Sailing and Yachting Advice

shipwreck Bahamas

Don’t worry, we won’t end up like this if we don’t take every piece of advice given.

If you’re a member of Facebook, chances are, you’re probably part of one of the million and one subgroups about sailing. I know I’m in at least six of them. I love these groups, they can be a wealth of information.  Any question you have about sailing or cruising, just post it in one of these groups and you will most likely have 10 responses within an hour. I’ve used them to ask questions in areas I’m not particularly knowledgeable about, or even go the opposite direction and dispense the knowledge I do have to others asking questions.

Any time I post a question in one of these groups I am extremely grateful to anyone who replies. I take into consideration any information given to me, even if my broad question provides answers that don’t apply to my situation personally. So if you have seen me in these groups and helped me out with a problem, or hell, even just liked the comment; thank you very much for taking the time from your schedule to lend me a hand or acknowledge that I need a little help.

With that being said though, there is one thing that sometimes happens while I’m reading the responses that will immediately raise my blood pressure and leave me wishing for a squishy ball to squeeze the hell out of.  It’s when people give advice as if it’s an absolute. As if it is either the only solution to my problem, or they know me so well that of course their answer is going to apply to me and my life.  Well guess what?  Advice is just that. Advice. And because it may work well for one person or even large groups, it does not mean it will apply to everyone.

I’ve never been one that likes being told what to do, so when I’ve gotten out of my 9-5 world and into something a little more freeing and without the same conformity, I DON’T like someone telling me ‘This is how it’s going to be’. I guess this makes me an outlier among outliers. I will fully admit that Matt and I are not your typical cruisers.  On average we’re 30 years younger, live on quite a different budget, and view different things as necessities.

Let me enlighten you with a few ‘helpful’ statements I’ve been given…and why they just don’t work for me. Plus, they’re all things I’ve heard multiple times.  The first one or even two times, yeah, I can let it go.  Although somewhere around the third or fourth time my eye will start twitching. And keep in mind, in the manner they were given, these were not suggestions.

  • People eat everywhere in the world.  Don’t waste your time and storage fully stocking up with provisions in the US.  Instead, buy your food in the Bahamas and support the local economy.

While I won’t argue with this statement itself, I will only say that it unfortunately doesn’t always fit into our lifestyle.  Provisions in the Bahamas are usually at least 50% more expensive than in the US.  We’re 34.  We don’t have a full retirement fund, social security, or pension.  While the idea is great, we have to be realistic.  And while we love to support the community when we can (like the fish fry we went to in Long Island), we can’t just shell out money like that.  Truth is, most cruisers out there don’t.  But the pretentious attitude of those that try to push it on others just irritates me.

  • Don’t even bother bringing dresses or anything fancy with you.  I can promise you will NEVER use them.

I may have left the city behind when we stepped foot on our boat to sail away in 2012, but I still like my fair share of glitz.  Are fancy dresses necessary in this lifestyle?  Absolutely not.  But I still like putting them on every once in awhile, even if it’s just to wander through the dirt roads of Belize.  I’ve actually recently come to the realization that I spent too much time in our first round of cruising in jean shorts and t-shirts because I thought I had to.  I miss dresses.  And you’ll be seeing me in them a lot more our second time out.  (Heels though?  No.  You’ll still always find me in sandals or flats).

  • You have to listen to Chris Parker before you plan on making any passages in the Caribbean.

Sorry, nothing against you Chris Parker, but I have never listened to a broadcast. It’s on waaaay to early in the morning for me, and I’ve had zero issues with other forecasting routes.  Passage Weather has always been our go-to when we have internet, showing me what’s going on in any particular area of the world. And those combined 11 weeks we spent out in the Atlantic were handled just fine using Weather Fax through our SSB.

  • You have to have cabinets in your salon to maximize storage.

Ok, maybe I haven’t heard this one yet, but I know it’s coming.  Because it suits us and our style better, we’ve decided to forego wall cabinets in our salon, and we’ll be fully relying on storage under the settee.  But because of the pilot house aspect of our new boat, we now have more storage than we know what do do with, and we like the clean lines of keeping our salon walls bare instead of putting up cabinets to gain a little extra storage.  It may not be typical or even sensible as far as maximizing boat space, but we like it.  Besides, this is our boat, and we’ll arrange it to how it suits us best.

 

Now I don’t want everyone to freak out and never give me advice or tips again.  As I’ve said, I LOVE the help and ideas I get from these Facebook groups.  And if you’re thinking to yourself “I hope it wasn’t when I told her she should do XX or YY that pissed her off”.  No, chances are extremely slim that any of these comments came from anyone who even follows this blog.  You’ve all been so valuable and I’m so happy to hear your thoughts and advice.

But I have to know…am I alone here?  Has anyone else had cases of where they were given a piece of advice as if they had no choice in the matter but to accept it?  I’d love to hear the ‘absolute’ advice that didn’t fit into your lifestyle.

 

 

Yachting : Stuck in Marina Rubicon

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

It turns out there is a reason people don’t stay anchored in Isla de Lobos long, and the swell we kept hearing about decided to rear it’s nasty little head after 2 nights of staying there.  Only 3 miles away was our now favorite spot of Playa de Papagayo, and we were not sad at all to have to spend just a few hours getting back there.

It wasn’t hard spending our days laying out at the beach, and our evenings in the cockpit with a glass of wine, watching the volcanic rocks turn red around us.  We were still a few days away from being able to move ourselves to Gran Canaria when the ARC left, we didn’t want to be around there with that mass of boats, but it turns out we did have to move ourselves regardless of if we wanted to.

With a heavy storm on it’s way and our boat about to be pinned against a lee shore, we had no other option but to move ourselves to the fancy Marina Rubicon.  It’s kind of funny.  I remember not liking it a ton when we were originally there, maybe it was just being forced back into a marina when all we wanted to do was be at anchor; but now that I look back on it, it was a beautiful place to be!

 

Besteaver 18 in Marina Rubicon

Although we could have stayed in the Papagayo Peninsula forever, or at least until the madness that is the ARC leaves Las Palmas and we can move ourselves there, mother nature seemed to have other plans in mind. On Wednesday morning we were commenting how the wind was coming out of the south and kicking up a bit of swell, making things on Serendipity just a bit more uncomfortable than they had been even the few previous days. It became a bit of a game through the morning, to see how much we could tolerate. The only other option other than to put up with it would be to move ourselves to a marina and we were on a kick to see if we could go our whole time in the Canaries without having to enter one.

We were enjoying our second cup of coffee out in the cockpit, watching the waves coming our way starting to form cresting white tops, and both of us knew the game would be coming to an end as this was not only becoming unbearable, but possibly dangerous to stay. Calling Marina Rubicon on the VHF we asked if there were open slips and told them we were on our way and to expect us shortly. As Matt made his way up to the bow to raise the anchor it was diving in and out of the waves and splashing water all over him as I had to rev up the rpms just to get us moving far enough forward to bring it up. When I finally got the hand signal that I could start making my way to the marina I looked at the instruments in time to see the wind gusting over 40. Fully exposed to this as we were, we were grateful that we didn’t wait any longer than we had to try and get out of there.

Navigating the narrow entrance to the marina with waves now rolling on every side of us, we tucked into a slip just in time to watch the sky grow completely black and the winds really take off. Rains bucketed down and I had the satisfaction of enjoying this tremendous storm from somewhere safe now. When conditions settled down a little later we found our way up to the grocery store, something we were going to have to come to this side of town for in the next few days anyway, and stocked Serendipity back up with breads, meats, and even some cheap wine and sangria. For the rest of the night we let the rain rocket outside while the pressure dropped significantly, as we sat calmly at the dock enjoying a nice dinner and the use of internet. Hot showers followed which was almost, almost, worth the trip into the marina itself.

Conditions were not expected to improve the following day, in fact there were signs posted everywhere about the low pressure system moving through the area and mariners should take caution and put extra lines and fenders out to protect from possible damage. One night at the marina turned into two, and although we tried to enjoy our easy access to land again, nothing but dark skies and rain followed for another day, forcing us to sit on the boat, computers on lap, glasses full of sangria. Well, for me anyway.

