. We have a soft-bottom Zodiac that came with the boat, and it's been chronically leaking despite multiple repairs. It takes a lot of abuse (getting pulled up on to the beach, tethered to questionable docks) and is still doing its job, but it would be nice to not have to worry about it sinking.

7. What piece(s) of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?

We have a lot of blankets we don't use and clothing we don't wear. We have pieces of gear we haven't yet had the chance to install: our BBQ, a drogue kit, some fancy speakers for the cockpit. We have the storage space, so they're not too cumbersome. And who knows...maybe we'll get around to it.

8. What pieces of gear do you find the most valuable?

Our satellite phone, solar panels, and water maker are our favorite luxury items. I say a prayer of gratitude everyday I wake up and don't have to lug fresh water back to the boat. With only the two of us as crew, we consider the autopilot to be absolutely invaluable—to the point that we have a second autopilot stowed away in case of emergencies.

9. How did you finance your trip?

Our trip was five years in the making, so we were able to spend that time saving and living on the cheap: we had dual incomes and no kids; we lived in the East Bay instead of San Francisco; as we got closer and closer to departure, traveling became less frequent, as did nights out on the town. We chose to live aboard for over a year prior to departure, allowing us to purchase a high quality vessel that will hopefully hold her value when we put her on the market in Australia.

10. What are your plans now? If they do not include cruising, tell us why.

Our plans are to spend the 2015-16 cyclone season in New Zealand. We'll spend next summer cruising Fiji and Vanuatu, and then move on to New Caledonia and Australia. We'll likely cruise Australia while our funds last, sell the boat, and return to life in Northern California (so we can refill the sailing kitty and start planning the adventures of Helios II).
Posted on Monday, August 31, 2015 by  and tagged   |  

Dos Libras at 12 months

Welcome Dos Libras! Read this interview as originally published on their blog.
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The questions are beginning to come in...  We recently made the rounds among our old friends in Texas, visiting with as many as we could during our short trip "home".  Everywhere we went people were curious!  I guess they thought we would fall off the edge of the earth!  My Doctor told me "I saw your name on my schedule and thought... You're ALIVE!".  Yes... we're still alive!  And now we're officially... Newly Salted!

Click to read about our first day out

Newly Salted is a collection of interviews with new cruisers.  It has a companion site, Interview With A Cruiser, where you can find interviews with those more "seasoned".  

Both projects were on my list of regular internet resources when I was in the "dreaming stage".  Back in the early days, I never really imagined that one day I would be posting my own interview.  So, without further ado... let's get started!

Who are we?  Bruce has been sailing, mostly on a lake in Kansas, for much of his life.  I (Tammy) started sailing in 1997 on Corpus Christi Bay.  We met while participating as regular crew in the local Wednesday night sailboat races.  We dated, married, and started working towards our dream of being among the lucky few that can call themselves Cruisers.  We tossed the dock lines on September 30, 2013 and have slowly worked our way from Texas, east along the Gulf Coast, down into the Florida Keys and back up the East Coast.  We are currently cruising near Charleston, SC and will soon begin our second year of cruising... Bahamas Bound!



One of the "Good" Anchorages - Boca Raton, FL.
What do you wish someone would have told you before you started cruising?  The first thing that comes to mind is a very practical thing.  You might think that this one would be answered with something profound like "you'll still be yourself no matter where you go"... but no.  We wish that we had been warned that the waters of the East Coast ICW were fertile (in the extreme), and that we would experience bottom growth on our hull in excess of our wildest imagination.  Ever since our prolonged stay in Marathon, FL., we have been battling with an amazingly prolific "secret garden" beneath our floating home.  The fast-growing "beard" can become unmanageable within days and it is home to thousands of small creatures.  The murky waters of the ICW make it difficult to see well enough to get a good clean bottom, and the swift moving current doesn't help either...  It is never-ending.

How often have you faced bad weather in your cruising?  How bad?  We had one 24 hour hop in the Gulf of Mexico that wasn't great.  The winds piped up to the mid to upper 20 knot range at night after a really nice daytime sail... I stood tensely at the helm while Bruce battled waves on the bounding foredeck to make a headsail change.  I had to keep pushing thoughts about what I would do if he was washed overboard (even though he was tethered) and how I could possibly retrieve him in the dark and wild water.  It wasn't scary, just uncomfortable and we were BOTH ready for it to end come sunup.  It definitely got our attention...


Click to read the post
Our only other weather complaint would be the daily squalls along the East Coast of Florida.  Every day, we could expect that the sky would cloud up and dump a deluge upon us.  Some days it was accompanied by high gusty winds.  There were three days that stand out.  We were in wide open anchorages each time.  We would purposely cut our day short so that we could be safely at anchor when the first gusts hit us each afternoon.  It went on this way for WEEKS and we were very glad to finally get out of Florida where the weather seemed to moderate some...





Click to read the post
Our record wind speed occurred  while we were anchored near Titusville.  We saw 46 knots.  We were anchored in relatively shallow water and very near a small island when it hit.  My concern was that we would drag anchor and end up beached on that island.  We remained in the cockpit with the engine running so that we would be ready to take evasive action if it looked like we were getting too close.  It was a very tense hour but we came through it unscathed.







Click to read the post
Our most exciting weather event occurred while we were anchored near Melbourne Beach.  Again in a wide open anchorage that allowed quite the impressive fetch, the rain came down in blinding sheets.  We could barely make out the rather large sailboat that was dragging down upon us.  We got ready to move and Bruce was heading towards the bow to raise the anchor when we realized that the offending boat was under control and motoring away...

