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A friend of mine asked if I would help him sail his boat from New York down to the Caribbean. I jumped at the chance, particularly when he said he was going to pay for my airfare! I probably would have been happy to pay for it myself, but my mate (Jay), he has a few extra dollars in the bank, so I happily obliged. The week long trip was a good chance to catch up with a mate I hadn’t seen in years.
One of the main reasons I wanted to do it is because he has an incredible boat. Like I mentioned before he has plenty of money to afford pure luxury. He currently owns a Beneteau Sense 50. Not only is it a beautiful cruiser, he’s outfitted it with all the mod cons you could want. When you go down stairs you feel like you have stepped into some New York penthouse, not some floating cabin.
Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of his actual boat, but here’s the stock photo from the Beneteau website itself.
The cruise started pretty easy. It was Jay, Jim and myself. A bit of a extended men’s weekend. Except there was no strippers! We had no dramas the first few day. The boat behaved well and there was a nice steady breeze to ensure we were making good time. We even caught ourselves a couple of fish in the evening. There is nothing better than fresh fish. We even kept ourselves busy with some of my suggested boat activities!
Day 3 and 4 were a bit more interesting. We had an issue with a tear on the main sail on Day 3. Nothing a bit of sewing couldn’t sort out. On Day 4 we had an issue with the boat sump pump. It took several hours to sort out, but with the boat being in such top notch condition in those seven hours it didn’t take on too much water.
When you are on a boat you expect problems. That’s the way the boats are. You need to be constantly fixing things. You need to be really handy with the tools as you are out there all by yourself. If you don’t know what you are doing, things can get really bad.
The rest of the cruise was nice and easy. It was a little bit rough as we were getting close to the Caribbean, but nothing we couldn’t handle. We had a great time. I love going over old stories over a beer or two. You get some incredible star views from out there too. After a few years at sea, you become pretty good at pointing out constellations, different stars and even the planets.
The good news is that we made it in one piece and had a great time.
Looking forward to next time!
Sources – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caribbean
Every boat needs a first aid kit. It doesn’t matter if you are out there for a few hours or weeks on end, you need to keep safe. If you decide not to take one, I might put you in the post about the Boaters With No Idea! Accidents aren’t unusual. Here’s an example.
What you need will depend on how long you are out on the open water. You need supplies that will help you aid a patient until you can make your way back to land and get some real help. Here’s some basics to get you going…
Bandages / Band aids
You will need several bandages. Having accidents on a boat isn’t unusual and you will need to stop bleeding quickly. Make sure your bandages are of the waterproof kind (just tell the supplier you want it for boating and they will point you in the right direction) and will be adequate for a fairly serious accident and will last for the amount of time for you to get to help. Also keep additional bandages (don’t need to be waterproof) for wrapping splints.
In case of a broken bone or sprain, you need to keep it stable. This is particularly difficult at sea, so you need to use something that works very well as a splint.
Medical Adhesive Tape
You can’t have enough of this. It has so many uses for any kind of accident. Once again, make sure you get the waterproof type to ensure it is effective when you use it.
It’s easy to get a wound infected out on the water, so make sure you are carrying some antiseptic. Having it could save you with a lot of problems with future infections.
There is nothing worse than having a headache on the open sea, with the sun glaring from above amplified by the reflection off the water and boat. Even if you are not prone to headaches we still strongly suggest you take some with you. It is well worth it.
Make sure you pack some of other things you need on a personal level. This may include sickness bags if you likely to get sea sickness, or maybe cold medication if you are someone who is likely to get a cold.
Okay, so most people say a cruiser’s life is luxurious. In many ways it definitely is. I mean we can go anywhere in the world and park our house right there. But realistically the luxuries in life are what is on the outside of the boat, not the inside. Yes, those outside luxuries are amazing. Something I wouldn’t give up for anything in the world. But to put things in perspective the living area on your typical 35 foot boat is under 400 square feet. That’s tiny. Your average size house in the USA has a square footage of 2,700. In such a cramped area you just can’t have some of life’s luxuries you use to take for granted. Here’ a list of some basic luxuries you miss while in a boat.
