Cosmetics that Stand Up to the Heat

Friday May 16, 2014

 

Let’s be honest.  Once you move yourself onto a boat where your daily chores consist of scrubbing decks and cleaning the bilge, and extracurricular activities are going for an afternoon swim or a sweaty hike around an island, your old beauty regimen tends to fall by the wayside.  It might be because you know you’re apt to get dirty minutes later, or because no one else will see you besides other cruisers that have also stopped putting the landlubber effort into getting ready, or possibly because you don’t feel a need for it out in nature and you’re happy just to get back to nature.  Face is clean, albeit sunscreened because that is still a must, and hair is pulled back from the face.  It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s what works for most days.

But, if you happen to be like me, there are days that you just want that girly touch back.  Not an all out blow-out of the hair and a pair of strappy black heels, but just a few extra touches to enhance your natural beauty.  (Or a Fancy Cocktail Hour with blown out hair and strappy black heels)  I think all of us women want that from time to time.  But depending on where you’re cruising, even that might be troublesome due to heat and humidity.  Who wants to spend the time making themselves up just to have it sweat off ten minutes later?

Luckily for you, before we began cruising I did a lot of research on products that could stand up to the kind of heat and humidity we’d be living in, or would stay on my face as I played around in the water, and then carefully made purchases through a variety of different brands.  Some are cheap items you can find at any drug store, and a few are a bit more high end.  Now that we’ve traveled through the ridiculous heat of places like Jamaica, Cayman, and Guatemala, I think I have a good idea on how they all hold up to their claims.  And while everything may not be completely waterproof or melt-proof, I mean, I did put them through 90 degree days with 90% humidity, I haven’t been disappointed by any of these products yet.

Aveeno Positively Radiant

 Aveeno Positively Radiant Moisturizer

Purchase through Amazon here

This is my go to moisturizer I use throughout the day, and I love it. It’s very light, non greasy or oily, and it has a key component of having an SPF built right in. That probably would have been enough to sell me on it right there, but there’s also hidden beauty promoters added inside. This moisturizer contains a natural soy complex which works to even out skin tone and blotchiness while using light diffusers to promote radiance. Even though I do also have expensive skin care products, my skin has always had a nice glow when soley using this product, and the fact that it is cheaper, means that I wont hesitate to use it during multiple rounds in and out of the water when I know I’ll be reapplying all day. Don’t let that fool you though, a little bit goes a long way. One of these bottles will last me about a year.

Lancome Lift Volumetry

Lancôme Rénergie Lift Volumetry

Purchase through Amazon here

Ah yes, the aforementioned expensive skin cream. Ok, maybe it doesn’t fall into the category of ‘stands up to heat and humidity’, but I’m including it on this list because of what it lets me do when the sun goes down. Unfortunately, and although I love this lifestyle, I’ve probably done more damage to my skin over the past two years than I have my entire life beforehand. Maybe that’s because I had no friends to go to the beach with in high school and college, but either way, it definitely suffers now. Let me just warn you, this stuff is expensive, but it is also magic. It works to firm the skin and erase fine lines and wrinkles. I used it for about a year before we left and had amazing skin, but then I became lazy as we started to travel more and believe me, certain areas of my skin could tell that I was trying to cheap out on it. Within two weeks of starting my old beauty routine up again though, boom, flawless skin was on it’s way back in. Again, a little bit goes a long way, and personally I think it is well worth the money.

Maybelline Superstay foundation

Maybelline Super Stay Foundation

Purchase through Amazon here

These are a few of my cheap drug store purchases, and while, yes, I could have spent more and went with a department store product that they put on models while shooting in the tropics of Bali, I needed something cheap because foundation and concealer are the base of my beauty routine which means they get used much faster. And in turn empty out my wallet faster. As far as drug store brands go though, I think this is the best you can get. This product claims to flex with your skin so it never feels tight, and it also withstands heat, humidity, and sweat. Does it actually stay on for 24 hours or even a full day of sweating under the blazing sun? No. But it does hold up longer than anything else I’ve tried.

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush

 Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush

Purchase through Amazon here

Tarte, whom I love as a brand for being eco friendly and cruelty free, has a great line of Amazonian clay products that contain a dose of Amazonian clay and are baked in the sun. The result is long lasting, streak free color that pops and lasts all day.  I love the slight gold shimmer in this color (Wonder), which is especially flattering on slightly tanned skin. If you’re looking at the photo you’d probably think that I’d just cracked this blush open last week (and then dropped it causing a chip in the color, that much is true), but let me set you straight. This is my number one blush. If make-up is going on my face, you better believe this blush is accompanying it. I even started using it the few months before we left on this trip. It’s just so packed in pigment that you only need a touch of it.

Tarte Bambeautiful

Tarte Amazonain Clay Eye Shadow Palette

(Purchase through Sephora here)

This eyeshadow quad is made of the same material as the brand’s cheek color, and does the same amazing job of staying on all day long. Just like the blush though, it is extremely high in pigment and you have to be very careful of how much you apply. In the quad shown above, I haven’t even gotten around to using the darkest color yet because I get so much punch with the other three that it’s just not necessary. I would love to learn how to use this kit to get the perfect smokey eye though, something I’ve never been able to perfect in my life. Anyone have any tips for me?

Tarte Amazonian Clay waterproof cream eyeshadow

 Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Cream Eyeshadow

Purchase through Amazon here

Unlike the above mentioned eye colors which only have high staying power, the contents of this little bottle are actually waterproof. I know what you’re thinking, it must be completely thick or waxy to be able to hold up to this claim, but trust me, it’s not. This color glides over your eyes and lasts all day without smudging or creasing. This color goes on light, but can be built up with more applications. For water or land, it’s been a great item to have in my beauty bag.   *Tip:  It works best if you can start with a dry, oil free eyelid.

Sephora waterproof eyeliner

 Sephora Liner 12 HR Wear Waterproof

Purchase through Amazon here

Ok, ok, I know that eyeliner is going just a bit overboard, but I like to wear it.  Honestly, I do.  I actually have four eyeliners aboard between two makeup bags at the moment.  These two however, are the ones I use when the temperature starts to climb.  The description claims that they are resistant to water, heat, and humidity, and trust me, they do.  Not have I only never had a problem with running or smudged eye liner when I’ve personally worn them, but I’ve also read accounts of women wearing this product to the gym and it’s still sitting perfectly on their eye after an hour long sweat session.  I’m sure that eyeliner is probably the last product to make it on to a boat, but if you’re like me and you just can’t live without it, this is the product to use.

Govergirl natureluxe mascara

Covergirl Natureluxe Water Resistant Mascara

Purchase through Amazon here

 You were probably wondering what happened to my drugstore products, thinking I may as well buy you a gift card to Macy’s since that’s the only place you’d be able to get most of these things. Don’t worry, there’s a few more cheapies on the way!

Here’s the thing about waterproof mascaras. They’re terrible for your eyelashes. They might keep them pretty and full for a few hours while you frollick around in the water, but too much use of them and you’ll barely have anything to put that mascara on anymore since they are very drying to lashes. Which is why I love this product from Cover Girl. It’s the lesser of evils in the mascara category for when you’d still like something for those occasions you need full lashes in the water or in the rain (me, me, I’m that girl!), but want to keep the damage to your lashes to a minimum. * Tip: Removing waterproof mascaras with all the extra rubbing and tugging is partially what makes them so bad. For tough eye make-up removal, I am a huge fan of Bi-Facil Double Action Eye Makeup Remover
.

