We have now made it into George Town (not Georgetown as I’ve previously posted…whoops). George Town is centered in the middle of Elizabeth Harbor which is the largest natural harbor in all of the Caribbean. We heard on the morning cruising net, which is like a local broadcast of events going on and buy/sell/trade, etc. that there were about 300 boats anchored in the harbor. Now that’s a LOT of boats! Even though it sounds like a lot, there’s different areas throughout the harbor where people anchor.
Our little dinghy pulled up on the beach before we hiked to the top of the monument on the hill. Our boat is the one anchored on the bottom right.
Depending on the wind forecast we were anchored on one side or another. Also depending on what we wanted to do that day, we might go anchor closer to town and the dinghy dock so we wouldn’t have to ride the dinghy across the entire harbor, which in our dinghy about a half hour or so…if the motor doesn’t die. We’ve regularly had issues with our dinghy motor. I think Richard has troubleshooted about every aspect of it every other day. We’ve often been towed or we just row back to the boat. Other times if we’re just visiting another boat we forego using the motor and just row.
I’m going to try and explain some things we do day to day in this post, as well as a few pictures here and there. We’ve been getting asked a lot about anchoring versus staying at a dock, what do we eat for meals, and what it’s like living on a boat all the time. A lot of times we hear that we must love being on vacation all the time. Well folks…cruising is really nothing like a vacation…or at least not one that I’ve ever been on. It’s a lot of work, planning, problem solving, and learning to be flexible with just about every aspect of life. We might plan to do something one day, but then a squall comes through and we might be stuck on the boat all day if it’s too rough to ride in the dinghy anywhere. Or it might be a great wind forecast and we aim to get somewhere only to have the wind shift halfway there and we just beat into the wind and feel like we’re getting nowhere, meanwhile trying to figure out where we can get to before dark….or before it’s really dark…or to just get a couple hours of sleep. I read on so many people’s blogs about the high’s being high, and the low’s being low when you’re living aboard a boat. Now after a few months aboard, I can fully attest to how that feels. More on that later.
So let’s start with anchoring. Once we left Fort Pierce, FL, we haven’t been to a dock at a marina with our boat. We find a harbor, or just a shallower area somewhat close to shore, and drop our anchor. This involves me being at the helm, and Richard up on deck releasing the anchor to the bottom, whether it’s 6 ft below or 26 ft. He then gives me hand signals to go from neutral to reverse, where he starts to let out more chain as we slowly back up and get the anchor to set. We typically let out about a 8:1 or 10:1 scope whenever we can depending on depths or if a storm might be in the forecast. We always let out more if there’s going to be a lot of wind in the forecast to prevent the anchor from dragging. Thankfully we haven’t experienced dragging, but we have heard on the radio of other boats who have, and it’s not something you want to wake up to in the middle of the night. We have a 45 lb Delta anchor with 80′ of chain before our rode starts which is a fairly oversized ground tackle set up for our boat. It lets us sleep better at night having this set up, and if a really big storm is coming, we have set out a second anchor as well.
Typically with one anchor, if wind shifts or the tide and current switches, you will dance around the anchor. We’ve shifted 180 degrees sometimes, or even gone all the way around and done 360’s. You usually don’t notice it too much while you’re on the boat, you won’t move that quickly, just when you pop back outside in the morning and see a different view, you’re like oh, guess we spun around some. This also makes for a good point when choosing a place to anchor. We have to look at the boats around us, sometimes asking them how much scope they have out, so if they swing, we can plan to swing the same way as them so nobody runs into one another.
So the first few days we anchored near town so we could refill our water tanks via jerry jugs from the free spigot on the dinghy dock. Having a water spigot where you don’t even have to lift the jugs from your dinghy into town somewhere was like a gold mine, and there was ALWAYS a line. We also caught up on laundry, groceries, and fuel. George Town has had the best grocery store we’ve seen BY FAR….especially if you catch it right after a shipment came in. There’s so many fresh veggies and fruits, and it has aisles with other items to stock up on. It was so refreshing to see so many more choices in one place! Getting groceries and water and fuel is not as easy as it sounds. It’s usually a few dinghy trips overloading the dinghy, stuffing groceries in dry bags, holding down the jerry jugs, and slowly, slowly motoring back to the boat, praying the motor doesn’t crap out again. Other times we’ve been tag teaming with another boat where I’ll run to the grocery store while Richard runs water jugs back and forth to fill our tanks up on the boat. Once we get them to the boat, if it’s rough, it makes it interesting to lug the 5 gallon jugs from the dinghy up into the boat.