Fresh Water whenever you want it
It’s hard work having freshwater on a boat. You need to lug it in from the shops (some times miles away). It can be a half a day job. There are obviously other ways to get water. I mean you can install a water-maker, but they are so temperamental. They seem to break all the time and we have yet to have one last a few weeks without needing to be fixed. There is no way I would ever depend on one when we where doing a crossing. Back in a house all you have to do is turn on a tap and fresh water comes pouring out!
Room to Move
Yes, it can get cramped and if you are doing a crossing there really isn’t anywhere to go. There are activities that can keep you busy, but sometimes you just miss having the room. If you have a fight with your partner, you can’t just jump in the car and go for a drive to cool off. You have to sit at most 30 feet away from them.
Unless you are really wealthy and don’t mind topping up the fuel every 5 minutes you learn to live without the luxury of air conditioning. Yes, we are the first people to get the sea breeze, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t days when it is stinking hot and we can’t escape the heat. In our past life we could easily jump into our car, shopping center or house and be cool. It’s not so easy out here. You just have to live with it. Though it does make jumping in for a swim a lot more enjoyable!
A comfy bed
The bed on a boat are understandably small and made to fit the boats interior. The have a lump along the edge to make sure you don’t fall out of bed when you are in rocky seas. They are basically made for practicability, not luxury. How I miss my super comfortable bed from back in my past life.
Seeing a Movie on the Big Screen
I have seen so many movies on my tiny little TV (about 17 inch screen). I love a good movie, but I do miss the blockbusters on the big screen. We do sneak off and see one sometimes, but we are limited depending on where we are in the world. They don’t build a lot of cinemas around marinas.
Now it seems like I am complaining, but I couldn’t be happier with my life on a boat. That, of course, doesn’t mean I can’t get envious of you guys every once in a while. Maybe I’ll just go cruise over to a nice beach I found on a remote island that I have to myself. All of a sudden those basic luxuries you miss while in a boat don’t seem so important 🙂
Sources – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watermaker
Okay, so my dream boat changes by the week. This week it’s the Beneyau Sense 55 Murry Yacht. Here’s some YouTube videos to wet your appetite.
I’ll keep dreaming. Well until next week when I will want a different boat!
Now the thing about boating is that anyone can buy a boat. ANYONE! Now that’s great in someways and dead set terrifying in others. It’s great because it doesn’t put limitations on what we can do as humans. We are free to do what we want. Unfortunately sometimes I feel that some people should be protected from themselves. You see some crazy stuff out here. Whether it be on the open seas or on a river, people seem not to realize that boating is serious business. It is a dangerous adventure for you, your crew mates and the other boats around. It can be very expensive if you have an accident. It can also be deadly. Here are events we have seen in our time that really make us think “Some Boaters really do have No Idea!”
Mooring too Close
This is a common one. You park yourself in the open ocean, jump on your dingy for a trip to land, only to come back and find someone moored far to close. Once we came back and found a guy only 30 foot away. We had been here a few times and new the anchorage wasn’t great so politely asked them to move. They did without a problem not knowing they were too close. That’s the problem! You need to know this stuff! We have heard of people being hit before.
Trying to Sail into a small Marina
This is not the place to show what a great sailor you are. There are way too many fancy boats here to take that risk. Take down the sails and motor in. You don’t need to be a hero and there are rules against it.
Decking your Boat out with Products not for Boating
It’s not just sailing abilities that are a problem. Sometimes it is what goes on inside the boat that is just as bad. Some people don’t think when they purchase some stuff for their boat. One guy bought a PS3 and wondered why he was having problems with his wireless controllers only 1 month later. The marine environment is one of the harshest in the world, don’t bring anything too fancy.
Also we once saw someone bring a hair straightener on board. Seriously, that’s just crazy. Just enjoy the salt in your hair!
You fed your Cat what?
Some of us boaters keep cats on board as pets. Because they are in such an enclosed space they tend to get a little chubby. Now most of the boating community just deal with having a fat cat, or just cut back on it’s meals. However I once heard of a woman who fed her’s a diet supplement. Yes, you heard that right. A diet drug for HUMANS! She didn’t understand why her cat got sick and had to go to the vet.
Beaching and Running Aground
Yes, a very common one. That is why we all have depth finders and chart our course before we leave. This one costs a fortune to sort out (if you haven’t lost your boat completely). You need to know your tides and always leave plenty of room for error. The sea floor does change over time so you need to play it safe.
Not Carrying enough Fuel
So many people need to be rescued because they run out of fuel. I know we have saved a several in our time and they always have some terrible excuse. I mean we saved one guy once that was 50 miles from where he started, so he was never going to make it back. It’s just crazy that people don’t play it safe and ensure they have plenty of fuel. Here’s one example from the news.
So there are some of the things boaters have done that have made us think to ourselves “Some Boaters really do have No Idea!”. We have plenty more… maybe we will save that for a part 2 for this series.
When we are sailing out in the middle of nowhere, thousands of miles away from land, it is one of the most peaceful feeling in the world. We feel like we are the only ones alive. If there was a massive outbreak of disease, or World War 3 erupted, we would have no idea. We could arrive back several weeks later to find empty cities. We do truly feel like we are alone. It’s a great feeling. That’s why it is so disappointing that in these places, so far from everyone, we find far too many reminders that the human race is around. Yes, rubbish! We’ll be cruising along and bobbing in the distance will be something that someone felt didn’t need to be disposed of properly. We’ve seen it all. Here are some of the weird rubbish we have found at sea over the years.
This isn’t that weird to a boater. In fact it is a nightmare. Sea containers sometimes get lost at sea by either falling off a boat (here’s an example) or in a shipwreck. If they all just sunk to the bottom of the ocean, that would be fantastic, but for some reason they seem to like to float just below the surface. We have had a couple of close encounters in our time. Fortunately we haven’t been hit. You could imagine what damage a sea container could make!
When we first saw it we thought it might be a boat, but as we got closer it became clear that it was only a blowup mattress. I’m not even sure why they threw it out. Still looked like it was holding air to me!
A Message in a Bottle
It’s true, they do exist. We found a 2 liter coke bottle floating in the calm seas of the Caribbean. It had a message in it along with an American one dollar note. Unfortunately the message couldn’t be read (I think maybe the sun got to it). So if someone in the Caribbean dropped a bottle in the ocean, maybe it was us that found it.
One day we were cruising along and what would drift by, but a empty bottle of protein powder. It even still had some in it. Maybe the guy thought it would be good to have some before a beach work out and the tide came in and washed it away.
Yes, I think we found Wilson! He wasn’t in very good shape either.
A Rubber Ducky
I guess you could call the ocean a really big bath. This guy actually was in pretty good nick as he floated by. Maybe someone thought he made a good float for their fishing line? I thought it was unusual, but we aren’t the only ones who have found one. Weather.com had it in their strangest 12 things that washed up on the beach.
Well they say the ocean is the worlds biggest toilet. I guess we found where you are meant to sit!
Obviously someone who had had one too many beers after working construction all day and decided to give his helmet a heave into the water. He had his name written on the inside, so James Wright, we’ve got your helmet. Can you please come pick it up.
While this post is for a bit of a laugh, it does frustrate us that people think the ocean is just a dump. We are glad that it isn’t everywhere, but we are happy we are out here now before it gets even worse. Anyone reading this, please take your rubbish with you!
If you have been on a long sailing trip you will know it’s either 100 miles an hour or sitting on your butt enjoying the view. You can go from a team of busy beavers fixing a problem in pouring rain on rough seas, to sitting on a beautifully calm ocean cruising towards the horizon for hour after hour.
Now those times of sitting around are one of the most enjoyable parts of boating. We all love that feeling of peering off into an endless ocean without land in site feeling like you are the only person in the world. It’s one of the main reasons some of us boat. But… we all need to be honest. It can get boring, particularly on the long voyages. I remember one of our longer trips we had 7 straight days of smooth sailing without any problems. Now that’s a long time. We didn’t have a course correction or anything.
As you can imagine we have had to have a lot of activities to keep us busy during those long voyages. Here’s a list of our favorite activities to keep you interested on those long sailing trips.
Books, books and more books
There is no better place to read than out on a boat. When on the open ocean we often read a book a day. Read two pages, look to the horizon to make sure everything is ok, read two more pages, check the horizon… well you get the process! You can get cheap books in second hand book stores and if you stay at a marina, trading books is a favorite activity.
Yes, 52 sheets of cardboard can keep you entertained (either by yourself or with others) for endless hours. There are literally thousands of different games you can play. Some of our favorites include 31, 9-hole golf and the ever popular rummy. Also we suggest taking 3 or 4 sets of cards (preferably same brand). You don’t want to lose all that fun because a card got blown away or got wet, and they take up basically no room.
Learn a Language
You have spare time, so why not use it to learn something useful? What better way to do it than out on a boat. You don’t speak a word of Spanish? In a few hours a day for 10-15 days you can learn a lot and be speaking to the locals when you dock in Mexico. How cool is that?? You can master one of the hardest languages in the world in no time. It also helps if there is another person on the boat willing to learn with you. You can speak to each other in Japanese and before you know it you will be speaking the language well.
Learning the Starry Sky
Well, as a sailor you should know a little about what happens in the night sky. You can’t always rely on the instruments. What if disaster hits and you lose navigation. Navigating by sky has been around for millennia, so you should know the basics.
On another note, you won’t get many better views of the milky way than out in the middle of the sea. Views are spectacular. You should know a little about what you are staring at. If you have an IPad or a tablet google maps offers an app called Google Sky Maps which is awesome.
Write a Journal
There is nothing like writing a journal of your experiences. Whether it is by hand or on your computer, it will give you lasting memories of one of the adventures of your life. Also if you are creative you can start writing some short fictional stories. Nothing gets the creative juices going like fresh air and freedom.
A New Hobby
Ok, this one is a bit vague. That’s on purpose. It really is going to depend on what you are interested in. Want to give knitting a go, well go for it! Want to keep the brain working, take a book of crosswords and Sudoku.
I hope these helped you with some ideas for what to do on those long Sailing Trips. There are obviously plenty more, but these should keep you interested!
So you’ve decided to go out for the day on your boat. If you are going for more than a few hours then you need to pack some snacks with you. Some snacks really complement a day out at sea, while others really should stay back home in your kitchen. Here’s our list of snacks to take on a boating trip.
Well it’s not really a snack, but it is the most important non-boat related item you take with you, so I thought I would mention it first. As you know getting dehydrated is easy to do when you are out at sea. Not only are you getting hit from the sun above, but the reflection off the water and sea magnifies its effects. So take plenty of water to cover you if you have engine problems. Your body can survive weeks without food, but in less than 24 hours your body will start failing without water.
Cook some chicken up (or buy some pre-cooked) and put it in the fridge overnight. Keep it cold in the cooler while on the boat and enjoy a good meal when the time is right. Cold chicken is great if stored properly and a little bit of protein is good for you too. I prefer the deep-fried, but it’s obviously not the healthiest option.
Fruit and Nuts
These are great for snacking on while out on the boat. Fruits and nuts are full of monounsaturated fat (the good kind of fats) and fibre. They are also high in antioxidant and will boast your energy as the day goes on. The best kinds of nuts are almonds, cashews and pistachios, while the best fruits are usually the berries. Try Raspberries, Blueberries, Acai Berries and the very healthy Maqui Berry. You can also through in a banana, which is high in potassium and a good filler food.
Carrot and Celery Sticks
More healthy food. I don’t need to go into the benefits of these two guys. They are a great snack to help you get through the day. They are also easy to store, just make sure you cut them to the size you need and put them in a zip lock bag.
Ok, this one isn’t that great for you, it just tastes good (It’s one of my favorites!). There is nothing like a good potato salad while you are enjoying life on a boat. Usually it is easy to store and it’s one of the more filling meals you can have.
These are a great snack food to take with you on your boat. Don’t try and make them on the boat, you really need to prepare these earlier. It’s also much easier to handle on a boat if you cut them into fours rather than trying to eat them as a whole. Go light on the butter as it may make the bread go soggy.
You’re on a boat so you can enjoy yourself. Grab your favorite packet of chips and enjoy. They are great because they are waterproof before they are opened and come in their own bowl (well sort of…).
Eat what you find out there
The last one is a bit different and it will only apply to the fishermen among us. Plenty of fish can be eaten raw (e.g. tuna). And there is nothing fresher than something that has just come straight out of the ocean. Just be careful with that knife while trying to cut a fillet off the fish. Also if you are not sure what fish you have just caught, don’t take the risk of eating something that may make you sick.
Hope this list helps you prepare for your boating trips. There is of course an endless list of snacks you could take out boating, but this should definitely get you started. Enjoy.