- If fresh vegetables are not readily available, sprouts grow quickly aboard and the seeds take up little space.
- We store onions, garlic and potatoes slung up under the bimini. The air circulation helps them stay useable longer. Only concern is that the potatoes sometimes get “sunburnt” or green tinged under the skin.
- We carry many bags of dried fruit that can be added to muffins, cookies, pancakes or snack mixes. These are now readily available in grocery stores or you can dry your own, if you have facilities.
- Last year we purchased a small vacuum packer. This was a great help as we vacuumed fresh meats before freezing, cold meats, flour and fresh fish. The small one was plenty big enough for a two-person family and much less expensive than the large unit.
- A soda machine was a great purchase. We can make our own sodas from cold water and syrups. The water is carbonated and then flavour added. The syrups take much less space than cases of sodas and the machine does not require power to work. For further information, check out www.sodaclub.com.
- We finally took our own advice and purchased the largest dinghy that we could possibly get on the foredeck. It is awesome and a huge improvement in the quality of life aboard. We bought a 10.5 foot AB RIB (rigid inflatable boat – that means that the bottom is fibreglass or aluminium and the tubes are inflatable).
- The seat in the new dinghy broke on the first big wave. But, the best dinghy seat/storage box is a Rubbermaid tote or a large cooler. They have enough space to contain the anchor and lifejackets, flashlight etc yet are strong enough to provide a secure seat for crew.
- Of course, the tiller extension (a piece of ABS plastic installed on the engine tiller) is needed so that the helmsman can get far enough forward to keep the dinghy running flat with only one person aboard. This was dramatically shown when a friend came close to flipping his dinghy while travelling alone in windy conditions.
- We are still using the computer with digital charts. The computer is down below decks on the nav station. In the cockpit, we have a hand held GPS (a mapping one) at the helm.
- Paper charts stay with us in the cockpit or under the dodger for quick reference.
- A grease pencil is a handy thing to have nearby when making a crossing of the Gulf Stream. If a ship calls a vessel at a specific lat/long, it is handy to jot that reference down, even on the fibreglass bulkhead.
- In the Bahamas, the best charts are The Explorer series of Near Bahamas, Exumas and Far Bahamas. They are extremely accurate and detailed.
- Radar is very useful for Gulf Stream crossing especially. It enables you to determine the position of that large ship that appears to be bearing down on you. The new ones even give you position, course and speed of a “blip” on screen. Ours is not that new but still makes the nighttime crossings and inevitable close encounters easier to deal with.
- A good strong, reliable autopilot is a necessity when travelling on a vessel with a crew of two. We recently upgraded to a below-deck hydraulic unit manufactured by ComNav.
- We always do our own navigating and never allow someone else to make our decisions re waypoints, weather, travel times or anchorages.
- Weather is a major issue and we collect our own through the use of SSB/Ham radio. Multiple sources of weather are utilized to make our decisions ie Chris Parker’s weather service, local VHF reports, wind/wave predictions available through AirMail.
- Keep salt out of your cabin! That is a huge task but well worth doing. Rinse legs and feet before going below. Don’t allow wet bathing suits on the cushions. During a passage, cover the seat of the nav station with a large towel to prevent salt damage.
- Keep your cabins as tidy as possible. You never know when the wake from a large boat or a wind gust will tip the boat unexpectedly. Everything, not held securely, will land on the floor. Including your morning coffee or the pot of soup for lunch.
- Make your space as homey as possible. Remember it is now your floating home and if family pictures are important to you, find someplace to display them. Flower vases can affixed to the bulkheads. Knickknacks can be stuck in place with a removable adhesive.
- Household halogen lights, requiring a 12-volt adapter for home use can be wired directly into a boat’s 12-volt system. They give tremendous amounts of light and draw about 1 amp.
- We use a bank of 4 golf cart batteries, which give a total of 440 amp hours.
- To charge these batteries, we have both solar (two 75 watt panels) and wind (an AirMarine 300 watt) charging.
- For days with neither wind nor sun, we have a Honda 2000 watt gas powered generator.
- A Freedom 15 charger/inverter gives us 1500 watts output, 120 volts AC from the battery bank.
- When you get away from civilization, you also get away from Laundromats. It is possible to wash most things in a bucket. Do not use salt water as you will use more fresh water trying to rinse the salt out.
- Into a bucket (approx 5 gal) of fresh water, put one-half cup of ammonia. Add the laundry and agitate (I use a new toilet plunger). After soaking for 15 to 20 min, wring the clothes out well and line dry. The ammonia scent will dissipate while the clothes dry.
- String a clothesline between the shrouds, forestay, babystay or any other rigging available. If you can get all of the laundry on to dry at once, your job will be done sooner. If you must use the lifelines, wipe them down first to remove the salt build-up.
- Plastic clothespins don’t stand up to the sun and wooden ones with the metal coil become rusty fast. The old-fashioned wooden pins hold most things but I am looking for a better alternative.
- The Exumas have a new laundry facility at Black Point. It is clean, reasonable and handy to cruisers with its own dock.
- Telephones are few and far between in the Exumas. Some cell phones do work, if the towers have survived the season of hurricanes. Other cruisers use satellite phones, now that the prices have fallen somewhat.
- E-mail is the most reliable means to communicate. Either by taking your computer to a shore-side facility, a wireless hook-up to the Internet or through SSB/ham radio.
- Recently, we have downloaded a program called DialPad, which allows you to make phone calls from your computer. You need the program, a headset with a boom mike and a credit card to sign up with the company. We pre-paid for $15 of calling time (at $0.029/min) and have been experimenting here in Canada. We will report on the ease of use in the Bahamas. It requires that you be connected to the Internet when making the calls. Wireless will make this more attractive.
We enjoy our life style of 6 months aboard, 4-5 months of working ashore. The rest of the time is spent travelling and visiting with family and friends. Because of this timing, the Bahamas is the easiest place for us to cruise. We store the boat in Florida on the hard while we drive back to Ontario for the summer months.
Our best piece of advice is “go sooner rather than later”.
Murray & Heather
aboard Windswept IV