While we haven't experienced any "REAL" bad weather... we feel that we've gained confidence in our boat and in our own ability through these close calls.  I am most surprised at how we were both able to remain relatively calm and deal with whatever Mother Nature chose to throw our way.  (Knock on teak)








What is your favorite piece of boating related new technology?
Hands down it would be the iPad!  It  has been the most important tool in route planning and I can NOT imagine doing this without it.  The applications that show tides, currents, anchorages, marinas and weather... all with our position superimposed on the chart... have made this a flawless operation.

Second place would go to the AIS, although it was primarily valuable to us while we were traveling in the Gulf Coast ICW. The tug traffic there was so heavy, the ability to hail the captains by name as well as the ability to see and be seen from far around a blind curve, gave us an edge that boosted our comfort level.

What was your biggest fear before going cruising?  What is your biggest fear now? My biggest fear starting out was that we wouldn't be smart enough to do this.  I worried that we would make stupid mistakes or just not be able to figure things out.

My biggest fear now after a year... running out of things.  I know, it makes me sound like a borderline hoarder!  But I worry about running out of water.  We still top off the tanks at EVERY opportunity and carry 25 gallons of "spare" water in jugs.  I worry about running out of food, even though we provisioned for the end-of-time... The difference now is that I know what things we DID run out of and will stock up on more of those and less of other things. In my defense, it is NICE not having to stop and find provisions when we would rather move on.  We can pick and choose our provisioning spots.

Share a piece of Cruising Etiquette.  Never... NEVER touch your feet when visiting with others.  Going everywhere barefoot can lead to a certain relaxed attitude towards feet and while it is OK to arrive to your neighbor's boat for happy hour barefooted... it is NEVER OK to pick your toenails, corns or dig toe jam within sight of another soul not bound to you by a deep and abiding love.

What do you think is a common cruising myth? You've probably heard this to the point that it should no longer qualify as a common cruising myth... It isn't all palm trees, white sand beaches and fruity drinks.  While those things are a part of cruising, they comprise such a small part it is almost laughable that they continue to pop up high on the list.

There are plenty of palm trees where we've been, but the white sand beaches have been surprisingly few.  Cruising the US Gulf and East Coasts, we have encountered numerous beaches for sure... but not as many as we thought and VERY FEW had the dreamy white sand.  Even the Keys were very short in the "Dream Beach" category.

And as for fruity drinks... well, after our initial daily celebratory cocktails back in the beginning, we quickly learned that it is not healthy to drink EVERY day.  We have settled into a happy medium of cocktails when the conditions warrant them, but sometimes... many times... water has been our first choice.

Tell me your favorite thing about your boat.  Our centerline queen sized bed. I love snuggling down into our familiar and cozy haven after a day on the water.  No matter where we go, our bed is waiting for us.  Clean sheet day is the BEST!

What piece of gear seems to break the most often?  Our refrigeration.  (is that gear?)  It's the only thing that has been a continual issue.  We've endured a lot of angst due to shoddy installation.  Of all of the gear that has broken, it has been the "luxury items" that have caused us the problems.  The boat itself?  No problems! (knock on teak)

What is the key to making the cruising life enjoyable?  The number one thing is to let go of your compulsions.  There is almost nothing that you MUST do today.  It is OK to sit in the cockpit and read.  All. Day. Long.

The second thing - get off of the boat.  There is a world of adventure waiting for you if you go ashore and explore.  The boat will take you there, but you have to go and play.

What is your biggest lesson learned?  I can't pin it down to just one thing... these are my favorites:
We ARE smart enough to do this.  And if we can do it... you can too.
We make it out here without the luxuries of society... and even enjoy it.
It is OK, and even liberating, to live a life outside of your comfort zone.
The waters before us are not unknown and treacherous, they are somebody else's "back yard".
Cruising will not change you as much as you might think...
No matter where you go... there you are.  It is true.
Posted on Tuesday, October 07, 2014 by  and tagged   |  

The Life Nomadik at 13 months

Welcome The Life Nomadik! Read this interview as originally published on their blog.
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After 13 months and 4000 nautical miles of continuous cruising in over 12 countries and 50 islands we are proud to be interviewed for the Newly Salted project featuring cruisers from around the world with less than 2 years of sailing experience, like us.
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The Life Nomadik Family

Evo, Maya, and Mira
Evo, Maya, and Mira

We are a family with Bulgarian origins currently living and traveling aboard a sailboat. We are Evo, Mira and 10-year-old Maya aboard Fata Morgana.

Our cruising adventures around the world, a voyage into a new and unknown way of life, started in July of 2013 with zero sailing experience aboard our first sailboat, a 38-foot Leopard catamaran Fata Morgana. We have left behind work, school, and home in order to prove that there are alternative ways of living, traveling and experiencing the world outside of the system , looking for ultimate freedom and adventure, and living off-grid visiting some of the most beautiful and pristine places on the planet on a ridiculously minimal budget.


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Questions-Answers


1. What is cruising for you and why did you decide to cruise?

The night is falling slowly, inevitable. The wind is changing direction, becoming stronger from north. The sea gets rough. No land in view. Anxiety creeps in. We take turns on the helm, and we can’t really sleep with the waves crushing violently around the boat rocking her in every direction. The next day we are exhausted and hungry but the only thing we can prepare under these circumstances is instant noodles. At last we see land. We see the green shores of a tropical island and we know soon we will rest. Soon the boat will be still, anchored near a beautiful beach with palm trees and pink flowers. We will swim to the beach, we will snorkel in the coral gardens around, we will jump from the boat, we will hike to the mountain and visit the village to buy ice cream for Maya and beers for Evo and me. We might meet new friends, we might learn new things. And then, after a few days, we will keep sailing further. To another island, another beach, another country, another adventure.