Marina Rubicon, Lanzarote

storm over Marina Rubicon

Today the clouds finally broke lose and let the sun out again. Being the guests who stay just until the moment of check-out, we used our morning for a nice leisurely walk back to the grocery store to stuff our bags with everything we couldn’t the day before, and take one last hot shower. It is a little sad that bad weather had to force us in here as the grounds actually look very nice for when you can get out and enjoy them. There’s a nice pool surrounded by lounge chairs, an outside market set up two days a week, and a lovely path that runs from the marina almost all the way to where we had been previously anchored. The marina is in fact set in a community, full of white washed condos and apartments, which is probably why the cost to stay here is twice as high as any marina we found in Portugal (or that you can find in the rest of the Canaries, so we hear).

We tried to get as much out of our sunny morning as we could, wandering all the paths and looking at the much more expensive and better kept yachts on the far side of the marina. Matt even found a Besteaver sitting in one of the slips. A certain type of aluminum boat that he’s been drooling over for a few years now. And not only that, but it happened to be the same exact one that he has multiple photos of downloaded to his computer, of this particular boat floating through icebergs in the Arctic. I think these photos are meant to show me what our aluminum boat might be capable of, although I still have little to no desire to see ice floating by me from the deck of my own boat. Stick me on ’18′ as crew or charter for a few weeks on a trip to the Arctic  though and that’s something I might be able to get into.

Marina Rubicon, Lanzarote

Besteaver 18

paths around Marina Rubicon

paths around Marina Rubicon

 

Making your sailing dreams a reality – the key is not to dream but to do!

My husband, Simon, and I spent over ten years dreaming about the type of boat we’d get and what we wanted to do with it.

Our plan was to win the lottery, buy a new Oyster 56’ or Oyster 62’ Yacht (type of sailboat made in England) and sail around the world.

In preparation for our lottery win, we’d read sailing magazines, go to boat shows, attend private Oyster boat showings, and once a year we’d even charter a sailboat and spend a week of bliss sailing the Mediterranean or Caribbean.

Sailing around the British Virgin Islands

Sunset from Sopers Hole, Tortola, British Virgin Islands, Caribbean

We’d often say, ‘when we have our Oyster built we’ll make sure to have this or that feature…’

At night, in bed, we’d visualize taking our boat out of the marina and sailing it into the sunset heading for 360 degrees of beautiful blue ocean. We wanted the sun-soaked-salt-laced wind in our hair, the sound of the hull slicing through the waves, the feeling of freedom at our disposal.

And then one day it dawned on us that we might not win the lottery.

I said to Simon, ‘imagine if you hit 90 and I’m 80 and we didn’t live our dream?’

We held on so tightly to the concept that we had to win the lottery that we failed to consider other options. We failed to consider buying a used boat. We failed to think about perhaps buying a boat, other than an Oyster 56’ / Oyster 62’, to practice with until our lottery win arrived. (yes – I admit that we were still banking on a lottery payout at this point…)

Out of frustration, I told my husband, ‘we need to either shit or get off the pot.’ I was tired of dreaming…I wanted to make my sailing dreams a reality.

We decided to research some low cost but quality used sailboats. Until asking that question, we only ever focused on buying the $1.5 million yacht with our future lottery winnings. I wondered if it was possible for a ‘normal’ couple to find an affordable boat so that we could at least start to practice for our around the world trip. (I put ‘normal’ in quotes because from what I’ve been told, we’re anything but normal – hahahaha).

One thing led to another and after researching quality older boats, Simon went on Ebay and found a 1980’s 35’ Moody sailboat priced to be sold. The boat was located in Scotland and at the time we were living in England. Simon flew up to Scotland, rented a car and inspected the boat prior to having a professional survey conducted.

Things flowed, a final price was negotiated and plans were made to move the boat from Scotland down to the south coast of England.

A month later, Simon flew back to Scotland, picked up a professional skipper and sailed the boat down. The duo got stormbound in Ireland and had to leave the boat there for a few weeks but eventually they got her to a marina in Port Solent near Portsmouth, England. Looking back, sailing Selene down to England was one of the highlights of my husband’s life. It was scary but also exhilarating.

Apparently, the boat started to fill with water when they left Scotland. Simon puked because he thought, ‘Oh no, I’ve bought a boat that’s about to sink.’ When the leak was found it was from the fresh water tank. A hose clamp simply came lose and the problem was quickly remedied.

When our new boat, Selene, came into the marina I felt a mixture of nerves and excitement.

Our frustration didn’t lead to getting the boat of our dreams but it did lead to getting a boat.

Interestingly, I quickly realized that it’s not the boat that makes the dream come true, although that can be part of it… What’s important is what you do with the boat that really matters.

At first I discovered the transition from being WAY outside my comfort zone to feeling comfortable with boat handling and sailing skills (rising to a challenge and succeeding) to be monumentally fulfilling. I was a grown woman – I didn’t want to go out and learn something new. What if I failed? What if I messed up? Expanding my comfort zone actually made me come alive.

And then there are the countless sunsets my family and I enjoyed while sitting in the cockpit looking out into the sea. There are the memories of week-long trips from one seaside town to another.

There’s the time that I told Simon we’d be able to go west even though we’d have to sail against the tide. Simon disagreed that we’d be able to make progress. For over four hours we stayed in the exact same spot despite having 20 knots of wind sailing us at over 5 knots. Note: Don’t mess with the tides around the UK!

It’s also the stories about learning how to cope in emergency situations – we took on lots of water once and were effectively sinking…we also had our engine cut out (ran over a lose fishing net) in the middle of a massively busy shipping and small craft lane. During both emergencies we handled the situation well and grew in confidence.

Our first boat, Selene, provided us with so many magical moments and learning experiences.

Another memory that will never fade is when I took a friend of mine, and his 12-year-old daughter, out for sail. There happened to be a famous race going on – it’s where loads of sailboats race around the Isle of White, a small island off the south coast of England. Well…I thought it would be cool to sail near the island to watch the race. Low and behold, as the boats came around the island I was right in the middle of the race path.

We quickly got out of the path but it was as if we were all alone one minute and the next we were surrounded by large and small sailboats. It was my first taste of racing and part of me enjoyed the commotion!

After we safely navigated away from the race, my friend and I were complacently lazing about in the cockpit feeling proud that we took the boat out and avoided a potential disaster with the racers. And then out of nowhere this massive gust of wind filled our sails, we both jumped up to fight the steering wheel and lost – the boat rounded up!

Our hubris got us in trouble.

From there on out, we stood attentive and made sure both hands were on the wheel. I’m sure that any onlookers would have loved to have seen our reactions. We looked so calm and confident. I suppose we were trying to feel what it’s like to be ‘real’ sailors.

Anyway, that gust of wind got us on our toes faster than a lightening bolt!

Selene also provided us with an opportunity to truly determine what was necessary for our future boat and what we definitely didn’t want. A good example of this includes Simon being 6’2” – he couldn’t standup straight anywhere in the boat. After gaining a bad back and a crick in his neck during long stays on Selene, we made a mental note that our next boat had to be high enough for him to stand!

Less than three years later we obtained our Oyster 56’

No…we didn’t win the lottery. And, no…we didn’t get a new Oyster. We managed to buy a priced to sell used Oyster. After discovering that the boat wasn’t the be all and end all we decided we could settle for an older boat. And considering how much new boats devalue after you drive them out of the marina, I’m not sure I’d ever buy a new one!

Furthermore, we gave up on waiting for our lottery win.

We loved sailing Selene so much that we decided to sell our house, our car, our possessions and buy the best boat we could afford. The plan was to sail around the world.

So far, we’ve circumnavigated the Mediterranean, crossed the Atlantic Ocean, sailed up the Caribbean and are now on the east coast of America. It might take use 5 years or 20 years to get around the world, but so far, so good.

We found a way to purchase our dream boat, we’re living our dream of sailing around the world and slowly, we’re figuring out how to make the money necessary to keep going.

I truly believe that the Universe supports you when you decided to get off the pot rather than sitting on it. It hasn’t been easy for us but for some reason after five years of giving our dream a go, we’re still going!

Morals of the story

  • The boat is a big issue and it’s important to get one you like but it’s not the whole package. Also, don’t make the dream boat your first step towards living the sailing dream.
  • Don’t be a dreamer, consider what you can do now to be a do-er. You don’t want to hit the age of 80 and look back thinking, ‘Maaannnnnn, I didn’t even attempt to live my dream.’
  • Don’t rely on the lottery…I think your chances of getting struck by lightening are higher. Furthermore, it can keep you stuck.

 

Yachting and Sailing boat repairs – Prepping for Paint

It never fails that as soon as we get a few walls new up, and I get excited and gung-ho to get a  nice white coat of paint on them, only to find that project is going to be pushed back about a week for other things first.  Not only that, it’s usually for one of my least favorite projects on earth.  Using filler, and then sanding that filler down.

For all of our areas that are not overhead panels, basically meaning the ceiling, we would like them permanently fixed in the corners instead of solely using trim, and so we’v been stuffing them with an epoxy filler which then gets sanded down smooth.  And who gets to sand down these areas with peaks so hard and sharp they’ll slice open your finger if your hand skips off the sandpaper?  Ding ding ding, this girl here!

Ok, so this round in the pilot house wasn’t so bad because I was able to use  the palm sander for a good portion of it, and there were only a few corners that needed to be done by hand.  A Sharpie wrapped in sandpaper helped to do the trick in those areas, and for once I was left asking, “That was it?”.

Remember last fall when I had the horrible task of sanding all the seams inside the head?  At least these areas, for the most part, are a little easier to reach.

Taking the palm sander to the remaining boards to smooth down the surface for the initial priming, the job actually went by pretty quickly.  Sure there was another day added so we could go through and add a second filler that had better sanding qualities, covering the screw holes and any seams that may have had indents from the first round.  After about three days, I was let loose with my paint brush.

7.30.16 (1)

7.30.16 (2)

7.30.16 (3)

7.30.16 (4)

It was a long day, but I was able to get two coats of primer on all these boards in one work day.  Notice I say ‘work day’ because I will still throw in the towel at 5 pm even there is plenty of daylight left for working later.  I would say the next day where I did a hand sanding, as to not take of everything I’d just done with the palm sander, as well as put a coat of paint on a good day too, but I was suffering a massive wine hangover.  A side story that will be saved for a later post, but Will and Cat from Monday Never met up with us at the patio while they got ready to sell their boat Paradox, and after the few glasses of wine that Cat and I had, combined with the insufferable heat, and we both had headaches until 5 pm the next day.

In any sense, I kept pushing past the fact that I thought my skull was going to rip out of my head, because I was determined to get an actual coat of paint on that day.  The hand sanding took me from breakfast until a late lunch, and the painting was much easier.  Our semi-gloss Valspar just glides right on, although I do have to be careful about my brush strokes.

All this work did take me about an hour past my quitting time, but it was completely worth it.  Look at the difference it’s made in this space.  Pretty soon we’ll have the walls up on the port side as well, and once I’m forced to go through the hassle of filler and sanding once more, those too will be painted.

Gahhhh, I’m so excited to see how all this is coming together!

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7.30.16 (7)

 

Preparing our boat for a hurricane!

Let’s start the day before a hurricane was due to hit our area. We had a berth at Charleston Harbor Marina in South Carolina… (video at the end of the article)

While walking from our sailboat to the main dock this morning I appreciated the placid water and light pink skies growing from the east. Normally I’d smile and think how absolutely beautiful our surroundings are. I’d watch the variety of birds fly about, make a note of how high the tide is and keep an eye out for passing crabs on the dock. I’d smell the salty sea air and notice the ever so light warm southern breeze.

Today, however my feelings are different. Today I have one thing taking over my mind and it’s the big storm that’s currently making it’s way towards us on the east coast of America.

Preparing our boat for a hurricane

Forecasts predict the Category 1 hurricane to hit us tomorrow around 3pm

Lost in my thoughts, I approached the main dock and Butch, the night watchman, yelled out, ‘Miss Kim, did you hear that the storm has been upgraded?’ I walked up to Butch and we discussed the impending storm. Butch then recounted a doozie that hit years back. It wasn’t forecasted to be a bad one but it turned into a hurricane just as it approached our current home, The Charleston Harbor Marina in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

Butch explained that he got caught out on the jetty tying boats down in 80 mph winds.

