We have compiled a list of the most frequent questions we get from friends and family about our life afloat and their corresponding answers:
Will you write longer posts?
The short answer is probably not, but let us elaborate; when we where in the planning stage of this crazy adventure the question of blogging came around. Our last blog “One Year Abroad” during our sabbatical was very successful but it required a lot of work; taking pictures, editing pictures, writing posts, proofreading… you get the gist. Back then, we didn’t have Zoe or a boat to take care of, and as you probably know both take up a big chunk of our time. In addition to that, back then we were moving constantly. Every week or so we were somewhere new and that gave us a lot of inspiration for the blog. This time around we move much more slowly and like I said, a big chunk of our time is spent in sailing technicalities and boat maintenance, and honestly a blog about those two is not something we want to write. We will keep sharing pictures and whenever possible include one or two exciting paragraphs about what’s going on.
How long are you going to be out there sailing? What’s the plan?
This is an open-ended journey. At the moment we are not sure. At least a year but possibly more. The plan for now is to keep heading south until we reach the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico where we will stay put for hurricane season.
Is Zoe happy and settled in? What’s the plan for her education?
She is really happy! And we are so glad. It’s been a relatively easy transition and she loves having mom and dad around all the time. Of course she misses her friends, grandparents and cousin, but overall it’s been a pleasant change for her. We hope to meet more cruisers with kids down the line so she gets to hang out with other children and not just adults.
As far as her education goes we are taking it really easy. We have no plans to enforce any strict homeschooling practice at the moment (she’s 3 years old!). We feel she is learning so much just by being exposed to the surroundings during our travels. She has several tasks on-board including turning all instruments on before we set sail and off when we stop, turning the anchor light on every evening, and checking if the compost head needs to be emptied, etc. And we also have a few simple materials like these activity books, letters and numbers that we use without a fixed schedule but more when she feels like it.
What’s a typical day for you guys?
A typical day when we are not moving goes like this: Paulo usually gets up first and listens to weather reports, then Zoe gets up and they start prepping breakfast, finally Paula gets up. We either do boat jobs in the morning, lunch and head out in the afternoon to explore or run errands, or the other way around. Early evening we do sun-downers in the cockpit, start prepping dinner, and off to bed. Paula usually stays up late reading hence why she is the last one to get up.
If we are going somewhere we usually get up early, have a quick breakfast and get ready for departure. We are pretty new at this and have yet to do any passages that are longer than 12 hours. While we are moving we obviously work on the sail, read, listen to music, play with Zoe, eat (on longer passages that we know can be rough we pre-make meals), and Zoe is known to take really long naps while we are sailing.
How do you get fresh water on the boat?
Water is probably the most scarce and precious resource on-board. We have a water tank that holds 80 gallons of fresh water plus four jerry cans that hold 5 gallons each. 100 gallons is not a lot and making sure they last is what we need to do! Filling the tanks up either requires a lot of back and forth in the dinghy with the jerry cans or taking the boat to a dock that can supply fresh water usually at a cost.
So, how do we save?
Well for starters we don’t take showers daily; not as gross considering we are swimming daily in the sea, we have soap and shampoo that can lather in sea water (VO5 2-in-1, but also Suave is supposed to be good and there are a few specialized brands), and then we do a quick rinse with fresh water using the hand held shower in the cockpit. The hair situation for Paula has taken some getting used to (would shave her head in an instant if she had the guts) but it’s getting better. If the weather is a bit chilly we can use the shower inside, although lately the shower sump has been acting up, and let’s just say that hand pumping the water out has not been fun. For brushing teeth or hand washing we just barely open the tap.
Dish washing has been a huge learning curve but it gets easier the more we practice. We have a sea water pump at the sink which we use to do all the cleaning (rinse, soap and rinse) and then we use this amazing little device called Aquabot to do one final rinse with fresh water.
Our sink also has foot pump with filtered water which is what we use to drink and cook. We cook sometimes with saltwater, but our first pot of pasta was really salty (yuk!), so we have improved the technique and now adhere to an estimation of 1 cup sea water = 2 rounded teaspoons of salt. To boil eggs for example, we use 100 percent salt water.
And last but not least, laundry. We’ve been lucky to find laundromats throughout the Bahamas. They are a bit pricey but considering the time
we (Paula) could spend hand washing and the water we save, the price is worth it. So aside from a few kitchen towels, we haven’t done much hand washing on-board. In the event that we need to do it, there a couple of tools we purchased in Miami which we will report on whenever they get used.
How do you get energy on the boat?
Mamo is 100 percent energy self sufficient. She has two solar panels capable of providing 200 watts of power to our batteries and keeping the bank full. In the event we get some very cloudy days or a lot of wind we have a wind generator that can provide some more juice to the batteries. Our Diesel engine can also charge the batteries but we try to not rely on this method unless we are actually using the engine to go somewhere.
The biggest draw on the batteries is the refrigerator and freezer, and the electronics (particularly chart-plotter and autopilot) when we are sailing. Inside we have energy efficient fans and LED lights, and we have two 12-volt chargers that we use to charge our laptops, iPad, iPhone and camera.
How’s the cooking going?
Pretty good. Cooking is a big activity aboard Mamo and we all participate, it gives us something to look forward to. We enjoyed cooking before and the challenges that come with being on a boat have made it more exciting. When produce starts running low we need to get creative with cans, sprouts and baked goods. We definitely made rookie mistakes when we provisioned in Miami (mostly not bringing enough of some items) but overall we think we are doing a good job. Obviously every now and then we get tired of cooking and going ashore to have lunch or dinner becomes a big event and something to look forward to. Now if we could catch some fresh seafood ourselves that would be A-mazing!
Are you experienced sailors?
That’s a very difficult question to answer. We are more experienced than some but far from being any experts. Paulo has been actively sailing for the last seven years and he’s pretty knowledgeable. Paula started very recently and got ASA certified last year during a 5 day course with Blue Water Sailing. To say we learn new stuff everyday is an understatement, so we are taking it easy – one step at a time.
How do you get internet?
We kept our cellphone plan with T-Mobile that gives us international data and free texts. So far signal in the Bahamas has been pretty consistent and it’s been a real pleasure to not need a place with WiFi whenever we get somewhere. Internet is slow and not every site functions, but it’s something we can work with. If we are in town at a restaurant that has WiFi of course we use that too.
Do you have insurance?
Yes, we kept our health insurance through Obamacare. We decided to do so for the remainder of the year as to avoid any penalties which are supposed to be really steep for 2016 and also to be safe rather than sorry considering this is the first time we do something like this. We also purchased an evacuation policy with SkyMed which would fly us all back to Miami in the event of an accident (knock on wood).
We do not have boat insurance and it’s something we are both comfortable with considering our budget, boat investment, etc.
How can you afford something like this?
Living on a boat is actually pretty affordable once you have the boat and are handy enough to tackle most of the repairs and improvements. We definitely have less bills than when we lived on land and expect them to keep going down the longer we keep doing this. We purchased our boat cash (with savings) and don’t owe anything on it. For our day to day expenses we are also using savings and expect to work remotely here and there when we get stationed somewhere during periods like the coming hurricane season.
How’s the seasickness going?
Much better! Haven’t been seasick since the first few days but then again haven’t made any rough passages lately. So we will see, maybe we have our sea legs in place now or it’s just a matter of finding rough seas once again – definitely hoping for the first option. At the recommendation of other cruisers we have purchased a drug called Stugeron through CanadaDrugs (it’s not sold in the US) and the first person to visit us will be bringing it down along with a few other items – just FYI.
So there you have it. That was actually a lot – worth two blog posts! We will update these answers as we move along and things change.
Created: May 1st, 2016 (one month after we stared cruising full-time)