Sunday, December 27, 2015

Holidays are over

Well the Holidays are over and we had a nice time with the fellow cruisers here in the French Harbor area. We camr together for a potluck dinner, the food was great and company even better. 

We also visited the local Iguana farm that we are anchored near. Steve could barely walk through it, he isnt a big fan of reptiles and there were tons of them.  They mostly roam free and the owners keep them around by feeding and protecting them. 

Starting in January we will be looking for the next good weather window to set off to Providencia, Colombia. We need to allow a good 3-5 days. So come on northerns, not too strong. Lol. 

On a personal note, Im missing coffee shops, parks and sidewalks. Steve of course doesnt....

Almost forgot to share our latest video of Schooner at the beach. She is such a little fish

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Monkeys and Rodents, Oh My!

Thought I would share a few pics I have on my phone with you all. We are still hanging out in the middle of Roatan Island in French Harbor's anchorage. Not too much beach here but lots of cruisers at the moment. People are coming from all around, the Rio Dulce, Guatemala as well as Panama and Providencia Columbia which is where we are headed next month. Always nice to get the current scoop of a place before heading there. Cruising Guides help but much if it is out of date or they only shared what the written laws is  which can and is different from what is practiced. 

So we have joined in on some of the store runs and veggie trucks offered by the two operating marinas that are in this area. Fantasy Island Resort and Marina brings in a veggie truck for all the cruisers to buy from on Mondays. On Tuesdays a bus takes cruisers to the local big super market, Eldons, and gives them about an hour to shop and brings them back. Great service, because it is always difficult hauling groceries back to your dinghy. On Wednesday nights they have a bring your own BBQ. 

The other marina here is Brooksey Point. They have a laundry service which is a huge plus, they also have a weekly Eldons run but later in the week which is nice and live music on Thursday nights. 

 Fantasy Island has all kinds ofanimals that roam free on the Island.  Schooner wasn't too sure she liked the monkeys because they love to gang up on little dogs. In her mind it is like a scene from Wizard of Oz.   

Steve also worries, we heard the monkeys have been seen throwing the iguanas out of trees. 

I started my herb planters. Im using two litter bottle with rocks in the bottom to help with drainage. I am starting with a mint plant. I feel two or three litter bottles are great planters for a boat because they can easily be stored away while on passages or in heavy weather. They can also be hung on the outside to keep the dirt or leaves from falling on the deck, which is something Steve doesn't care for much. 

I have also started some seeds for the other containers, basil, cilantro, rosemary and some salad greens 

We have also taken Schooner with us snorkeling. She is a little fish butshe doesn't seem to like us putting our heads under the water. I usually pull her with me on a float but when either of us go under she dives in after us. I guess she is saving us. We will have to put her life jacket on so she can stay longer in the water until she figures out we are fine, just another strange thing we humans do. Maybe she needs her own snorkel gear?

Hmm what else, Oh we had to move from our position in the anchorage the other night because of a boat dragging on us. It always happens in bad weather. It is a bit unnerving because you can't predict it or use some sort of warning signal like an anchor watch. You end up not getting much rest when in bad weather because you are always watching that guy that is right in front of you. 

So we moved but then someone else moved right in front of us again, this time even closer. They didn't use an anchor light at night and the next day we had a squall come over us and their little boat was whipping around in front of us with no one on board. A fellow cruiser notified us over the radio that he thought the boat in front of us was dragging. Great!  Of couse this will happen when no one aboard. Luckily we found the owners and they moved the boat up some but it made us feel like we were overreacting because they didnt hit us. What were we suppose to do, wait until they did hit us? Ridiculous!  If you ever want to see a overweight redhead beat someone that is what you do, it is the quickest way to make me mad and I don't recommend that. 

Well that is all that has been going on around here. Next week is the holiday so we will join the other cruisers for a potluck Christmas meal. Those are always interesting. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Are We Minimalists

Recently a friend said we were minimalists. I have to say that is a goal of mine in some form but not sure I have succeeded yet. So lets see….

On Saga Sea, Steve is the CEO, because he is the sailor, I am the admiral. Sailing and living on a sailboat has always been Steve’s dream so this made him in charge of all systems on the boat. The boat is mostly how he dreamed of it being. I am along for the adventures. 

In the very beginning of our marriage we bought an Alberg 30. Steve was convinced that it was the perfect boat to go cruising in once the kids were out of the nest. He thought this because he was a follower of Lin and Larry Pardey ( and James Baldwin (  . Go Small, Go Now! I thought of it as being a great weekend boat for overnight trips. 

Steve seemed to work on the boat more than sail it. He was working hard at making her “bullet proof”. He removed the diesel engine and installed an outboard motor. He closed up almost all of the seacocks. Removed the head, replaced it with a portapotty. That was a compromise, he wanted a bucket with a toilet seat. Yeah I had to pull rank in that situation. 

He installed a gravity water system which consisted of a big blue igloo that was at my feet in the Vbirth.  I wonder sometimes if he needed a short wife for times like these. Hahah. He didn't want the normal systems that could break down when you're  in the middle of nowhere. He wanted to keep things simple so he can do all the maintenance and repairs. 

Simple is good in my mind but after having the Alberg And living on it for a year, I realized I rather not “rough it” during this stage in my life, unless it is required because of a drastic situation. I was interested in finding some sort of middle ground. 

Steve took the challenge and scouted out the boat that would have the things on his list as well as mine. He wanted:

Full Keel - protects the rudder when grounding as well as no keel bolts to maintain or break 

Heavy Displacement - rides smoothly in bad weather, i'm sure for my comfort 

Double Ender - Stronger and he likes how they look

Cutter Design- easy to maintain proper balance with sail reduction 

So boats that were on his list that he felt we could afford with lots of discipline were boats made by Robert Perry, specifically a Tayana 37 since there were more of them made. I fell in love with them. I loved the warm teak cabinetry inside. I loved how beamy they are as well as the U shaped galley. 

After living on the Alberg for a year we ran across Saga Sea, a Union 36, a Robert Perry design. She had a Gammon Iron staysail stay attachment that gives forward mast support if we lose the bowsprit. She also has an Edson worm drive steering, which gives me the feel of a wheel without cable issue that Steve hates. He rather have a tiller anyday. She also has two 50 gallon fiberglass diesel tanks. 

I'm enjoying her pressure water pump. We did add a backup foot pump and a saltwater hand pump. She had refrigeration that Steve doesn't seem to mind. He did refigure the propane system for the stove. He liked the Pardey hand valve idea instead of using solenoid that is known to corrode and fail. 

So when answering the question if I think we are minimalist I have to say we are probably right in the middle somewhere on the scale. There are some cruisers out here with some very nice amenities. Such as watermakers, but I say I have one, Steve, powerful generators that run everything from air conditioning to coffee makers, water heaters, electric push button toilets, nice walk on transoms with pressured water rinse hoses and of course much more. The cruising life is no different than in a neighborhood. You have people that have less to those that have it all. 

We are very content with how Steve fitted Saga Sea. I am sure I will change small things the longer I am on her, but that is how women are… She seems to be a seaworthy vessel and the best looking in most anchorages, at least in our eyes. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Sunrises in French Harbor Roatan

Life isn't the same on the east end as it is on the west end of Roatan. East end is more rural and greener, so less white sand beaches. I don't believe Schooner much cared for it so we left and now in the middle of Roatan, French Harbor. 

We did have a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with the Trico Peeps before leaving,  Mr. Gala was sweet enough to include us, we enjoyed it very much. It's always difficult this time of year to be away from family and friends. 

Steve has keep up with a few things. He replaced the step we use when boarding the boat from the dinghy. He replaced it with teak so it should last a long time. 

I refurbished my sun umbrella with some colorful duck tape and paint pens. I always like sprucing things like this up, anything to bring attention. Hahaha I know Steve loves it. Hahah 

Our plans are to spend the holiday here in Roatan. As soon as we see a good weather window to go east we will head to Providencia Columbia.  For now we will enjoy Roatan's sunrises. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What mistakes WE made before setting off to cruise the Caribbean

Provisions for the passage- I found we are not like the other cruisers. Some call us minimalist, but I think we are somewhere in the middle of the extremes in the cruising world.  

We have friends getting ready to take off and was wondering what we advise.  Looking back on what we did and what we know now I think it can help if you know your crew and how they react during passages. 

I wish we had more passage experience in our own boat. It would have been helpful to know how Steve handles the stress. While on our ten day passage from Texas to Isla Mujeres, Steve lost his appetite. 

I expected us to have at least two meals plus snacks on the passage. So I precooked a large roast, a ham and some bacon. My thoughts were to use these to make meals easier to make underway, which it did. The problem was Steve would barely eat one meal a day. He would sometimes accept the snacks I brought. 

I knew I wouldnt eat three meals a day. Despite my size, Steve eats way more than I do on a daily basis.  So his change in behavior cause me to throw out a lot of food when we got to our destination. Now, I plan on one meal a day with snacks. 

Snacks were another thing I have changed. Before leaving I made this big trip to Costco attempting to prepare to never get the good stuff again and for the long passage. I bought all kinds of snacks, many of them were items we never eat, all wasted. Well I gave them away later so I suppose they were wasted. 

So for passages I take cold cuts, cheese, tomatoes, onions and crackers, Lots of ready to eat fruit, something sweet and crunchy and lots of drinks. I concentrate on keeping him hydrated. 

Now, I can only speak about my knowledge of the Western Caribbean, but there are stores in all of the ports we went to, at least so far. Also, the locals eat similar dishes as we do in the United States. They also use toilet paper, paper towels, laundry soap, dish soap and other cleaning supplies. So I did not need to bring a year's supply of it when we left. If you are like me, I do like to keep a good supply of these things but not a year’s worth. I still have three quarters of tide in a bilge compartment. 

Things I advise to bring are special seasons, sauces or salad dresses, things that can be stored in your dried goods cabinet. Or special brand items that you need that might be difficult to find here. You can find “gringo” brands here but they can be higher priced than in the states. 

I also took too many clothes, despite all the posts I read advising against it, and I don't even have as many clothes as other women. I confess I like to buy new things from time to time. So to satisfy that urge I shop at secondhand stores or items clearanced items. When I bring it aboard I find something to donate. This is no hard since this lifestyle can be hard on clothes, especially if they were already used. 

I do this in the kitchen also. I go through my cabinets and drawers cleaning and tossing things I have not used like I thought I would. This gives me room to find special local items to use in our daily life. Things that will bring back past memories of our time there. 

Steve says he wished he installed a radio and speaker in the cabin. He felt having a portable speaker was more efficient. The problem we have had with using portable speakers is where you plug in the cord for recharging. We keep breaking it leaving us no way of charging the device. I believe we are on our third speaker.

He also wished he had thought to buy a few LED Davis lights for anchor lights. We have since bought a few and brought them back from the States. He says he has no good reason of why he didn't think of it except that he was overwhelmed with all the other things. It wasn't an extremely important item, we do have an anchor light and we did have a regular Davis light we used but the LEDs are more power efficient

Another thing, he thought it would be easier find replacement parts for the Honda 2000 generator and Honda 2.3 outboard motor. Yet, it has been a challenge. We could get products that are similar but we rather not, so we brought back replacements on our last trip to the states. 

For what it is worth, we feel we were pretty prepared for this lifestyle, thanks to all that went before us and were willing to share their wisdom and opinions. This is why I try to think of things to pass along to people that are like us. There a ton of people out here living their lives cruising and they are all so different from each other just like life on land. I feel we should all share and help one another. There is someone like you out here I am sure. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Visitor and a trip to the Cayos Cochinos

Well this week has been exciting. A long time friend flew in from Houston last Saturday to spend the whole week with us aboard Saga Sea.

We showed her around the west end of Roatan. Had a great time and had a chance to play around with our new cameras. She brought a gopro and I had a knockoff brand. We were filming everything. You will get to see some of my awful filming on our YouTube channel or on Saga Sea's facebook page. 

On Monday we took off to The small Cayos Cochinos islands here in the Bay Islands. Had a great sail over there. It took about four hours from West End. 

A few hours after dropping anchor a local man, Foster, paddled over to us with his stash of jewelry that the locals have made. I bought a pair of earings and he told us that we could come by one of the little islands for lunch the next day. 

We had a pleasant night, the next morning we had a visit from the park officials were we completed their paperwork and paid the entry fee, it is $29 for the first day and $20 for each day therefore. 

We then headed out to explore the little islands. Two or three seem to be privately owned. On one we were politely escorted off. We then found Foster's island. 

We had a filling lunch and tour around the "peanut" island. The water was gorgeous with all the silky white sand. You will have to watch a few of the videos just to see these beautiful islands. 

On Wednesday, we sailed back to Roatan but to the east side and anchored in Jonesville bight. Here, Jesselyn got to see where we stayed a little over two months when Saga Sea's decks were being recored. She got to meet several of the expats friends we meet while there. One of our friends, Mark, took us on a road tour of the island then a boat mangrove tour. 

Today, Steve, Mark and Jesselyn went snorkeling and we enjoyed her last full day here in Roatan. When she first arrived ahe was welcomed aboard with a little chalkboard saying "Welcome Aboard Jesselyn". Tomorrow morning the chalkboard will say "get your crap and get off the boat" lol :-).  Honestly, we loved having her aboard. We loves sharing our life with "wage slaves"  even if it is only for a week.  Jesselyn has been a long time sailing friend. She has longed to live life and we are happy to have the opportunity to show her how easy it really can be. We cant wait for her to come back.