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Cruising BVI: Spelunking at The Bight

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The Bight was our next stop after leaving Tortola. An anchorage that’s also home to the famous Willy T’s floating bar. Peter and I skipped the bar scene shenanigans but took the opportunity to visit the three caves located just a quick paddle to the West.

Only accessed by water, it proved to be another fun adventure that we were lucky to experience. Norman Island is said to have inspired the writing found in Treasure Island with tales of pirates, hidden bays and shipwrecks.

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By taking the paddle boards, we got a little exercise on the way over to the caves and we didn’t have to bother with dropping the dinghy. We only planned on staying one night at Norman Island before continuing our island hop East so we preferred to leave the dinghy and motor secured on deck.

Our Tower iSUP’s also allowed us to explore these caves without having to SWIM into the dark unknown. Peter is practically a fish and has no fear so it didn’t matter much to him if we were snorkeling or paddling. If you’re like me, swimming at night or in water too murky to see around you is a sure-fire way to get the heebie-jeebies! There’s just something unnerving about DARK water. Even worse, dark water in a dark cave! I was shocked at just how dark it really got when we got way in there.

On the way home, the wind had picked up considerably and the current coming around the point made it quite challenging to remain standing. We had been forewarned about the current there but chose to take the challenge anyway. Paddling back around the point to The Bight is only recommended at slack tide, or be prepared for a serious workout!

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Stay tuned for more adventures from BVI! We’re currently in Grenada waiting out the rest of Hurricane Season :) Leave us a comment, we’d love to hear from you!

 

Waterproof iPods: Extreme Toys For Extreme Adventures

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The most extreme adventures are often hosted by the most extreme conditions. In our case, the majority of those adventures involve water – whether on the beach, underwater, on the water, or in the snow. Electronics are ever-evolving and continuously growing tougher but most of our devices still require waterproof cases and the utmost care to prevent damage from the environment. Now that we live on a boat we are also learning that pretty much everything we own must be ‘marine-grade’ to withstand the harsh salty air and salt water.

We live in a generation where electronic devices like computers, radios and phones are much more than just toys. They are communication devices that help us increase efficiency. Just like some athletes like to stay ‘in the zone’ with portable music players, we like to bring our tunes with us when we go to the beach, paddleboard, surf, snorkel and go spearfishing. Unfortunately, regular MP3 players or iPods don’t hold up for these kind of activities.

Before we set sail almost a year ago, AudioFlood introduced us to a product we didn’t even know existed: A waterproof iPod! They promptly shipped us two of these handy devices and we’ve spent the last 6 months putting them to the test.

Keep reading to see the pro’s and con’s we’ve experienced with this device as well as seeing proof in the pictures of Peter rocking out while enjoying some underwater activities in our travels through the Caribbean. Music puts us in a meditative state and keeps us in the zone. It’s amazing how music can increase his attention, especially while hunting lobster :)

AudioFlood uses a unique waterproofing process that fills the entire inside of a genuine Apple iPod Shuffle with a continuous layer of soft yet highly corrosion resistant sealant. Also, unlike other waterproofing processes, AudioFlood never exposes their devices to temperatures above room temperature to prevent damage to the battery. For more information about the waterproofing process or to learn where to buy one, please visit AudioFlood’s website.

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PROS:

-Great for those that are supposed to wear earplugs in the water

-Depth rated for over 250 feet (although we believe it is not safe to use earplugs while diving to depths where you need to clear your ears)

-Impervious to salt water or pool chlorine

-The ear piece is soft rubber so it doesn’t irritate our ears

-The buttons on the iPod are not inhibited by the waterproofing process like a waterproof case does to the buttons on a phone

-Several available colors for personalization

-Fast syncing

-In the gym, these earphones won’t slip out like Apple’s do after getting sweaty

-Comes with a USB charging cable for easy use with a 12volt adaptor

-Great sound quality (as expected by Apple products) and unaffected by waterproofing

-Amazing technology that would be helpful for all electronics in harsh marine environments

-The technology protects from the inside-out so it doesn’t break down or fail as easily as a waterproof case

-Using an iPod is less cumbersome than carrying a smartphone or radio on Extreme Adventures

-Can be used for solo activities like surfing, diving, swimming, paddleboarding and snowboarding where most other electronics cannot be used

-Provides a function to play music that can be relaxing, meditative, focusing or mood enhancing

-Includes a short cord to prevent tangling

-Incredibly durable

CONS:

-For guys not wearing a shirt, the iPod must be clipped to a hat instead and the earbuds are then upside down and easily fall out

-Loss of hearing: the ear pieces are airtight and inhibit any nearby sounds (This can be dangerous if you need to be able to hear things like a continuously running water pump, alarms, horns, nearby boats approaching while underwater, or any other audible danger)

-The devices are only sold in 2 gb sizes, which really doesn’t allow for much song storage

-Not recommended for fishing due to loss of sound (can’t hear birds working, boils reels zinging or engine of the boat)

-Water did get into the hollow part of the ear piece and it was difficult to blow out

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**DISCLAIMER: Extreme care must be taken if using products like this under water. Please consult a professional before using this product while diving or freediving. Where The Coconuts Grow does not guarantee similar results to the experiences we have shared here and makes no claim on the safety of using this product during any type of activity. We shall not be held liable for any damage incurred while using this product.

 

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING…

We are PROUD to share these awesome products and services with our readers. There are so many different solutions out there for everything we could possibly need, but these are the solutions that work for us.

We gladly accept discounts or samples when a company feels generous enough to support our cause. In return we support the manufacturer or local service by sharing their links and writing about our experience with them. We only seek out sponsorship and affiliate programs from products and services we actually WANT to use and likewise only accept offers for products or services that we WILL use.

We are not paid for any reviews we write or feedback we provide. We simply like to spread the word and share great experiences we have had that could also bring joy to others.

 

Best SUP For A Liveaboard Sailboat

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Where The Coconuts Grow is sponsored by TOWER PADDLE BOARDS – A local San Diego company with a worldwide online store. We are proud to partner with this SUP manufacturer that you may have seen on ABC’s Shark Tank. They are based out of our hometown in sunny Southern California and we are happy to show some San Diego LOVE!

With a growing popularity among the cruising community, we saw pictures of the Tower iSUPs on several other blogs during the months we spent outfitting our boat. It wasn’t until the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show in 2013 that we became interested in actually buying one. After seeing the boards up close and personal, we decided we needed not one, but TWO 9’10” Adventurer iSUPs! It’s a good thing because we use them all the time now that we’re out cruising around. Click here to read about our first adventure on the paddleboards in the Bahamas.

Now that we’ve had some time to play around with our iSUPs, we’d like to share our experiences with you about the PROS and CONS of buying an Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board (iSUP) while living on a sailboat. Check out our Tower Paddle Board review:

PROS

– Rigidity

There were two blocks placed underneath each end of an Adventurer 9’10″ inflatable SUP at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show. Amazed at the rigidity, I called Peter over to test it out.  It’s designed to hold up to 300lbs when properly inflated and Peter had no trouble keeping his balance while trying to bounce up and down on the center of the board. In the water, the rigidity proves to be just as reliable as long as it’s inflated properly.

– Inflatable

The best part about buying an inflatable SUP is that they roll up nicely. While aware of the long passages we had planned, it was impractical to purchase more gear that would need to be strapped on deck so the fact that these iSUPs can be deflated and stowed neatly in our forward cabin while under way was a major selling point for us. If we are at anchor for awhile, we leave the boards inflated and stowed on deck. On short day sails, the boards are fine on deck, but when we are passagemaking, the boards are deflated and stowed in our forward cabin.

– Size

Tower offers various sizes of inflatable SUPs and several other options for their fiberglass boards. Even at 6′ tall Peter felt comfortable with the 9’10” board instead of the larger 14′ inflatable board. The 9’10” Adventurer iSUP is just small enough for me to carry on shore and to lift up and over the lifelines while deploying or bringing it back on board our boat. It’s also big enough to remain stable on the water while carrying a bunch of gear.

– Accessories

Tower offers a ton of accessories designed specifically to fit their boards. We have attached a Safari Pak to one of our boards for carrying our snorkel and fishing gear. The other board has plenty of room left for Betsy to ride along for an afternoon paddle. All the essentials are available like a pump, adjustable paddle, leashes, extra D-ring hooks, spare fins, fin bolts and traction pads. If you think you’re good enough to not need a leash, at the very least attach some sort of line to the board to be able to secure it to something while not in use but still in the water. We have leashes on both boards but we really only use them to secure the boards to the side of our boat or when visiting friends :)

Boards can be purchased individually or in packages that include the pump and an adjustable paddle. While we purchased the board only, not the package, we still recommend getting the package if you want to be ready to paddle right out of the box. Our inflatable dinghy pump had the same attachment fitting as Tower’s so we thought we didn’t need to spend the extra money on a second pump. Now we wish we had bought Tower’s pump made especially for their boards because our pump lets out too much air as it is being disconnected.

We ended up purchasing paddles with fiberglass handles from another company during a Cyber Monday sale but Tower now offers very nice fiberglass paddles (and other materials) on their site for those interested in upgrading their paddle.

– Convenience

Our favorite part about having two iSUPs on board is that they are so much easier to deploy than our dinghy. We can easily drop a paddle board in the water to go visit a neighboring boat in an anchorage, or take a walk on the beach, or check out a snorkel spot that is farther away than we want to swim. Peter has even taken one of the boards to check us in at Customs and Immigration after a long passage instead going to the hassle of dropping our dinghy and motor.

– Exercise

Stand Up Paddle Boarding is a fantastic way to get in shape. It uses core muscles for balance, upper body as well as leg strength. Access to land may not always be available but in a calm anchorage we can always paddle around for a little exercise. On a windy or choppy day it adds an extra level of challenge to stay standing. For the more adventurous types, some people enjoy SUP yoga and surfing!!

-Price

A Tower inflatable SUP costs several hundred dollars less than a regular board, and often much less than competitor inflatable boards. Tower frequently offers online sale pricing so be sure to check back often! **

-Shipping

Domestic orders over $250 or that include a paddle board qualify for free shipping! Shipping is fast and their customer service is exceptional. Shipping is also available worldwide for a fee.

 

CONS

– Fins

Two of the fins remain fixed. The larger center fin on our board must be removed in order to roll the iSUP back up into a nice space-saving bundle because the inflator valve is located at the head of the board. This has since been redesigned and the new Tower boards have the inflator valve at the foot of the board making it easy to start rolling from the head and leave the fin attached. Our boards came with fin screws to attach the center fin which eventually began to rust after just a few months in salt water, even after rinsing with fresh water after every use. The head on the bolt has very shallow grooves making it extremely difficult to tighten or loosen the bolt. The bolt is also easily dropped and may bounce off the deck going overboard – OOPS! Tower also took note of this design flaw and has since replaced the fin screws with plastic fasteners attached with a loop. Problem solved!

– Lack of D-Rings

The board only comes with one D-ring on each end. Additional D-rings or a Safari Pak must be purchased if  you want to attach a bungee cord to the front of the board for carrying gear. They are cheap to buy more but take note before making your purchase to avoid the hassle of ordering twice.

– Discoloration

The glue that binds the PVC seems together begins to turn yellow after just a short while of sun exposure.  This isn’t a Tower-exclusive issue though… any glue used on PVC, such as our dinghy, will become discolored with UV exposure. It’s only a cosmetic flaw but it sure was nice when the board was sparkling white :) After two years in the sun, its hardly noticeable anymore, though it does happen.

– Handle

The webbing installed as a handle in the center of our boards has since disintegrated with UV damage and completely ripped off both boards. Again, Tower took note of this issue and has engineered way better handles out of more durable material for all their new boards. Lucky for everyone else!

After factoring in all of the Pros and Cons, we think the Tower Adventurer iSUP is the best SUP for a living on a sailboat!

**If you or anyone you know is interested in purchasing products from Tower Paddle Boards, PLEASE consider using one of our affiliate links above. Just like many other bloggers, we are part of Tower’s Affiliate Program which tracks where their sales are referred from. Simply access Tower Paddle Boards by clicking through from the links above first. Any subsequent products you search for on Tower’s website during that same internet session will help us out when you complete your purchase. It’s no additional cost to you and it will add a very nice chunk of commission into our cruising fund keeping us afloat for just a little longer. We truly appreciate your support!

 

Take a look at some of the amazing adventures we’ve had so far:

We go fishing…

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We take Betsy for ‘doggie paddle’ sessions…

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We play bumper boards seeing who can stay on their board the longest…

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We explore caves…

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We paddle to secluded beaches…

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We race…

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We paddle to the best snorkeling spots…

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And we cool off…

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A special thanks to Mom for capturing some great photos of us playing on our Tower Paddle Boards!!