After doing laundry in town, we decided it was time to start doing it ourselves when we get free water. Paying $7 a load is just not worth it, especially when you have to sit in a hot laundromat checking to see if the washer is actually washing your clothes or falling apart. Before we left the States, Richard bought this hand washer you screw on the bottom of a broom stick, and throw a few things at a time in a 5 gallon bucket and slosh them around and rinse and string along the lifelines on the boat.
Let’s see, what else do we have to do all the time on the boat. Ah yea, so, a few people have heard that I have a Sail Rite sewing machine aboard, and I was asked to do a few repairs one day. So I lugged our sewing machine out and set it up in the cabin at anchor and a couple boats brought over their sails to repair. One at a time thankfully, because I couldn’t move around the cabin with one sail rolled up inside, trying to sew a side of it. It was pretty awesome because I even added a small bit of funds to our cruising kitty from doing this!
Moving on, I think the next subject I’ll touch on today is food. What do we eat all the time? Well, for breakfast, we typically make coffee (I must have coffee or I will not be pleasant to be around…) and then we also usually have hot oatmeal with either some brown sugar, craisins, raisins, or whatever else we might have open. Other days we’ll add a couple fried eggs, avocado, and toast or bagels if we’re lucky enough to of scored them at a store. If we’re really feeling good, I’ve made coffee cake or muffins, or even pancakes with Nutella. For lunch it’s usually a boring PB&J with some chips and salsa or pretzels. It’s usually something we can make pretty quick because we’re either under way and I can’t be down below for very long if we’re bumping up and down or we’re running around doing different things. We usually have a pretty good dinner. We haven’t had much luck fishing sadly aside from the one Dorado we got. But we did make two good meals out of it! Otherwise, it’s almost like being at home, we have a stove with 2 burners, oven, and I use the pressure cooker a lot more often. We have everything from pork chops, potatoes, and a vegetable to sausage and rice and beans. Once in awhile we just eat a couple of hot dogs, but most of the time we make a full dinner. Some nights we pot luck with a couple other boats, which I really like and we end up with more variety than what I usually come up with on my own. Also, a lot of nights we have happy hours on different boats and bring a snack to share and our own drinks and hang out. We usually snack awhile and bring out a deck of cards or someone brings a game to play.
Once in awhile we treat ourselves to a restaurant and share a meal (hard for Richard to do…and usually he supplements with a couple hot dogs back on the boat…). A really common dinner is jerk chicken with mac & cheese and peas & rice or corn on the cob. It’s not mac & cheese like Kraft from a box, it’s hearty and cheesy and almost like a casserole.
We also use our grill off the back of the boat and have things like kielbasa and potatoes.
Below is a group of us who are all actually from the same marina in New Bern, North Carolina! We met at one of the restaurants in George Town because it was too many to fit in one boat to hang out.
So, back to what I said earlier about the high’s being high and the low’s being low. A lot of times I realize my pictures or posts display all the fun we’re having and things we’re experiencing. It is often a good time being able to meet new people, go snorkeling and see all this sea life around coral reefs, have nightly happy hours, and play volleyball on the beach. The reality of it is there’s a lot of work involved behind the scenes. Sometimes the weather isn’t great and we get stuck on the boat for a couple days at anchor, sometimes not even near a town. Those are the times I really get frustrated with the boat life. You can’t escape the small cabin space, we usually run out of power to charge the laptop to watch any movies, and you can’t really leave the boat. I have been reading a lot more, but I get tired of just being in the same spot for 2 days. I have talked to a lot of other couples who are cruising and it seems like it’s a common theme. Some days are good and we’re having fun, while others I feel I could fly home in a second and never set foot on the boat again. Some days sailing it’s like a dream, great wind, sun’s shining, and we’re moving along great. While other day’s it can be rough seas, wind on the nose, and I feel like we’re doing nothing but getting beat up, bouncing around in the water. Personally, I’ve been doing a lot better, and our boat can handle way more than I think I ever could. It’s been the biggest challenge in our life so far, but I think it’s also been the greatest reward. We don’t regret choosing this life for now, and we don’t know how long we might be sailing around. Our plans change as quick as the wind, and some days I think we could continue this life for as long as our funds are able, while other days I’d rather be back to my landlubber lifestyle. We’re asked by other boaters how long we plan on doing this or where we are planning to go, and we just say we take it day by day. Not worth planning much further ahead than that for now.
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading!