Home » BLOG » Archives for April 2014

Month: April 2014

Provisioning in George Town

In preparation to continue traveling south from the Bahamas, our fridge, freezer and pantry needed some restocking. Everything is expensive in the Bahamas, but there’s no way around it. We need food! Shopping smart and watching for substitutes can really make a difference.

Exuma Markets:

Exuma Markets is the main grocery store in George Town. This is the last place (that we know of) to reprovision before leaving the country heading south. From what we gather, they have a much better selection now than they did in the past. There are frozen goods, fresh fruits and vegetables (when the truck comes in from Nassau) and staples as well.  If you’re as lucky as we were, you might be able to grab the last jar of Nutella! It’s close to $13 for the larger one but SOOO worth it! For all the times we went in that store, we never saw them restock it.

The frozen meat section has gotten much better now that they are in competition with Prime Island Meats. It’s convenient to grab a couple of New York steaks at Exuma Markets for dinner and head back to the boat on your dinghy. They are actually really good steaks.

Sticker shock:

IMG_6811
Really??? Someone please tell me what these are doing in the grocery store!!
IMG_6813
Good stuff. Completely sealed and safe from bugs. I bought a few bags and haven’t had any trouble yet with weevils. I wish they packaged oatmeal like this in more places!!
IMG_7059
Yes, $7 for crackers.
IMG_6820
There were only tiny tiny tiny bottles of generic local brand bleach. Bring enough from the states if you think you’ll run out while in the Bahamas!
Good thing we stocked up at Costco in Florida!
Good thing we stocked up at Costco in Florida
Peter LOVES papertowels! We didn't buy enough at Costco. The quality here sucks.
Peter LOVES paper towels! We didn’t buy enough at Costco. The quality here sucks.
Is it worth it? Bar rags work great but sometimes its just nice wiping up spills with throw away material.
Is it worth it? Bar rags work great but sometimes its just nice wiping up spills with throw away material.

 

For those of you that need "good" coffee... I had to give up my requirement for good coffee until we reached the DR :)
For those of you that need “good” coffee… I had to give up my requirement for good coffee until we reached the DR :)
IMG_6821
Not many options for buying in bulk
IMG_6823
Good thing Gunner isn’t picky! If we put some fresh fish on top then Betsy will eat anything too :)

 A note about dog food:

We were terrified that switching dog food often would be hard on Betsy and Gunner’s tummies. Gunner has had a sensitive stomach his whole life. We’ve had to change brands twice in the last three months and both dogs are doing surprisingly well. We supplement with fresh fish and table scraps of fatty steak or other meat often. Although the brand selection of dry dog food in bulk isn’t great in other countries, we try to at least stick with the same ingredients. Gunner does better on Chicken than he does Lamb lately.  If your dog has a hard time switching food, try mixing in other brands before you leave the dock so they have a chance to get used to the change in diet. We did this only once on land and it seemed to be all the time we needed. It was a GOOD thing we were on land for that initial switch ;)

Getting everything back to the boat:

We shopped at Exuma Markets several times to stock up on some of the staple items as well as groceries during our time in George Town. One of the employees helped us take two shopping carts outside the store and down to the dinghy dock. Apparently this is common here. Exuma Markets owns the dock so it’s no problem. There are a couple of concrete stairs before getting to the floating dock. We carefully lifted the carts over the gaps in the dock at each new section. We loaded everything into the dinghy and made sure everything was double bagged to prevent from chaffing and tied shut. It’s usually a wet ride across the harbor.

IMG_6826 IMG_6828

Buying in bulk:

If you are ready to buy in bulk, consider checking out Prime Island Meats. They offer free shuttles several times a week. They pick you up at the corner of the Exuma Yacht Club and the main road. You can ride in the back of the white pick up (at your own risk) and they drive you north up to their store.

If you want to be really smart about your provisioning, take a ride up there to check it out at least a few days before you need your food. See what they have, talk to the owners and put in your order. They are SO helpful!

Here’s a link to what they carry.

Mon. 10am-3pm, Tues.- Fri. 1-6 pm

Sat 10am-3pm (Closed Sun.)

Their phone number is on the website and you can contact them by email as well. The morning cruiser’s net will sometimes mention special pickup days or messages about hours or the shuttle.

Prime Island Meats will cut your selections to any size you like and package them in ziplocks with freezer paper in between each piece and they will even PRE-FREEZE everything for you!! This is extremely helpful so we don’t spend a whole week trying to get everything frozen in our little freezer on the boat. They put everything in their giant SubZero freezer and they will have it ready for you when you want to pick it up. We brought a cooler with us to pick everything up on the second shuttle trip but I think they will even deliver everything to you in both George Town or Emerald Bay Marina.