If you’re interested in further reading, our friend Carolyn has a couple great articles about SUP Paddle Maintenance and how to introduce your dog to SUPing!

 

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING…
We are PROUD to share these awesome products and services with our readers. There are so many different solutions out there for everything we could possibly need, but these are the solutions that work for us.

We gladly accept discounts or samples when a company feels generous enough to support our cause. In return we support the manufacturer or local service by sharing their links and writing about our experience with them. We only seek out sponsorship and affiliate programs from products and services we actually WANT to use and likewise only accept offers for products or services that we WILL use.

We are not paid for any reviews we write or feedback we provide. We simply like to spread the word and share great experiences we have had that could also bring joy to others.

**If you’re in the market for any of our favorite products, please consider using one of our Tower or Amazon Affiliate links!

Paddleboarding and The Blue Hole anchored off White Cay

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It was a 19nm sail down to White Cay where we ducked in to set anchor. Peter almost missed the turn as we surfed the boat through the cut. It was pretty clear that it was too shallow to go forward through the next part so we followed the breadcrumbs on the chartplotter from the previous owner in to a sharp turn to starboard and settled in next to another sailboat.

Peter and I took the dogs to shore with the dinghy. There were many small islands and little tiny beaches but not much sand around the islands. Mostly lava rock and no shells. We watched the sunset from our private beach then went to say hello to another ketch anchored nearby.

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We got back and had the rests of the snapper caught the day before. It was a rough and rolly anchorage because there was so much current being pushed through from two different locations. That night we swung all the way around over and over. We kept the mizzen up to hopefully point into the wind but the current kept swinging us in circles.

Tuesday 2.18.14 first thing in the morning Gunner told us he needed to go potty and as soon as we got him to the Astroturf on the aft deck, he went pee right away!! Old dogs can learn new tricks!

Leah wanted to go for an adventure on the paddleboards so Peter helped finish getting them ready. We are missing the screw and nut that holds the fin on so he secured it with a zip-tie instead. I was extremely leery of drifting away from the boat with just the paddles. The current was wicked and the night before the guys had trouble swimming back to the boat while carrying their dive gear. As long as the guys followed us in the dinghy for the first part of the paddling I decided to give it a shot.

I had no idea how calm and beautiful it was about to be once we got around the point where the waves were breaking! Finally we were able to move from our knees to standing up and then we paddled through the crystal blue green waters. This really is the stuff dreams are made of.

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There were sting rays and bright blue fish swimming under us in the sandy shallows. We saw a few turtles too.

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Peter and Josh went back to get the dogs in the dinghy. When they got back to us, I got Betsy out for her first time on a paddleboard! She is such a good water dog :) We weren’t ready to try it with Gunner yet. He was feeling much better but we figured he just might not have the strength yet for something as crazy as that.

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After a bit of doggy paddling we got towed over on the paddleboards to the trail that leads to the Blue Hole of Hoffmans Cay.

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The four of us and the dogs hiked up the trail until we could see the big hole in the middle of the island. Its something like 600 feet deep and connects to the ocean so its all salt water. We heard Jacques Cousteau discovered it many moons ago.

Peter jumped off the cliff into the deep blue hole and the rest of us climbed down a little further. It was amazing! The edge just dropped off into a deep abyss.

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There was a cave like area that had been worn away and tucked up underneath, completely undisturbed in the sand, was written “Journey.” I knew it must have been left by our friends aboard S/V Journey who arrived there just a couple weeks before us. Sailing Journey, we’re right behind you!!

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Betsy and Gunner went swimming with the boys and then we hiked back out.

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We headed back to the boat then checked out the beach closest to us. Peter and Josh took their Hawaiian slings over to the outside of the island and tried again for some dinner. Peter got one lobster and one unknown species of fish. When we finally filleted it up later that night we discovered the fish had some sort of parasite inside so we tossed the whole thing overboard :( We BBQ’d chicken instead with a tasty little lobster appetizer. Still a pretty good meal for living on the hook!

** Like many other cruisers, we are part of the Tower Paddleboard Affiliate Program. If you decide you want one of these awesome iSUPs too then please help us out and order one by first clicking on the ad banner on the right side our website. Just like the amazon link, if you click through from our site first, we get a percentage of the sale and that helps us stay afloat to enjoy all these amazing adventures!

 

 

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING…

We are PROUD to share these awesome products and services with our readers. There are so many different solutions out there for everything we could possibly need, but these are the solutions that work for us.

We gladly accept discounts or samples when a company feels generous enough to support our cause. In return we support the manufacturer or local service by sharing their links and writing about our experience with them. We only seek out sponsorship and affiliate programs from products and services we actually WANT to use and likewise only accept offers for products or services that we WILL use.

We are not paid for any reviews we write or feedback we provide. We simply like to spread the word and share great experiences we have had that could also bring joy to others.

**If you’re in the market for any of our favorite products, please consider using one of our Amazon Affiliate product links. Just access Amazon by clicking through from the right-hand sidebar on 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. We appreciate your support!

Diving the Sapona Wreck and Crossing the Bahama Banks

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2.10.14 We left Brown’s and went back to the Sapona wreck at Turtle Rock. This time the anchor dug in good. Peter dove the anchor, then came back to help me get the watermaker fired up. It took a bit of deciphering but we finally figured out how to unpickle it from when the previous owners stored it last. It’s slow but it works! 6 gallons an hour is actually pretty good in terms of watermakers. There is a tiny tinge of saltiness in it but nothing a little ice won’t cover up :) Now we are totally self sufficient!

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Peter couldn’t wait to jump in! This man is a fish :)

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The guys played around with the Air Line hookah system for a little bit right off the boat. It works pretty well to just leave the engine on the aft deck and run the hoses off the back. That way they don’t have to mess with lifting it up and over the lifelines down into the water. There wasn’t a whole lot to see under the boat but it was fun to play around with it. They did a quick inspection of the bottom of the boat too. One of these days we need to clean the bottom now that we are in clear and warm enough water. Another thing to add to the list…

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After awhile, they decided it was time to go look at something really cool and swam over to the wreck with their masks and snorkels. It was a little intimidating for me and Leah so we stayed at the boat for now.

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If you haven’t read the page on our website that explains why we chose the name “Where The Coconuts Grow,” be sure to check it out and click the link ‘here‘.

We are finally in a place where we meet all the requirements of what we call the 80/80/80 Rule:

80° Air Temp

80° Water Temp:

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80′ Water Visibility:

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And we see coconuts floating by all the time ;)

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The next day (Tuesday 2.11.14) we all took the dinghy over to the wreck to look for lobster and so Leah and I could look around a little. It was amazing! There was a nurse shark hiding inside the wreck and lots of small fish and coral were fun to look at too. Even though it was just a nurse shark, I wasn’t too interested in getting close to it. Peter and Josh are like fish so diving down to nab those tasty little buggers was no problem for them. Still difficult nonetheless, but we ended up with four lobsters and two conch.

After dinner we pulled up the anchor, began the stowing process and left around 7pm to begin our crossing to the Berry Islands. The Bahama Banks are no joke either. There are some crazy deep areas and it was a good 70nm stretch. To our dismay, the winds were much stronger than we anticipated, giving us an average of 20 knots on the nose. This was yet again another long passage motoring into the wind. This time Peter, Josh and I did fine without taking any seasickness meds. Leah took some just in case. It was a very rolly ride. Trying to use the heads was like being on a roller coaster!!

Half way into the trip we noticed a lot of sea water rolling back behind our port side lockers in the galley. We were heeled over pretty good and dipping the bow into the water a lot so it was really tough to find out where it was coming from. We emptied out all the lockers, sopped up the water and finally determined nothing else was leaking.

We still don’t know what it was, but we have a few ideas. Either it was leftover water that ended up in our anchor locker as we took water over the bow, or it was from one of the seacocks backflowing into the boat as we crashed down from the waves. The aft head had spilled sea water over from the bowl. It hadn’t been locked shut properly and there was just too much pressure to keep the bowl from filling up. The most likely culprit is the leaking anti-siphon hose that is connected to the generator. At least its all clean and dry now!

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Wednesday 2.12.14 around 6:30pm we made it into Great Harbour Marina. It was dark but we had storm clouds on our tail and we got there as fast as we could motorsailing and tacking like crazy. The marina is super protected and tucked away. Docking was easy and the still water was incredibly peaceful. It was so nice to just be still. The showers were hot, the wifi reached the boat (although spotty and super slow) and there was a restaurant nearby to fill our bellies after a long crossing.

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