Smitty at 21 months

Welcome Smitty to the ranks of the Newly Salted! Read their interview below or as originally published on their blog.
---
About Us

Stacey was born & raised in Milford, CT and grew up power-boating on Long Island Sound and the Housatonic River.

Jesse was born & raised on the South Shore of Massachusetts and grew up sailing on Buzzards Bay and fishing the Cape Cod Canal.



Summer, our dog, is an Australian Cattle dog-mix.  She is now about 10 years old.  We adopted her as a pup and she has been sailing with us since we got her.



Being typical “Type A” personalities, we spent most of our adult life dedicated to our careers.  Jesse was a geologist and worked in the consulting industry cleaning up petroleum and chemical spills.  Stacey was an accountant and worked in public accounting firms and private investment companies.  The two of us had become disenfranchised with the idea of defining ourselves by our jobs and didn’t want to wait until retirement to live life. So, we sold everything (house, cars, etc), quit the jobs, and, in September 2015, a couple days before Stacey’s 40th birthday, we sailed away.  Now we are trying to fill our lives with experiences and fun.

Our sailing vessel is Smitty, our Catalina 310.  We have owned her for almost seven years now, mostly cruising the coast of New England and living aboard her prior to our departure (yes – we lived aboard in Boston during the snowiest winter on record! See Blizzard of 2015 as a Liveabord ).  In September 2015, we untied the lines and set sail south from Hingham, MA (Smitty’s home port – just south of Boston). We sailed all down the US East Coast (primarily via the ICW), Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spanish Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, and British Virgin Islands.



Q & A

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

Both of our jobs required us to manage various projects at the same time and still meet all deadlines. For us, the most difficult transition was to learn to slow down and enjoy life.

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

When we bought our boat our initial intent wasn’t to cruise on her full-time; we bought a boat that worked for what we wanted at that time. That being said, the Catalina 310 was produced to be a coastal cruiser and does not have capacity to hold a lot of water. We were ok with this fact and set sail anyway, we assumed we could get water in most locations we were going.  This was correct, until we wanted to cruise in more remote areas in other countries.  We have since installed a water maker. 

What pieces of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?

Our Catalina 310 came with a microwave.  We would often have microwave popcorn or heat up leftovers.  Once we left our homeport dock, we very rarely stayed at marinas, therefore, we very rarely used our microwave.  We learned how to make popcorn the “old-school” way (stove top) and gave away the microwave while in Puerto Rico.

What mistakes did you make as you started cruising?

I’m not sure if it was necessarily a mistake, but we spent way more money then we anticipated.  We were in “vacation mode” and did not stick to a budget. Our thought was that we would likely only see some of these places only once. I am glad we enjoyed them to their fullest, but I do wish we had more of a spending plan or budget in place.

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

To describe it in one word:  Beauty

The locations, the people, the sailing (well, except all the “Easting” of the Mona Passage),  the wild life (we still get excited when we see dolphins – especially swimming off our bow while under sail!), the color changes of the waters we have sailed, and of course the sunsets! It’s been an amazingly beautiful experience.

What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?

I have been very surprised to see some cruisers (both US & foreign flagged vessels) having a complete disregard for the environment and ecosystems. We have seen them anchor on reefs, fishing and taking conch and lobster out of season or from no-take zones, and keeping undersized fish, conch and lobster. Even when we have gone over to let them know the rules they did not care!

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn’t find to be true?

We were told that when you slipped away from the dock you were leaving behind so many of the hassles of land life.  Often we heard the term “Stuff being left to dirt dwellers”.  Unfortunately, we often found that we would be on a beautiful beach, sitting around a fire with other cruisers and there would be talks of politics.; too much talk of politics. We thought that would be left on land but there seems to be lots of talk of politics at sundowners and pot lucks. 

What is something that you read or head about cruising, that you found to be particularly accurate?

“Just Go – Don’t Wait!”  We read and heard this often.  I can tell you from experience, this is a very true statement. If you don’t set a date and just go then you won’t do it.  The boat is never going to be 100% ready, there will always be more projects to complete or things that break that need to be fixed. If you wait until retirement or until the boat is done then who knows what your health or life circumstances will be in the future.

What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?

I wish someone had told us that it is ok to live “outside the box of normal society”;  that it is ok to live life and you don’t have to do things that are “expected of you” .  We regret investing our hard-earned money into things like a house and cars – we wish we had invested those funds into cruising at an earlier age (like in our 20’s).

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

Prior to leaving to cruise, both of us got our Captains license, with the expectation that we would need to pick up some work at some point, doing something, so why not do something we love!  We are currently anchored in Elephant Bay next to Water Island and St.Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, where we live on our boat and go out sailing as much as possible.  Jesse is a Captain – taking guests out sailing and snorkeling daily.  Stacey has been both Crew and Captain on various vessels but has most recently transitioned to an accounting-financial management position.  Our current plan is to continue to enjoy this beautiful paradise, build up the cruising kitty, complete more projects, and contemplate getting a bigger boat.  We are not done cruising, just on a break for a bit. But we continue to live on Smitty in the Caribbean as we explore these options. 
Posted on Friday, July 07, 2017 by  and tagged   |  

Island Time at 8 months

Welcome Island Time to the ranks of the Newly Salted. Read there interview here or as originally posted on their blog.
---
When Scott and I first decided to retire and travel on our boat, we started doing research. We read blogs and books, watched YouTube videos and talked to friends who had done it, were doing it and who planned to do it. One of the blogs we followed was Newly Salted and the companion site, Interview with a Cruiser. Now, as cruisers, we get to answer the questions.

About Us

We are Scott and Martha aboard SV Island Time, a 35-foot catamaran made by Island Packet. Yes, we know, you were not aware Island Packet made catamarans. They built 41 of them from 1993-1995. The boat has two staterooms, two heads and a saloon/galley combo. We started living aboard in November 2016, sailed from Shell Point (just south of Tallahassee) to the Tampa/St. Petersburg area for boat work that took seven weeks. At the end of January, we headed to Key West and the Dry Tortugas. We then traveled north through the Florida Keys and through the Intracoastal Waterway from Miami to Port Everglades. We spent two months in the Abacos, Bahamas. Now, we are in Palm Beach.

Interview Questions

What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?     

We read a lot of blogs and books and watched a lot of YouTube videos before we set out on this journey. We went to boat shows and sat through seminars about living aboard, crossing the Gulf Stream, installing solar panels, outfitting the galley and more. We thought we were fairly well prepared. We underestimated how much we would miss daily contact with family and friends. It makes phone calls and visits really special.

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

When we first started this trip, we had two 13 year-old dogs on board. Sadly, one just passed away. We were concerned about their transition to the boat and our need to take them ashore multiple times per day. Both dogs figured out the little green carpet trick. We don’t miss TV or the constant news cycle.

What mistakes did you make as you started cruising?     

We underestimated how much time (and money) we would spend with the boat in the boat yard. We predicted a two to three week stay for getting the bottom painted, to service the engines and to complete some other tasks. It took seven weeks. Luckily, we were not living aboard as we had family nearby. At the end of the seven weeks, we were eager to get moving.

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

We both enjoy exploring new places and like walking, riding bicycles and finding the occasional Uber ride. Meeting new people who share our lifestyle is also rewarding. We enjoy sunrises, sunsets and really dark night skies so we can see the stars. Anchoring in a new harbor is always exciting

What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?     

Even though our boat is a catamaran, our storage options are still limited. We move things around all the time to find things that are stored on board. We still have too much stuff. We love having a 12 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer. We don’t like emptying it to find that needed item in the bottom basket.

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn’t find to be true?    

A lot of people told us that rum would be plentiful and inexpensive in the Bahamas. They didn’t speak to the quality of that rum. We found good rum to be expensive, as was all alcohol, especially beer.

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?    
Avoid schedules. Our crossing of the Gulf of Mexico included high seas and high winds. We were on a schedule. Not. Ever. Again. Weather is the first thing we look at before planning to move the boat. We always hesitate to make plans with friends about where we’ll be and when they should meet us. We can’t guarantee that we’ll be there. We also want to take our time and explore each anchorage.

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

We are still debating if we want to install a water maker. However, we did purchase a small generator so we can use the air conditioning sometimes when we are not at a dock.

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

We brought too many clothes that we don’t have the space to store or the need to wear. We try to stick with wicking/quick dry clothing because laundry can be expensive. So far, we’ve used laundry facilities on shore but we are prepared for the five-gallon bucket method when the time comes.

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

We plan to cruise for three to five years. We plan to travel up the ICW to Savannah and Charleston for summer 2017 and then head south through the Exumas and into the Caribbean for winter 2018.

What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I’ve asked you and how would that you answer it?    

What broke and how did you fix it? 

Our autopilot quit working on the way back to Key West from the Dry Tortugas. We ordered new parts and Scott installed them. We needed a hole drilled in a thick piece of brass while we were in Hollywood. Scott called many machine shops to ask for help and didn’t find anyone who could assist. Our friend Jerry came to the rescue. He knew someone with a drill press, made the arrangements and then came to pick Scott up, drive him there and return him to the boat. Whew!

Bonus Question: Some friends have asked “What do you do all day?”     

Well, we live here, so it depends. We don’t go to work so alarm clocks are not part of our day. If the boat is underway, we are both on deck actively steering, sailing or motoring the boat, watching for boat traffic, tending lines and more. If we are anchored near a town or city, then we are ashore exploring, provisioning, doing laundry and buying parts for boat repairs and maintenance. We cook most meals on the boat but Scott is constantly looking for a good pizza. If wifi is available, we are checking weather, reading email, reading the news and watching more sailing videos on YouTube. We read books — paper and digital.


Thanks for reading our interview. Be sure to check out other interviews on Newly Salted and Interview with a Cruiser.
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2017 by  and tagged   |  

Aquabat at 20 months

Welcome Aquabat to the ranks of the Newly Salted! Read their interview below or as originally posted on their blog.
---
Back when we were first starting to look at seriously buying boats, we were doing alot of research about what it was like to actually cruise. We read a lot of blogs and Newly Salted and it’s sister site, Interview with a Cruiser, were two sites that we literally devoured information from! It’s so great to get other people’s perspectives on this lifestyle. We are thrilled to be joining the ranks of other new cruisers on the Newly Salted site. 
-----
We are Bryce, Alissa and our 1 year old daughter, I. We started cruising in April 2013 in Mooloolaba, QLD and have cruised up and down the Queensland coast getting as far north as Cairns. We have spent significant portions of that time at Magnetic Island and the Whitsunday Islands. Despite having had the boat for 4 years, we’ve taken breaks to travel, work and have a baby, which brings our active cruising time down to 20 months. We live and sail on a 40 ft aluminium monohull named Aquabat, that was built in 1985 by the man we bought her from. We love meeting other cruisers so please feel free to contact us if our paths may cross or you have any questions!


1. What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?

Bryce: Don’t buy anything at all until you have lived on the boat for 6 months.

Alissa: There will be days when equipment breaks and the weather is crap that you will want to be done with the boat but then you have the most amazing days ever that make it all worth while. Actually, I was told that cruising combines really low lows with really high highs which is basically the same thing… I just didn’t truly understand what it meant at the time!

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

Bryce: Lack of a regular income.

Alissa: Things we take for granted being relatively unlimited on land like electricity, water and internet, are no longer unlimited!

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

Bryce: Bought too much “stuff” for the boat that we didn’t really need. - Didn’t have the surveyor go on test sail! - Ran aground a couple of times, don’t just blindly trust the charts or the coastguard over the radio, (“there’s deep water if you hug the marker” There wasn’t!). - One time when we hauled out, our hydraulic steering pump needed replacing, because we were hauled out we paid way more ($1000s more) then we would have if we’d had time to shop around. We were just going back to our mooring so we could’ve used our emergency tiller and taken our time to find a replacement. - I am a competent sailor so I had thought that we had cruising figured out… but it turns out sailing is only a small part of cruising. You also need to be a diesel mechanic, plumber, electrician, rigger, sailmaker, carpenter, among other things! - Should have bought a smaller boat as our first, learner boat… bigger boat = bigger, more expensive mistakes.

Alissa: What mistakes didn’t we make!? See Bryce’s answer! :)

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

Bryce: I really like meeting new people and cruisers generally seem to be really friendly, good people. 

Alissa: We can have a new amazing backyard whenever we want! And the people! We’ve made some great boat friends in the past few years.

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

Bryce: Not having space to just stretch without bumping into something. I struggle to fit into any of our beds, even having modified one of them. 

Alissa: I am definitely a fair-weathered sailor. Whereas Bryce is quite happy trimming the sails and actively sailing, I would prefer just to set the sails and go for a ride on nice calm seas! I also dislike have to disassemble the boat to do anything or find something. I don’t like mess though so that’s not surprising!

6. What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn't find to be true?

Bryce: I read it’s a cheaper way of life but that hasn’t eventuated. We’ve needed to upgrade a number of systems to suit our style of cruising and it’s been very expensive. For example, a compete rewire, new solar panels, new batteries, replaced head and the list keeps growing. 

Alissa: When we were preparing, we were reading about the pioneering cruisers, like the Pardeys, who were doing it hardcore. Cruising without refrigeration, freezers, washing machines and watermakers, using oil lanterns instead of electric lights and oars and sails instead of engines. Boat life would definitely be a lot simpler without the extras “complicating” things. I didn’t know that you could have an inverter and still run AC appliances so we bought manual (hand-powered) versions of appliances. I didn’t know that you didn’t have to live without creature comforts. You can have anything you want on a boat (basically) but there is the tradeoff that it makes your boat more complicated with more things to break and more things to repair. You just have to decide if it’s worth it to you or not!

7. What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?

Bryce: It’s a constant series of jobs to keep the boat shipshape.

Alissa: Boat Maintenance in exotic locations. 100% true! 

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

Bryce: We probably should have ripped out the fridge and reinstalled it as the insulation is shot! The fridge is out biggest battery drain by far.

Alissa: The wishlist is long! I would love a freezer and a watermaker but they are staying on the wishlist for awhile! I will settle for a functioning fridge!

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

Bryce: A lot of our books probably. They are heavy and take up a lot of space. We may yet get rid of them. 

Alissa: Bryce will hate me saying this but his fishing gear. I don’t eat fish and Bryce doesn’t go fishing, so it’s just taking up valuable space. 

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

Alissa: We have a 1 year old on board now so we are just taking it slow and easy as we all acclimate to life on board.

Bryce: We will probably stick around the North Queensland coast for a couple more years and maybe head out to New Caledonia or Vanuatu once our crew is less dependent. Longer-term aspiration is to circumnavigate the globe.


11. What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?

Bryce:  How do you decide your cruising plans?  Initially, I went about planning like I had in business.  i.e. make a plan and then do it!  This lifestyle is not suited to that approach and just provides endless frustration! Instead of plans, we now talk about options until we quite close to being able to actually do something. 

Alissa: How would you recommend that someone prepares to cruise?  We both joined Hoofers Sailing Club in Madison, WI (Me as a complete rookie, Bryce as an already excellent sailor just looking for more experience) which was a great place to learn. We were able to make mistakes on a boat that wasn’t our own! We also went to a couple of boatshows and attended some really informative lectures there and we read alot of books and blogs. In preparing for cruising again, given that we were coming from a place where (apart from sailing) our knowledge base was zero, I would’ve liked to take more hands-on intensive courses on a couple of the trickier topics, like engines repair, plumbing and electrical systems. We’ve learnt alot but some of it was probably the hard way! 

-----
Thanks for reading our interview! Be sure to check interviews with other cruisers on Newly Salted and Interview with a Cruiser!



Posted on Friday, June 30, 2017 by  and tagged   |  

Muskoka at 11 months

Welcome Muskoka to the ranks of the Newly Salted!
---

Hello, we are Laurie and Scott, a Canadian couple from Vancouver Island, Canada. We are cruising on S/V Muskoka, a 2013 Lagoon 400 S2 catamaran. We left Parksville, BC July 21, 2016, so have been out for almost a year. We have cruised down the west coast, joined the Baja Ha-Ha to Cabo San Lucas and then entered the Sea of Cortez in November, which we have explored extensively, including the North Sea with it's extreme tides and fast currents. We are presently in San Carlos during hurricane season and will explore the Mexican mainland next season with plans to cross to the Marquesas March of 2018. Our long term plans are a circumnavigation at a very leisurely pace of 10 years (9 to go!). We can be contacted on our YouTube channel "Off the Starboard Hull" or Facebook .

Tell me your favourite thing about your boat.

Space, room to move, comfort. We have 620 square feet of living space with plenty of storage. Since we both have sold our houses with no storage, we carry everything we own. When sailing, we only heel a maximum of 5 degrees so we do not have to tie things down. There is occasional "hobby horsing" with large swell with short intervals between waves, but generally, the comfort level is high. The washer/spin dryer is a close second.

Tell me your least favourite thing about your boat. 

The cost. As we bought our boat new 3 years ago, the initial investment including taxes and transport was huge. However, return on investment for this type of boat on resale is expected to be good.

What do you enjoy about cruising that you didn't expect to enjoy? 

The people. Fellow cruisers are unfailingly friendly but the warmth, helpfulness and kindness of the Mexican people surprised us. We have had a stereo system and air conditioning installed and bottom painted in La Paz. In all cases, the work was clean, high quality and timely. Early payment and tips were discouraged and the pleasant disposition of these people was universal in all instances. Even an encounter with the police when a one way street sign was missed was handled politely with a "precaution", the officer had only the intent to inform, not reprimand.

What did you dislike about cruising that surprised you? 

Humidity, bugs, poor or absent internet. We were not so surprised about the heat as much as the humidity. There is a good reason that a siesta is observed here mid day. Air conditioning on the dock and a pleasant wind at anchor are both welcome. Biting insects are present in some anchorages with the surprise presence of bees seeking fresh water in others. The Sea of Cortez has intermittent internet at best with a total lack of cell service in the northwest part of the Sea. Posting our video blogs became impossible for months at a time.

How did you gain offshore experience prior to leaving? 

VICE. We are members of the Bluewater Cruising Association with chapters in Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo and Calgary. This included a group called Fleet, people with the intention of leaving to go offshore within 2 years. They meet twice a month with informative topics, presentations and courses presented by Doners - those that have already been offshore. One event was called VICE - Vancouver Island Cruising Experience. It is an organized yearly event in June (longest days of the year) with 5 boats in 2016 which headed out from Victoria BC to sail 2 days out into the Pacific Ocean and then return. It was an invaluable experience in getting used to the Pacific Ocean swells, experimenting with crew, a watch schedule and seasickness remedies.

What type of watch schedule do you normally use while offshore? 

4-5 hour shifts at night. Since we prefer to sail without crew, we have developed a schedule that works for the two of us. However, the longest passage that we have done so far is 3 nights, so on longer passages, we may switch it up. We find 3 hour shifts do not allow enough quality sleep time. After dinner, Scott takes a shift until midnight while Laurie takes a nap. Then Laurie takes charge until 4-5 am. During the day, Scott is usually in charge unless he asks Laurie to take over, as needed.

What are your impressions of the cruising community? 

Very social. We have found  the cruising community to be friendly, fun, active, inclusive and helpful. We were surprised to have a very active social life with dinners, hikes, runs, walks, workouts, bike rides and shopping expeditions with other like minded cruisers. We spent the majority of our time in the Sea of Cortez with 1-2 buddy boats - a great way to share our experience.

What is the hardest thing about cruising? 

Relationship 24/7. The most challenging thing about the cruising lifestyle is being in relatively close quarters with your partner 24 hours a day. When we are at anchor, getting off the boat requires a Dinghy, SUP or Hobie ride (or in warmer waters, a swim) to shore. When at the dock, it is easier to leave to do separate activities or errands. Laurie runs every morning - a great way to explore the area and get much needed exercise. Scott immerses himself with boat projects. We have an extensive library of books on our ereaders. At night, movies and games are a welcome distraction. With a larger boat, sometimes we do not see each other for several hours. Patience, tolerance, positive communication, quickly forgiving and forgetting any heated words and being grateful for the precious moments we share helps keep things at an even keel.

What is the next piece of gear you would add for free? 

Parasailor. However, at $10,000, this easy to use downwind sail with a vent is not one we have chosen to purchase yet.

What are the most common misconceptions about catamarans? 

Point of sail into weather and dock availability. We are commonly asked if we need to take a wider tack into weather compared to our monohull counterparts. In our experience, if the wind is over 10 knots, we can match most other boats at 38-39 degrees into the wind without losing speed. However, with light winds, performance suffers. Our boat is heavily loaded (35,000 pounds) so acceleration is not as snappy as when she was unloaded. For our trip so far, we have had absolutely no trouble finding dock space and only have prebooked once - for Marina La Paz. Most of the time we are charged only for our length as shallower areas, end ties and side ties are the best spots for a catamaran. At most, we were charged 1.5 times a monohull, but that was only once on our trip. Another note, the increased cost of a catamaran is largely compensated by the high resale value which is a great return on our investment. It is definitely the right choice for us.
Posted on Wednesday, June 28, 2017 by  and tagged   |  

Mata Hari at 5 months

Welcome Mata Hari to the ranks of the Newly Salted! Read this interview as originally posted on their blog.
---
We’ve been invited to take part in Newly Salted, a series of interviews with new cruisers that we enjoyed reading as we were getting ready to embark on our own adventure. So fun to be included! For those of you who don’t know us, here’s a little introduction:
We’re Monica and Rich and we live on our 39-foot sailboat Mata Hari. We lived aboard in New York City for three and a half years before sailing down the ICW to Savannah, Georgia, where we worked and saved for another year before sailing down to the Bahamas. We also did a transatlantic crossing on a friend’s boat a few summers ago. That was an adventure! Currently, we’re back in Savannah, Georgia, after five months of cruising in Florida and the Bahamas. It’s time to find jobs and refill the cruising kitty! At the moment, it’s looking like we’ll head north to New York City.
The view from the lighthouse in Hope Town, Abacos
What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
I know this has been said before, but it bears repeating: It’s not all umbrella drinks and sunshine! There are going to be those days where you’re stuck on the boat with rain and 30-knot winds. And it might not just be one day, but six or seven days in a row. I envisioned us hopping from island to island every few days and, at least in the Bahamas, it didn’t always work out that way. So plan accordingly! Bring lots of reading material and put movies and TV shows on your hard drive before you go (this last part was something we failed to do and I will definitely be working on stockpiling things to watch next time). On the plus side, we read tons of books, something we rarely had time to do back on land.
As you started cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?
Since we lived aboard for four years before we left, and made our way down the U.S. coast in stages, adjusting to cruising wasn’t all that hard for us. We did miss our family and friends, but we were able to keep in touch with phone and texts. It helped that a couple of friends came to visit! However, after a couple of months of rum drinks and beautiful beaches we did start to get antsy and feel weird about not having jobs and that sense of purpose and needing to be someplace every day. I also didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get enough exercise. When the wind is howling, it can be challenging to go ashore for a walk or do yoga or paddleboard. I know, our life is really rough, isn’t it??!!
Paddleboarding at Saddleback Cay, just before a run-in with three lemon sharks
What mistakes did you make as you started cruising?
We did run aground just as we were leaving Savannah and were really worried that we’d damaged our keel, but fortunately it was in soft mud and everything was fine. We also broke off our throttle lever in Florida, which was an excellent introduction to the concept of cruising being just fixing your boat in exotic locations. It was a very expensive oops! Of course we broke the lever on a Friday, so even with rush shipping, we still didn’t get the part until the following Wednesday. All of this meant we meant we spent a lot of time at a marina that we weren’t planning on being at racking up slip fees and wishing we were on our way to the Bahamas.
Also, we might’ve overdone it on the canned goods when we provisioned. We tried to strike a balance between bringing enough for a few months and buying fresh produce when we arrived. Overall, we did pretty well, but we still have some canned stuff that I’m frankly getting a little sick of. Next time, we’ll know better. I also planned to bake bread and pizza and bought a lot of flour, but I didn’t use as much as I thought I would. My pizza and bread game frankly isn’t great, but I’m working on it. Hoping to give this recipe from the New York Times that a cruiser friend shared with us a try soon. On the plus side, we did use the masa we brought for making corn tortillas. Homemade tortillas are surprisingly easy to make and delicious, especially when you’re making fish tacos with the mahi your husband just caught. Yum!
 What do you find the most exciting about your cruising life?
The sheer delight of sailing your boat to another country will never get old. I also really enjoyed meeting locals and learning about the Bahamian culture and getting to know some of our fellow cruisers. Actually getting ourselves to the Bahamas after nearly five years of working on the boat and planning was the culmination of a lot of dreaming and it still blows my mind that we actually did it!
Also, the color of the water in the Bahamas is legendary for a reason. We couldn’t get enough of that bluer than blue water that you could see to the bottom of as if you were in a swimming pool. Looking at pictures now, I’m still amazed! Snorkeling was also pretty fantastic with that incredible visibility. After a lot of time at the dock back in New York, getting to play on our stand-up paddleboard and our kayak was a blast.
Mata Hari at anchor off Shroud Cay in the Exumas
What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?
We loved all the beautiful beaches, but you can get beautiful beach overload. It shouldn’t come as that much of a shock to me because I’m a total city person, but at times I needed a break from nature in the Bahamas. Don’t get me wrong, I loved our time in the Bahamas, but I’m also looking forward to sailing further south and visiting countries with more to do onshore. Rich loves cities and wilderness, but he’s a big nature boy. We always say that he could win Survivor if he was a contestant. Seriously, he’s the guy you want with you on that desert island.
What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn’t find to be true?
We’d heard that the cruising community is one big happy family, but we definitely didn’t become instant friends with everyone we met. Then again, we don’t get along with everyone back home so why should that be any different out there?
Also, everyone told us that food was crazy expensive in the Bahamas, which for the most part was true, but Bahamians gotta eat too! Some things, such as American packaged foods like crackers and tortilla chips were a luxury we rarely indulged in at three times the price back home, but produce and eggs were often only slightly more than we were used to paying or sometimes less. Everyone says pack for the apocalypse and while you do pay a premium for the imported goods in the Bahamas, the truth is you’re going to want to eat fresh stuff when it’s available and we were willing to pay a little bit more for it when we could get our hands on it. Next time, we’ll pack lighter.
What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?
The cruising community is made up of people who’ve got your back when the going gets tough. For the most part, we found this to be true. A friend we’d met back in Savannah, Georgia, where we spent a year working after leaving New York, gave us a kayak when we ran into him in Miami. Just like in small-town America where you can knock on your neighbor’s door and borrow a cup of sugar, we were able to get on the VHF and borrow a couple of eggs from a friend when we ran out while waiting out some weather. Friends with a watermaker (something we don’t have) insisted on filling our jerry cans for us when they were making water for themselves. It was also nice to be able to give back too. Rich had a lot of tools on the boat and was able to repair someone else’s rudder, allowing him to safely complete a passage. He also had the knowledge to explain to another cruiser how to nurse his sickly engine well enough to get home.
Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting out?
A dog! I know that probably sounds crazy, but we had a dog before we started out on this adventure and we’re getting to the point where we really want another four-legged friend in our lives. Maybe not right now, but one day soon we’re hoping to adopt one. I know that opens up a whole new host of issues, but we’ll figure it all out when the time comes.
Meanwhile, I really wish we had a bimini. We had one when we bought the boat, but Rich gave it to a neighbor. We were planning on installing a solar arch before we left, but ran out of time and money. That shade would have been mighty nice for the tail end of our trip when we were crossing back to Florida and basically sitting in the cockpit sweating off all of our sunscreen. We wound up resorting to using umbrellas to keep cool! A solar arch and solar panels would also have been nice for off-the-grid living, but we did just fine charging our battery bank the old-fashioned way (running our engine every few days). I guess that’s the advantage of not having a lot of fancy systems on board. We mainly needed to keep the refrigerator cold, our anchor light on at night, and charge our iPads and computer, so our energy needs were pretty small.
On the plus side, our new Beta 38 engine is the best piece of gear we’ve invested in. Rich installed it himself before we left New York and I couldn’t be prouder of him. The peace of mind of hearing that engine fire up every time we’ve needed it was worth all the money (and blood, sweat—mostly Rich’s!—and tears—mine!).
Oh, and the refrigerator and freezer he built was worth its weight in gold. To have fresh food and ice in our drinks made being in paradise that much sweeter.
We also love the nesting dinghy Rich built. It’s pretty and practical. The smaller piece “nests” inside the bigger piece for easy stowing on the foredeck.
Rich manning our dinghy
What piece(s) of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?
Maybe our sewing machine. We have a Sailirite and love it, but we didn’t really need it at any point in the trip. Otherwise, we don’t really have a ton of gear on our boat. We also had a lot of spare parts and materials, which we were fortunate enough not to have needed, though they did take up a lot of room. To paraphrase Clarence in True Romance, it’s better to have spares and not need them than need them and not have them.
What are your plans now? If they do not include cruising, tell us why.
We’re not independently wealthy so we’re heading back to New York City to find jobs. We’d like to get to the Caribbean next fall, but we will probably need to work a while to make enough money for another trip. I thought I wouldn’t like this part, but strangely, now that it’s happening I’m okay with breaking up our cruising into smaller bites. I love cruising but I also love being back on land in the city. It’s all about the contrasts!
What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I’ve asked you and how would you answer it?
I’m always curious about how people fund their adventures. 
The answer to that question for us is simple: We work and save. But I’m always looking for a better way to do that, especially one that we can use to keep us out there longer. I write and edit books on a freelance basis, which I’m working on making a more viable means of supporting us while we’re out there next time. I did a few projects while we were in the Bahamas, but the Internet connectivity was too iffy at times for me to be able to reliably commit the whole time we were there. In addition to being an amazing sailor, Rich is a designer, but also pretty handy with everything from carpentry to diesel mechanics. For next time, we’re contemplating the possibility of stopping somewhere along the way down south where we can legally work and getting jobs to refill the cruising kitty. Working while you’re cruising seems to be a controversial topic for some, but we’d rather work while we’re out there than not go at all. Of course, there’s always the lottery!
Posted on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 by  and tagged   |