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.

 

 

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9 thoughts on “So Whadda Ya Wanna Know?

  1. Loading up the companion way stairs to find something in the fridge made it seem like you were spying on my life! We also live on a 34ft boat and while it does have it’s challenges, we have really grown to love it too 🙂 For the cords, I use velcro strips and they are AMAZING. And, cheaper than snapware. For small cords (phone cords, etc.) you can even cut them in half and they still fit.

  2. You’re not an anchoring snob. I shake my head often. It’s even better when they don’t back down and confirm the anchor is set, then immediately take off in the dingy leaving their floating ark to drift around.
    (Thanks for a place to vent for a moment. )

  3. Great answers! Even though you have been gone 19 months and have blogged the entire experience so far, this post still managed to better explain the pluses and minuses of your cruising life. Thanks for addressing some of the questions posed to you.

    The one I hear the most often from friends regarding your cruising lifestyle is this: “How do they manage to get along in close quarters?” One of these days, you may want to explain how you cope living with someone 24/7 with nowhere to escape each other’s company.

  4. @Kelly, thanks for the advice on the velcro for the cords. I have a feeling that’s a problem that’s going to be taken care of quickly, it’s getting on Matt’s nerves too, so it’s nice to know a few other options. @Scott, yes, thank you! People are so stupid sometimes! We watched a group do the same thing, they had all just piled in the dinghy when they realized they were dragging. Thank god they hadn’t gotten any further. @Chris, I was thinking of answering that question. Maybe in the next Q&A post? 🙂

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