Pineapple at 7 months

Welcome Pineapple to the ranks of the Newly Salted! Read their interview below or as originally published on their blog.
Before we left San Francisco, we were hungry for information, advice, and stories about the cruising life. Newly Salted and companion series Interview with a Cruiser became two of our favorite sources—we looked forward to every new interview. And now it’s our turn! As we approach seven months underway, we’re excited to share some of our lessons and experiences with the Newly Salted audience.
If we haven’t met… hi! We’re John and Michelle, a couple of 30-something urban squares who left professional life behind to become sailing nomads in October 2017. We’ve been cruising the Pacific Coast of North America—from San Francisco Bay to Costa Rica, where we are now—aboard our brand new Outbound 46 Pineapple. We are chronicling our life as cruising sailors at And we’d love to hear from you! In fact, we’ve been anchored in empty bays for the last week so it’d be nice to know someone else is out there ☺
Inland trip to tour Flor de Caña Rum in Nicaragua
 Why did you decide to cruise?
When we finished school, we both wanted the same thing, which was to live in a big city, focus on building careers, and achieve financial stability. Typical yuppie stuff. About 10 years ago, we learned about the cruising lifestyle and we were captivated. Sure, the beaches and the endless vacation were appealing, but mostly it was the allure of spending a chapter or two, while we’re still young, experiencing a different way of life. Cruising seemed perfect for us, and not just because we enjoy sailing. We like stability and routine, and while every day out cruising is new in some way, traveling with our home fits our sensibilities. We’re not wanderers who were looking to leave all responsibility behind—we actually find our thrills in the challenge of keeping ourselves safe, healthy, and happy.
After years of talking and planning, the only question left was, “Why not go cruising?” So we made a plan, we stuck with it, and here we are!
 As you started cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?
While we knew in theory that cruising would require us to be more self-sufficient (and it was one of the reasons we wanted to go), the reality was difficult at times. We missed the conveniences of a big city. After a day in the sun spent working on the boat, we can’t just tap a few buttons on our phone and have our favorite meal delivered to our door. When we want to feel a high level of satisfaction from a meal, we have to plan and work for it. Similarly, we had to replace the positive feedback and external stimuli from our jobs with the feeling of achievement that comes from being self-sufficient and self-responsible. We thought those rewards would come naturally, but it actually took a bit of time to rewire our brains to find enjoyment in a much simpler lifestyle.
 Tell me your favorite thing about your boat.
We love our Outbound 46. There are so many great features, but most of our favorites stem from the fact that it’s designed as a couple’s liveaboard cruiser: It’s not jammed with unnecessary cabins. It doesn’t have a cavernous but impractical “boat show” salon. There’s no whiz-bang technology like push-button sailing or joystick docking.
Instead, it features practical, comfortable, compact accommodations; large fridge and freezer; huge amounts of storage and tankage; a real walk-around bed in the forward cabin; a workshop and equipment room; overbuilt and heavy-duty equipment; and a cozy cockpit for sailing, dining, or entertaining. If you’re curious to see Pineapple in detail, check out the boat tour we posted on our blog.
Anchored in Zihuatanejo, Mexico
How do you fund your cruise?
We manage our own simple investment portfolio with Vanguard—this is our “cruising kitty” that funds our lifestyle. Back when we were employed full-time, we made it a point to save 30–50% of our income every month. This meant living in a one-bedroom apartment, sharing a used car, and skipping a lot of the “lifestyle inflation” luxuries that tempt so many young professionals. But it was worth it. We socked the savings away into our investments month after month and watched them grow.
We also have some passive income: John has written two books (Sprint and Make Time), so we receive royalties from those, and he still has some startup investments from his days working in venture capital. Both of these are pretty variable in terms of timing and amounts—so we don’t count on them as part of our cruising money plan.
(If you’re curious about what it costs us to cruise in Mexico and Central America, we share our expenses every month on the blog.)
 What is your favorite piece of boating-related new technology?
It’s not exactly new technology, but today’s watermakers are amazing. We have a Spectra Cape Horn, which generates 15 gallons of freshwater per hour—enough that we can shower every day and rinse the boat without stressing over water. It’s DC (direct current) powered, which means that it runs off the batteries, using about 19 amps. Since it’s battery powered, we can run the watermaker pretty much whenever we want: underway or at anchor with the engine on or off. On a sunny day in the tropics, our solar panels cover the watermaker’s energy needs—that’s a cool feeling! We have friends with AC-powered watermakers on their boats. While the output is often a lot higher, they’re stuck running the generator every time they want to make water.
Another favorite new technology is the iPad. We use two for navigation on Pineapple instead of a typical fixed chartplotter. The iPads are cheaper than a chartplotter and way more functional, thanks to the universe of apps available. A lot of sailors have told us that iPads can’t stand up to the marine environment. That’s nonsense. Apple spends millions on R&D to make their products robust and idiot-proof—they can be dropped, stepped-on, and even splashed. With a Lifeproof case, the iPad becomes waterproof and super durable. We love our iPads and can’t imagine going back to the old world of expensive, proprietary, fixed navigation technology.
Sunset underway, somewhere along the Baja Peninsula, Mexico
 What is something you read or heard about cruising that you didn’t find to be true?
“Cruising is just fixing your boat in exotic places.”
Okay, we know what you’re thinking: We have a brand new boat, which buys a grace period where everything just works. Or does it? We’ve had plenty of old salts tell us that new boats have as many problems as old ones. We’ve heard lots of commissioning horror stories. And we’ve certainly had to fix and replace things already: rigging hardware has pulled out of the deck, our fridge controller went on the fritz, we nearly chafed through a diesel hose on the engine, etc etc.
Cruising blogs and forums are full of stories about being stuck in port waiting for parts, changing itineraries when gear fails, and the epic bad luck of a few boats that seem constantly dogged by technical problems. But it doesn’t have to be this way! And it’s not just for new boats, either.
Friends on old boats from 28 to 74 feet manage to avoid the inevitable “fixing in exotic places.” Cruising luminaries like the PardeysLeonard-StarzingersDashews, and Harries have sailed hundreds of thousands of miles without a gear failure forcing a change in plans. We’ve learned from them and adopted their approach: Avoid problems in the first place (preventative maintenance), find problems before they find you (exercise and test your gear), and engineer the ability to keep going when problems do arise (carry lots of spares and build in redundancy).
There’s no guarantee we’ll enjoy the same success. But we believe it’s possible (and worthwhile!) to do boat work on our terms—not when we’d rather be enjoying the sights or exploring ashore in “exotic places.”
Anchored in Guacamaya, Costa Rica. Are we a lightning magnet or what?
 Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting out?
We wish we had thought more critically about our dinghy setup. When we left San Francisco, we brought along the 7’7″ air-floor dinghy and 2.5-horsepower outboard engine we had from our last boat. We used it a few times so we knew it would get the job done. We thought back to our experiences on Catalina Island and in the Caribbean, where the main purpose of your dinghy is to bring you ashore, and where dinghy docks are everywhere. We liked the idea of a small, lightweight dinghy that we could easily stow on deck. Oh, and we didn’t want to install davits on our boat—we don’t like the way they look, and we knew we’d stow the dinghy on deck for longer passages anyway.
It turns out that the Pacific Coast cruising grounds in Mexico and Central America (especially Costa Rica!) are a different animal. Big surf landings and launches are common (if John doesn’t drive me through a breaking wave, we consider it a success!), and huge tide swings (up to 10 feet in Costa Rica, bigger in Panama) make going ashore part of the adventure.  We upgraded to a 5-horsepower outboard in Caboand added dinghy wheels in La Cruz, and we’re getting by just fine. (Having friends who offer to drive certainly helps! Thanks Wags and Paula 😀).
But upgrading to a bigger RIB and larger engine—and the davits (ugh!) that are necessary for managing it—are on the list for next season. This upgrade would give us a faster, more comfortable ride, and dryer beach landings and launchings. Plus, we’ll gain the ability to travel longer distances—to explore tidal estuaries, the next bay over, or far-away snorkeling spots.
We also wish we had installed more shade before we left. Back in San Francisco, “too much heat” and “too much sun” were abstract concepts for us, so we thought a bimini with a few side curtains would be sufficient. We were mistaken. We’ve remedied the situation along the way, but now we know you can never have too much shade.
Michelle drives our tiny dinghy ashore in Punta Leona, Costa Rica. Only a little nervous about finding a calm spot to land.
 What piece of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?
The cats! Just kidding. We are cruising with our two fur kids and didn’t consider for a second not taking them along.
Serious answer: Our two inflatable paddle boards. They were very lightly used for several years before we left, and we should have taken that as a sign we were just not that into it. We could have traded them for a kayak, and maybe even a couple of folding bikes. Now we know those things better fit our idea of fun while cruising. 

Finish this sentence: “Generally when I am provisioning…”

I like to take a stroll through the grocery store and then return later to actually buy. We rarely provision in the same place twice, so checking out all the stores and markets to see what’s where helps me find the best options, especially the freshest fruits and veggies, and best value. It also helps me make a shopping list and menu plan, since I know what I can expect to find when we go back to shop. 

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

We absolutely love Mexico and Central America, so after we transit the Panama Canal in June, we’ll spend next season in the Western Caribbean so we can spend more time in this area. We’ll probably spend hurricane season 2019 in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala. Then, we have dreams of crossing the Atlantic and spending several seasons in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. So from the Rio Dulce, we’ll make our way up the East Coast of the U.S. in preparation for that crossing in summer 2020. But don’t hold us to anything—we are just as likely to change our minds next week!

Miss Fe at 3 months

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

Paul & Lindsey

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn’t find to be true?
Paul: YouTube gave us the impression that there are a lot of young people cruising. In reality, we don’t see very many people our age doing this sort of thing. Most people we see cruising are either retirement or early retirement age. When we do see young people they typically started cruising before establishing their careers. We haven’t really met anybody that has taken a break from traditional career paths like we have. Everybody we have met has been extremely nice though. Some people go cruising for the isolation but we really enjoy meeting new people, so if you see us out there stop by and say hi!

Lindsey: I had read a lot of stories that made it sound like every anchorage turned into a party or a potluck – as if you’d show up and instantly get a call over the radio to come join whatever is going on.  I have no doubt that these anchorages and people are out there, but like in normal life, most of the time you either end up chatting with the people you run into when you’re out and about (in the dinghy, on the beach or in the bar), or you really need to make the effort if you want to meet people other ways.

What is your biggest lesson learned? 
Paul: Can’t honestly say I’ve learned this lesson cause I will probably test it from time to time but it would be not to go to windward in bad weather. The sea is stronger than we are and it will win every time.  What’s comfortable on a down wind run can be downright treacherous close hauled. And motoring to weather, forget about it. Motoring is for when it’s calm, not for bashing into big seas. Sailboats just don’t have big enough engines to motor into weather.

Lindsey: What seems difficult or impossible now won’t stay that way. I mean this both physically and mentally. Like using the manual windlass – it’s amazing how quickly your body goes from feeling that pulling up 100 ft of chain is exhausting to feeling like it was barely a workout. On the mental side, things like route planning and navigation were overwhelming when added into everything else we had to think about as newbies, but now those things take a lot less time and we have a better awareness of the details without it feeling like a mental overload.

What is the key to making the cruising life enjoyable? 

Paul: I had a job out of college sampling people’s water prior to natural gas drilling. One cold day in December I was in the house of this super nice elderly couple. While chatting the lady mentioned it was their 70th wedding anniversary. “Wow,” I remarked, “Whats your secret?” She leaned in real close and said,”If you’re gonna make it work, it takes a lot of give on both sides.”  I think this is the key is to both marriage and cruising; it takes a lotta give. The cruising lifestyle has no room for rigid and stubborn people; flexibility and balance are key to enjoying things.

Lindsey: A balance of enjoying the place you’re visiting and doing normal at-home things. It’s hard to remember sometimes this isn’t a normal “vacation” where I only have a few days to see and do everything. It’s ok to stay on the boat for the day and just read, or do boat projects, or watch a movie – so make sure you are prepared to keep yourself busy (or not busy if you prefer) on these days. Recharge and then go hiking and snorkeling the next day.

What’s the most challenging thing about living on a sailboat? 
Paul: For me its the weather. On the whole, the weather has been spectacular, but there are some thunderstorms that come through on a fairly regular basis that can pack a real wallop. A lot of people stay at a dock or pick up a mooring for most of their season, but that’s not us. We like exploring, so to get to the best beaches, fishing and diving we are often times anchoring in less protected areas. We drew the short straw the other night when our anchor came loose. It was pitch black, the rain was horizontal, the anchorage was tight and there were lots of other boats around. There was also crazy thunder and lightning everywhere around us. We had no choice but to go on deck and reset the anchor in our underwear.

Lindsey: Hitting my head on things, knocking objects onto my feet, having to climb over another person to get into bed. As a short and small person, I’ve never had to be all that cognizant of my overhead and surrounding space, but now that I am living in a much smaller area, I am constantly finding the main hatch with my head and whatever is on the counter with my elbows. I’ve gotten a lot better than when we first bought the boat, but self-inflicted injuries are still a near-daily occurrence.

Whats the best thing about living on a sailboat?
Paul: For me, without a doubt, it’s the people we get to meet.  From the moment we bought the boat we have been surrounded by nice people with great stories. There is a real sense of community in the boating world. If you see us out and about say hi, we don’t bite.

Lindsey: Getting to sail! I’ve really liked sailing since the first time we took lessons, and now that we’re in the Bahamas, we’ve had some really great sails on windy days with easy routes. And since this is a full-time gig, for now, we don’t have to play the awful game where we count how many boat weekends are left before winter and divide those up between boat project days and sailing days.

