Facebook

29 May 2017

Bad Luck, Good Luck, Coulda-Been-Worse Luck | Matt Lowe's Cay, Bahamas


I've been thinking about luck lately. When you live and cruise on a sailboat, you experience some real highs and lows. There are days when you have good luck and everything goes to plan, even better than plan. Then there are those days where a cloud of bad luck hovers over you and things go very wrong.

After you have a chance to reflect on those bad luck days, sometimes you realize it wasn't bad luck you experienced as much as it was coulda-been-a-heck-of-a-lot-worse luck. 

Let me tell you about our time anchored at Matt Lowe's Cay so you'll see what I mean.

****

It was a beautiful day. Scott decided to take the dinghy (who I affectionately call Boo Boo) and go snorkeling off of a reef on the north side of the island. I'm not sure why I stayed on the boat. I probably had something important to do like read books and eat cookies.

I popped out into the cockpit after a while and saw Boo Boo anchored off of the reef and assumed Scott was snorkeling nearby. I went down below in search of more cookies. I popped back up after a little nap (too many cookies make one sleepy) and noticed that Boo Boo seemed to be anchored pretty far off of the reef. That's odd, I thought to myself. 

After searching for some more cookies, I came back up and noticed the dinghy wasn't anchored as much as she was drifting off across the water towards Treasure Cay. I looked around and saw Scott swimming near the reef. 

I screamed and waved to get his attention and pointed at the dinghy. He yelled back for me to start the engine and started to swim back to the boat.

All of a sudden, a little boat came out of nowhere with two men on it who remarked on the fact that our dinghy seemed to be going off on an adventure without us. They offered to go get it and bring it back to Scott.

Bad luck when the dinghy drug anchor and started drifting away, but good luck when those to guys rescued our dinghy for us. {Thank you mysterious guardian angels.}

Poor Scott. He had actually had the dinghy anchored further up on the reef when he noticed it drifting off. He swam furiously to try to catch it, but Boo Boo is faster than she would lead you to believe.


****

The next day we had what I would characterize as really bad luck. One might even call it holy-crap-can-you-believe-that-happened luck. 

There are ferries that go back and forth between the islands in the Abacos. They go pretty fast, even in anchorages, so when they pass by you can usually expect some sort of wake. Your boat rocks back and forth, but it isn't too bad and you just deal with it.

Then there's the ferry that passed through Matt Lowe's Cay that morning. This wasn't an ordinary ferry wake, this was like a tsunami wake. Important stuff went flying across the cabin, like freshly brewed coffee. 

Scott said a few naughty words and cleaned everything up. Then he went into the cockpit and saw this.


In case you're wondering what this is, it's one of our dinghy davits. They're basically a support system so that you can raise your dinghy out of the water, which is helpful on many fronts - no growth on the bottom of your dinghy, you don't have to worry about it getting swamped or turning over if you tow it behind your boat and less chance someone will steal it at night. We also have our solar panel mounted on top of the davits. 

Actually, this isn't what he saw. What he saw was our dinghy and solar panel hanging off of the broken dinghy davit. We were worried that the whole thing was going to collapse and our dinghy and solar panel would crash into the water. That would not have been good.

We rushed around like crazy to drop the dinghy and remove the solar panel before the next ferry and its tsunami-like wake came through the anchorage.

Much easier said than done. Much, much easier said than done.

We both ended up getting cut. Blood dripped everywhere. Scott probably needed stitches, but we had to keep working. 

Finally, we got everything off the dinghy davits, wiped up the blood and bandaged up Scott's hand, using some handy Gorilla tape to keep the bandage on.


We motored over to nearby Marsh Harbour to try to figure out our next steps. (Marsh Harbour is a relatively large town in the Abacos with all sorts of services.) We rigged up the solar panel temporarily over our aft cabin. Not an ideal solution as we couldn't tilt the panel to get full coverage during the day. But some power is better than no power. Alas, we had to say goodbye to cool sea breezes at night in our aft cabin where we sleep since the hatch was closed.


We walked into town to track down a welder that had been recommended by folks on the Women Who Sail Facebook group. It sounded promising (turns out it wasn't, but that's a sad story for another day) and we went back to the boat kind of hopeful we might be able to get the davit fixed and get the heck out of the Abacos and head down to Eleuthera. 

Later, after a drink or two in the cockpit, we started talking about what had happened and how it coulda-been-so-much-worse. Imagine if this had happened while we were on passage, at night, in high winds with huge waves? What if this had happened when we were anchored at some remote island without any services? 

I'm not sure it made us feel any better about what happened, but it was helpful to try to shift our frame of reference just a tiny bit and think about how our bad luck was maybe coulda-of-been-worse luck.

Cruising Log | Thursday 20, April 2017 - Friday, 21 April 2017

20 APRIL
Scott went snorkeling with the dinghy. The dinghy got bored, decided to ditch Scott and go out exploring on it’s own. Rescued by two guardian angels. Anchor up at 2:30 PM. Went out for a sail. Checked out anchorage at Man O’War Cay, but too crowded. Headed back to Matt Lowe’s Cay. Anchor down 5:15 PM. Nautical miles = 9. Engine = 1 hr 15 mins. Spending = Nil.

21 APRIL
“The Day of All Days.” After a massive wake by one of the ferries, one of the dinghy davits broke. Nightmare to drop dinghy and remove solar panel while hoping another ferry didn’t wake us.. Cut ourselves. Dripped blood everywhere. No time for first aid. Secured solar panel on deck. Headed to Marsh Habour to figure out next steps. Anchor up at 1:30 PM. Anchor down at 2:30 PM. Set up makeshift solar panel station on top of aft cabin. Limited amps coming in due to not being able to rotate panel, but better than nothing. Walked to the Marsh Habour Boat Yard and found a welder nearby after getting attached by a pack of feral dogs. Nautical miles = 4. Engine = 1 hr 30 mins. Spending = Nil.

Do you believe in luck?  When's the last time you had really good luck and/or back luck?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi! 