Peter is the kind of guy that likes meat with every meal so we were lucky to find this place. We of course plan on always having fresh fish aboard with reserves in the freezer but it sure is nice to have a Filet Minon or choice deli meat with pre-sliced pepperjack! You can get any kind of meat, cheese or deli item you want. Just let them know in advance and they can get just about anything in.

The prices compare to the States but the quality is well worth the price. Prime Island Meats and Deli has a great service here, definitely worth checking out if you’re in George Town.

IMG_7198 IMG_7200 IMG_7277 IMG_7280 IMG_7283

Long lost photos from our journey to the Exumas

If you’re like me, it’s easy to lose pictures when you are using more than one camera. Some get transferred to the laptop and some don’t until much later. Our journey from Spanish Wells down to the Exumas was a couple of months back but I just now found the rest of our pictures from the beautiful sail across the Fleeming Channel.

The original post can be found ‘here‘ showing the pictures and story we posted around the time of the actual voyage. We kept a keen eye out for coral heads. As the sky turned gray with overcast the coral heads were a bit tricky to see until we were practically going over them. It was a beautiful and peaceful day sail and the stillness of this hop down to The Exumas was exactly what we had hoped for.

DSC_0484 DSC_0485 DSC_0486 DSC_0487 DSC_0498 DSC_0547 DSC_0549 DSC_0550 DSC_0552 DSC_0566 DSC_0571 DSC_0572 DSC_0417 DSC_0418 DSC_0422 DSC_0427 DSC_0433 DSC_0442 DSC_0446 DSC_0447 DSC_0448 DSC_0451 DSC_0452 DSC_0461 DSC_0472 DSC_0480

Getting Engine Parts in the Exumas

Before we left the Bahamas, it was imperative that we make a major repair. You may remember we had trouble with the main engine exhaust hose leaking into the engine room. It took awhile to pin point exactly where it was leaking from but we figured out the elbow only accessible from inside the cockpit locker was leaking in several places due to corrosion at the connections.

It took all day and many uncomfortable voyages into the line locker to be sure we had found the culprit. I had to stuff my whole body in there, hang my head over a wood divider upside down practically strangling myself to see what was going on. Bright flashlights and telescoping mirrors help tremendously!

The Leak:

IMG_6555 IMG_6567 IMG_6580

Now, the Exumas are well traveled but very remote when it comes to supplies and marine parts. Virtually non-existent. We determined which parts we would need while in Black Point but there was no way we would find anything useful there. We could either trek back up to Staniel Cay to have parts flown in via Watermaker Air service, or we could scoot down to George Town where we hoped to find a few of the parts we needed.

Our friends on S/V Anneteak (another Whitby 42) helped us make a temporary repair moving the main engine exhaust discharge hose over to where the generator exhaust hose exits the boat on the port side. Although this is NOT recommended and creates quite a bit of exhaust fumes in the cockpit, it was really our only option. The leak was too severe to leave it as-is for the journey south. Although we hoped to sail most of it, we wanted to be prepared in case we had to motor most of the way south. We made the repair with the help of a few borrowed tools and limped down to George Town.

There are really only three stores in George Town that could have carried what we needed. Napa Auto Parts (north of George Town), Top II Bottom near town, and Brown’s Marine which is a pretty far dinghy ride south out of George Town. We tried all three and no one carried 2.5″ marine exhaust hose. Brown’s was the only place that was able to order anything in from the U.S. They would charge a 30% markup on the catalog price (ie. West Marine, Jerry’s Marine, etc.) plus freight charges and customs fees. Duty is free if the parts are essential for the propulsion of the engine. Disposable items such as oil don’t count as duty free.

While it would have been nice to just order the parts we need and be done with it, I couldn’t bring myself to pay 30% on top of all the other fees we would already be paying. Ordering parts from the U.S. and having them shipped to George Town via DHL was another option. We would still be paying freight charges, but atleast there wouldn’t be a 30% markup.

Just before we put in our order, we were told by a few people to try Reggie’s Express Services, Inc. which provides air freight services to and from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and George Town, Exuma. DHL may take up to a week and a half  or even more (depending on how long it takes for the shipping of the parts to DHL stateside) to get any parts in since the freight is routed through Nassau for customs. Reggie’s flights leave Florida every Wednesday morning arriving directly in George Town later that day. The freight is cleared through customs at the airport by the next morning.