“Yikes!” I replied, demonstrating a face of slight terror when his full story was told

We parted ways just after wishing each other well. Butch explained that he’d be on hand the night of the storm and to give him a call if we have any problems.

Ironically I created a 5-Page Hurricane Preparedness Checklist a few days ago (get it FREE by clicking on the link). After spending a couple days collecting information from my insurance provider and reading information from those that have made it through a hurricane, I came to a scary conclusion.

If a very bad hurricane hits (Cat 3 or higher), no matter where the boat is, the chances of it making it out are very slim

So, regardless of being in a marina, anchored or stored onshore in ‘normal’ storage, a hurricane is more than likely going to destroy a boat.

Needless to say, we’ve confirmed with our insurance provider what our hurricane coverage is (to ensure we were totally covered!) and we’re spending the day preparing for the worst.

Today my husband, Simon, and I will take down our bimini and sprayhood – the canvas structures that provide us protection from the sun, wind and sea. We have solar panels that zip into the top of our bimini, or sun roof, so we can unzip them, unplug the electronics and also store them below decks.

Preparing our boat for a hurricane

Additionally, we’ve purchased 25’ of dock fender to protect the side of the boat

Instead of just having our fenders dangle down from the boat, we’ll put the bulk of the dock fender on the dock to ensure if the fenders pop up in the storm the boat is still protected. We’ll also put as many warps, or ropes, from the boat to the dock as possible. Furthermore, we’ll position the boat considering where the brunt of the wind and waves will be coming from.

It’s expected that the strong winds will be coming from the southeast and the winds will hit our stern pushing our port (left) side of the boat off the dock but the bow into the front jetty. Simon and I will pull the boat back a bit giving us more breathing room for the bow to move forward without the possibility of it hitting.

So…that’s the plan so far.

After all our preparation was done all we could do is sit and wait for the hurricane to hit…

Simon, our daughter and I all woke up around 8:30 in the morning. The sky was dull, there was a bit of wind and the sky was darker than normal.

Not having a brilliant internet connection on the boat, Simon walked over to the marina office to get the latest report. Upon his return we discovered that the Tropical Storm was upgraded to a Category 1 Hurricane. Later, during the day, the storm was downgraded so that when it hit us it was officially a Tropical Storm. Her name was Hermine.

Preparing our boat for a hurricane

Our neighbours making sure their anti chafing work held up!

Until 2pm we thought the storm was rather mild but then the wind increased!

We didn’t have much rain. It was simply blowing consistently. We noticed a few boats that had bimini’s coming off. The screening on the marina wall was being blown away. Additionally, the potion behind us broke apart and it lost electricity. Otherwise, there wasn’t really much to see.

For the most part, when it wasn’t raining, most of us live-aboards were outside talking while checking all our ropes. The boat started to bump up and down quite a bit so being on the pontoon provided a bit of relief – it was steadier. I couldn’t help but feel a bit green with a tinge of seasickness at a few points throughout the day.

When it was raining we tried our best to stay inside!

Simon and I had to pop out to secure a fender that kept popping up and within five seconds of being outside, I was soaked. The rain stung as it hit my face – not because it was cold but because of the speed it was hitting me!

Eventually, the wind died down and all the live-aboards met on the dock swapping stories about what they saw. We all decided to meet the following day for happy hour to celebrate our survival.

Twenty-four hours after the worst of the storm, all the live-aboards were enjoying snacks and drinks on the pontoon under the beautiful sun enjoying the warm breeze. Anyone visiting our dock would have never guessed a tropical storm passed through the day before.

Britican sustained no damage and neither did any of the other live-aboard boats.

Some people lost canvas covers, one boat smashed into the jetty, another split apart a storage box and one boat hit the outboard of the water taxi. Otherwise, I’m not sure there was any other issues within the marina.

We prepared for the storm and our preparations paid off.

If you’re researching about how to best prepare for a hurricane or tropical storm, while in a marina or at anchor, please request my FREE 5-Page Hurricane Guide – Hurricane Preparedness Checklist here!