Take Me There at 4 months

Welcome Take Me There to the ranks of the Newly Salted! Read their interview below or as originally published on their blog.


A while back, we answered a post (Cruisers Forum) from Livia Gilstrap regarding her Interview with a Cruiser Project.  We thought it was a great idea to participate and share our insights to her “Newly Salted” questions as we are new cruisers!
Hello – We are Steve and Kimberly Mitchell aboard SV Take Me There; a 1975 Gulfstar M53 Ketch hailing from Tampa, FL.  We have lived aboard for the past 36 months and have experience with coastal sailing and limited time offshore.  We are currently cruising, having traveled south from the Chesapeake Bay to West Palm Beach, FL, and are crossing to the Bahamas within the week of this post where we will begin our Caribbean adventure. We are blogging and VLogging along the way.  We’d love to hear from other folks interested in our adventure through our website where we will chronicle our journey and lessons learned along the way.
We are now crew of 5 including Steve, Kimberly, our Son David, Brandon (crew member & friend) and Gus the boat dog. We are delighted to participate in the Newly Salted Interview questions – so here goes:
What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?

Don’t marry the plan – just sleep with it! Kimberly and I are both planners by nature, so we are no strangers to study and preparation.  Although no one told us this – it popped up as a theme in every coherent reading we did about those out there “doing it” … cruising plans are written in sand at low tide (is the saying – I think).  Don’t be disappointed (or get frustrated) by planning in detail and having to routinely change, adapt, extend, delay, wait, back up … well, you get the picture.  I think we came into cruising with eyes wide open but eventually approached the adventure with finding the joy in it (Kimberly’s mantra) regardless of the challenges that WILL get in the way.  Perhaps the biggest “I wish I knew” was how Our family would adjust to living aboard…ie… “plannus interruptus” and then (eventually) being way out therewhere you can’t see land with a plan that has to change because mother nature had other plans or broke something that our plan needs to succeed.
As you started cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?

Two transitions required more effort than most:
1. First: adjusting to other (non-cruiser) reaction to where we live (aboard) and what we do in our spare time (all of it).  I’ve found communication is the key.  It usually goes something like one of the below two scenarios:
• Scenario 1: (Q) Where do you live? (A) Aboard our boat. Body language often reads: Ewww…is that like camping?
• Scenario 2: (Q) Where do you live? (A) Aboard our yacht. Body language reads: Whoa – this guy has too much money for me! (so not true)!
• How we answer now:  We are long term cruisers (sailing) currently moored at fill-in-the-blank large bay or harbor – your city/town/village is awesome!
2. Leaving the car behind – the convenience of a car is understated.  6 months ago we shipped ours to rest in our land-based home garage and transitioned to folding bikes, marina courtesy cars, offers for rides and Uber/taxi and public transport.  The “car-less” condition dovetails with our planning skills well as one off-sets the other (so far).
What mistakes did you make as you started cruising?

If you don’t make mistakes – you’re not learning.  We’ve certainly made a few – most notably:
• Put it where you can find it (or even remember it): We did not have real inventory system for stuff aboard until recently.  Try finding something you know you have but haven’t seen in a year?  Sometimes you won’t find it for that long!  We now have a barcode/searchable inventory plan for stuff in every nook, corner and cranny of this BIG boat.  We are using a smartphone app that helps us scan, manage, inventory and find stuff aboard as well as track re-order/re-provision points to make lists for shopping when we go ashore.
• Your vision isn’t always her vision – ask/communicate/share: The way I see something isn’t always the way Kimberly see’s it.  I value her opinion, perspective and insights as a problem solver and a planner.  I need to get better about consulting her before I apply a solution to our needs – I’m improving slowly and have incentive to stop and ask for her input (especially when she is not right there at the point of need).  9 out of 10 times, she can improve upon my solution or offer an alternative that is better for both of us.  She is my battle buddy and half of our cruising equation.
• You can’t sail everywhere:  As a retired military officer, I can read maps easily – but, things are often much more congested (tighter) than they appear from the chart plotter or the charts.  You arrive (often in less than optimal conditions) and Whoa!…there’s a lot LESS room to maneuver than I thought with this current, cross wind or traffic.
What do you find the most exciting about your cruising life?
Freedom to choose destination, timing, to linger, explore or back-track, meet new people or be alone is absolutely liberating!  After 30 years in the Army – the only person that can tell me where to go now is the Admiral (Kimberly)…and she always asks with a BIG smile!  What excites me?…I’m the “guy” so naturally, I like all things BOAT!  In reverse order…anything involving the boat (especially moving under sail) excites me.
Next up is the freedom to go where the wind blows you (or the motor takes you).  Most important is that I love doing this with Kimberly.  She is a joy to be around and I am pleased to operate and maintain the means to carry us on our travelling adventures – which is what I think excites her (travelling/exploring/encountering people – and finding joy in the journey).
What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?
– Anchoring flexibility and Uneducated boaters…
• Free ICW anchorage opportunity is slowly dwindling – Although we don’t have tremendous experience beyond the US East Coast…So far – I’m surprised by the commercial encroachment of anchoring in once accessible “public” waterways.  Free anchorage in convenient places near commercial infrastructure continue to be threatened by easements around mooring fields and dockage.  The Florida anchoring debate is a perfect example.
• Uneducated boaters are general hazards to everyone.  Not so much in “cruising” but boating in general – You don’t need any certifications or skills to operate a vessel.  I believe you have an inherent responsibility to educate yourself to be safe – which means – KNOW THE RULES.  There are a lot of “uneducated” boaters out there that put us all in danger.  Get in and GO is NOT the way to navigate.  We had an experience awaiting weather (on passage) in a Ft Pierce, FL marina where a large powerboat with a bonehead operator hit us at the fuel dock.  He had no boating experience, yet was operating a 50 ft motor vessel.  What was worse – he hit us (while we were tied to the dock) and just continued to motor off on his way as nothing happened! – his boat was clearly damaged by our large spade anchor.  We shot video of the incident since it was clear on his approach he was a hazard to navigation and contacted the authorities who chased him down; brought him back to address the accident and he proceeded to deny the event!
What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn’t find to be true?
A few things stand out…
SSB – I’ve read a lot about the projected extinction of the Single Side Band (SSB) radio as a cruiser tool.  This capability is mature, in ubiquitous use by those who know how and a great tool of advantage to cruisers.  As our cellular and satellite technology advances, I fear that a “point to point” condition may reduce marine public awareness in general.  Much like the way email and texting has become a “point to point” action.  There is value in being able to listen to the “party line” to enhance awareness or render aid if an opportunity exists and proximity is close.  Although I don’t have tremendous experience with its use – I do find that it helps us and I pray that this capability sticks around – thanks to all the great people that proliferate (and improve) its use.  SSB equipment is expensive and requires some skill to employ, maintain and sustain but I wouldn’t “not” have one as a cruiser.  VHF is (of course) the standard means of public communication on the water.  SSB has many advantages that we value: Weather and passage making data (in the next place we want to go); Social (keeping up with other cruisers who may be in remote parts of the world); News (public broadcast channels); Radio-phone relay (with assistance from those who maintain this capability as part of the Marine and HAM nets); Hurricane/storm nets help us track BIG weather patterns in affected areas (for avoidance); SailMail is a great “inexpensive” text email resource with our Pactor modem and most importantly for safety – our system (SSB and VHF) transmits our GPS location and MMSI each time we transmit which helps potential rescue organizations identify us or locate us if we ever got into trouble.
You have to sacrifice to cruise.  This is an “opinionated” subject but I will highlight some observations that we found to be “topics of contention.”
Ship’s Power is “limiting:”  Not really – if you want power flexibility – you can employ the right equipment to make it so.  We spent a lot of time/energy on our house bank and solar/wind/generator combination…so that we could have the power we felt we need.  We enjoy our comforts.  On SV Take Me There we have a large 1200 ah house bank with 530W of solar and 460W of wind generator capability.  Yes, we can run AC, ice-maker, two fridges, electric winches, plotter, radar, AIS and Auto-pilot at the same time on our house bank…but we are very power conscious and only use what we need, when we need it.  Our 16KW diesel genny is a great “bulk charge” resource but its our solar and wind generation that does the “top-off” work very well.
Sailing less than motoring is the norm:  Moving from A to B under sail is a choice.  If conditions aren’t favorable to do so – you have a choice…wait or do it with other means (than sail).  We love the peace of sailing…nothing else like it in the world!  Yes – we motor.  Yes, we motor-sail.  It depend on what our objectives are.  Sometimes we want to sail – so we wait on the right weather.  Sometimes we want to get there – so we motor if conditions aren’t optimum for sailing.
What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?

OK – two BIG ones are very accurate:
BOAT = Break Out Another Thousand!  If you want to do it right & safe…spend the money!  Preventive maintenance does save you a BOAT-load of trouble in advance.
SPARES is like a savings account.  A good inventory of spares WILL make your life a lot easier.  Things break, malfunction or go wrong.  Your spares inventory will help you correct a problem (replacement) and permit you to “fix” the spare later (in port).
Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting out?

We are planners by nature – we thought of, and equipped our vessel with, a lot of stuff (which I will answer in the next question)…but I think the biggest “I wish” for me (that we don’t have now) is a soft/portable boarding ladder that hangs over the gunnel to permit boarding after using our kayaks.  We can board at the swim platform easily (with permanent boarding ladder installed) but the kayaks are lifted/stored on the foredeck which means we have to pull them around to the lifting location to stow them – we would like to just board from the lifting area and pull them up.
What piece(s) of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?

I think we’ve made good “equipping” choices. I will say that some of the things that simply stay in their storage location and never move (never used – however, need to be inspected, run or maintained periodically but we wouldn’t be caught without them) are:
– Emergency manual tiller – this thing is huge, awkward and hard to store – but essential!
– Generac Gas powered emergency high volume bilge pump – in case of loss of all power
– Legacy Furuno GPS plotter (our back up)
– Radar reflector (back-up) – we have AIS
What are your plans now? If they do not include cruising, tell us why.

We are just beginning our nomadic cruising adventure.  We exploreed the Chesapeake and ICW until SEP 2017.  We began to wander South (exploring the ICW along the way) to Florida (Tampa).  We spent  early December at our Florida home and then crossed over to the Bahamas in late December to explore this island complex.  We don’t have a schedule nor do we know where we will go next.  There are two options:
  1.  Return to Tampa for hurricane season (2018)…or…
  2. Head south toward Grenada.
*** We are prepared for both***
What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I’ve asked you and how would you answer it?
What are your favorite cruising information resources and how do you reach them when away from the dock? 

My online favorites are Cruisers Forum, Predict Wind, Active Captain, SSB Weather Nets (Grib file downloads) and Sirius Satellite Weather.  Clearly my interests lie in understanding conditions for getting from point A to B.  I enjoy the Sailing-Channel where other cruisers are out there blogging and making videos.  We have both cellular and satellite systems aboard but try to use the SSB resources as they are free (dependent upon signal propagation).  Off-line, the cruising guides, the Dashew’s books (Mariner’s Weather, Practical Seamanship, Surviving the Storm), Bowditch (of course) and Don Casey’s Sailboat Maintenance and the Pardeys.
Our thanks to Livia for allowing us to participate in her Newly Salted interview.  We hope that others will follow our blog and VLog as our contribution to the cruising knowledge base.
Posted on Tuesday, January 09, 2018 by  and tagged   |  

Luna Sea at 6 months

Welcome Sionna to the ranks of the Newly Salted! Read their interview below or as originally published on their blog.

We were recently contacted by Newly Salted to answer 10 questions about our cruising life.  I’ve always enjoyed reading other bloggers’ posts on the site, and was happy to take on the 10 question Newly Salted challenge! (Edit: I procrastinated all summer, so claiming I was “recently” contacted is a bit of a stretch…)
If you’re not already familiar with the s/v Luna Sea crew – we are Jennifer and Mark, mid-40 year olds who’ve had enough of the corporate world. We planned and schemed for 6 years to make this sailing dream come true.  Notice I did not say we are sailors in that description…  But we’ve managed to learn.  And after 6 months of cruising down the SE coast of Georgia and Florida, throughout the Bahamas, the Florida Keys, the Dry Tortugas and back north to Georgia – we’ve discovered just how suited we are for this cruising lifestyle!

10 Newly Salted Questions

solar for lithium ion batteries
More Solar!  

1) Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before you starting cruising?

Our new house battery bank.  We started our journey the first week of October 2016 – right about the time Hurricane Matthew came calling.  While riding out the storm, we learned that our house batteries were shot.  After limping back to the marina we’d called home for a few years, we upgraded to Lithium Ion batteries.  They are like magic.  I also wish we’d hung around after replacing them instead of rushing off down the coast of Florida.  Adding a few more solar panels proved necessary, and that certainly would’ve been easier to accomplish in the States.  But we like to learn things the hard way – so we learned how to have things shipped to the Bahamas…
Exumas, Bahamas cruising
The Exumas – some of our favorite islands in the Bahamas!

2) Is there a place you visited wish you could have stayed longer?   

Hands down – the Exumas.  We wanted to see as much of the Bahamas as possible this first trip – because we thought we were going straight to the Caribbean.  So we kind of rushed it a bit.  Turns out the Exumas were our kind of cruising – deserted islands, snorkeling, beaches, bonfires and the occasional grocery store.  We are heading there straight away this season and will definitely linger in the Exumas, check out the few outer islands we missed, and then jump down to Puerto Rico.

3) How much does cruising cost?  

The standard answer is “it costs what you have.”  But we actually have a budget.  The goal on Luna Sea is $1000/month.  Some months we come under, some months we go WAY over.  Depends on where we are.  The States are definitely more expensive.  Hard to beat living on the hook just off of a deserted island when you’re going for cheap.  I have a monthly series on the website listing all of our cruising expenses each month.  It helps keep me accountable – and is a great thing to share with other people that are/want to be cruising.

4) Describe the compromises (if any) that you have made in your cruising in order to stay on budget.

Eating and drinking out are our budget busters.  Meeting up with other people on beaches, and bringing along drinks and food are great, fun ways to keep on track.  That being said – we did save money while we were working, specifically for unexpected repairs.  So if the main sail rips or the engine dies – we have it covered without counting it toward our regular expenses.

5) What do you miss about living on land?   

Really just the people.  And a washing machine/dryer, I suppose.  And ice cream that stays frozen…  But the trade offs are 110% worth it.

6) What type of  watch schedule do you normally use while offshore?  

We previously did 2 hours on/2 hours off.  But we’d both be in the cockpit at the same time – usually trying to catch a nap when possible.  We’ve both become more competent and relaxed a bit.  Now we use a 3 hour rotation.  This is long enough to relax and get some sleep off-shift, and short enough to avoid getting over-tired on-shift.  Mark ends up taking an extra shift during day light hours, as I am the one in the galley making the food.  So we both stay busy the same amount – those sandwiches don’t make themselves.

7) How do you fund your cruise?

Rentals/Savings:  Years of being
cheap frugal allowed us to save for big ticket items that are bound to come up.  (Hello new batteries!)  When we had jobs, we always made sure to live below our means.  That hasn’t changed.  So if we make $XX /month, we try to only spend half of that.

8) What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?

Cruisers are there to help when you really need it.  Just like on land, you won’t get along with every single person.  But if you need help in an anchorage?  Just pick up the VHF and call.  There will be half a dozen dinghies at your stern asap.

Gratuitous Palm Tree/Adult Beverage Pic

9) What is the next piece of gear you would add to your boat if it were free ?

Free, huh?  I really like Free.  It’s my favorite.  A new mainsail.  Ours is getting soft.  There’s a real word for that.  I don’t know it.  But I’d love to get a new mainsail before we head to the Caribbean.  Shoot, if it’s free, lets say all new sails!
Sailing Luna Sea cruising lessons learned anchor
Critical Equipment for a good night’s sleep

10) What is something you think potential cruisers are afraid about that they shouldn’t fear? And what is something potential cruisers don’t worry about that perhaps they should?

A. Fear of being alone.  Most people in the central/eastern United States head to the Bahamas for their first journey.  As soon as you get there, you realize this is not the unique idea you thought it was.  There are literally hundreds (thousands?) of boats there.  While you CAN be alone on some of the islands/beaches, you also will frequently have at least a few other boats nearby.  B. Ground tackle.  After sailing and anchoring in Savannah, GA’s soft mud for a few years, we thought we had anchoring down.  Turns out that the anchor we had just wasn’t cut out for the grassy/sandy/stone bottom of the Bahamas.  The very first day we got back to the States I ordered a Mantus.  We’re still testing it out.  So far, it’s been as impressive as expected.  But the real test will be when we get back to the islands!
Did you enjoy the Question and Answer session?  If so, check out the Newly Salted blog for some other really interesting interviews.  Have any other questions for us?  Feel free to comment below and we’ll try to answer them all!  And stay tuned – we are mere DAYS away from heading south again!

Sionna at 8 months

Welcome Sionna to the ranks of the Newly Salted! Read their interview below or as originally published on their blog.
This week, I’m breaking with my general rule to only publish original work on our blog. Sort of breaking. 
You see, Nicki & I have volunteered to participate in something called “Newly Salted”, which is a sub-set of the “Interview With A Cruiser Project”. Newly Salted refers to cruisers “…who (have) been cruising fewer than 2 years, who (have) finished a cruise of less than two years, or who (have) cruised for more than two years but not outside their home country.”
So that’s us.   
Below, we’ll make introductions, and then answer 10 questions from the question pool provided by the project. Note that our answers aren’t intended to be a “This is the way to do it” resource, but rather a “this is what we did and here’s how it worked” sharing. 
Hope you enjoy!
Who are we?
We’re Keith and Nicki, a carpenter and a fitness instructor/realtor in the summer, and cruisers in the winter. Aboard our Triangle 32 Sionna (a center-cockpit ketch built in 1963) we left Rockland Maine in August 2016 and headed south via the Atlantic ICW, Okeechobee Waterway and the Gulf of Florida to spend our first cruise of 8 1/2 months in warmer weather than Maine can offer. 
We are best described as “Commuter Cruisers”, a term I attribute to Jan Irons, who’s blog Commuter Cruiser was our constant source of information and inspiration during the planning stages of our transition back into the REAL world – the world of cruising aboard a simple, well-loved and well-built boat.

As of this writing (July 2017) the boat is stored in Florida, and we’re back in Maine for the summer living in our 36′ RV (we sold all real estate in preparation for cruising), working for enough dollars to return to the boat next winter and continue our cruising, most likely to the Bahamas in 2018. 

We love to connect with other cruisers and particularly wanna-be cruisers, folks who think they want to go, or KNOW they NEED to go, but lack information. We don’t know it all, but we know some, and we know a lot of people who know a lot more.  Contact us here on the blog, or email us at sionnaketch32@gmail.com
What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
Expectations are the killer of more cruises than any other single thing. Your expectations, your partner’s expectations, even the expectations of the folks back home.  All will be an additional layer of stress and discomfort and – if not recognized and addressed – are almost certain to build up and become unpleasant. Even more challenging is that most of those expectations are probably sub-conscious, so how do you address an expectation that you don’t know you have?  Practice.
Tell me your favorite thing about your boat
Her size and (relative) simplicity.  Sionna is 32′ on deck, 35′ overall. These days, she’s considered to be very small for a liveaboard boat. She also has fairly simple systems compared to the “average”. Pressure and hot (only in the galley and cockpit shower) water, yes, and basic refrigeration, but we haven’t tried to recreate a suburban house on the water. Our electrical loads are low, our entertainments are simple, and we spend a great deal of time together. She is all the space two adults who like each other need to live comfortably. We couldn’t afford to cruise if we had a larger vessel.
Share a piece of cruising etiquette
Respect the enjoyment of others at least as much as your own.  I’m thinking of two specifics – generators and drones.  We all need to charge batteries sometimes, I get that. But if you need to run a generator for three hours twice a day, you’re simply using too much power, and yes, running your generator during those times when folks tend to be outside enjoying the scenery (dinner and sunset, for instance) DOES bother your anchorage neighbors and IS disrespectful to those around you.  And drones? Nicki and I have been the victims of “drone intrusion” three times, one was an outright spying – the drone hovering 100′ over the cockpit.  If you feel you must fly one, please be respectful both in where you fly it, and for how long. 
What did you do to make your dream a reality?
Downsized drastically. Over the three years we took to prepare, we sold our real estate, closed our business and reduced our work schedules. We let the lease on our rental house go, and downsized from two houses (totaling 3800 square feet) to a boat, an RV, and a 5′ x 10′ storage unit, for a grand total of 500 square feet. We sent 6000 pounds of “stuff” to the dump, untold trips to Goodwill, sold what we could… We borrowed from our retirement accounts to buy the boat – and bought a boat we could afford for $23,000.  We’re not retired, but do have a small pension income to supplement our summer work ashore – thus our “Commuter” style of cruising. 
What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?
Basic boater ignorance. Nicki and I studied for years, learning everything we could about sailing and operating a cruising vessel in a safe, comfortable and efficient manner, and we still learn something new, every day. I was shocked and disappointed to discover how many boaters are out there with little knowledge and few skills, endangering both themselves and us in their fumbling. Partly I’m sure this is because we cruised in very populated areas, places that are easy to get to. As we cruise the Bahamas next season, we hope to move beyond the reach of the day-trippers and credit-card captains, and I remain optimistic that the issues we saw are unique to the ICW and Florida’s boaters.
What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?
There’s a cruiser saying that “The most dangerous thing on a cruising boat is a schedule”, and we can attest that it’s true. Schedules cause stress. Schedules make you push the limits. They cause equipment breakage and injuries. And frankly, when you promise to be in “XYZ City” at a certain time, all the spontaneity and freedom you may have hoped would be yours in cruising goes right out the hatch. You’re back to expectations again, and it’s not fun.  We still let ourselves fall into the trap now and then, but we’re getting better at refusing to be bound by “Type-A” personality behavior. Expect us when you see us, and not before.
Is there a place you visited that you wish you could have stayed longer?  
Cumberland Island, GA & St. Augustine, FL.  Cumberland was lovely,   But a norther moved in the morning after we arrived, making all the anchorages uncomfortable, so we have no pictures, barely got to look at one small area…  We’d like to go back.    St. Augustine was also a lovely town with a friendly, welcoming cruiser community, but we were cold and southern Florida was promising warm, teal and turquoise waters. We left after 3 days, but could easily have stayed a month. Oh, and Vero Beach, Florida. And all of the Chesapeake Bay, which we skipped because we were cold…
Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting out?
More solar panels. We installed just one 100 watt panel, thinking that would mostly handle the refrigerator, which was the most power-hungry thing we’d added to the boat.  Well it did, except for the months of December, January & February, when the angle of the sun was simply too low for sufficient charging.  We’ll be adding another 120 watts this fall before we head out to the Bahamas, and hope that’s enough to make running the engine “just to charge the batteries” a thing of the past.
What is your most common sail combination on passage?
Reefed Mizzen, single-reefed main, roller-furling genoa. Sionna likes to be on her feet, and if the angle of heel exceeds 15 degrees, it’s slowing her down. She’s also faster with a balanced helm, which is accomplished by trimming the Mizzen appropriately. Unless the winds are consistently light, we’re likely to have one reef in the main, one in the mizzen, and the option of rolling in a bit of the Genny – or even all of it – if a squall comes up. We do have a drifter for light winds, but in 2400 miles and 8 1/2 months, we’ve yet to fly it…
When have you felt most in danger and what was the source?
Entering Manasquan Inlet to the NJICW.  (See The Thing About Inlets on our blog)  We had heard that inlets could be challenging with the combination of fast current opposing wind. We didn’t understand that “challenging” – in this case – is a boating euphemism for “You think you’re going to die”.  We timed our passage to arrive at the inlet at slack current, but the sailing conditions were much better than forecast, and we arrived in choppy, uncomfortable sea conditions over 2 hours early. 
We thought “How bad can it be?”, and rather than standing off for two hours to wait for slack, we pressed on – and barely kept control of the boat.  We now understand that “challenging” is relative – it can be worse than you can imagine.
Posted on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 by  |  

Smitty at 21 months

Welcome Smitty to the ranks of the Newly Salted! Read their interview below or as originally published on their blog.
About Us

Stacey was born & raised in Milford, CT and grew up power-boating on Long Island Sound and the Housatonic River.

Jesse was born & raised on the South Shore of Massachusetts and grew up sailing on Buzzards Bay and fishing the Cape Cod Canal.

Summer, our dog, is an Australian Cattle dog-mix.  She is now about 10 years old.  We adopted her as a pup and she has been sailing with us since we got her.

Being typical “Type A” personalities, we spent most of our adult life dedicated to our careers.  Jesse was a geologist and worked in the consulting industry cleaning up petroleum and chemical spills.  Stacey was an accountant and worked in public accounting firms and private investment companies.  The two of us had become disenfranchised with the idea of defining ourselves by our jobs and didn’t want to wait until retirement to live life. So, we sold everything (house, cars, etc), quit the jobs, and, in September 2015, a couple days before Stacey’s 40th birthday, we sailed away.  Now we are trying to fill our lives with experiences and fun.

Our sailing vessel is Smitty, our Catalina 310.  We have owned her for almost seven years now, mostly cruising the coast of New England and living aboard her prior to our departure (yes – we lived aboard in Boston during the snowiest winter on record! See Blizzard of 2015 as a Liveabord ).  In September 2015, we untied the lines and set sail south from Hingham, MA (Smitty’s home port – just south of Boston). We sailed all down the US East Coast (primarily via the ICW), Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spanish Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, and British Virgin Islands.

Q & A

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

Both of our jobs required us to manage various projects at the same time and still meet all deadlines. For us, the most difficult transition was to learn to slow down and enjoy life.

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

When we bought our boat our initial intent wasn’t to cruise on her full-time; we bought a boat that worked for what we wanted at that time. That being said, the Catalina 310 was produced to be a coastal cruiser and does not have capacity to hold a lot of water. We were ok with this fact and set sail anyway, we assumed we could get water in most locations we were going.  This was correct, until we wanted to cruise in more remote areas in other countries.  We have since installed a water maker. 

What pieces of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?

Our Catalina 310 came with a microwave.  We would often have microwave popcorn or heat up leftovers.  Once we left our homeport dock, we very rarely stayed at marinas, therefore, we very rarely used our microwave.  We learned how to make popcorn the “old-school” way (stove top) and gave away the microwave while in Puerto Rico.

What mistakes did you make as you started cruising?

I’m not sure if it was necessarily a mistake, but we spent way more money then we anticipated.  We were in “vacation mode” and did not stick to a budget. Our thought was that we would likely only see some of these places only once. I am glad we enjoyed them to their fullest, but I do wish we had more of a spending plan or budget in place.

What do you find the most exciting about your cruising life?

To describe it in one word:  Beauty

The locations, the people, the sailing (well, except all the “Easting” of the Mona Passage),  the wild life (we still get excited when we see dolphins – especially swimming off our bow while under sail!), the color changes of the waters we have sailed, and of course the sunsets! It’s been an amazingly beautiful experience.

What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?

I have been very surprised to see some cruisers (both US & foreign flagged vessels) having a complete disregard for the environment and ecosystems. We have seen them anchor on reefs, fishing and taking conch and lobster out of season or from no-take zones, and keeping undersized fish, conch and lobster. Even when we have gone over to let them know the rules they did not care!

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn’t find to be true?

We were told that when you slipped away from the dock you were leaving behind so many of the hassles of land life.  Often we heard the term “Stuff being left to dirt dwellers”.  Unfortunately, we often found that we would be on a beautiful beach, sitting around a fire with other cruisers and there would be talks of politics.; too much talk of politics. We thought that would be left on land but there seems to be lots of talk of politics at sundowners and pot lucks. 

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

“Just Go – Don’t Wait!”  We read and heard this often.  I can tell you from experience, this is a very true statement. If you don’t set a date and just go then you won’t do it.  The boat is never going to be 100% ready, there will always be more projects to complete or things that break that need to be fixed. If you wait until retirement or until the boat is done then who knows what your health or life circumstances will be in the future.

What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?

I wish someone had told us that it is ok to live “outside the box of normal society”;  that it is ok to live life and you don’t have to do things that are “expected of you” .  We regret investing our hard-earned money into things like a house and cars – we wish we had invested those funds into cruising at an earlier age (like in our 20’s).

What are your plans now?  If they do not include cruising, tell us why?

Prior to leaving to cruise, both of us got our Captains license, with the expectation that we would need to pick up some work at some point, doing something, so why not do something we love!  We are currently anchored in Elephant Bay next to Water Island and St.Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, where we live on our boat and go out sailing as much as possible.  Jesse is a Captain – taking guests out sailing and snorkeling daily.  Stacey has been both Crew and Captain on various vessels but has most recently transitioned to an accounting-financial management position.  Our current plan is to continue to enjoy this beautiful paradise, build up the cruising kitty, complete more projects, and contemplate getting a bigger boat.  We are not done cruising, just on a break for a bit. But we continue to live on Smitty in the Caribbean as we explore these options. 
Posted on Friday, July 07, 2017 by  and tagged   |  

Island Time at 8 months

Welcome Island Time to the ranks of the Newly Salted. Read there interview here or as originally posted on their blog.
When Scott and I first decided to retire and travel on our boat, we started doing research. We read blogs and books, watched YouTube videos and talked to friends who had done it, were doing it and who planned to do it. One of the blogs we followed was Newly Salted and the companion site, Interview with a Cruiser. Now, as cruisers, we get to answer the questions.

About Us

We are Scott and Martha aboard SV Island Time, a 35-foot catamaran made by Island Packet. Yes, we know, you were not aware Island Packet made catamarans. They built 41 of them from 1993-1995. The boat has two staterooms, two heads and a saloon/galley combo. We started living aboard in November 2016, sailed from Shell Point (just south of Tallahassee) to the Tampa/St. Petersburg area for boat work that took seven weeks. At the end of January, we headed to Key West and the Dry Tortugas. We then traveled north through the Florida Keys and through the Intracoastal Waterway from Miami to Port Everglades. We spent two months in the Abacos, Bahamas. Now, we are in Palm Beach.

Interview Questions

What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?     

We read a lot of blogs and books and watched a lot of YouTube videos before we set out on this journey. We went to boat shows and sat through seminars about living aboard, crossing the Gulf Stream, installing solar panels, outfitting the galley and more. We thought we were fairly well prepared. We underestimated how much we would miss daily contact with family and friends. It makes phone calls and visits really special.

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

When we first started this trip, we had two 13 year-old dogs on board. Sadly, one just passed away. We were concerned about their transition to the boat and our need to take them ashore multiple times per day. Both dogs figured out the little green carpet trick. We don’t miss TV or the constant news cycle.

What mistakes did you make as you started cruising?     

We underestimated how much time (and money) we would spend with the boat in the boat yard. We predicted a two to three week stay for getting the bottom painted, to service the engines and to complete some other tasks. It took seven weeks. Luckily, we were not living aboard as we had family nearby. At the end of the seven weeks, we were eager to get moving.

What do you find the most exciting about your cruising life?    

We both enjoy exploring new places and like walking, riding bicycles and finding the occasional Uber ride. Meeting new people who share our lifestyle is also rewarding. We enjoy sunrises, sunsets and really dark night skies so we can see the stars. Anchoring in a new harbor is always exciting

What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?     

Even though our boat is a catamaran, our storage options are still limited. We move things around all the time to find things that are stored on board. We still have too much stuff. We love having a 12 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer. We don’t like emptying it to find that needed item in the bottom basket.

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn’t find to be true?    

A lot of people told us that rum would be plentiful and inexpensive in the Bahamas. They didn’t speak to the quality of that rum. We found good rum to be expensive, as was all alcohol, especially beer.

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?    
Avoid schedules. Our crossing of the Gulf of Mexico included high seas and high winds. We were on a schedule. Not. Ever. Again. Weather is the first thing we look at before planning to move the boat. We always hesitate to make plans with friends about where we’ll be and when they should meet us. We can’t guarantee that we’ll be there. We also want to take our time and explore each anchorage.

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

We are still debating if we want to install a water maker. However, we did purchase a small generator so we can use the air conditioning sometimes when we are not at a dock.

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

We brought too many clothes that we don’t have the space to store or the need to wear. We try to stick with wicking/quick dry clothing because laundry can be expensive. So far, we’ve used laundry facilities on shore but we are prepared for the five-gallon bucket method when the time comes.

What are your plans now? If they do not include cruising, tell us why.     

We plan to cruise for three to five years. We plan to travel up the ICW to Savannah and Charleston for summer 2017 and then head south through the Exumas and into the Caribbean for winter 2018.

What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I’ve asked you and how would that you answer it?    

What broke and how did you fix it? 

Our autopilot quit working on the way back to Key West from the Dry Tortugas. We ordered new parts and Scott installed them. We needed a hole drilled in a thick piece of brass while we were in Hollywood. Scott called many machine shops to ask for help and didn’t find anyone who could assist. Our friend Jerry came to the rescue. He knew someone with a drill press, made the arrangements and then came to pick Scott up, drive him there and return him to the boat. Whew!

Bonus Question: Some friends have asked “What do you do all day?”     

Well, we live here, so it depends. We don’t go to work so alarm clocks are not part of our day. If the boat is underway, we are both on deck actively steering, sailing or motoring the boat, watching for boat traffic, tending lines and more. If we are anchored near a town or city, then we are ashore exploring, provisioning, doing laundry and buying parts for boat repairs and maintenance. We cook most meals on the boat but Scott is constantly looking for a good pizza. If wifi is available, we are checking weather, reading email, reading the news and watching more sailing videos on YouTube. We read books — paper and digital.

Thanks for reading our interview. Be sure to check out other interviews on Newly Salted and Interview with a Cruiser.
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2017 by  and tagged   |