26 May 2017

Flashback Friday | Cruising In Ethiopia

Today is Michael d’Agostino’s Flashback Friday. The idea is to republish an old post of yours that maybe didn't get enough attention, or that you're really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc. We started this blog three years ago and have lots more followers now then we did back then (thank you all!) so many folks may not have seen some of our earlier blog posts. 

I originally wrote this post when we were living in New Zealand and had just gone out for Ethiopian food. We love Ethiopian food! While we try to keep from eating out too often, we do make an exception for checking out local Ethiopian restaurants when we travel.

We're currently cruising in the Bahamas and thoughts of doro wat keep dancing through my head, but I'm guessing we won't find an Ethiopian restaurant on any of the islands here.

{This post was originally published in April 2014. You can find the original post here.}

****




We've eaten Ethiopian food in a few cities around the world including Oslo, Rome, Ann Arbor, Portland, The Hague, London, Toronto and Washington D.C. Once, we even walked 3-1/2 miles in a torrential downpour in Athens in search of an Ethiopian restaurant the guidebook promised us. Unfortunately, it had closed down so we had gyros instead, but that will give you a sense of our love of Ethiopian food.

We can now add Auckland to our list having now eaten at Cafe Abyssinia in Mt. Roskill. Mt. Roskill is a really interesting part of Auckland and one we hadn't been to before. Not only can you get Ethiopian food there, but you can also stock up on your favorite kind of taro, whether it be from Tonga, Samoa or Fiji.




The Fijian consulate is also nearby. It is conveniently located within a jewelry store so you can sort out your visa issues and buy something sparkly at the same time. Handy!




It was well worth the effort to head down to Mt. Roskill as Cafe Abyssinia is hands down the best Ethiopian restaurant in New Zealand. Well it is actually the only Ethiopian restaurant in New Zealand that we know of, but it was pretty darn tasty! But, if you want to go to our favorite Ethiopian restaurant in the world, head over to Jarra's in the Hawthorne district of Portland. Order the doro wat and the miser wat, one with A and one with B (it will make sense when you see the menu). Also, get a glass of Widmer Hefeweizen beer and tell Mr. Jarra we sent you. If you haven't had Ethiopian food before, it is delicious. You use your hand (right one only please) to scoop up delicious stew like concoctions with injera (Ethiopian bread).

So while we were enjoying our meal at Cafe Abyssinia, I started wondering in my head: "I wonder what it would be like to cruise in Ethiopia? Wouldn't it be great to step off of your boat and eat Ethiopian food right in the heart of the motherland?"

Okay, stop and rewind. What is wrong with this sentence - "I wonder what it would be like to cruise in Ethiopia?" Here is what's wrong - Ethiopia is LANDLOCKED. That's right, LANDLOCKED. You cannot cruise right up to the local Addis Ababa marina and get some doro wat to go. Yes, I am American. You can tell from my ignorance of world geography.

And although I have a passport, in which John Kerry (the current US Secretary of State) kindly requests immigration officers around the world (in three languages no less) to "permit the citizen/national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection", clearly I am not qualified to use said passport due to my woeful lack of geographical knowledge. Immigration officers around the world shake their heads every time they see American tourists making their way towards them clutching their blue passports in their hands. They think to themselves, "Do we really have to let them in?" But then, they read Secretary Kerry's politely worded request and consider all of the tourist dollars we might spend and they reluctantly let us in. Well into most countries anyway.

I also have an Irish passport which I try to use to enter foreign countries whenever possible. I find this works much more smoothly. Immigration officers smile and greet you with open arms when you're clutching an Irish passport in your hands. The think to themselves, "The Irish are here! Yeah! Maybe they have some Guinness in their backpack to share with us!" They never even bother to look at an Irish passport to see if the Minister of Foreign Affairs is kindly requesting entry for the passport holder. They're just happy to see the Irish and let them straight in.

So realizing that embracing a cruising lifestyle requires not only learning about sailing but also about geography, I've done some quick research on the best way to cruise near to Ethiopia. From there, hopefully, we can hitchhike or something from the port to Addis Ababa. I thought I would share my planned route with you in case you too want to go cruising not in, but nearby Ethiopia.

The first step is to look at the handy map of Ethiopia they have hanging up in Cafe Abyssinia. You can see clearly that Ethiopia is LANDLOCKED. Our best bet is to try to sail up to Eritrea, Djibouti or Somalia and then make our way inland to Ethiopia.



So taking each potential landfall in turn, let's see what we can find out:

1.  Djibouti

I read on one website that "Djibouti is popular among sailors of all levels." This website is targeted at captains of super yachts, so I wonder if that is a polite way of saying the riff-raff of the sailing world also hang out in Djibouti? (I think we would be considered riff-raff.) The website does mention that Djibouti is a convenient refueling stop between the Persian Gulf and the Seychelles, Maldives and India. So it looks like we can get diesel there, but it doesn't mention anything about Ethiopian food. After doing some more research, I find out that the Port of Djibouti is the main port for imports and exports to and from Ethiopia. So, if we can't get to Addis Ababa ourselves, perhaps we can crack open one of the containers in the port and find the ingredients to make our own meal.

2.  Eritrea  

According to Noonsite, there are two ports in Eritrea at either end of the country - Massawa and Assab. The daysailing sounds quite pleasant with countless anchorages and offshore islands to explore. (You're not supposed to sail at night as there is a serious lack of navigation aids.) There is also a guy named Mike in Massawa who can help you out with laundry and provisioning. Maybe Mike can also help get us to Addis Ababa to get ourselves some Ethiopian food?

3.  Somalia 

Since Noonsite was so informative about Eritrea, I checked out their section on Somalia. Here is what they said: "Sailing to Somalia is considered far too hazardous in the present circumstances and anyone intending to sail anywhere near Somalia should obtain the latest information on the internal situation before venturing anywhere near a Somali port. Only major ports should be approached and only in serious emergencies." Hmm, I'm not sure that looking for some Ethiopian food constitutes a serious emergency, so I think we'll stick to making our landfall in Djibouti or Eritrea.