Revlon lip color

Revlon ColorStay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick

Purchase through Amazon here

I’ll be truthful with you, basically any long wear liquid lip color will do it’s job if it’s applied properly.  For me that means starting with absolutely dry lips before applying the product.  Then (and this is the hard part), you have to let them stay completely dry for about five minutes.  It will feel tight and uncomfortable, but this is what lets it really soak in.  After that, apply some of your favorite lip balm to keep you lips moisturized throughout the day.  One of my favorites is Blistex Five Star Lip Protection SPF 30 (a godsend for the lips, I use it all the time).

The reason I choose Revlon Colorstay is that it’s lighter than the other brands, and I love their wide array of flattering colors.  With tiny micas and pearls added they always make my lips look fresh and flirty, with a natural pop of color.  Because of the cheaper price I can stock up on multiple colors, and the fact that it does hold up to it’s claim of 12 hr staying power makes it my must use item when I want a little color on my lips.

 

 

 

What’s in Our Beach Bag?

Saturday May 10, 2014

what's in our beach bag

Now that we’re sitting in Bimini and waiting for a good weather window to cross back over to the Bahamas, we’ve finally had some time where we’re not rushing to be anywhere or trying to dodge bad weather, and have had some time to actually lay out on a beach in the Bahamas.  Crazy concept, I know.

Back in Isla Mujeres we became quite familiar with day trips to the beach and what we wanted packed in our beach bag.  No, we don’t go crazy with big umbrella’s (that’s what the shade of a palm tree is for), or even those little pop up tents (have you seen those things??!!), but we did find there were a few core items that we wanted with us each time.  So, besides the obvious things like sunscreen, sunglasses, and a good book, this is what you’ll find in our beach bag.

 

Our Beach Bag.

Well, we couldn’t really fill our beach bag if we didn’t have one to start with, and this one from Reisenthel has worked out fantastic for us.  It’s the perfect size that it fits everything we need, but not so big that I think I’m going to dislocate my shoulder on my walks to and from the beach.  Near the bottom is an expandable zipper that gives me just a little extra space when I need it, and even has a convenient credit card holder on the very bottom of the bag.  Plus, this thing is tough.  Made up of a tearproof polyester fabric, we don’t have to worry about any stress that’s being put on it, or the tree branches poking out at us as we tried to find a shortcut to the beach that didn’t really turn out to be one.  Water and sand brush right off, which is also a big thing for us since we don’t want to be tracking any of it back to the boat.  Whatever we try to throw at this bag, it stands up to it.

reisenthel shopper e 1

Our beach blanket.

Although we do still have about two beach towels sitting on the boat, they’ve long been retired from actually making their way to the beach and instead just serve a purpose of drying us off after some of our showers when we can’t find or don’t feel like using our chamois.  At the beach, we use a large sarong that we purchased, fittingly, on the beaches of Mancora Peru, where a gentleman was walking through the sand trying to sell them to tourist.  Best beach purchase ever.  Not only is it much more lightweight and less bulky than trying to shove a couple of towels in our bag, but it doesn’t trap sand in it’s little fibers!  Do you know how great it is to just be able to quickly shake it out and know that it can go right back to it’s storage spot in the cabin without having to be washed first?  Plus it dries extremely quick.  Hang it on the lifelines for an hour or two and it’s dry as a bone.

sarong as beach towel

 Sexy husband sold separately.

 

Music.

In my opinion, you just can’t have a good day at the beach if you don’t have good music to pair it with.  Not only do we not have a boombox, but if we did have one it wouldn’t be practical for our lifestyle, so we wanted to stay away from anything like that.  Which is ok, because we’ve found something much better.  the XBoom is a small little speaker that fits in the palm of your hand but produces a mega sound.  We plug it into our MP3 player (which honestly is a little outdated and could use replacing), but it can work with any device such as computers, tablets, and phones.  The sound that comes out of this little speaker is anything but small and is also incredibly clear.  It’s the perfect beach accessory and so portable that it could be used in any of a variety of other places as well.  I just wish we would have had it around for all of those dinners in the ranchito back in Guatemala.

Xboom portable speaker

Our cooler.

Sticking with the boating theme of everything must be as compact as possible, and if it folds down then it’s even better, our cooler is just a small Thermos lunch duffel that can roughly fit about six cans of pop (or beer) and two small apples (chocolate bars).  But seriously, this thing is awesome!  It has a zip top closure, of which has never rusted on us, and we’ve always been able to fit everything we need in there, although if we happened to be bigger partiers or socializers we probably would have gone for a little bit bigger of a size.  Granted, this is not the option you choose when you need to throw together a bag of ice and a 24 pack for an all day bender (between many people of course), but this bag will keep cold items cold, and if you add a little ice pack like we do, they’ll stay cold all day.  Plus it’s just as tough and durable as our Reisenthel bag, which means that for short hikes or sundowners on another boat, this little sucker is all that we need.

Thermos lunch duffle

 Don’t you like our fish shaped bottle opener?  A very important addition.

 

 

Anchorages: the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

Wednesday April 16, 2014

 

Now that we’ve just spent the night in what is probably the world’s worst anchorage, or at least the worst one we’ve come across to date, I feel a little compelled to write a little segment on some of the anchorages we’ve passed through in this trip. Oh, and because my friend at The Cynical Sailor & His Salty Sidekick asked me to write a piece on it for one of my favorite groups, The Monkey’s Fist. (Hi Ellen!!)

In this list I’ll go over some of the more memorable anchorages we’ve been through. Whether it’s because they’re take your breath away beautiful, ‘I can’t believe this is considered an anchorage because I may as well be on passage’ rocky, or has everything you need in one convenient little place, here’s just a bit of the wide ranges of anchorages we’ve experienced between the US East coast to the Western Caribbean.

 

The Most Beautiful

I still can not think of a place that is more picturesque as far as anchorages go than Double Breasted Cay in the Ragged Islands of the Bahamas. It is beauty and seclusion all wrapped up in one. I could take photos there that would instantly make the cover of destination travel magazines without any kind of editing done to them. The water is clear, the bottom is sandy, and the beaches are pristine. On shore there are walking trails and a fire pit area set up for the few cruisers that do pass through. These beaches are also littered with untouched conch shells, the kind that are impossible to find because normally all you come across are the beat up shells after the meat has been torn out.  It was actually necessary for me to have an intervention for a friend here before she loaded down her boat with about 15 shells to bring back to family and friends.  Yes, this place is about as close as you can get to Bahamian perfection.  Just watch out for the sharks though, the black tip ones we came across did not seem too friendly and kept us out of the water after our first day there.

Double Breasted Cay

 

The Most Convenient

Maybe it’s just because we spent so damn long there, but in our two months while waiting for a good weather window, we became quite fond of Isla Mujeres, Mexico.  Another big tourist hub just four miles from Cancun, you can find all the things one might expect from a cruise ship port, but you don’t have to wander far to find local fare either.  Just over 4 miles in length, this island packs in it’s nice marinas, variety of groceries stores, sooo many options on eating out, and one of the best beaches for lounging and relaxing.  The anchorage itself is notoriously bad for holding, it’s the one and only place we’ve ever dragged so far, but there’s also a lagoon to tuck in to if you know the weather is getting bad. Sure, we’ve had our fair share of anchoring excitement here where we’ve watched many a boats drag besides ourselves, or just the tour catamarans full of drunk tourist pass by while blaring Top 40 hits from their speakers, but it all just adds to the Mexican ambiance.

While waiting weeks for a weather window to come up, we actually got to the point where we didn’t mind if one didn’t come at all, we were starting to fall in love with the place.  It also didn’t hurt though that for the last month we were there, we had the wifi password to one of the marinas and picked up the signal perfectly while sitting at anchor.  Have I mentioned how much I love having wifi?

Isla Mujeres

 

The Worst Swells

Hmmm, a few places come to mind when I think of this one, including Great Inagua, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. Which is a shame because all three places were so great to visit. We’ve never met more friendly locals than we had at Great Inagua in the Bahamas, and Grand Cayman came with great snorkeling, modern conveniences, and even a Burger King. It’s possibly our fault for not taking protection in any of the actual marinas or harbors in Grand Cayman or Cozumel, but we’ve found that any time you anchor, even on the leeward side of an island, if there is no harbor protecting you, you’re going to get your butt kicked by swells. Sometimes they’re pretty light and sometimes you can bridle yourself to face into the waves, but after three weeks of constantly rocking back and forth in Grand Cayman, I was ready to burn the boat down.

Grand Cayman

 

Pleasantly Unexpected Surprise

Cay Caulker in Belize wasn’t what we were expecting at all, but possibly because we didn’t know what to expect. Who knows if it was because we arrived there after spending 7 days straight on the boat, but we instantly fell in love with the place. I can see why it’s such a big destination for jet set tourist. The locals are incredibly friendly and the guys that set up their hair braiding stands on the side of the road, or their little shell jewelry shops, do not hassle the tourist if you’re not interested.

Sitting just off the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, this spot has great options for snorkeling, along with a few decent beaches tucked in between cute restaurants, bars and shops.  Yes, it is a little ‘resort-y’ or ‘touristy’, but after being thrown in the middle of authentic Guatemala for five months, we kind of needed that. Plus the fact that they speak English, after hitting back to back to back Spanish speaking countries, honestly was a nice break when trying to get things done.  They weren’t as touristy as to have a McDonald’s though, and as disappointed as we were, I guess we can forgive them of that.

Cay Caulker 1

 

Holds a special place in our hearts

I’m going to count this one in anchorages just because we did spend our last two weeks anchored there, but the Rio Dulce in Guatemala. Forever on in our lives, this place will always be considered one of our homes.  There’s so many things we love about this area.  The lushness, mountain backdrops, friendly locals, and a very cheap cost of living.  Having stayed in a marina for over four months, we did end up anchoring out just in front of it when we were waiting for our last weather window to leave, but it became harder by the day to go.  There’s great sailing just a few miles up the river on Lago Izabal and it’s only a five minute dinghy ride into town where you can buy a Raptor Energy Drink at the local Dispensa for under $1!  Or a Dorado Ice beer for about the same price, which if drunk at 9 am before eating breakfast will send you salsa-ing down the grocery aisle.  Plus those mountains, omg, those mountains!! I’m honestly surprised we did not put roots down in this place.

It would also be a great place for cruisers who are into the whole group activity thing, spread out between the marinas there’s always watercolor lessons, yoga, trivia games, movie nights, ect.  We never made it to those since it’s not really our thing, but, they’re there.  

Rio Dulce

 

Set it and forget it

Normally we’d never leave the boat for more than morning to night while we’re at anchor for fear of dragging while we’re not there due to tides, winds, storms, or anything else that could pop up while we’re gone. It has limited our inland travel quite a bit because any time we’d want to leave the boat it has to get put in a marina, then you’re paying for your extra traveling on top of that, and the cost can add up pretty quickly. There is one spot we came across though, that we felt very comfortable leaving the boat for two days and knowing nothing would happen to it. Lake Sylvia in Fort Lauderdale Florida. With this place being so small and protected, there’s not much that could go wrong here. It’s definitely the calmest anchorage we’d ever been in, and the only time you could even tell you were on a boat was when the weekend traffic came in,  full of small power boats dragging tubers between all the boats.  Which is almost entertainment in itself, standing by on your radio to call a mayday because you’re 90% that one of the tubers is either going to wipe out directly into an anchored boat, or worse, the other tuber headed right at them.

Lake Sylvia

 

Worst Current

Taylor Creek, Beaufort, North Carolina. I know we were still relatively new to the cruising game when we got here, but ask me to go back there now and my memory is so full of horrible images of trying to get the anchor down in that area that you will see me take an overnight passage on the Atlantic just to avoid it if I can. The current there was bad. About 4-5 knots if you weren’t at slack tide. Couple that with being completely overcrowded and I still think it’s my number 1 or number 2 (ok, so Georgetown was really busy when we got there) worst anchoring experience as far as getting the hook down. As soon as I put the boat in neutral we were already sideways and quickly heading for anything behind us, including a wooden channel marker. It took three attempts to get it down and feel comfortable with ourselves. The place itself though is great once you do get your anchor down and tell off the catamaran that has anchored right on top of you two hours after you arrive. A charming town to one side of you and an island with wild horses to the other. What’s not to like?

Taylor Creek 2

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The Monkey's Fist

 

I Lead an Unusual Life

Thursday April 3, 2014

dinghy on shore

A thought occurred to me the other day as I was showering in the head and subsequently scooping water from the base and dumping in the sink since our pump decided to poop out at the moment. This is normal. Normal for me to bend down in a space so tiny that there is no way to avoid my butt hitting the toilet on the way down and catching the handle on the way back up. When did this happen? I didn’t used to lead this kind of life. The kind of life where I took every convenience for granted, because I knew no other way.

The other thing I want to know is, when did this life become so normal? Where I don’t bat an eye at showering outdoors in front of dozens of people, or live a majority of my day in a space that is barely larger than my old bedroom? I guess if you’re put into any situation long enough, it becomes your new normal. But since all of this is apparently becoming so blasé to me, I’d like to take a moment and go through what an unusual life I actually do lead.

Here’s an example of a few things that we also did on land that have transferred to life on a boat, but aren’t quite the same.

 

Showering:

I wouldn’t even know what to do with myself if I was able to pull back a shower curtain, step in a tub, and instantly turn on hot water. It’s been so long since I’ve had that convenience that I’ve stopped even dreaming about it. Those moments where you shower not even necessarily because you want to be clean, but because it helps you unwind at the end of a long day or warm up after a sharp rain outside. Those days are so far gone.

Instead, showering has now become a necessity. Not something I ever want to do anymore, but something I have to do, lest the people in town begin to look at me with disgust and murmur under their breath, ‘Does this chick not own a bar of soap?’. Without being in the heat of the tropics anymore where any kind of water was a source to cool down while losing more liquids than I could drink in sweat alone, I loathed showering up until just a few days ago. And that’s because our only ‘shower’ was a hose in our cockpit that led to our water tank, no heater in between. So showering meant sitting under a spray of the ambient temperature of water that the boat is sitting in. You try taking a 72 degree shower and tell me how fun it is.

Oh, but that’s not all. This shower had to be taken outdoors, every time. With neighbors watching, and any inkling of a breeze sending a chill down your spine and shipping you quickly to the shelter of the cabin for a pair of fuzzy pants and a hot cup of coffee as soon as you were finished. Then it finally dawned on us a few days ago (light bulb going on) that we should get a solar shower. A five gallon bag that heats the water inside by lying it in the sun and letting it soak up and hold on to the warmth. Hang the warm bag in our tiny little head and, ta da!, a hot shower without the cold breeze hitting you in the face. It’s been a huge step up for us in this world.

 

 

Cooking:

I think I’ve touched on the subject before of when we first started this trip, cooking a meal in our galley would drive me absolutely insane. It was the one thing I hadn’t mentally prepared for during our transition from land to water, and it came as quite a shock to me how different it actually was from our kitchen at home. I’ve become much more used to it now where it doesn’t even phase me, but let me go through the steps of what it takes to make a meal here on Serendipity.

  1. Think long and hard about the meal you want to eat. Then think about if you have all the ingredients. You don’t want to find out half way through that you don’t, because it’s a long trip back to the store. If there’s even one available.
  2. Most of our meals are usually cooked on the stove, which means pulling the necessary pans out of the oven since that’s the only space we have available to store them.  Heaven forbid you ever need both the stove and the oven, which leaves you searching for a space to keep all your extra pans for the next hour.
  3. Pull out all the ingredients you need to prepare your meal. They’re not quite as easy to reach once you’ve started cooking, so all things must be dug out of the intestines of the chill box, pulled out from under the settee (which takes the removal of at least three cushions), and any cooking utensils need to be excavated from being buried in a drawer in no particular order.
  4. Remembering where you put all of your non perishable ingredients. Those diced tomatoes you used to keep under the tv? They’ve now been moved next to the water tank since you’ve decided they’re less likely to rust there. The pasta that used to be kept easily stowed behind the settee back? You can’t really remember where you put it, but now it’s really important that you find it.
  5. Set everything out on your counter space, a.k.a., the top of the chill box. Begin cooking and realize that right when you need it, the ketchup or stir fry sauce or whatever missing ingredient is still sitting in the bottom of the chill box. Except, now all of your other ingredients are blocking your way into it. Which means taking them and moving them to the companionway steps since that’s the only other available space near you, putting everything else in the chill box on the steps as well while you try to find your way down to it, and then replacing everything back into the chill box. Which usually also accidentally means the ingredients that you need and had out in the first place, and now fishing them back out a second time.
  6. Finishing cooking your meal and transferring it to the plates which immediately need to be brought to the table so you can free up counter space to get the leftover ingredients back in the fridge and get your 2 liter of pop out. All the dishes are assigned to the sink where you hope that, while you’re eating your dinner and enjoying an episode of Modern Family, they somehow clean themselves because you just don’t have the energy to do them, by hand, after the elaborate mess you went through to cook the meal in the first place.

 

 

‘Our car’ a.ka. the dinghy: 

When you live on a boat, your car takes a little bit different of a shape than it had on land. Now instead of being fast or spacious, or even enclosed, it’s about 9 ft, inflatable, and completely exposed to all the elements. I’m not complaining really, there’s no job to get to, so no need to go out in the rain if you don’t want to. No schedules mean you go out when it’s convenient for you. But keeping an eye out for getting rained on isn’t the only thing you need to look out for.

First you have to determine how far you’re going, and if you have enough gas to get there. And now in our case, if our little 3.3 hp outboard is up for the journey. Here in Florida it hasn’t been hard getting from the lake to the marina, but once we’re in the Bahamas we won’t be zipping from one cay to the next like we did when we had our 9.9 hp. Even in George Town we’ll probably be anchoring much closer to town for a shorter dinghy ride.

Then you have to be very careful about what you bring, or even what you wear, because chances are you might still get wet. Ready to sit in a pair of wet cotton shorts all day because a rouge wave came over the side? I hope so. (And I still do, I can’t force myself into those quick drying fabrics. Fashion over comfort, isn’t that how the saying goes?) Then there’s the matter of keeping your belongings dry. Don’t even think of just sticking your camera or computer into a backpack and calling it good. They either need to go into waterproof cases or waterproof bags. And then maybe a second one just to be safe.

 

 

Putting away groceries:

Smaller trips to the market have become better because we’re usually only buying what will be used in the next few days and have just vacated spots in the cupboards or chill box that need to be filled again. Provisioning though? That’s a whole other story and one I cringe at the thought of, although I have to say, we did pretty well this last time around.

Imagine that you’re off to a place for the next six to eight weeks where you’re either not sure you’ll be able to find some of your favorites from back home (does anyone even know if they sell egg roll wraps in the Bahamas?), or the items that you do want come at an exorbanent price and you’d rather stock up on them back home. $8 for 8 oz of coffee? Thanks, but I think I’ll still with my 28 oz for $6.50 at Walmart.

The only question left is, where do you put everything once you’ve bought it? Suddenly any open space in the boat becomes fair game for storage. Cans upon cans are stacked on top of each other under the settee in that little space next to the water tank. Bags of cereal are ziplocked and placed in the bilge. Liters of UHT milk are placed in the belly of the boat at the entrance to the after cabin, and those extras we don’t need as much such as the replacement pounds of flour and sugar? Well, they get placed in the aft cabin under the storage boards that require us to first remove every item from the aft cabin that we own. And since we consider it our garage…that’s a lot of stuff. You don’t want to be anywhere near me when I realized I’ve just used my last cup of flour and need to tear apart the boat in the blazing tropic heat to dig out it’s successor.

 

 

Sleeping in a v-berth:

I still dream about our bed back in our old house. I do. I was completely in love with that thing. It was king size with a pillow top mattress, and I could sink into it while simultaniously sprawling out and not even coming close to kicking Matt. Now we sleep in an area that’s 70 inches wide at the head and 17 at the foot. We’ve basically become contortionist when it comes to sleeping. If you want to bring your leg up to the side, which is about the only way I can sleep, it needs to be tucked in so close to my body that my knee is basically resting under my chin. My butt is all the way up against the wall which means that any time I turn my butt and or hip, it gets caught on the shelf that sticks out 8 inches above me. One of the first things Matt did away with when we bought the boat was the shelf on his side because leaving it there meant he had to sleep flat on his back all night without the option to rotate.

Trying to make the bed is another pain in the butt, and I won’t lie, there have been times I’ve been fine to sleep without a fitted sheet because the hassle of getting it on is more trouble than it’s worth. Which is usually at 11 pm when I realized the sheets never went on after being washed that day and I’m way too tired to do it at that point. But on the times it does happen it’s a fight against physics to tuck the extra inches of fabric under an area that I’m currently putting all my weight on, which usually leaves me defeated, tufts of extra fabric peeking out of the edges and working their way to the center of the bed come morning. I know there’s ways to secure them around the strange angles better, or even sew them into the shape of your bed, but I’ve never gotten around to that.  I’m sure it will happen when we’re about six months away from getting rid of the boat.

 

So there you have it.  All the ‘normal’ things in my life that I no longer even bat an eye at.  I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like when I have to be housebroken again, how much of my current life will transition over.  Sleeping on a couch because the bed feels just a little too big or buying a dorm size fridge because I could never imagine trying to fill out a regular one.  We’ll see how it all plays out.  Hopefully, years down the road.

Aerobie AeroPress Giveaway

AeroPress 1 replace

Do you like coffee?  If you do, you’ll love what’s coming up next, because we’re going to give you a chance to win a free Aerobie AeroPress coffee maker.  That’s right!  With the help of the great folks at Aerobie, we’re giving away a free AeroPress to one of you lucky readers!

Remember the review I did a few days back for the JavaJug, a product that works with the AeroPress, and I wouldn’t shut up about how great the coffee is and how much we like to make it? That’s because it was no lie. We bought the AeroPress ourselves and were getting nothing from the company to promote their product. Not that one can really use the JavaJug without the AeroPress, so explanations were needed, but the excitement I expressed at the fact of being able to get up every morning and make myself a cup of coffee using their system was completely genuine.

 

In case you missed it, let me go over some of the highlights of the Aerobie AeroPress:

 

  • It’s plastic. Any boater knows, plastic is good. It doesn’t rust, it’s durable, it doesn’t leave dings in your floor when you drop it (let’s just say I’ve learned from experience that french presses can do a little more damage).
  • It’s light. Like, extremely light. The whole system only weighs 7 oz.
  • It’s quick. Once you have your boiling water, all you need is 10 seconds to stir your grounds before pressing the coffee into your cup.
  • Clean-up is easy. Just pop the grounds out the bottom, where not only do they all come right out, but there’s no hard to reach places they could get stuck in. Hate the thought of cleaning a filter? You don’t need to. The paper filters pop right out with the grounds.
  • You can use it to make espressos, Cafe Americanos (regular coffee to us layman folk), or lattes. The only variance between the three is if you leave the pressed grounds as they are, add water, or add milk.
  • IT MAKES AMAZING COFFEE! You’re always left with a cup of coffee that is smooth and never bitter. Compared with an automatic drip, a french press, and an clever dripper, this is by far the best coffee I’ve ever tasted. Aerobie might actually need to start a support group for people who become addicted to coffee made by their product.

 

 

If you have any questions on how to use the Aerobie AeroPress, watch this video on YouTube, or read and go through step by step photos on how to make coffee with it along with the JavaJug on the post on our website.

 

Now the part I’m sure you came here for, how to enter. There are two simple ways.

Leave a comment under this post telling us how you take your coffee, or your favorite place to relax with your morning cup of joe (assuming you’re not rushing off to work).

Or

Share us on Facebook by going to our page, MJ Sailing, and clicking on the settings icon. Just make sure to drop us a note and tell us you shared.

If you do both, by leaving a comment on the website and sharing us on Facebook, you’ll be entered into the contest twice, doubling your chances to win!

 

The contest will end at 12pm EDT on Monday March 24, 2014. The contest winner will be announced on our Facebook page that afternoon. Shipping is only available to the US and Canada.

Aerobie AeroPress

AeroPress 3

So Whadda Ya Wanna Know?

Friday February 7, 2014

palm trees in Isla Mujeres

A few months ago  we did an interview for Newly Salted, and along with answering some of the pre-made questions from the site I also decided to take into consideration what you, our readers, want to know from us. Unfortunately there were more questions asked than I anticipated and I decided to hold off on a few of them and add them to a second blog post based solely on questions that you’ve asked for us. Now that our days are consisting of either sitting on the boat or heading to the beach, nothing to write home about since I’ve already tried to squeeze a few posts out of it, what better time to get back to you on all those questions you asked?

 

What has been the most jaw dropping experience with an animal/fish/bird, ect?

I’m still waiting for it!! Between all of our other cruising friends, they have stories of whales, toucans, or even wombats. Ok, that one was on land and in a wild animal reserve. We’ve had a couple of interesting ones, such as the dolphins that followed us for quite awhile in Belize, and the black tip sharks that were circling our boat in the Bahamas, but I’d have to say that none of them were quite jaw dropping. I just want to know, where are my whales? Why do they seem so intent on avoiding us?

 

How long do you imagine you’ll cruise?

I guess the best answer would be, until the money runs out. We expect that will be somewhere between 3-4 years from now, although if we could keep our monthly expenses where they are at the moment, we just might be able to squeeze in another year or two.

 

What’s your favorite island?

Cuba. Hands down, no question. The funny part is, we only explored the tiniest sliver of what this place has to offer. Forget the gorgeous cays, snorkeling, and fishing that it offers, of which we did not have the chance to explore, just the land itself and the people are utterly amazing. Everyone we met was genuinely friendly and made us feel incredibly welcome. The terrain changes from sandy beaches to mountains and everything in between. Plus it it just so untouched and so different from any place we’ve ever been. Some of these islands in the Caribbean start to look the same, one easily swap-able for the next, but Cuba is the only one that completely stands alone.

 

Do you feel your boat is big enough for the two of you to live on?

Surprisingly, I do. I’ve felt this way for a long time, and even though Matt was suffering from ten-foot-itis awhile back (We’d be so much better off if we just had 10 more feet), he’s finally come around as well. We can do everything we need in here, such as cook decent meals in the galley (my cooking skills really are getting better from when we left), and just hang out while never feeling cramped or claustorphobic. It seems we’re rarely entertaining guests on our boat, so we don’t need the extra space for that, and until our family starts getting bigger, this 34 feet of boat is perfect for us. If we ever did get a larger boat though, my two requests would be for a separate shower stall in the head, and more distance between our sleeping quarters and the galley since I have a habit of waking up before Matt and I can’t even make myself a cup of coffee without causing too much noise and essentially rousing him out of bed as well. You laugh, but that’s the only alone time I get each day.

 

What is your favorite thing about sailing?

The sun on my face, a slight breeze through my hair, and getting into port. True blue sailors, we are not. I guess that’s just something you learn along the way. Or maybe it’s that passages are usually nothing like pleasure cruises on Lake Michigan.

 

 

So far, is there anyplace you’ve visited that is a must to go back to sometime?

Refer back to question 3. Cuba, you will see our faces again. Other than that, and keep in mind that Matt and I are fully admitted ‘city’ people, Manhattan. It was just a five day stop while traveling down the Hudson, trying to get ourselves out to the Atlantic, but it’s also been the source of many of our daydreams. You’ll find a number of our conversations that start with, ‘You know where I wish we were right now? Reading a book in Central Park, strolling down Broadway, spying on the boats and the Statue of Liberty at Battery Park’. Give us nature, or give us a metropolis.

 

 

What are some of the things that annoy you most about living on a 34 ft boat?

Surprisingly, not as much as there used to be. I’ve even made peace with the fact that all the contents of my chill box will make their way to the companionway steps while I’m rooting around for items in there, since when the chillbox is open, I have 50 sq inches of available counter space. There’s still little things that get on my nerves, like having to shower in the cockpit when it’s anything but hot out, finding a necessary tool in our completely unorganized tool bag, or pulling out 15 items first to get to my can of diced tomatoes lodged near the bilge.

But the most common annoyance I’ve been running into at the moment is trying to grab a USB charger for one of our various electrical items and finding a jumbled knot of cords. Which is actually an easy fix once I get around to it. I just need to force myself, or more accurately, find a way to run off to the store while Matt’s not looking since he thinks everything is going to break the budget*, and buy about five small sets of those Snapware containers to coil all the cords in and store them neatly away. (* I can kinda get where his logic is coming from. We don’t have any income coming in, so each month that we can save more money and be under budget, means more cruising in the long run)

 

How often are you at anchor vs in a marina?

We spent our whole hurricane season in Guatemala at a marina, but in that case it was just so cheap (approx $240/mo) and made it so much easier to get our long list of boat projects done that it was a no brainer. But otherwise, we prefer to be at anchor. The natural sway of the boat in the wind, the fresh breezes through the hatches, the privacy. Oh yeah, and the ability to escape crazy neighbors. We love being at anchor, and although the anchoring process used to make me nervous when we first started, it didn’t take us long to get a system down.

On Serendipity we have 160 ft of 5/16ths chain (plus extra rode on top of that), and a 55 lb Rocna. While coming into an anchorage we try to find a spot in 10-20 ft of water with a sand bottom (vs eel grass or coral), and then based on water depths and wind speed, approximate how much chain will be let out which then tells us what kind of swinging room we’ll need. After finding that spot we’ll point our bow into the wind, and while I’m at the helm I’ll slow ourselves down to a stop at which point Matt will let down the anchor until it hits bottom, and he’ll give me a hand signal to slowly put us in reverse. While I’m doing this, he’ll let out more chain to get us to about a 4:1 scope and then signal me to switch us to neutral. Once he’s sure that our anchor has dug in he’ll signal me once more to put the boat into reverse, and if we don’t seem to be dragging backward, signal me again to bring up the RPMs to make sure we really dig in. Then everything is shut off, Matt lets out a little more chain and sets the snubber, and we set our anchor alarm to alert us if the anchor drags.

This is all pretty basic Anchoring 101 information, but it’s surprising to us to see how many people our there don’t follow it. Just today we’ve watched two people barrel into the anchorage, dropping their chain while still moving forward. Or there are those that don’t take into account swing room and put themselves basically on top of you. I’ve appointed Matt the Anchor Disputer onboard, meaning he’s the one to tell people off when they get too close, since I don’t like that kind of confrontation. Then there are those who’s anchors are laughably small for their boat, except it’s not laughable because it’s actually dangerous. Don’t even get me started on those people….

*Quickly, I just want to apologize if all this recent anchoring talk has made me sound like an anchoring snob. But if other people around us aren’t doing it properly, it could possibly mean damage and/or destruction to our home. So yeah, it’s a sensitive subject to me.

 

How’s Georgie doing?

Oh yeah, that cat that we almost got rid of a few months ago because she couldn’t seem to stand living on the boat. She’s doing much better now, and I’m pretty sure she’s already forgotten what it’s like to be able to run around on land. Actually, not that we didn’t ever love her before, but now we look back on the situation and think ‘How could we have almost let her out of our lives?‘. Even though she’s going through an adolecent phase where she wants little to nothing to do with her parents, we are able to get some play and snuggle time in each day, and there are about five times each day where we go “Stop what you’re doing and look how cute Georgie looks right now!”. She’s having a ball here in Isla Mujeres where she’s able to watch the minnows off the side of the boat each day, we try and bring in the birds for her with leftover slices of bread, and we’ve even come up with a new game that she absolutely loves called Batting Practice where we (try to) toss animal crackers off the side of the boat and she bats them back at us with her paw. As far as most cats lives go, I think she’s living a pretty good one.

 

 

If you have any other questions you’d like to ask us, let us know!  Reply here in the comments, or give us a like over on Facebook and ask us there* (as well as check out our up to date happenings).  We really love hearing from you and answering the questions you want to know!

*P.S.  If you asked us a question before on Facebook and it did not get answered, please let me know!  I tried to go through my history to find them and came up with nothing.  So once again, sorry if it was not answered here, I blame both myself for not writing them down earlier, and my lack of computer knowledge.

 

 

Skebenga 4 Sale

Friday November 29, 2013

Skebenga

While I’m normally thrilled to receive an email from our friends Luki and Elmari on s/v Skebenga, now that they’ve been gone from the Rio for a few weeks and have made their way all the way up to Isla Mujeres Mexico to meet family, I received an email today from Elmari that made my heart sink.  Skebenga is going up for sale.

We knew their cruising adventures were coming to a close, that this summer’s crossing of the Atlantic would be their last big hop as they prepared to re-start their lives on land in South Africa.  Their original intent had been to bring Skebenga to the Mediterranean and keep her in a marina in Greece, working during Africa’s summer months and then sailing during the Med’s.  This made us very excited as we’re headed off to the Med and really wanted to cruise the ground with them, not only because of their intense knowledge of the area, but because they’re great people and we love spending time with them.  But after some discussion on their part, they decided the best thing for them right now is to leave the cruising life behind.  This makes us very, very sad.  It is, however, very good news for you.

No offense to all the other boating friends we’ve met along our travels, but s/v Skebenga is the best cruising boat we’ve come across so far.  And now, she’s up for grabs.

Skebenga is a 45′ steel hulled cutter rig designed by Dudley Dix and built by Luki himself, with the hull registered in 1998 and launched in 2006.  The engine is a Yanmar 75 hp diesel that has been kept in immaculate condition.  She also comes equipped with solar panels, 600 aH gel battery bank, SSB, and a HRO Watermaker.  Other extras include a windvane and an asymmetrical  spinnaker.  Listed at $180,000, trust me, this fully equipped cruising boat is a STEAL.

If you or anyone you know might be interested in a new cruising boat, definitely make sure to check into this more, I don’t think you’d be disappointed.  Skebenga is currently en route to Florida with an arrival date in Mid February, but make sure to check out full specs and photos on their link on Yacht World.

*While I would not feel comfortable giving out Luki and Elmari’s contact information on behalf of them, I would be MORE than happy to pass your information on to them for anyone who is interested.

Skebenga front

Skebenga aft

Skebenga saloon

Skebenga galley

Skebenga aft cabin

Newly Salted: Serendipity at 15 Months

Matt & Jessica 2

Just before we get geared up to start cruising again after nearly five months now of sitting out hurricane season in Guatemala, I figured it would be a perfect time for a little question and answer time about our lives since there hasn’t been much other boating excitement going on lately. But this isn’t any ‘ol interview, it’s being done in connection with Newly Salted, a companion site to Interview with a Cruiser, who’s purpose is to ‘Record some of the wisdom of the masses of cruisers who are out there on the water, for the dreamers and planners still at their desks, using a focused interview format’.

 

First time visiting us? Here’s a little background. We are Matt and Jessica, and have been cruising for 15 months, starting in our home port of Muskegon, Michigan, on the east coast of Lake Michigan. Working our way through the Erie Canal and East Coast, our remaining time before hurricane season was making a jump from the Eastern Caribbean to the Western Caribbean, visiting places like the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica and Cayman Island before settling in Guatemala, where we currently sit, until cruising season is once more upon us. All of our adventures are cataloged on our website, www.mjsailing.com and on our Facebook page at MJ Sailing.

Serendipity leaving home port

 Leaving Muskegon for the last time, officially cruisers now!

 

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

That a cruisers plans are written in sand at low tide. We were naive, or maybe just determined and stubborn, but when we left Lake Michigan we had a very well laid out plan and we thought we could stick to it. That plan was for a circumnavigation in the span of four years. As soon as Hurricane Sandy came along our plans began to deteriorate as we fell behind schedule. We still tried to rush down the east coast, and even after spending a few months in Florida, we thought we could rush through the Bahamas in time to still jump over to Panama for a canal crossing this year. Going from Lake Worth Florida to George Town Bahamas in just ten days, we realized we didn’t want that kind of fast paced travel that a circumnavigation would press on us, and we’d rather slow down and take quality over quantity. We’d heard this many times before we left, but it took 7 months of cruising for it to actually sink in.

anchored at South Manitou Island

Our first anchorage of the trip, South Manitou Island, Michigan.

 

What do you find most exciting about the cruising lifestyle?:

That there is always something new to see. Some places you get really attached to and others you don’t mind departing after a day’s visit. But the great thing about the cruising lifestyle is if you don’t like it, you can always pick up and leave until you find something that suits you better. We also love meeting other cruisers that have been out there and doing it for awhile, learning the ins and outs of certain places, and then getting excited to visit there ourselves.

Detroit skyline

Cruising past the Detroit City skyline.

 

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome as a cruiser?:

For me, Jessica, it has been seasickness. It plagues me almost every time we travel and I’ve begun to dread any passage that lasts longer than sunrise to sunset. For those I can sit in the cockpit and stare off into the horizon, comforted by the fact that at least I’ll be at a calm anchorage that night and will have the ability to move around the boat again. Anything longer than that to me is a jail sentence, being confined completely to the cockpit where my symptoms are minimized, but I can’t even pass the time by reading a book. I can only sit there and stare. And stare, then a little more, and then some more after that. I’ve used just about every remedy there is, scopolamine patches, pressure point wristbands, and Dramamine. I’ve heard that seasickness will fade on long passages, after you’ve been out for 3-4 days, but our longest passage has only been three days, so I haven’t been able to find out yet if that holds true.

For Matt, the biggest obstacle is not being as productive on the boat as he was on land. Every day he got up with a purpose, went to work, enjoyed doing it, and felt good about it at the end of the day. Now that we don’t have schedules or the same kind of responsibilities, he used to feel useless while sitting around the boat and converting most of his time to relaxing. He’s found a remedy for this by keeping himself busy with the boat, or planning projects for the boat. Which, while we’re sitting at the marina with easy land and electricity access, he’s got about six projects going at once. And keeps planning more…

Erie Canal locks

 

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

Now that we’ve been out for awhile, we can both agree that an invaluable tool for us right now would be a backup generator for our solar panels. There’s currently three solar panels on Serendipity, one that’s 205 watts, and two that are 135 watts, for a total of 475 watts, which is actually pretty good. And when there’s sun out we’re bringing in power like crazy. The only issue is we assumed that being in tropical climates, we’d have sun 90% of the time. Which we’re starting to find out is not the case. When it’s just one or two cloudy days, the power we’ve saved up can usually tide us over until we see the sun again, but anything after that and we go into complete power lockdown, keeping the inverter off and even turning off the chill box at night (our biggest power consumer).  Running the engine is an option, but we don’t want to have to rely on that. We enjoy our electronic toys like laptops, tv, e-readers, and playing the stereo, and don’t want to have to give them up because the sun is being an unsocial sonnofa b.

Chick n Ruth's Deli

Cementing our friendship with our first buddy boat, in Annapolis.

 

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

Because Matt is fairly obsessed with researching any new hobby that takes his interest, he spent hours of each day before we left pouring over websites and forums and question and answer sites (like IWAC) to see what other people carried on their boats or wish they had. He then translated it to our boat, our cruising needs, and our personalities and lifestyle. We were pretty stumped for this question because we kind of love everything we have on this boat, I think he did a great job of figuring that out for us (although I was hounded relentlessly for my opinion as well). If we had to pick one thing though, I think we’d go with davits. Surprised? I know, that’s usually on every cruisers ‘must have list’, even before things like solar panels or a water maker. The reason we might leave them behind next time is that they are only used at night to get the boat out of the water (for security and cleanliness reasons). Anytime we’re on passage we’re not sure if the davits can handle the brutal strain and we’ve already had two* incidents of breakage when we’ve left the dinghy up on passage, so we haul it up an secure it on the foredeck anyway.  Every.Passage.   I do love them for at night when we pull the dinghy up, but as Matt reminds me, that can also be done with a halyard on the foredeck.

sunset in boat yard

 

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

This one kind of makes me laugh because one of my most difficult transitions is so far off from what most people would expect. There are plenty of things that can drive a cruiser bonkers, things like cockpit showers (we disassembled the shower in our head), rough passages, and sleeping two people to a bed that should really only comfortably fit one. I let all of these nuisances roll off because I was expecting them. I was dreading them before we left, and they turned out not to be as bad as I imagined. The thing that surprisingly did get me, was cooking in our galley. The lack of good space there is what drove me crazy. There’s very little counter space, and a good portion of it is the top to our chill box. I’d be busy preparing dinner on the ‘counter’ and realize I needed something from the chillbox, so I’d have to move all my items away to lift up the top. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I’d then spend the next five minutes digging through the chill box and placing all of it’s contents on the companionway stairs until I found what I needed, because that was the only open space I had to lay them down. I’ve since become more accustomed to it, but for awhile, that nightly routine could almost drive me to tears.

Matt in Alan's Cay Bahamas

Exploring the Exumas, Bahamas.

 

What is the thing that has surprised you most about your cruising lifestyle?:

That we’ve begun to crave friends and buddy boats. For the most part, both of us enjoy our solitude and spending time solely with one another. At least, this is how we were back on land. Spending all day surrounded by people at work, we looked forward to our quiet time together at night. When we left we told ourselves we’d never get sucked into the world of buddy boating and living on someone else’s schedule, where they wanted to go or what they wanted to do. Nope, it was going to be just the two of us, making our own decisions and relying on no one else. But somewhere along the way we did find a buddy boat and realized we enjoyed it immensely. Other people to share in your highs and your lows, someone to force you out of your lazy habits to try new things, and even just the novelty of having someone different to talk to. Don’t get me wrong, we still love our solitude from time to time, but once you have that for too long, things can get a little lonely in this life.

waterfall in Jamaica

Enjoying the waterfalls in Jamaica with a large group of buddy boats.

(Photo courtesy of Jason Windebank)

 

Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of this interview?:

Yes! Please get involved with the crew of Serendipity! E-mail us, comment on our website, and on our Facebook posts. We’d love to hear anything you have to say! As I said, this can be a lonely lifestyle sometimes, but just knowing there are people out there following along makes us feel much less isolated, and any sign that you’re out there is an instant mood lifter.

car in Cuba

Strolling the streets of Cuba.

 

And now, a few questions our readers want to know about us and our cruising lifestyle**:

 

How hard is it to get food and supplies along the way?

It depends on if you’re trying to fully provision your boat or just get through the next few days to make meals, ect, as well as your taste in food, and what you’re willing to pay for it.  Once we got out of the States and into the Bahamas we had a fully stocked boat from Florida.  We know that the Bahamas are quite expensive and didn’t want to spend money on non perishables that we could bring with us.  The Bahamas didn’t happen to be great for fresh produce, but hey, our meals usually consisted of Pop Tarts and Ramen Noodles, so it wasn’t an issue for us.  Other than that, you could find what you needed, but at a price.  Every place else we’ve been so far we’ve been able to find decently stocked markets and stores within a mile or two walk, although Cuba was quite hard for provisioning as well.  I wouldn’t planning getting much more than produce or meat there.

 

How have you found fellow sailors as you’ve traveled?

There’s been two main ways we’ve found other sailors on the water.  One is actually this website, which has brought me in touch with some of my now best friends Jackie and Ron back in Michigan, and other cruisers like Ryan and Tasha on s/v Hideaway, and Frank and Yu on s/v Moitessier.  All other times we’ve found other cruisers by approaching or being approached at anchor, or run-ins on land.  It’s pretty easy to spot other cruisers, and even easier to strike up conversations.  Which always lead to sundowners on someone’s boat or in a local bar.  It’s just that easy, and it works every time.  (I will admit, we can be a little shy sometimes, so we’re usually the ones getting approached at anchor.  It’s how we met our now great friends on s/v Skebenga, and I’m so happy they came over to say hi!!)

 

Would you do it again?

For those of you who are new to the site or haven’t been following along for long, you might not know that both Matt and I just about had a complete meltdown back in June and wanted out of the cruising lifestyle.  One year in and somehow the lows felt more frequent than the highs and we were tired of constantly caring for a boat that is always in need of maintenance (as all cruising boats are, unfortunately), or visiting an island that looked pretty much like the one we just left.  I am still thankful that Guatemala, with it’s high peaks and lush green forests, was our next landfall after this breakdown, or you might have seen Serendipity for sale on Yacht World.  Luckily some time at a marina, a visit home, and experiencing traveling via backpacking, gave us a new perspective on cruising.  We felt refreshed and invigorated, excited to get going again.  Over this time we realized what we like about cruising, what we don’t, and we think we’ve redefined our future plans to make it work out for us.  Just ask us another year into cruising though, hopefully Serendipity is still on our possession and we’re still out on the water.

 

*Our first accident with the davits was when we were traveling 10 miles in Lake Michigan, and had the dinghy up on the davits along with our 9.9 hp outboard.  Beating into some waves, the strain was so much that the arms literally bent in half.  We had them replaced with larger stronger davits, but we always made sure to take the large outboard off after that.  Our second accident was in the Exumas in the Bahamas, when the bracket that mounts the davits to the pushpit snapped, and we had to do some quick and fancy work with ratchet straps until we could find a welder to fix the bracket.

**If you asked a question on our Facebook page and I haven’t responded, don’t worry, I’m not ignoring you.  I’m planning on doing a second question and interview post where I include them.  Anyone else have a question for us?  We’d be happy to answer it!

 

 

 

 

Cost of Living in Rio Dulce Guatemala

Friday October 25, 2013

produce from Rio Dulce market

 What $4 can buy at the market in Rio Dulce

 

This is actually a continuation or a tribute to a post my friend Genevieve wrote on her own blog, where she tallies the cost of living where her and her family are spending their hurricane season in Luperon, Dominican Republic.  I thought it was a great idea to give other cruisers an idea of what the cost of living in one certain area is like, and with her permission, she’s letting me basically copy her post on my own site, just switching the location to Rio Dulce, Guatemala.

As she states on her site, the monthly cost of living in any one area will vary from person to person based on what you want to focus your spending on.  For ourselves, I’d say our budget here gets broken into the categories of living in a marina, buying necessary odds and ends for the boat, and most important, food.  Which is where I’ll be putting most of the emphasis on in my list below.

I have converted all prices to the US dollar by using the conversion rate of 7.82 Quetzal to 1 Dollar.

 

Bar/Marina Restaurant

Coca-cola – $1.25

Beer – $1.50

Meal – $7.00

 

Grocery Store

Gallon of milk – $3.84

Loaf of sandwich bread – $1.53

Full boneless/skinless chicken breast – $3.20

1 lb of ground beef – $3.40

Dozen eggs – $2.81

Generic cereal – $2.30

Can of corn – $1.15

Ramen noodles – $0.32

2.5 L of Coke – $2.43

3.3 L of Pepsi – $1.60 (I guess they favor Pepsi here. Me too.)

24 pk of Gallo (domestic premium) beer – $19.18

24 pk of Bravah (domestic) beer – $10.23

Liter of wine – $3.20-$5.12

Bottle of Gato Negro – $6.40

Bottle of Bacardi Gold rum – $7.70

 

General

Pack of cigarettes – $3.20 (don’t worry, it’s not me that’s smoking)

Off Skintastic – $5.12

30 day 10 gig data plan (Tigo) – $38.36 Initial purchase of card – $6.40

1 lb of propane – $1.25

Gallon of diesel – $4.60

Gallon of gasoline – $4.48

Monthly slip at a marina – $220

*Entrance into the country with a 90 day cruising permit – $155

*Extending to a 12 month cruising permit – $250

*Exit paperwork from Guatemala – $70

* – All using the help of a local customs/immigration agent.

 

 

I hope this information helps any of you that are thinking of using Rio Dulce as a hurricane hole.  It really is a wonderful place to stay.  The cost of living is very cheap and the locals here are extremely friendly.  Staying at the Tortugal Marina we’ve had nothing but smiles and genuine care from the staff at the marina and they are there to assist you right away if you need anything.  I have to admit, cruisers themselves have been a little cliquey in this area, usually just staying with the people in their own marina, but luckily for us, we’ve found a great group of people at our marina that have made this an amazing summer and fall and a wonderful place for us to wait out the season before we can continue cruising again.

Boat Cards

Saturday October 5, 2013

boat cards

Serendipity finally has boat cards!  What are boat cards?, you may ask.  In a nutshell, they’re basically business cards that cruisers trade with one another.  They usually keep basic information such as the captain or crews’ names, the boat name, email addresses, and websites.

If you haven’t been out in the cruising world, you might be scratching your head wondering why people would want or even need something like this.  If you have been out cruising, you totally understand why.  Cruisers like to get together.  We eat, drink, make friendships, and inevitably part ways.  But the thing is, you meet so many great people, you usually want to stay in contact after you’ve met.  Just to see what each other are up to, where everyone is heading, or even for advice on something that you know they know much more about than you do.  And do you know how annoying it is to try and scribble down your information on a sheet of paper every time you come across someone you’d like to keep in touch with?  Imagine doing it at a potluck, your hand would seize up just from constantly writing your information down.

Enter, boat cards.  It’s all the information you need already neatly printed on a handy dandy card.  What you can add to your boat card is completely up to you, and each card varies as much as the people who hand them out.  Another thing I should mention in the cruising world is that you meet so many people, it’s usually not their name you remember at first, but either their boat make or their boat name.  “Do you know where Hideaway is right now?”  “I’m not sure, I think they’re in George Town with Rode Trip“.  That’s basically how conversations go in the cruising world.  This is why almost every boat card will have the minimum information of crews’ names, boat name, and email address.  From there you can go further and add, if you wish, website address, phone numbers, MMSI numbers, and even your hailing port.

For our cards I added these basics of our names, the boat’s name (as well as year; make; and model), our email address, and the website.  Then I even went a step further.  For people to really remember who you are weeks or even months after you’ve handed your boat card off to them, it’s good to give them a little visual reminder of something about you.  Lots of people will put a photo of their boat up on the card, but I took it one step further.  Deciding to print on both sides of our card, I also added a photo of Matt and I to the back.  Now anytime someone picks up our card it will be easier for them to say “Oh yeah, I remember that couple”.

We’ve already collected so many of these through our travels so far, and it’s going to be so nice now having them already printed to hand out in return.  For our cards we went through VistaPrint, ordering 250 cards for our first round.  We upgraded a little bit, adding extra costs to print on the back and also make the front glossy, but if you go with a basic (color) one sided design you can get 250 cards for under $20.  And we have found out they come in very, very handy.