This is what ‘cruising‘ means to us. It is a way of life. It is not as crazy or heroic as some might think. It is just an alternative to the other more conventional land-life most of us have accepted as ‘normal‘. But to us ‘crazy’ and ‘heroic’ is to accept the routine of 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, the morning and evening traffic jams, the bills at the end of the month. Cruising is just living differently, simply, sometimes better, sometimes worst. For those like us who love traveling, nature, the sea, who want to learn about the world and its people first hand, who want to live off-grid and escape city-life, who don’t mind washing their clothes by hand and eating instant noodles from time to time, cruising is the better option. And before we decided to do it, we dreamed about it. It was our next dream in a series of dreams-come-true.

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2. What is the most important aspect of your cruising lifestyle?

Visiting places we never even dreamt about, remote, beautiful, breathtaking, places accessible only by boat; meeting people from different cultures, exchanging stories with them, learning from them, getting involved in their local communities, and sharing some incredible adventures together; meeting other travelers/wanderers/wonderers who inspire us so much; overcoming obstacles, conquering fears, growing and becoming. All these are some of the best characteristics of the cruising lifestyle that most of the cruisers appreciate, but for us this is not all.
For us the most important aspect of our cruising lifestyle is being self-sufficient spending as little money as possible, living off-grid outside of the system and in harmony with our natural environment. We strictly sail and don’t turn on the engines, we produce solar electricity and freshwater, we catch and eat a lot of fish, we wash the few clothes we have by hand, we prepare our own bread and food, and we don’t go to bars and restaurants much.

Boatmade Sushi
Boatmade Sushi

3. What is the best thing about your boat?

Our boat, Fata Morgana, is a 38-foot Leopard catamaran built in 2001 in South Africa. She is a small catamaran but very spacious and comfortable, perfect for our family’s needs. It’s the owner’s version with three double-bed cabins, two heads and big shower. Everyone’s favorite’s space on the boat is the huge cockpit for which we built a hard-top and an enclosure. Fata Morgana is heavy-built and even heavier after we loaded up all our earthly possessions. She is not fast at all but, we hope and believe, she is stable and safe, which is more important than speed for us. But the best thing about Fata Morgana is something we added after we bought the boat making her our off-grid water-world type of vessel.

In the beginning we invested in a huge solar power installation producing 1500 watts. We installed a desalination machine producing freshwater from seawater, and solar panels and lithium batteries capable of producing and store enough electricity on board for our fridge&freezer which runs 24/7, for all the lights, appliances and devices, and for the watermaker. We don’t have a generator and we don’t have to run the engines in order to make electricity. We can spend a week or a month or a year in the most remote anchorage of the world and we won’t need to fuel or buy freshwater, we won’t need any facilities.

Thanks to the solar panels, lithium batteries, watermaker, and sails, our boat has become a unique vessel, ready for some serious apocalyptic events.

Read more about our solar installation here.

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4. Is there something that you do differently from most of the cruisers?

Apart from the fact that we were born and raised in Bulgaria and have a very different mentality from most of the North American, Australian, and Western European cruisers, we strictly sail and we use a kayak instead of a dinghy. We turn on the engines only in life-and-death situations. This means a lot of tacking especially during the last months going against the tradewinds and it also means that sometimes we drift with ridiculously slow speed, under 2 knots, or even sit and wait in deadcalm in the middle of the sea for the wind to pick up. In such dead calm situations Evo would even deploy our kayak in front of the boat and pull the boat at 0.5 kt speed. But it also means that we fuel only 2 times a year spending very little money for fuel (last year we took about 150 gallons of fuel and we still have 60 gallons in the tanks left) and it means that we don’t contribute much for the ever-increasing pollution of the environment.

If you ask any cruiser if they throw their plastic garbage in the water they will say No! immediately. They are very conscious about throwing garbage in the sea. But if you ask them when and why they turn on their engines (thus polluting the water and air) you might find out that most cruisers “motor-sail” all the time, even when they have perfect winds. Their reasons for doing so are many: to get there faster, to charge the batteries, because the wind is coming from the wrong direction and they don’t like to tack, and even because they don’t want the boat to heel, or because pulling ropes and adjusting sails is too much work. They have the choice yet they choose the engines and thus, apart from polluting the nature, spend tons of money for fuel each month.

We have invested in alternative energy systems and we have pledged to sail the boat always. We are very proud with this. And if we can inspire other cruisers to do so too our mission will be accomplished.

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 5. What do you find the most exciting about your cruising life?

We swim in the most beautiful waters and snorkel in coral reefs, we hike in spectacular rainforests and explore lakes, waterfalls, rivers, and caves. We met howler monkeys, sea crocodiles, swimming pigs, whales, flamingos, sea turtles, and manatees. We learned to sail, snorkel, fish, surf, and dive. Almost everything is exciting about our cruising life. The beautiful places we get to visit traveling for free, the things we learn about their histories, culture and nature, but most of all the people we meet on the way, locals and fellow-traveling gipsies like us. You can only meet such people when cruising really.

Before we started cruising we thought that we are about to do something completely insane and that not many are doing what we are doing. But it turned out that there are so many people out there on some incredible journeys, and crossing paths with them is definitely the best and most exciting thing about cruising.

Maya
Maya

6. What mistakes did you make as you started cruising?

We left Key West for Havana without provisioning the boat. We were determined to buy and eat local. Big mistake. We showed up in Cuba without food and the Cuban officials inspecting the boat couldn’t believe it. First time people coming from America without food. And for the first four days we couldn’t buy anything to eat there. It was a national holiday followed by a weekend and all the stores were closed. And when they opened we realized that there is not much we can buy anyway… The Cuban stores are a sad desolate landscape. After about a week they announced on national TV that “eggs will be distributed tomorrow in the entire country” and we waited on a long line for eggs and I bought 100 eggs…(Reminded me of the good old times in Communist Bulgaria…)

First lesson learned: Always provision the boat especially when leaving from the USA and especially when heading to Cuba.

Another even bigger mistake we made in our first days of cruising caused by impatience, over confidence, inexperience, and ignorance was sailing unprepared and without checking the weather and researching the marine conditions. Apart from having zero experience we had no auto-pilot and no windvane. We hand-steered and we had no idea what is the wind force and exact wind direction for the first 1000 nautical miles of our passage between Florida, Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala and back.(But it was a great learning experience too. Remember, we strictly sail.)

When we showed up in Havana people asked us: “So how was the Gulf Stream?” We didn’t notice any Gulf Stream we answered. We were lucky then. But not so lucky on our way back between Mexico and Cuba in the Yucatan Chanel where a storm almost killed us because we didn’t wait for good weather.

There is an old Inuit saying: To wait is not a waste of time. The patient man succeeds.

The Inuit people from the frozen North hunt seal for food, oil for the fire and leather for clothes and shoes. When the hunter finds the hole in the ice where the seal comes out for air every now and then, he prepares his spear and waits silently, sometimes for hours, for the seal to emerge. Only after a long time of waiting he can kill it. Patience is essential for his survival.

Patience is the most important thing in cruising too, I would say, and we learned this lesson the hard way.

We didn’t take the weather forecast seriously, we were too much in a rush and we got hit by a horrible storm in the Yucatan Chanel off the coast of Mexico. Sustained winds 30-35 knots from north, the powerful current flowing the opposite direction. Until then we hadn’t seen such big and confused waves and we didn’t know how to deal with the situation, especially at night, we got so scared. We had to go through this nightmare that lasted for two days. After that, we made a solemn promise to ourselves that, from then on, we will check the weather forecast and be very careful, and we will not rush anymore.

In cruising, the biggest mistake is to have a time schedule. You can’t. You have to wait for the best possible conditions and you have to be able to turn back if the conditions are not favorable.

Read more about our Yucatan Chanel misadventure here.
Mira "sailing" the kayak with an umbrella
Mira “sailing” the kayak with an umbrella

7. What advice would you give to parents thinking about taking their children cruising?

When we started this adventure we were four. Our 17-year-old son Viktor spent over a year with us aboard Fata Morgana and was until recently also a part of this journey, but after a few months of cruising and sailing he decided to return back to Canada, where we used to live, to continue his education and start his own life. At his age he didn’t want to be on an adventure with his parents and little sister, stuck on a boat with them 24/7. And even though he enjoyed a good part of our adventures together: swimming in a dark cave in Guatemala, hiking up the highest Caribbean mountain Pico Duarte with mules and a guide, visiting Mexico and eating tacos every day, snorkeling in the Thunderbolt Grotto in the Bahamas and many more, he wanted to go back to his friends and his old way of life.

Maya on the other hand is only 10 and she enjoys living aboard, cruising, homeschooling, making new friends everywhere we go, exploring, and going on adventures with us. She is learning so much by traveling and being curious about the places we visit.

People always ask us about the kids schooling, and always tell them not to confuse the school institution with education. Education is found through experiences in the world. A kid who is traveling has so many more experiences than a kid who sits in a classroom. Reading about a place, its culture and history, is not the same as being there and experiencing it. Yet, I think that as soon as the kids become teenagers it is already too late to take them away from their familiar home environment and friends and put them on a boat, as we did with Viktor, unless this is what they want.

So if I have to give one advice to parents thinking about taking their children cruising it would be:
Traveling is a great learning experience that will change you and your children. It is the best thing for young kids. But don’t wait too long for the kids to be older or to finish school. The younger the child the better.

Riley, Maya (in the middle) and Wren with a huge lobster aboard Fata Morgana
Riley, Maya (in the middle) and Wren with a huge lobster aboard Fata Morgana

8. How do you keep in shape while leaving aboard?

Life on a boat can get really lazy at times. When at anchor or sailing there is not much space on the boat to move around and there is a big chance to become a “boat-potato”. In order to keep in shape we try to move as much as possible. We swim, snorkel, hike, and we do exercises on the boat or on shore (sit-ups, squats, push-ups and pull-ups). We even like to go jogging on the beach in the morning. We also kayak on daily basis from and to the boat instead of using the dinghy and we walk a lot. For us taking a taxi is not an option, it’s a question of principles. We hitchhike or take the bus if the distance to where we want to go on land is too big, or simply walk, sometimes for hours, and for many miles. Apart from being a great exercise, we believe that only by walking, and not by driving or even riding a bicycle, one can truly experience the land. Good thing we are generally not in a hurry.

And of course, we watch out what and how much we eat. We are not some healthy-food-freaks nor vegetarians and we eat and drink pretty much everything but we are conscious about quality and quantity trying to balance a healthy diet. We eat a lot of fish which we catch by trolling every time we go sailing and we also love those coconuts that we find all over the place. We buy fresh fruits and vegetables every time we stop some place. Lately we eat a lot of cabbage for example. We love fresh cabbage grated or finely chopped with some dry dill and lots of lemon, and it is one of the healthiest fiberest foods ever.

Mira and Evo
Mira and Evo

9. What is the price you have to pay for being on a ‘permanent vacation’?

The past one year was incredible. We visited Che Guevara’s house in Havana, Cuba. We walked among the Mayan ruins in Tulum, Mexico. We were the first white people to enter a sacred cave full of human skulls in the remote Sierra de las Minas mountains in Guatemala. We met a humpback whale in the Bahamas. We jumped from waterfalls in the Dominican Republic. We ate mofongo in Puerto Rico. We snorkeled in the most beautiful coral gardens in the British Virgin Islands. We walked across an impossible road in Saba. We met monkeys in St Kitts&Nevis. We saw what a volcano can do to a city in Montserrat. And this is just a small fraction of all the things that we have done in all the places that we visited in just 13 months.

But there is a dark side to cruising too, and bloggers don’t normally write much about it. The dangers and risks of the life at sea, the constant maintenance of the boat and everything on it, dealing with officials every time we have to check in and out of a country, the nostalgia for home family and friends, even the small inconveniences of not having an air conditioning or a washing machine or a hot water shower, the lack of unlimited freshwater or electricity, are all part of the bitter price we pay for all the enjoyments we get while cruising. But we have accepted the deal and we know: It is all worth it!

In other words, it is about 5 dollars per day.

Maya in the cockpit
Maya in the cockpit

 10. What are your plans now? If they do not include cruising, tell us why.

We will keep cruising until we are tired of it, or until something prevents us from doing it. There are so many things that can go wrong on a boat causing for any plans to change very quickly. But n the best case scenario, we are hoping to sail through the entire Caribbean region, from Antigua where we are right now south to Grenada and Tobago. From there, after the hurricane season, we will head west to Columbia and Panama. Once there we will cross the Panama canal and head to the Galapagos Islands. Next, we will sail across the Pacific to Tahiti and French Polynesia and do a few years of cruising around Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines,  India and beyond.

We are also hoping to be able to work for a few months in Australia if possible, as we don’t have income right now and even though we are all about self-sufficiency and off-grid living we still need a bit of money to buy food and repair the boat when needed. We are both Evo and me professional long distance truck drivers. We used to drive big tractor-trailers between Canada and USA. (We were nomads always.) It was a great way to see these two huge countries, to travel and make money at the same time. So we are hoping to do the same in Australia. We heard they need drivers there for those long four-trailer trucks crossing the desert. It will be fun again and we will get to explore the interior of this beautiful country for which we have a very old crush.

And then, let’s dream a bit further in time, when we are really tired of traveling (i don’t think this will happen any time soon, but it probably will some day) and we find the perfect place, we will stop, build a small cabin, build the furniture for the cabin, make our own everything (dishes, cups, pillows, etc.), plant billions of fruits and vegetables and herbs, get a bunch of beautiful chickens and a couple of goats, and install a few solar panels. Then, after I finish making the raspberry jam, we will sit back on the porch and watch the sunset remembering all the places we have been to, telling the most incredible stories to our grand kids running around chasing the chickens.

. Well, this is all for now. It was great answering those questions and participating in the Newly Salted Project. And if you are still curious about us you can like us, follow us and contact us on our blog TheLifeNomadik.com and Facebbook Page. It’s always a pleasure when someone writes to us with a question or a comment. Thank you!


Posted on Thursday, October 02, 2014 by  and tagged   |  

Where the Coconuts Grow at 4 Months

Welcome Where the Coconuts Grow to Newly Salted! Read this interview as originally published on their blog.
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NEWLY SALTED is a semi-regular publication of interviews with people who began cruising in the last few years or who have completed a cruise of under 2 years. We are excited to share a little bit about our experience after our first four months at sea and just over 2000 nautical miles under our belts. Newly Salted is a companion site to Interview With A Cruiser which features interviews of those that have been out cruising for more than two years. Someday we will be able to share what we have learned on that site as well :)

Who Are We?
Peter and Jody are a young couple from San Diego, California who drove across the country with their two dogs, Betsy and Gunner, to move aboard their 42′ sailboat in October 2013. They sailed away from safe harbor on the west coast of Florida in February to begin a journey of a lifetime in honor of Peter’s mother who passed away from breast cancer in 2012. Named after her, the S/V Mary Christine is carrying them in search of surf, sun, sand and serenity Where The Coconuts Grow. You can read more atwww.wherethecoconutsgrow.com and follow the adventures on FacebookInstagramand Pinterest.

QUESTIONS AND COCONUTS
What is it like to go on a permanent vacation?
We lead a pretty amazing life. The places we see and the things we do are what most people only experience on vacation. While we have a tremendous amount of gratitude for being able to experience the cruising life, it’s not all palm trees and pina coladas…
Owning a boat is a lot of work. It’s hard to really understand just how much work it is until you experience it first hand. We wear many hats including mechanics, plumbers, electricians, navigators, fishermen, riggers, weather forecasters, chefs, doctors and nurses. For us, living in our tiny house on the water is significantly more work than living in a house on land. The spaces are hard to reach and fit into. Parts break ALL THE TIME. New or old, all boats break down and need constant maintenance. There are so many systems packed into a tiny area and they all work intricately together. It takes a significant amount of time, know-how, and patience.
While on the hook or at sea, the boat is constantly moving, requiring the use of all of our core muscles for balance and expending tons of energy. When everything is in motion and also hard to access, it takes three times as long to complete the simplest task. Even making the bed will break a sweat! Tremendous love for the person your with makes the blood, sweat and tears a little more bearable.
Life at sea is a true test of strength, both mentally and physically. It’s not for everyone but we absolutely love it :)
Do we get seasick?
We were shopping for boats and invited out for a cruise with one of the yacht brokers that also ran a timeshare business for sailboats. It had been awhile since Peter had used his sealegs and he was nauseous the entire day on the water. This could have been the end of our sailing dreams before we even got started. Luckily, he knew from previous experience that once he gets used to being on a boat again he would have no problem. His years of skippering fishing boats reminded him of that.
Then, as soon as we got back on land after our sea trial during the purchase of our boat, Peter got sick on land as soon as the rocking stopped. Again, deal breaker? I don’t think so! He’s a rockstar and kept the faith that it would eventually get better. Neither one of us has gotten sick since then. We’ve both felt a bit nauseous during some rough passages but only when we are in rough weather for 24 hours or more. To play it safe, we now both take seasickness medication in uncomfortable seas.
The dogs do quite well underway. Neither of them have gotten sick from the rocking of the boat. Gunner has puked once, but only after eating a couple mouthfuls of sand. Silly dog. When we’re sailing, Betsy finds a comfy spot in the cockpit and goes to sleep. She most likely doesn’t feel good, but she never gets dehydrated and always visits the Buddy Bowl in the cockpit for some water. Gunner tends to get a little restless but not anymore than he normally does. His old bones prevent him from staying in any one place for too long, unless of course its on our bed with our pillows!! He moves around and then we put him back in a safe spot. It brings a few extra challenges and gives us a whole new appreciation for those that sail with small children.

What about pirates?
In the past four months our travels have taken us from Florida through the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spanish Virgins, US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. These areas are well traveled by fellow cruisers and the local people in these areas have been very friendly. From the DR and south there are a few areas where we definitely felt safer locking up the dinghy but that’s about as much danger as we’ve been in.
Real pirates exist and we’ll need to stay away from the coast of Venezuela, but other than that we don’t plan on cruising in Africa or other places known for piracy. As we travel south through the Caribbean we will be extra diligent about safety. Some of the islands we’ll be passing by have higher crime than others so it’s important to stay in contact with other cruisers to get current local knowledge.
With two large dogs on board we are definitely at an advantage. Most locals we’ve encountered are afraid of them and often don’t come too close. Whenever we can, we leave the dogs in the cockpit. At anchor, Gunner LOVES to do his patrols up on the bow. He barks at anything that moves, letting them know he’s on duty. Betsy on the other hand, will only bark when another boat is unusually close. If we hear Gunner, we know that another boat, dinghy or animal is somewhere within viewing range. If we hear Betsy bark, we know someone is approaching OUR boat and we need to check it out. We’ve seen them in action when we’re coming back to the boat and until they know its us, they bark quite ferociously. Good dogs :)
In any event, we are far safer traveling around on a sailboat than we are driving down the freeway in California.

How do we get internet?
The availability of internet varies all around the world. In the Bahamas, free wifi was available in some locations but we found it more convenient to purchase a local BTC sim card and prepaid data plan for our internet usage. One of our iPhones was unlocked so we were able to use a sim card from another carrier with no problem. This allowed us to boost the signal to our other devices by means of tethering.
In the DR we only used free wifi signals on the laptop with the help of our ALFA long range wifi booster. Our friends Jan and David at commutercruiser.com gave us their old one before we left Florida and it works like a charm.
Puerto Rico and the USVI have great signal for AT&T so we temporarily reactivated Peter’s phone and data plan. Unfortunately, the case failed and leaked water inside damaging the phone. We were still able to use that sim card with the other phone and we’ve been sharing ever since. The BVI’s are close enough to USVI cell signal and work in most places. Very soon we’ll be suspending the service again before heading south through the rest of the Caribbean. Once we do that, we’ll be back to only free wifi signals with the laptop and booster, and maybe an occasional wifi connection in a cafĂ© somewhere.
It’s nice being unplugged from the rest of the world when we don’t have internet connection. On the other hand it is such an amazing tool to keep in touch with family and friends and of course for updating the blog!

What do we eat?
We live on a boat traveling through tropical islands. Going to a grocery store when we need more food isn’t always an option. Now, we do what is called “provisioning” where we stock up like crazy on as much food and supplies as we can as cheaply as possible. We filled two carts at Costco before leaving Florida for staple items like rice, beans, canned food, baking supplies, spices and snacks. Shopping for food is also a great time to stock up on items like toilet paper, shampoo, soap and other toiletries.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are surprisingly hard to come by in the Bahamas. The DR and Virgin Islands have been more plentiful and we’ve enjoyed eating healthier fresh foods whenever we can find them. They don’t last long in the heat so we are looking for fresh foods on shore often. When we do find fresh foods, our evaporator unit refrigeration system comes in very handy. We added a freezer unit to the boat which is the exact same unit as the refrigerator, just turned up to the coldest setting. As with most boat refrigerators, they require a bit of acrobatics to reach anything inside.
Our boat is a Whitby, designed by Ted Brewer, and has a ridiculous amount of storage. In fact, the second Costco run we made was in Puerto Rico and we tripled the amount of food we bought the first time after seeing how much space was still left in all the lockers and cubbies. It was truly amazing we were able to make it all disappear. A place for everything and everything in its place!
The primary source of food for both us and the dogs is fresh fish. Peter is an excellent fisherman and we are always catching fish. After landing a yellowfin, we cut up fresh sashimi on the deck as Peter cleans the fish. The dogs get all the red meat scraps while we package up the harvest for storage in the fridge or the freezer. We also enjoy spearfishing and diving for lobster when the local regulations allow. The amount of seafood we eat living on this boat is some of the finest dining we have both ever had. Brie stuffed lobster anyone?

How do we wash our clothes?
Our boat came equipped with a small WASHING MACHINE! Yes, a washing machine on a 42′ sailboat. This might be a little more common on boats upward of 50′ in length where everything is exponentially bigger. For a boat our size, it’s pretty rare. The previous owners did a beautiful refit of the forward head to install the washing machine. One of the two doors accessing the head was removed and a box was built around the new appliance. It slightly restricts the entrance to the forward cabin but not enough to matter.
The little washing machine has a 110V A/C plug which requires the inverter to be on, the generator to be running, or to be plugged into shore power on a dock. There is a hose that attaches to the sink nozzle in the forward head, as well as a drain hose returning the dirty wash water back into the sink drain. There are multiple settings for light, medium and heavy with a selection for the number of wash cycles as well. We like to connect a flexible hose to the drain hose, catching the water from the last rinse cycle in a bucket and then dumping it back into the empty washer as wash water for the next load.
Our clothes are hung up to dry on the life lines with clothespins and kissed by the sun and Caribbean breeze. We really don’t mind not having a dryer anymore. Sundried clothes cost nothing and smell so crisp and fresh.
The small investment made in this machine saves us a ton of money while cruising. Depending on the location, a load of laundry done on shore by locals or in a Laundromat can cost anywhere from $4-$20 from what we’ve heard. If our machine ever dies on us, there’s always a bucket!!

How do we have power?
We do our best to live simply and use only the resources we need. Electricity comes at a premium now that we generate our own power. We have (2) older 80 watt rigid solar panels, (2) 104 watt semiflexible Aurinco solar panels and a Four Winds wind generator. This allows us to keep our (3) 4D lead-acid batteries charged up with plenty of power left to run our lights, watermaker, washing machine, refrigeration, stereo, VHF radio, SSB radio, chartplotter, radar and computer.
The Caribbean provides constant Tradewinds of 10-20 knots so while we are at anchor the boat is always facing into the wind bringing in power from the wind generator. Lately we’ve had quite a bit of cloud cover, but our 370 watts of solar panels usually do a fantastic job of bringing in a ton of power for us between the hours of 10am to 2pm when the sun is directly over head. All of our panels are adjustable and can be turned or tilted to achieve the maximum amount of exposure, but we usually prefer not to babysit them. They do just fine all by themselves :)

How do we get water?
Fresh water is one of our top priorities. Our primary source of water is generated by our Village Marine Little Wonder Watermaker that is installed in the bilge. It converts seawater into fresh filtered water at a rate of 6 gallons per hour and runs off of the 12-volt electrical system. We have two water tanks on board with a total of 160 gallon storage capacity and the watermaker is plumbed direct to both tanks.
If clean water is available for free in the towns and villages we visit, we will fill up 5-gallon jerry jugs and carry them back to the boat in our dinghy. The further south we go, the less available good drinking water becomes. Watermakers are a huge upfront cost but being able to make our own water is critical for remaining completely self sufficient.
Even though we can make our own water, it requires enough electricity to power it. Our solar panels provide enough power during peak sunlight hours and we usually run the watermaker every other day for a few hours a day to use up the extra power being generated. We try to keep both tanks full so if it is cloudy or if we don’t have any wind bringing in power for a few days, then we won’t be completely out of water and needing to run the watermaker. If our batteries get too low to run the watermaker we have to run the engine or generator when we need to make water. We like to conserve diesel as much as we can.
We usually have plenty of fresh water for showering every day, for making coffee and for drinking water. Even though we can make water as needed, we still conserve as much as we can. Systems break down and if we are careful to not be wasteful, all of our equipment will last much longer.

Where do we keep our tools and toys?
Peter grew up surfing and fishing in Southern California. This adventure is all about having fun which means we needed to find a place to store all of our toys. We brought Peter’s 6 epoxy surfboards, one foam surfboard and two inflatable Stand Up Paddle boards. 30-some fishing poles are stashed around the boat under floor boards and on the ceiling of the engine room. We have an Airline Hookah Dive compressor that lives in the salon. The forward cabin has been converted to our garage where we keep the surf boards, a guitar, compound bow and arrows, spear guns, Hawaiian slings, lobster snare, surf gear and power tools. There is also ample storage inside the boat for tools near the engine room. We even have a vice installed on the inside of the engine room door!
On deck we strap our dinghy to the bow while under way along with jerry jugs of spare fuel and water, a foam target block for the bow and arrows, plastic crates with a 75′ hose and the dinghy gas can, SUP paddles, oars and boat hooks.
Our wet locker holds all the rest of our dive gear when not in use. We are careful to rinse everything off with fresh water after each use to prolong the life of our gear. Salt water will corrode almost anything.

Where do the dogs go potty?
Before we left the dock in Florida we purchased a replacement piece of astroturf from Petco that is supposed to fit inside a plastic tray. Peter installed a couple of grommets and some paracord, then tied it on to the lifelines on the port side of our aft deck. It took a few tries for Betsy to figure out she was supposed to go potty on this crazy thing. We initially took the Astroturf up on shore and slid it underneath both dogs as they went pee. Eventually there was enough scent to convince Betsy it was what she was supposed to pee on, with a little coaxing of course and some tugging and pushing to get her in the right spot. After she went on the mat on shore, we tried it on the boat. We had also been diligent with using a command “Go Potty” and Betsy now goes potty on command everytime. She’ll even fake us out and pretend like she’s peeing, even when she doesn’t have to go!
Gunner is another story. He wasn’t too happy we were putting that thing underneath him on shore, and he would NOT go potty on it on the boat. Gunner is 13 and set in his ways. The only time he ever had an accident in a house was when he ate too much of another dogs food, giving him diahrrea, and when he had a bladder infection. The poor guy is so stubborn we couldn’t get him to go on the boat for a long time. It took our first overnight passage and subsequent days keeping him on the boat for him to finally go. He knows exactly where to go now and often takes himself if we aren’t paying attention.
Lessons learned? Don’t use regular grommets. They rust. And don’t use white paracord… it will turn yellow :( We have since switched to stainless steel grommets and dark green paracord (to match the boat of course).

Did we know how to sail before we bought the boat?
Nope! We had each been on a sailboat maybe once or twice before we made the decision to buy one of our own. Peter has been around the ocean all his life and ran fishing boats for several years so operating a boat wasn’t new to him. Jody grew up boating but never sailing.
We considered taking sailing courses but after talking to several people, we decided it couldn’t be too hard to figure out. After just a few times on the water by ourselves, we felt confident enough to continue learning as we go and skip the high priced courses.  Our insurance required signoff from a licensed captain stating that we are capable of operating the boat on our own and we passed with flying colors.
Sailing is one of those things it takes a lifetime to master. We have the basics down and can operate all the equipment on our boat sufficiently. With experience we’ll continue to learn tricks for balancing the Center of Effort on our ketch-rigged boat as well as how to handle our boat better in heavy weather. We have safely made it through several passages and 2000 nautical miles after starting with zero sailing experience. That’s pretty darn good!

Why did we decide to live on a boat and sail away?
It has always been Peter’s dream to live on a boat and sail around to all the best surf spots and fishing grounds. After his mom passed away in 2012 everything fell into place for us to take this journey in honor of her. She would have loved to do what we are doing and we know she would be proud.
We both prefer to live outside the box and go against what mainstream society perceives to be normal. To us, living a life of adventure and happiness is more important than working a dead-end job paying somebody else’s bills. Life on the hook is about so much more than that. We are surviving against whatever Mother Nature brings with our own knowledge and skills. It’s an Ultimate experience in every sense of the word.

What personality traits have been the most helpful for living on a boat?
Patience is definitely at the top of the list. After 8 months of being liveaboards, nothing is easy and patience is key to getting anything done. We’ve accepted the fact that most everything is just harder on a boat. We stub our toes, hit our heads and jam our fingers on a daily basis. It makes us tough and keeps us young. We do our best to remain patient with ourselves and with others and it seems to lighten the load.
Determination is something we both have. We don’t give up. We push on, striving to overcome every challenge we are faced with. In the middle of the ocean you can’t just call a plumber or call a mechanic. When something breaks, we figure out how to fix it with the resources available to us and the skills we already have. Each challenge is a learning experience and we are determined to succeed at being self sufficient surviving at sea.
A creative mind is invaluable on a boat. We often make due with what we have and jury-rig systems with odds and ends that we brought along with us or find on shore. U.S. stores are now far behind and the convenience of ordering a part off the internet or running to Home Depot is not an option. There has got to be a million ways to use a zip-tie and duct tape. Patch and repair jobs may not be pretty, but they will get you back to safety more often than not. One of our first creative projects was to convert our aft companionway ladder into a ramp for the dogs. It’s amazing what you can do with a little ingenuity.

How has cruising affected our personal relationships?
The further we travel and the more remote places we visit, the harder it is to stay in touch with friends and family. Internet is great for helping to bridge the gap but it’s not the same as seeing loved ones in person. We are comfortable enough on the boat now to have family and friends come visit. It’s such a treat for them to see our new life and how we live. We wish everyone could visit us and experience what we’re doing. In the mean time, we try to share pictures and stories of our adventures on the blog.
Cruising has also made our friendships with others more genuine. For some, its out of sight and out of mind where certain people don’t make much of a return effort to stay in contact. For others, their true friendship shines through and strengthens ten-fold. We truly cherish those lifelong friends both from our past and that we meet along the way.
Cruising has also brought our own relationship into focus. Sharing a Tiny House with your significant other will put any relationship to the test. It brings out the best and worst in us both and has challenged us in ways we didn’t think possible. Ultimately, we are stronger and have a better partnership because of it. Love makes everything better!

What is the best part about the cruising culture?
Most everyone says it’s the people. We totally agree. There is an unspoken code of sorts among fellow cruisers laced with an overwhelming camaraderie. Everyone we meet on the water is so genuinely kind and generous. If we are ever in need of help, any of the cruisers around us are happy to lend a hand or lend a tool or part.
Some even do enormous acts of kindness, like our friend Paul in Salinas, Puerto Rico. We asked Paul if he knew how we could get to the Customs and Immigration office in Ponce which was more than 30 minutes away. Paul lives on his boat but had a car there at the marina nearby and he offered to take us all the way to Ponce, even stopping at the grocery store on the way back to the boat. He wouldn’t accept any money for gas or his time, he only asked that we Pay It Forward.
Our friends Anne and Brad on S/V Anneteak and Dave and Patti on S/V Dream Ketcher both helped us with some major repairs in the Bahamas. Friends Jan and David on S/V Winterlude (commutercruiser.com) taught us so much about sailing on our first few harbor sails. We are so grateful for all the generosity we’ve experienced and we make every effort to Pay It Forward and help anyone else we can.
We are kindred spirits and share many of the same dreams and aspirations. We are all following our hearts and leading a life of adventure that only few get to experience. That has brought us all together in a way we never could have imagined. It’s a magical thing really, and the world would be a better place if everyone were this kind to one another.

Will you ever move back to land?
As they say, our plans are drawn in the sand! For now, we will continue south from BVI traveling through the Caribbean toward Grenada for Hurricane Season. In October we will either head back up through the Leeward and Windward Islands or we will continue West to the San Blas Islands of Panama and cross through the Panama Canal. The surfing and fishing is amazing on the Pacific side of Central America and we hope to spend a good amount of time there. Someday we may cross over to the South Pacific for some of the best surf and most beautiful islands in the world. Until then, we are living in this Grand Adventure one day at a time!

What else would you like to know? Contact us with any other questions. We would love to hear from you!!
Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 by  and tagged   |