But something is niggling away at me about this plan. I can't quite put my finger on it...oh yeah, that's it - pirates! And not the Johnny Depp kind of pirates either. These are the mean kind of pirates who brandish some serious firepower and which even big freighter ships are wary of. They've given the place a bad name. The Gulf of Aden is even known as Pirate Alley. 

So I am now rethinking our plan about sailing near Ethiopia in search of Ethiopian food. Unless I can persuade Harry Potter to lend us his invisibility cloak so that we can sneak through the Gulf of Aden without being spotted by the pirates, I think we'll have to stick to having Ethiopian food in places like Auckland and Portland.

Have you ever had Ethiopian food? Did you like it? If not, would you ever want to try it? Do you know of any Ethiopian restaurants in the Bahamas?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

24 May 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Vernon's Grocery Store, Hope Town, Bahamas



Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - One of the highlights of exploring Hope Town in the Bahamas is a visit to Vernon's grocery store. It's well known for its baked good and its proprietor, Vernon. Vernon is a direct descendant of the original founder of Hope Town. In addition to running the store, Vernon is also a minister at the local Methodist church.

2 - Vernon has inspirational and amusing quotes scribbled on index cards and scraps of paper scattered around the store. Quotes like, "Some days you're the pigeon, some days you're the statue."

3 - This is a picture of the kitchen outside of the store. They make fabulous bread, as well as their famous key lime pie.

   
What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

22 May 2017

Where's Frank?! | Hiding Bodies On Boats At Hope Town, Abacos, Bahamas




“Hey, isn’t that Frank’s boat over there?” Scott said as he pointed at a sailboat dropping the hook a few boats away from us.

I put my book down and squinted in the bright sunlight. "Could be. It looks like a Moody sailboat. But who are all those people on deck? I thought Frank was single handing his boat."

"Good point." Scott got out the binoculars and had a closer look. "Hmm. Maybe it isn't his boat. I don't see him over there."

Scott put the binoculars down and ate some of the spicy pretzels we were having with our sun downers. I grabbed the bowl away before he could finish them off. Sometimes, you have to be proactive if you want your fair share.

"Could you see the boat name?" I asked.

"No, but it sure does look like his boat. But the big question is, if it is Frank's boat, where's Frank?"

"Oh my goodness!" I screamed. "Frank's dead! Those people stole Frank's boat, did away with him and stashed his body somewhere. Poor Frank. He really was such a nice guy."

I ate some spicy pretzels to console myself.

Scott rolled his eyes. "We're going to have to cut you off. No more murder mysteries for you."

I ignored him and looked back over at Frank's boat. "I wonder where they hid the body. On our boat, it would make sense to stash a body in our lazarette."

I noticed Scott looking around for the spicy pretzels. I tucked the bowl down beside me where he wouldn't see it. 

"You remember that whole blog post I wrote about hiding bodies on our boat?" I asked as I quickly put a pretzel in my mouth.

Scott rolled his eyes yet again. "I do. If you keep writing about this kind of stuff, people might start suggesting to the police that they search our boat."

"Good point. The place is a tip. It'd be a real drag if the police came on board. I'd really have to do a good tidy up."

****

We met Frank back at Indiantown Marina. He's a fellow Moody sailboat owner. As they're British boats, you don't run into too many of them all that often in North America, although there are a surprising number of them stored at Indiantown. So, it's always fun to meet someone else who has a Moody.

We ran into Frank again when we were at Marsh Harbour and that might have been him anchored at Hope Town when we were there. But, as our visit was pretty short, we never did have a chance to fully investigate his disappearance. I'm sure he's fine. At least, I hope so.

Hope Town is one of the highlights for cruisers in the Abacos. We really enjoyed it when we visited in 2015 (which you can read about here) and we enjoyed it again this season.

Its iconic red and white striped lighthouse is a must see for visitors. And if you're up for it, climbing up to the top gives you great views of the harbor and surrounding area.


 You'll see images of the lighthouse everywhere.


You'll even find miniature lighthouses. I love tiny things. Everything is better when it's small. Of course, being only 5' tall, I'm bound to say that.


If you manage to wrest yourself away from the lighthouse and go for a walk through the settlement, you'll find lots of lovely brightly colored houses, cute shops, a church, a library, restaurants and a cemetery. Pretty much everything you need can be found in Hope Town.



 Hopetown is on an island, Elbow Cay, which means you're never far from the water.



We brought a picnic lunch with us and ate it at a little memorial garden overlooking the ocean. It wasn't anything exciting, just leftovers from the night before, but the view made up for that.


Afterwards, we dropped off our pop cans at the recycling center. It was refreshing to see recycling in the Bahamas. People don't really recycle in Indiantown which is a bit depressing.


Then it was back to Tickety Boo to keep an eye out on Frank's boat and ponder his disappearance over sun downers in the cockpit. This time, I divided the spicy pretzels up into two bowls - his and hers.

Cruising Log | Tuesday, 18 April 2017 – Wednesday, 19 April 2017
 
18 APRIL
Walked around Hope Town. Found butane at Vernon’s grocery store for a surprisingly reasonable price. Had had a dream about finding a pack of butane cartridges just like these in a tiny Bahamian store. Eerie. Climbed to top of lighthouse. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine hours = Nil. Spending = $19.89 ($4.89 – carrots & tonic water, $15.00 – 4 butane cartridges)
 
19 APRIL
Anchor up at Hope Town at 12:35 PM. Went out for a sail. Anchor down at Matt Lowe’s Cay at 4:00 PM. Experimented with using dehydrated vegies in a chicken stir fry. Wasn’t too bad. Nautical miles = 12. Engine = 2 hrs 20 mins. Spending = Nil.

Do you recycle? Have you ever hidden a body on your boat or in your basement? Have you ever climbed up to the top of a lighthouse?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi! 




20 May 2017

Hero Lost Anthology | Meet The Authors, Pt 3

Editor's Note: In addition to the usual blog posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday about our eccentric adventures on our sailboat and as my random thoughts and musings about life, I've decided to have the occasional blog post on Saturdays where I focus on things related to writing such as cover reveals, book launches, interviews with authors etc. So if you're into all things related to books, check in on Saturdays - you never know what might pop up.