Do you ever get seasick?
Paul: I have in the past but not on Miss Fe. The first line of defense is picking good weather windows and staying hydrated. Though we didn’t have enough wind to sail the Gulf Stream, putting the sails up makes the boat much more smooth and easy on the stomach. We do carry a number of OTC and prescription drugs to help combat it. I personally take scopolamine patches as a preventative, but it’s a very unusual drug with some weird side effects.  Mahina Expeditions has a great article on seasickness worth a read. We apply most of their advice and have had good luck so far.

Lindsey:  I felt queasy on the Gulf Stream crossing, I think because it was rockiest at night, with no moon so I couldn’t concentrate on any visuals. There are always moments down below, if the boat is rocking, where I suddenly feel off if I’m trying to do too much while facing different ways (like digging through the bottom of the fridge, then facing the opposite way at the stove, then facing backward at the sink).

Do you catch a lot of fish?

Paul: I wouldn’t say the fishing has been great but we always seem to catch something when we go out. Haven’t had very good luck locating good-sized fish as they seem to be in deeper water and the geography here makes it very hard for us to get out far enough offshore in our dinghy to catch them.

Lindsey: I’m usually rigged up for smaller fish than Paul, so I tend to catch more. Ha! We’ve caught a bunch of little snappers and bait fish.

Are you running low on sunscreen?
Paul: Lindsey goes through the stuff like water. Thankfully we found a reasonable source that sells it by the gallon, no joke. In 3 months we have gone through a half gallon of this stuff Rocky Mountain Sunscreen – Kids, Gallon, SPF 50, Spray. We do take sun protection seriously and always have sunblock with us as well hats, buffs, and UPF rated clothing.

Lindsey: There’s probably not enough sunscreen in the world for me. There’s a reason my nickname is “pants-on-the-beach!”

As you started cruising, what transitions did you find most difficult?
Paul: Due to the location of the boat and its proximity to our jobs, I spent a lot of long nights away from Lindsey working on the boat. It wasn’t easy and isn’t something I would want to do again, but it got us here. Downsizing and moving out of our apartment was also particularly challenging. The best thing we did was move out of our apartment and downsize to move in with family 6 months ahead of living on the boat. Still rough but it was less of a shock to our systems.

Lindsey: I think it’s hard to always be around people who don’t really know you. It’s fun to meet new people, but since it’s our first season out and we’re constantly moving, it’s ONLY meeting new people. We are meeting people we will stay in touch with and will see again, but until then, I miss the experience of having enough time to bond with people.

What did you do to make your dream a reality?  
Lindsey: I’ll let Paul answer this one, but I just want to say that Paul generally does what he says he’s going to do, and whenever he gets into something, he really gets into it. If you think what he is saying sounds crazy and like he’ll never do it, you don’t know Paul.

Paul: I’m going to leave financials out of this because I feel that's its own post but I got the idea while watching the documentary Maidentrip on Netflix one night in August a few years back. After watching I looked and Lindsey and said, “This girl did it right! If a 16-year-old girl can go around the world, we can at least make it to the Bahamas on a boat. Besides we can take the ICW and not even have to sail most of the way!” I  next did some more research and scoured the internet to find out how much it would cost. Lindsey is naturally suspicious of everything, so I knew I would need to make a strong case that this was financially feasible. That’s when I found the Bumfuzzle blog. Lindsey and I both read every entry for their circumnavigation, which gave us a big confidence boost. Probably about 3 months had gone by and Lindsey, while somewhat onboard with the idea, was not very sure about it since she had never actually sailed before. Logically thinking, I said we could take some ASA (American Sailing Association) courses in the summer. Over the winter I read every how-to boat book I could find and by spring we were on the Delaware River learning to sail in ASA 101. After the first 2 day course, Lindsey wanted a small boat of her own, so we searched Craigslist on the drive home and two days later we were proud owners of an AMF Alcort 14 catamaran. We sailed the cat in a nearby state park over the summer.  We took ASA 103 later in the summer, and in the fall we stumbled upon Miss Fe. She was the first big boat we seriously looked at and seemed to fit the bill for what we wanted at a price we could afford so we bought her. Those ASA courses didn’t do a very good job of preparing us, especially since there was no wind during either course but we managed to move the boat up the bay. Thankfully after re-rigging the boat we hired our riggers Walden Rigging to take us out and show us how to sail our boat in some proper wind. Additionally, I raced a summer on the Chesapeake with the totally awesome crew of Split Decision. To sum it all up, we set our minds to the dream and just refused to quit.
Posted on Wednesday, May 02, 2018 by  |  

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!