You can reach Regina at 954-583-8545 or reggiexp@bellsouth.net to coordinate any shipments. She’ll need a pdf of your cruising permit as well as an invoice for the parts that you are having shipped to her in Florida. She charges $1.75/lb with a 5% fuel surcharge. Just make sure your packages are delivered to her by Tuesday morning.

Once the packages arrive in George Town, contact Dejuan at 242.544.9090 that Thursday morning. His office is at Doeboi Unlimited just across from the dinghy dock to the right. He is a customs broker who will handle all the paperwork for you on the Bahamas side of things. He charges $20 for delivery from the airport and $30 for his paperwork fees.

We had quite a few items shipped from Parker/Racor, Jamestown Distributors and a specialty store to get the exhaust tubing in time so it was much easier for us to have Dejuan bring it all back from the airport instead of us renting a car to go get everything. (p.s. if your iPhone cable breaks while you’re in the Bahamas, Doeboi carries some great knockoff cell phone accessories that have a flat cord which is way more durable than the regular round cords and he sells them for only $12. He’s got all kinds of other accessories like 12v plugs too.)

After our special-order fiberglass connector, fiberglass 90-degree exhaust elbow, 6′ of marine wet exhaust hose, a few extra hose clamps and some other miscellaneous parts arrived it was time to put it all back together the right way.

New friends on SV Dream Ketcher (another Whitby 42) came over to help with this major project. It’s always a puzzle trying to figure out the best way to pry off 30-some year old parts and replace them with new ones.

The Fix:

IMG_6917 IMG_6923 IMG_6926 IMG_6938 IMG_6865 IMG_6885 IMG_6892 IMG_6897 IMG_6900 IMG_6907

All Fixed! We connected new hose to old hose inside the lockers in the aft head with a straight fiberglass tube. The generator exhaust hose was fastened back to where we took it off inside the cockpit locker. Hose clamps were secured and we are BACK IN BUSINESS!!

IMG_6946 DSC_0027 IMG_6928 IMG_6933 IMG_6935 IMG_6945

We’re in Tiny House Magazine!

Several weeks ago Tiny House Magazine contacted us to write an article for their April issue. We were delighted to contribute and share with the Tiny House community what it’s like to live in a tiny floating home. While our home may not be as small as some of the others described in their magazine, we can definitely relate to all the simplicities of living in a confined space.

Page 1:

IMG_7286

Page 2:

IMG_7287

Page 3:

IMG_7288

Page 4:

IMG_7289

Page 5:

IMG_7290

 Page 6:

IMG_7291

“Tiny House Magazine features prominent leaders in the tiny house world. The magazine is interactive and will include videos, etc. People living in tiny homes will be featured. Tips for living in small places, questions and answers about downsizing. Tiny homes for sale, workshops, etc.” -THM

Tiny House Magazine is not available in print format. If you are interested in reading the entire April issue or past and future issues, they are available for purchase on your iphone/ipad from the iTunes store or downloadable as a PDF. For viewing on a Kindle, follow this link.

Keeping Our Dogs Safe At Sea: Outward Hound Life Jackets

DSC_0407

Outfitting the boat with safety equipment was at the top of our priority list before sailing away from the marina last fall. Preparing for the safety of our dogs, Betsy and Gunner, was just as important as our own safety. Peter and I spent a good amount of time researching the best kind of dog life jackets to have for the kind of conditions we would be traveling in and soon found there were many factors to consider.

Visibility:

As with our own life jackets, bright colors and reflective material can greatly increase the visibility of our pups if they were to fall overboard. It’s much easier to spot colors like yellow, orange and pink than it is blue or black or green when floating at the water’s surface. Out at sea in the deep dark-colored water is where we are most concerned with having life jackets on. Every bit of visual aide can increase our chances of recovering a lost pup when all odds are against us.

Breathability:

Our voyage began in the hot Florida sun with relentless rays that bake everything in sight. Traveling where the coconuts grow will only lead us into hotter tropical climates from here on out where Peter and I will be wearing next-to-nothing with a little bit of swim suit and board short material to cover up. In the event that Betsy and Gunner would need to wear a life jacket, we needed to consider how breathable their life jackets would be to keep them comfortable.

I remember wearing a Scooby Doo zip-up life jacket on the docks in the San Juan Islands every weekend when I was a kid. The thick and bulky material gave me some extra padding as I would hang my head over the side of the dock to poke at sea anemones and scoop up little jelly fish, crabs and other sea critters with my net. It was the most uncomfortable and awkward piece of equipment but wearing it was non-negotiable and it kept me safe as I played near the icy water. On a cloudy day the life vest kept me warm and acted as a second winter jacket. When the sun came out that life jacket insulated my little body so well I was practically sweating.

Our sweet puppies can’t tell us when they are uncomfortable or too hot. Its our responsibility to make sure we select a life jacket that is best suited for hotter climates but that will still keep them safe. Many of the canine life jackets we found were all slightly different in regards to fabric selection and there were trade offs to consider as well. While the most breathable life jackets were appealing, they lacked in buoyancy and functionality.

DSC_0426

Range of Motion:

Everyone knows Betsy Jo is an active dog. She bounces all around the boat and has free-reign pretty much anywhere she wants to go. When we are tied up to a dock she helps herself on and off the boat. When she is on deck, she patrols from bow to stern climbing over any obstacles in her way. On night passages or major crossings she curls up in a ball in the cockpit making herself comfortable while trying to not get seasick.

We wanted a life jacket that would allow the dogs to move around just as they normally do without any loss in range of motion. Harnesses can be tricky due to the placement of the straps that hold them on. If there isn’t sufficient chafe protection, straps can cut into their skin and create raw sore spots in the blink of an eye. We wanted neoprene to be the primary fabric supporting their weight for comfort but also for durability in the harsh conditions of the salt water and tropical rays of the sun.

In order to keep the life jacket properly in place, it is important to follow the recommended sizing charts for each brand of life jacket. Where Gunner might need a size Large for one brand, he is an Extra Large in others. Adjustable straps will help make the best fit, but the overall proportion of the life jacket is just as important.

DSC_0545

IMG_4023

Buoyancy:

Without getting too technical, there is a difference in the level of buoyancy each brand of life jacket has. Most are made for typical day usage in lakes or coastal areas. Unlike PFDs (personal flotation devices) available for people , there aren’t many dog life jackets that are suitable for off-shore emergency use.

We make it a rule to put life jackets on Betsy and Gunner while under way for any open-ocean sailing or during night passages. They always travel with us in the cockpit instead of staying down below to reduce the chances of seasickness. We don’t let them out of the cockpit while under way unless we are on a long passage, in which case we put our own inflatable PFDs on with tethers attached and escort the dogs to the aft deck to do their business. Rolly seas can be dangerous if we or the dogs were to lose our balance and go overboard, especially in the dark.

We’ll leave it up to the scientists to calculate just how much flotation a life jacket can provide. Ruff Wear has a great post about how much buoyancy is recommended for dog life jackets. For us, it comes down to having as much buoyancy as possible so that if one of our dogs were to go overboard while under way, they would be able to float comfortably if/when they got too tired of doggy paddling, even in stormy conditions. We pray it will never happen in an emergency situation out at sea, but safety precautions like these help keep our furry children safe.

Another feature we liked was the front float for keeping their heads above water if swimming for long periods of time. Betsy is a practically a fish and is an excellent swimmer but if she were ever floating out at sea in need of rescue, keeping her head above water is critical when exhaustion and dehydration might set in. Gunner’s older joints and muscles aren’t as strong as Betsy so he needs as many safety features as possible.

IMG_4036

IMG_4087

Handles and Straps:

Both of our dogs wear a special hip-lift harness on daily basis while under way for added safety even on the calmest of days or shortest of trips. They have two handles each for easy lifting if they were to fall off of a dock or for lifting them into and out of the dinghy. We leave the harnesses on all day and remove them only when they are sleeping so it’s not uncommon for us to leave their regular harnesses on underneath the life jackets.

Just like with their regular harnesses, it was imperative that the life jackets have good placement of the lifting straps to provide proper support either by hand or by boat hook. I didn’t like the ones that had a strap going under their neck or the ones that wouldn’t evenly support their weight. Gunner is 75 lbs and Betsy weighs in at 50 lbs. Some people argue that by grabbing the rear handle it could force the dog’s head underwater so one handle between their shoulder blades is better. It would be easy to scoop up a smaller dog one-handed if they were to fall over board, but it’s not so easy with large dogs. It’s our personal preference that two handles is a must-have feature for us.

The first four months we lived on the boat was at a marina where the tide would fluctuate greatly. Sometimes the dogs had to jump up from the dock 3 feet or higher and sometimes it would be a jump down. Being able to hold on to them as they jumped onto the boat gave an incredible amount of piece of mind. It was also good practice for handling the dogs while out at sea when the boat is rolling all over the place.

DSC_0520

DSC_0521

DSC_0523

DSC_0525

Cost:

Dog life jackets can range from $20 to $100 depending on size and brand. When it comes to safety, $100 is a small price to pay for piece of mind. Of course we would prefer to go with the most economical choice, but this is the least important criteria to us. It pays to shop around and do the homework to know if a certain product is a rip-off, but for the different products we found available, the prices all seemed relative. Finding the best option for offshore application was our top priority.

Reviews:

There are several reviews and brand comparisons floating around on the web naming some of the major brands. Here are a few of our own opinions of what’s on the market today:

Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat

  • Pros: Durable, adjustable, XXS through XL sizing, excellent buoyancy
  • Cons: Poor breathability, bulky, only one handle, expensive $80, doesn’t completely wrap under the belly

Kyjen Outward Hound Life Jacket

  • Pros: Durable, excellent visibility, sufficient buoyancy, excellent handle and strap placement, affordable $20-42, excellent range of motion, front float, XXS through XL sizing
  • Cons: Not the most breathable but any more ventilation would only reduce the buoyancy

Paws Aboard Doggy Life Jacket

  • Pros: Affordable $18-35, reflective trim, two straps, comfortable, XXS through XL sizing
  • Cons: One handle, thick, poor breathability

Kurgo Surf n Turf Coat

  • Pros: Durable, reflective trim, XS through XL sizing, removable floatation liner, extra insert for warmth available, two handles
  • Cons: Too hot for the tropics, expensive $57, doesn’t completely wrap under the belly where the second handle is, doesn’t stay in place, average buoyancy

MTI Adventurewear UnderDog Canine Life Jacket

  • Pros: Excellent breathability, medium pricing $40, available at West Marine, excellent range of motion, front float
  • Cons: Limited buoyancy, poor topside visibility for open ocean use, poor durability (many had stitching coming apart brand new on the shelf in the store (some debate that having floatation on the under side of a dog is better for keeping them afloat but we were concerned with tipping easier in cases of exhaustion floating at sea. Excellent lightweight and breathable design for coastal or lake use, but not ideal for offshore application.

EZY Dog Life Jacket

  • Pros: XXXS (under 15lbs) through XL sizing, excellent visibility, adjustable neoprene straps, durable
  • Cons: Expensive $40-62, lacking full belly support, one handle

Critter’s Inflatable Pet Life Vest

  • Pros: Suburb breathability, buoyancy and range of motion, automatic CO2 inflation when submerged in water, front float for head support, adjustable size S, M and L (from 6-200lbs)
  • Cons: Expensive $70, Automatic inflation could accidentally be triggered in damp or flooded wet lockers, support straps have no chafe protection

As with any research, we could have spent days reading the pros and cons of all the different types of dog life jackets. Instead, we narrowed the list down to one or two that would actually provide the safety features we want in offshore tropical conditions.

Kyjen’s Outward Hound Life Jacket was our top pick based on all criteria. Back in November 2013, Kyjen Inc. generously sponsored our adventures by providing us with two of their Outward Hound life jackets to keep Betsy and Gunner safe. Kyjen is a top-of-the-line manufacturer of a wide range of products just for dogs. If you haven’t seen their brand before, be sure to check out all the fun and ingenious products they have available.

Before we left the dock for good back in February 2014, we made sure to fit the new life jackets for size and have the straps properly adjusted. Betsy and Gunner didn’t mind wearing them at all and seemed quite comfortable lounging around as usual.  Our first overnight passage from Burnt Store Marina to Marathon was the first real piece of mind we had when the Outward Hound life jackets went on. We knew our dogs were safe. We were equally as relieved to put the life jackets on Betsy and Gunner while crossing the Gulf Stream from Florida to the Bahamas. Although the dogs haven’t gone overboard with the life jackets on yet, we are confident they would keep our pups safe in an emergency situation.

Stay tuned for more pictures when we test them out for an afternoon swim!!

DSC_0576

DSC_0588

**If you’re in the market for a life jacket for your furry friend, please consider using one of our Amazon Affiliate product links above. Just access Amazon by clicking through from our website first and any subsequent products you search for during that same internet session will help us out when you complete your purchase. It’s no additional cost to you and puts a small percentage in our cruising kitty to help us buy more dog food for our furry children.

Thanks for following our adventures as we travel in search of surf, sun, sand and serenity WHERE THE COCONUTS GROW!!