****
 
This is the third in a series where I get to introduce you to my co-authors of the IWSG anthology <<Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life>>.

I decided to ask them a series of questions about what they're passionate about, lessons learned about writing, the most adventurous thing they've done and, of course the most important question, what their favorite cookie is.

Grab a comfy chair, a cup of cocoa and a handful of your favorite cookies and get to know these wonderfully talented folks.

****



Yvonne Ventresca >> Web | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram <<


1 - Other than writing, what's your biggest passion in life?

Besides my family and loved ones, I love genealogy. I find it fascinating to learn about history and the stories of my ancestors.

2 - What has been your biggest lesson learned in your writing career to date?

The biggest thing I’ve learned is to balance my time between creating my stories and marketing them once they’re published. Getting the word out about books can spawn an almost unlimited number of tasks! Over the years, I’ve tried to follow the advice that getting another book published can be the best thing for sales of previous works. To help keep me aware, I track my writing-related time and try to make sure that my creative hours outnumber the marketing and “business” ones.

3 - What's the most adventurous thing you've done?

I began studying Isshinryu karate twelve years ago. Testing for my black belt was a courageous endeavor!

4 - What's your favorite kind of cookie? If you don't eat cookies, why not?

I love almost all cookies, with the exception of thin mints and the technical kind that get left behind on the computer.





L. Nahay >> Web | Blog | Twitter | Instagram  <<

1 - Other than writing, what's your biggest passion in life?

Other than writing, wow. I've been sitting on this question for an extensively long time (sorry!). I think I have several! For the last twenty-two years I've worked in veterinary medicine. At 16, my career path was either a degree in English, or a degree in veterinary technology, and I chose the latter because I wanted to keep the writing part of my life a passion and not a job (because I'd written since I could, and did not want to ever turn it into a chore). I've recently discovered 'medical records' I'd made when I was about 8 or 9 for frogs and turtles and snakes I had caught while romping through Wisconsin, which is where we use to spend our summers. But veterinary medicine, unlike human medicine, is not something kept strictly business. I've brought my patients, injured wildlife, broken cats, and homeless cold-bloodeds home with me a LOT!

I also have a busy creative mind (as most of us writers do) and keep myself occupied with various projects. I can do a little bit of everything, and I love figuring out new things. Over Christmas, I turned old lightbulbs into steampunked hot air balloons. Those turned out awesome! At the moment, I'm setting my attention higher, and am plotting an indoor pond for the bullfrog. This will require new toys/tools (haha!).

Which brings me to another. My goal was always to have a ginormous garden when I 'grew up'. Years of renting and constant moving kept putting that off. The first house I bought didn't have space for it: one yard went to the dogs, the other to the kids, and the third to the turtles. I've always kept house plants, though not in excess. The last house I rented (that was a nightmare), I went all out on outdoor container gardening, and that was beautiful! (because, tea, you know). And then the house failed. My current house is a keeper, and from the day I signed the papers, I've been filling him with house plants until I can get going on the outside. I want a jungle. The monsters think I'm slightly crazy, but it's gonna be great. I've dipped into carnivorous plants in the last couple weeks, and bought three more this morning! Which is hysterical if you factor in that I'm not a carnivore.

2 - What has been your biggest lesson learned in your writing career to date?

No matter how tedious or strenuous or emotionally vampiric it can sometimes become, writing is the easy part. Publishing and trying to get noticed is not.

3 - What's the most adventurous thing you've done?

Mmm. When I realized that I was no longer trapped and had the ability and capability to just go wherever I wanted, and that my car was my wings. I was in Southern Colorado for a festival that turned out to be a bust, and decided to go the opposite direction of home and just drive aimlessly through the Rockies. It was a beautiful, sunny June day and I did not want to go home. The roads were typical twisty turny mountain roads which was just cathartic to drive (it logically should NOT be a cathartic drive, if you've ever driven twisty turny steeply inclining mountain roads). After a few hours, I found myself in a campground. It was Father's Day, a Sunday, so by that time it was empty. I was newly divorced, the boys were with their dad, and I absolutely needed some mountain healing. But the dog was still at home. So I compromised, and drove home to grab the dog and my newly collected camping gear and made it back to the campground late into the night. I set us up and cooked dinner in pitch black. Even though my car was dead in the morning and actually returning home was something of a necessity and an ordeal, it was still the best weekend that sprouted many more. The following weekend I packed up the boys and took them to the same spot. The next month I broadened my wandering and we drove to Mount Rushmore and camped out for a week. I jumped at chances to drive home to Chicago from Colorado whenever possible, until returning permanently. And the first thing I did when a temporary job ended a couple years ago was pack up the boys again for a longer road trip to Florida. I want them to see that the boundaries we see are self made, and no one can tell us where we can or can't go.

4 - What's your favorite kind of cookie? If you don't eat cookies, why not?

Soft ones. Any flavor. I hate crispy cookies.

Mmm. I just delivered a bag of cookie mix to my 15 year old and told him to learn. I want some fresh-made cookies (made by someone other than me)!


****


If you're interested in picking up a copy of <<Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life>>, you can find it at these online retailers:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble (print book)
Barnes & Noble (ebook)
iTunes
Kobo

Fantasy (FIC009000) Freedom Fox Press
Print ISBN 9781939844361 eBook ISBN 9781939844378

You can also find out more about the book and my co-authors over at our website and blog.

Now over to you - what's the most adventurous thing you've done?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!  

19 May 2017

Cost Of Cruising In Florida & The Bahamas | March & April 2017


We track and report every penny we spend living aboard and cruising on Tickety Boo, our Moody 346 sailboat for a couple of reasons.

1 - It helps us see where our money is going, helps us make informed choices about where to spend our money, which in turn helps us stretch our money further so that we can keep adventuring longer.

2 - We found it really useful to check out other people's cost of cruising when we were starting out, so we figure we can return favor by sharing ours.

You can find details of how much we spent cruising in Florida and the Bahamas during March and April 2017 below. Keep in mind that this is what works for us. Everyone has their own budget and priorities and everyone tracks and reports things differently.

You can find links to other cost updates from ourselves (on Tickety Boo, camping across the States and our previous boat in New Zealand) and others on this page, as well as on The Monkey's Fist.


Cost of Cruising In Florida & The Bahamas  | March & April 2017

Overall, we spent $2,012 during March and April which isn't too bad considering the fact that we had to buy Tickety Boo some stuff before we headed off cruising. And it's also a lot less than how much we spent in the previous month.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of what we spent, here are a few things to note:

1 - All costs are in US dollars. The Bahamian dollar is on par with the US dollar, so no conversion was required. It's pretty cool that you can use US currency in the Bahamas. No need to worry about exchanging money.

2 - Not all expenses are included - here's what we've left out:
(a) We don't report how much we spend on alcohol. I remember reading some horrible, judgy comments in a blog post a few years back about how much someone spent on booze, so I left it out when we first started tracking our cruising costs back in New Zealand. For consistency's sake, I've continued to leave it out when tracking our cruising costs.
(b) We've also left out our costs for medical insurance. We didn't think it made sense to include insurance costs as they can vary so widely depending upon your nationality, where you cruise, what level of coverage you want and can afford etc. In case you are curious, while we're back in the States, we do have insurance through the health insurance marketplace (aka ACA/Obamacare), primarily to protect our assets and cover us in case of a catastrophic medical condition.
3 - I've included any shipping and taxes we've paid in what we report. Florida has a 6% sales tax. The Bahamas has a 7.5% VAT.


GROCERIES | Total = $423.17

This category includes everything we put in our bodies in terms of food and drink (excluding booze) that we prepare ourselves. It doesn't include things like paper towels and ziploc bags, which I know some people would classify as groceries. Sure, you could probably eat them, but they wouldn't taste very good.

To be honest, this is more than I had hoped to spend, but we did do some last minute provisioning in Florida before we headed off. We also spent far more time than we would have liked in Marsh Harbour in the Abacos due to weather and other issues. The upside of our time in Marsh Harbour was access to some relatively reasonably priced groceries at Maxwell's which meant we could replenish our supply of eggs, milk, cheese and meat. If we had been able to spend more time anchored in more remote areas of the Bahamas, we probably would have spent less on groceries and made do with the provisions we had on board.



PERSONAL & HOUSEHOLD | Total = $4.28

This is the category where we include household things (like paper towels and ziploc bags) and personal hygiene items (like soap and shampoo). We also capture items for the "home" here - like bug spray.

The $4.28 we did spend was on some last minute paper towels and toilet paper before we left Florida. They're insanely expensive in the Bahamas, so you're better off stocking up before you leave the States.


ENTERTAINMENT | Total = $29.00

In terms of drinks and eating out, this includes everything we don't prepare ourselves, even if we get something to go and eat it back on the boat. We also track how much we spend on books, magazines, DVD rentals and going to the movies in this category, as well as the occasional lottery ticket.

Of the $29 we spent during March and April, $13 of that was on take-away food before we left Indiantown. Once we left Indiantown, we didn't eat out or do take-away for over two months. The last time we cruised in the Bahamas, we ate out a few times, but to be honest, we weren't blown away by the food or the cost of eating out, so we chose to do all of our own cooking on board this time.


COMMUNICATIONS | Total = $174.00

Our cell phone is actually one of our biggest non-boat related expenses. We have a $60 monthly GoPhone plan with AT&T which includes 8GB of data and unlimited calls and texts. We continued with that plan while we were out cruising so that we can keep our US cell phone number.

When we got to the Bahamas, we bought a BTC SIM card ($15) and a 30-day data plan ($35). The data plan we bought was billed as "Limitless" which the woman at BTC assured us had no data cap, nor would it choke down our speed after we used a certain amount of data. Turns out that was rather misleading. Once you use 15GB of data, they shut you down without warning. Fortunately, we didn't use up our data allowance, but I know other people who did. To be fair, the cost per GB is actually pretty good compared to our AT&T plan.


BOAT FUEL | Total = $157.72

We spent $143.72 on diesel for our inboard engine. We topped up our tank in Lake Worth ($2.73 per gallon) before we crossed to the Bahamas and then again at the Conch Inn Marina in Marsh Harbour ($4.05 per gallon). We also spent $14 on gas for our outboard motor at Abaco Dorado Boat Rentals in Marsh Harbour ($5 per gallon). The upside of buying fuel at Abaco Dorado Boat Rentals is that you get free water (we filled up a couple of jerry cans for free in addition to the 22 gallons we had bought previously).


LPG & BUTANE | Total = $101.43


We have a LPG (or propane) cooker on our boat. Not long after we left Indiantown Marina, our stove broke while we were cruising in Florida. Fortunately our oven still worked, so between that and our BBQ, we were able to get by cooking-wise until we got back to Indiantown Marina and picked up our butane camping stove. The camping stove works fine as a temporary solution until we're able to replace the cooker sometime this summer, but butane cartridges are pretty expensive, especially compared to LPG.

Here's how the expenditure broke down:

  • In the States, we spent $23 filling up both of our LPG tanks in Indiantown and $56 on 19 butane cartridges at Walmart.
  • In the Bahamas, we spent  $7 filling up our smaller LPG tank at the Corner Value in Marsh Harbour and $15 on 4 butane cartridges at Vernon's in Hope Town. (Random side note: I had had a dream about finding relatively inexpensive butane cartridges at a tiny store in the Bahamas. It was really strange to stumble across these cartridges at Vernon's.)


MARINA COSTS | Total = $46.64

Anchoring out is one of the things we love about cruising. Not only is it nice to relax on the boat in a quiet anchorage and fall asleep to the waves gently lapping against the side of your boat, it's also free. We like free! Of course, anchoring out isn't always all that it's cracked up to be - we've been in our share of roly-poly anchorages and not been able to sleep at night wondering if we're going to drag anchor, but it's still free!

While our goal was to anchor every night, we ended up having to come back to Indiantown Marina for a couple of days (you can read about it here). The first night we stayed there was free as they couldn't lift our boat out due to the weather. The second night cost us $36.04 ($1 a foot without electricity). We also got our holding tank pumped out twice - once before we headed off the first time and once when we returned.


BOAT STUFF | Total = $809.24

This category is for all the stuff we've been buying for the boat, as well as repairs and maintenance costs. The bulk of our spending was on a new solar panel and connectors ($163), a new MPPT solar controller ($100) and a new zinc ($100). We also hauled Tickety Boo out to check out her bottom while we were back at Indiantown Marina. Fortunately, everything was fine and we splashed again right away, but the process costs us $252.

We also spent $4 on 22 gallons of water in Marsh Harbour at Abaco Dorado Boat Rentals. They sell city water for 18 cents a gallon. You can buy RO (reverse osmosis water) at the marinas for around 40-50 cents a gallon. Of course, we went the cheap route and chose the city water over the RO water. This was perhaps a mistake. While it was fine in our tanks (which we only use for washing up, we store our drinking water in jerry cans), it tasted kind of funny. It wasn't horrible, it just wasn't great. 


TRANSPORT | Total = $84.61

This category is for costs related to our vehicle, mostly for gas to keep it going and drive into the nearby "big city" of Stuart for errands. We put $42.21 worth of gas into it before we headed off. We also pay $21.20 a month to store our vehicle at Indiantown Marina while we're off cruising.


MEDICAL EXPENSES | Total = Nil

This category includes medical expenses outside of our monthly insurance premium (which aren't included here - see section on exclusions above), like over the counter medications, prescriptions and things for our medical kit. It also includes the costs of doctors visits and medical tests which aren't covered by our insurance.

Although there were a few cuts and bruises while we were cruising, neither of us needed medical attention. Well, come to think about it, Scott did have a cut that probably could have used stitches, but that's a story for another day.


OTHER | Total = $182.80

In this category, we break out how much we spend on clothes and travel expenses. We also include a catch-all miscellaneous group for stuff that doesn't fit neatly anywhere else - things like laundry ($2.50 for a wash at the Classic Coin Wash in Marsh Harbour).

The big expenditure during March and April was $150 to clear into the Bahamas. This covers our cruising permit and fishing license while we're in the Bahamas. We're lucky that our boat is under 35' long and that we only have to pay $150. Boats over 35' have to pay $300.



Do you track your monthly expenditure? What are your cost saving tips and tricks? What's the longest you've gone without eating out or getting take-away?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!  

17 May 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Spray Bottle & Dinghy Repair



Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - We used a spray bottle of water and dish soap to track down the leak on our dinghy. If you see bubbles then you've identified the culprit.

2 - We have another spray bottle with just water in it which I use to "rinse" the dishes after I wash them. It's important to conserve water when you live on a boat at anchor.

3 - I had to relabel this bottle so we didn't confuse it with the "rinse" bottle. It is now our official "random bottle for miscellaneous uses."  

4 - I wonder what other miscellaneous things we can use it for? 

   
What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

15 May 2017

April In Numbers

Clockwise from upper left: (1) Drying our clothes on the lifelines; (2) Funny sign in Marsh Harbour - "You can eat our meat with no teeth."; (3) Experimenting with dehydrated vegies; (4) The red and white striped lighthouse, which symbolizes Hope Town, is everywhere; (5) Very official and slightly James Bond-like envelope from Bahamas Customs & Immigration; (6) Planning our next move.

It's time for our monthly recap by the numbers. We spent all of April cruising in the Bahamas in the Abacos. The month was a mix of good days, could-of-been-better days and holy-crap days. The biggest issues we faced were constantly hiding out from the weather (we had hoped it would have settled down in April, it didn't) and stuff breaking. Hmm...sounds like just an ordinary month cruising on any boat, doesn't it? The weather always rules your life and stuff always needs fixing.

Here's some tidbits about how the month went by the numbers:

  • 214 - Number of nautical miles sailed. {Side Note: I now have over 2,200 nautical miles under my belt. I know that's next to nothing compared to most people, but who would have though I would have ever spent that much time on a boat?}
  • 3 - Number of people from Indiantown Marina that we ran across while in the Bahamas.
  • 30 - Number of nights we anchored. Anchoring is free. Yay! Except in Treasure Cay where they charge you $20 to anchor. Needless to say, we didn't anchor there.
  • Nil - How much we spent on eating out or on takeaway food. Everything we ate was cooked on board Tickety Boo. Why pay $14 for a cheeseburger and fries when you can make your own cheeseburgers and grilled potatoes on board instead?
  • 14 - How many ounces you'll get when you re-hydrate 2 ounces of dehydrated broccoli. We experimented with Harmony House dehydrated vegies while out cruising. Fresh fruit and vegies can be hard to come by in the Bahamas and when you do find them, they're often quite expensive and not always in very good condition. I've found the dehydrated bell peppers really useful for adding to pasta sauce and the broccoli works really well in stir fry dishes.
  • 18 - How many days we spent anchored in Marsh Harbour, which was 17 days more than we would have liked. The first time we were there, we were hiding out from weather. The second time we were there was to try to get our broken dinghy davit repaired. I know a lot of people like Marsh Harbour and it is a great place to get groceries, fuel, water, propane etc., but the town really doesn't do much for us. However, the snorkeling at Mermaid Reef is awesome, so that kind of makes up for our time there. Kind of.
  • 50+ - How many knots of wind we experienced one night anchored in Marsh Harbour. It was insane. We turned the engine on and prayed we or anyone else wouldn't drag anchor. We held fast - a testament to our Rocna anchor and the muddy bottom at Marsh Harbour.
  • 1 - Number of oil changes. It's a messy job, but it has to be done. 
  • 2 - Number of temperatures on our BBQ - Off and Giant Fire.
  • 2 - Number of temperatures on our oven - Off and On.
  • 2 - Number of times we had pancakes. I love pancakes, especially with tons of syrup. Actually, the pancakes are probably secondary to the syrup. 
  • 8/10 - The rating I'd give Otto, our autohelm. He's performed surprisingly well during the month, although there's always room for improvement.
  • 2/10 - The rating I'd give myself. Honestly, I'm the worst when it comes to helming the boat. You'd think I'd have figured this out by now. I've got a lot of room for improvement.
  •  4.5 - Number of hours we ran our Honda generator. We had to take our solar panel down to our dinghy davit failure (it's mounted on our davits) and couldn't change it's angle during the day which meant we got less amps in than normal. Having a generator is a nice back-up for days when you can't get solar power.

In case you missed them, here are some of our favorite posts from last month:

Land Ho! Stretching Our Legs at Peck Lake
Smokey the Bear's Lair | Bush Fires in the Bahamas
Flashback Friday | Random Blogging Tips

How did last month go for you? What are you looking forward to this month?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi!


13 May 2017

Hero Lost Anthology | Meet The Authors, Pt 2

Editor's Note: In addition to the usual blog posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday about our eccentric adventures on our sailboat and as my random thoughts and musings about life, I've decided to have the occasional blog post on Saturdays where I focus on things related to writing such as cover reveals, book launches, interviews with authors etc. So if you're into all things related to books, check in on Saturdays - you never know what might pop up.

****

This is the second in a series where I get to introduce you to my co-authors of the IWSG anthology <<Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life>>.

I decided to ask them a series of questions about what they're passionate about, lessons learned about writing, the most adventurous thing they've done and, of course the most important question, what their favorite cookie is.

Grab a comfy chair, a cup of cocoa and a handful of your favorite cookies and get to know these wonderfully talented folks.
****



Tyrean Martinson >> Blog | Twitter | Facebook <<

1 - Other than writing, what's your biggest passion in life?

My family and my faith. Plus, I love to read to the point that I kind of inhale books. I love the idea of adventure - although I like quiet, just walking down the neighborhood street adventures as well as traveling to new places adventures.

2 - What has been your biggest lesson learned in your writing career to date?

The biggest lesson I've learned is that loads of readers are not going to just show up. It's tough, but I have had to explore the whole scary "marketing" thing. I love to read and I pick up books at the library and bookstores, searching for new authors. However, not all readers do that. Plus, those that do search for their next favorite author or next favorite book have a multitude of titles to peruse. I have to tackle the "how can I make my books" stand out question. I'm still working on it. I don't like the idea of branding into just one genre or platform, but I am considering how to buid trust with an audience and how to gain excited readers. I may need to use a pen name for certain a certain genre shift or I may need to have separate platforms for each style of writing, which is daunting to me.

3 - What's the most adventurous thing you've done?

Ooh, this is the fun question! The most adventurous thing I've ever done is snorkeling with Kona Manta Rays at night off the coast of Big Island in Hawai'i with my family. We went snorkeling three times on our Hawai'i adventure, but we started with the scariest one first - going out at sunset, donning the gear and slipping into dark water. Thankfully, the guides were awesome and they helped my youngest daughter get her mask on correctly (she was ten at the time) while I took slow, deep breaths and tried to remain calm. We all held onto a floating ring which we swam over a light that had been turned on by a scuba diver group to attract the manta rays favorite food source. The rays swooped in somersaulting circles through the rays of light to capture the tiny fish. We ended up just a few inches apart from them, belly to belly. It was the wildest, scariest, and most awesome adventure I've ever had and one that is way out of my comfort zone. I'm okay with kayaking with sea life and mammals who spend most of their lives in the water (seals, small whales - okay, admittedly, the one time with orcas was a bit scary), but getting "in" the water with sea creatures/fish hits my Jaws-inspired panic buttons.

I was brave for my daughters and ended up enjoying it. I tried really hard not to think about what other fish/sea creatures were out there with us.

We also snorkeled with sharks on that trip but since we were inside a protected cage and it was daytime, it wasn't quite as scary plus I had to be brave for my kids again since it was my oldest daughter's big dream to swim with sharks.

Why can't I have kids who want to swim with Nemo? or maybe dolphins?

4 - What's your favorite kind of cookie? If you don't eat cookies, why not?

My favorite kind of cookie is ... white chocolate chip and macadamia nut cookies. I make them with a gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free twist with extra vanilla in either cookie bars or cookies. I kind of like the bars better because they are gooier and it's faster to make the whole batch that way. :) 



Renee Cheung >> Web | Blog | Twitter | Facebook <<

1 - Other than writing, what's your biggest passion in life?

This is going to sound odd but I love creating. I suppose writing is a part of that. But I also enjoy making pretty and functional things. Perhaps that’s why it makes me jack of all trades and master of none. I knit, I bake and I design, whether it be graphic and web design. Lately I have started obsessing over making book images and covers, thanks to the publishing whirlwind that getting into this anthology has started. Even my day job as a user experience manager is in line with this passion. There’s a certain beauty to making experiences usable and even enjoyable for their intended audiences, whether it be a piece of software, or a customer’s experience on a phone line.

I suppose I can blame it on being a Taurus (who is said to enjoy beautiful and comfortable things) but with the recent astrology changes, I don’t even have that excuse. To be honest, I never really looked too deeply into the why’s. It’s just how I am built, I suppose.  

2 - What has been your biggest lesson learned in your writing career to date?

I have to admit, I’ve had only a very short career so far, but if the last few days have taught me anything, it’s that writing, or even editing, is only a part of the actual process, especially if you want to make a career, rather than a hobby, out of it. I’ve been spending the last few weeks promoting, making graphics, formatting for ebooks, and generally, just not writing. The ironic part of it is that I absolutely love it. It’s feeding that other part of me I mentioned above, so much I’m actually considering offering to make graphics for other writers. Another idea to toy with for now.

3 - What's the most adventurous thing you've done?

I am not an adventurous person by nature. In fact, I’m the very cautious couch potato, probably due to my upbringing. So this story may be a tad boring.

I once took a beginner’s ski class with an aunt who was visiting from Hong Kong and had never skied before. (If you have never been to Whistler and you love snow sports, I highly recommend it!)  I wasn’t a beginner myself but I wanted to accompany my aunt. We were doing quite well until towards end of the day when the threat of a snow storm seemed to be looming close. So the two instructors called up snow mobiles and asked them to take the students down to the base. Well, I wasn’t a beginner, I thought! So instead of taking a ride on the snowmobiles (which would have been really cool), I decided to ski down with the instructors. The storm hit of course on our way down so we picked up speed and soldiered on. We made it to the base, no skin off our backs. Of course, my parents at that time were not too happy with me.

Really, I was in no danger the entire time. I was skiing with two skilled instructors, staying well on the routes. 

Hey, I did warn you it would be a boring story!

 4 - What's your favorite kind of cookie? If you don't eat cookies, why not?

Oh that’s a very hard one. I do so love cookies, so to pick one is a challenge. I love triple chocolate cookies and it’s what I’ll order at any coffee shop. However, I also tend to end up having these home-baked oatmeal raisin cookies for breakfast. Guilty pleasure.

Oh and if you try this recipe out, mine tends to get a bit wet and so I tend to add a bit more flour than what the recipe calls for. Just a FYI if you decide to try it!


****

If you're interested in picking up a copy of <<Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life>>, you can find it at these online retailers:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble (print book)
Barnes & Noble (ebook)
iTunes
Kobo

Fantasy (FIC009000) Freedom Fox Press
Print ISBN 9781939844361 eBook ISBN 9781939844378

You can also find out more about the book and my co-authors over at our website and blog.

Now over to you - what's the most adventurous thing you've done?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!  

12 May 2017

Tickety Boo, Tickety Boo, Barracuda Bob

Docks at Marsh Harbour.

When you meet fellow cruisers, one of the things you talk about is what kind of boat you have and what it’s name is.

Whenever I tell folks that our boat is named Tickety Boo, the menfolk raise their eyebrows and give Scott a look which means, “Wow, how’d your wife sucker you into giving your boat such a ridiculous name?” The women usually say something like, “Oh, that’s so cute!” Scott just hangs his head in shame.

So imagine how Scott felt when I told him that the name of our dinghy was Boo Boo. Yeah, he wasn’t impressed.

Now imagine how Scott felt when he had dinghied over to shore and had to call me back on the boat using our portable VHF.

“Tickety Boo, Tickety Boo, Boo Boo,” he whispered into the VHF so that no one would overhear him.

“Boo Boo, Tickety Boo. Switch 1-7,” I replied with a smile on my face because it sounded so darn cute when he said “Boo Boo.”

{FYI - That’s how you hail other boats and shore parties on the VHF in the Bahamas. You say the name of the party you’re hailing twice, followed by your name once.}

When Scott got back to the boat, he said that we needed to talk.

“There’s no way that I’m going to say Boo Boo on the VHF again,” he said. “Next time I call you from shore, I’m just going to say, ‘Tickety Boo, Tickety Boo, Shore Party.’”

“But saying 'Shore Party' is so boring, my little Boo Boo,” I said.

He winced. We don’t use pet names for each other and the thought of me calling him ‘my little Boo Boo’ was probably a step too far.

“Fine, let’s go with something else like Barracuda Bob,” he said.

I agreed. After all, marriage is all about compromise. By the way, don’t tell Scott, but I think “Barracuda Bob” is kind of a cute name. Almost as cute as Boo Boo.

So next time you hear someone say on the VHF, “Tickety Boo, Tickety Boo, Barracuda Bob,” you’ll know that’s us.

****

Honestly the whole Boo Boo/Barracuda Bob thing was the biggest highlight of the past several days of our time in Marsh Harbour. We’ve been stuck here forever due to a stationary front. The wind has been ridiculous. Pretty much all we’ve been doing is lazing about and replenishing Tickety Boo’s supplies of groceries, diesel, water and gas, as well as doing a load of laundry and dropping off engine oil to be recycled.

I don’t think we could have stood one more day of such overwhelming excitement, so when the weather finally took a turn for the better, we hightailed it out of here and headed out of the harbor as fast as we could, ending up anchored outside of Hope Town.


Doing laundry at the Classic Coin Wash. Only $2.50 per wash. Dryers were much more expensive, so we hung our clothes up to dry back on the boat.
One of the marinas at Marsh Harbour. We prefer anchoring in the harbour as opposed to paying to stay at marinas, although a hot shower would be nice.
Snappas - a very popular place to eat and drink in Marsh Harbour. We actually haven't eaten out at all since we've been in the Bahamas. We're quite happy cooking and eating aboard Tickety Boo.

Cruising Log | Thursday, 13 April 2017 – Monday, 17 April 2017

13 APRIL
Baked cookies and whole wheat bread. Figure the whole grain in the bread helps balance out the sugar in the cookies. Scott got diesel, water, propane and groceries. Topped up water tanks. Did some tidying up. Small spaces become disorderly quite quickly. Dinghy seems to be holding air. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine hours = Nil. Spending = $113.36 ($83.60 – 19.2 gallons diesel, $4 – 22 gallons water, $13.11 – groceries, $3.65 – pasty brushes, $7 -  propane)

14 APRIL
Not much to report except dinghy still seems to be holding air. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine hours = Nil. Spending = Nil.

15 APRIL
Still not much to report. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine hours = Nil. Spending = Nil.

16 APRIL
Changed the oil. Oil extractor was uncooperative. Made it sit in the corner and think about what it had done. Then it became more cooperative. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine hours = 1 hr 0 mins. Spending = Nil

17 APRIL
Did grocery shopping and laundry. Got gas and water. Turned on the engine at 12:15 PM and motored over to Matt Lowe’s Cay for the night, but too many boats there already and no place left to escape from the wind. Motored over to Hope Town and dropped anchor outside of the harbor at 2:45 PM. Hung laundry up to dray on the lifelines. Went for a quick dip. Dinghy patch not working, but the leak is now a slow leak. {Sigh} Nautical miles = 7. Engine = 2 hrs 30 mins. Spending = $73.78 ($57.28 – groceries, $2.50 – 1 load of laundry, wash only, $14 – 2.8 gallons gas, $0 – water free if buy gas).

Do you call your partner pet names? If so, what are they (G-rated only please)? Have you ever been stuck in a place for days because of the weather? How'd you cope?

 Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come to visit! We're also on Facebook - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi!