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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!


Best SUP For A Liveaboard Sailboat


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:


– 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!!


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! **


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.



– 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…


We take Betsy for ‘doggie paddle’ sessions…


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


We explore caves…


We paddle to secluded beaches…


We race…


We paddle to the best snorkeling spots…


And we cool off…


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!


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!

Conquering A Fear Of Heights: Going Up The Mast

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Peter has been up the mast many times. He has changed out bulbs, serviced our wind generator and retrieved runaway halyards. He is also a big strong guy. Knowing it’s difficult for me to even raise our 12′ dinghy up onto the bow by myself, we have always had assistance from another guy to crank him up the mast while I tail the line (hold tension and guide the halyard away from our manual winches).

After we were safely anchored in Salinas, we decided it was the perfect time to go back up the mast and take a look at our faulty wind vane. At some point during our travels in the Bahamas, our wind vane stopped giving an accurate reading of wind direction. The anemometer still accurately displays the wind speed, thank goodness, but for the last several months we’ve been sailing around guestimating the exact direction of the wind. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise, teaching us the hard way to listen to our instincts and sail by feeling rather than by digital displays. We’re still relatively new to sailing but with over 2500 nautical miles logged already, I’d say we’re doing just fine!

Whenever one of us goes up the mast, we clip in to the boson’s chair and attach a halyard to its strongest point. For a secondary safety line, we wear our inflatable lifejackets which have a built-in harnesses, and we clip a second halyard to the lifejacket harness. In the event that the primary halyard were to break, the harness and secondary halyard will hopefully be enough to prevent us from crashing down onto the deck. Whoever winches up the main halyard, will also tail the safety line, maintaining enough tension to serve a purpose.

We decided this was the perfect time for me to conquer my fear of heights and go up the mast for the first time. It’s probably more of a fear of falling, than it is the fear of heights. If I know I can’t fall, it doesn’t scare me. The sensation of falling, however, is something I just can’t seem to feel okay about.

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I began my ascent as Peter effortlessly winched me up our main mast. Our clearance from the waterline is 49′, significantly shorter than most sloops or cutters, but it was still way up there! With each crank of the winch, I slowly went higher and higher. I got to the spreader bars and yelled down to Peter, “I can’t do this… LET ME DOWN! LET ME DOWN NOW!!!!!” We debated for what seemed like an eternity. He tried to tell me it was okay, that I was doing just fine. He did his best to convince me to keep going.

Peter heard the fear in my voice and eventually let me down. I just needed a couple of minutes to regroup. Then, I tried it again. The second time wasn’t as scary, oddly enough. I approached the spreader bars for the second time and carefully climbed around, easing up on the death grip I had on the mast.

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Peter let me take my time. Once I reached the top, I looked around and felt an enormous sense of accomplishment. For me, it was so much more than just going up the mast. I conquered something I had gravely feared, and I was safe!! I spent a few minutes taking pictures and enjoying the scenery. I saw the world from a view I had only seen in pictures. It was magical!! I was 49′ in the air, hanging from a rope at the top of a pole mounted on a rocking boat in the middle of the water. Spectacular.

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After soaking in a few moments of new-found serenity, I did what I had gone up there to do in the first place. The wind vane was just out of my reach. My arms just weren’t long enough to bend the wind vane back into place. It was obvious it had been bent, and needed to be bent back, then recalibrated. I snapped a couple of pictures and asked Peter to bring me down.


In the meantime, some neighbors stopped by to see if we needed any help. Peter had to go up the main mast after me to bend the wind vane back into place so we gladly accepted help winching him up. It took just a few minutes and he came right back down. Unfortunately, it will require another trip back up to finish the calibration at another time. We sent him up the mizzen mast after that to do a quick repair on our wind generator. He added some bolts to quiet down all the vibration we were getting, and did a brief inspection on the rest of the unit.

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Its times like these where teamwork is crucial. You have to trust that you’ll keep each other safe. With each obstacle we conquer, our confidence grows exponentially, preparing us for the next adventure!!!

Please stay tuned! We have many more adventures to share with you from our travels over the last few months! We are currently in St. Lucia waiting for the next weather window to move south to Grenada where we will spend the remainder of Hurricane Season.  We may not be able to get back to you right away, but we love hearing from you. Please leave us a comment :)

NEWLY SALTED: Where The Coconuts Grow at 4 Months

NEWLY SALTED is a semi-regular publication of interviews with people who began cruising in the last few years or who have completed a cruise of under 2 years. We are excited to share a little bit about our experience after our first four months at sea and just over 2000 nautical miles under our belts. Newly Salted is a companion site to Interview With A Cruiser which features interviews of those that have been out cruising for more than two years. Someday we will be able to share what we have learned on that site as well :)


Who Are We?

Peter and Jody are a young couple from San Diego, California who drove across the country with their two dogs, Betsy and Gunner, to move aboard their 42′ sailboat in October 2013. They sailed away from safe harbor on the west coast of Florida in February to begin a journey of a lifetime in honor of Peter’s mother who passed away from breast cancer in 2012. Named after her, the S/V Mary Christine is carrying them in search of surf, sun, sand and serenity Where The Coconuts Grow. You can read more at www.wherethecoconutsgrow.com and follow the adventures on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.



What is it like to go on a permanent vacation?

We lead a pretty amazing life. The places we see and the things we do are what most people only experience on vacation. While we have a tremendous amount of gratitude for being able to experience the cruising life, it’s not all palm trees and pina coladas…

Owning a boat is a lot of work. It’s hard to really understand just how much work it is until you experience it first hand. We wear many hats including mechanics, plumbers, electricians, navigators, fishermen, riggers, weather forecasters, chefs, doctors and nurses. For us, living in our tiny house on the water is significantly more work than living in a house on land. The spaces are hard to reach and fit into. Parts break ALL THE TIME. New or old, all boats break down and need constant maintenance. There are so many systems packed into a tiny area and they all work intricately together. It takes a significant amount of time, know-how, and patience.

While on the hook or at sea, the boat is constantly moving, requiring the use of all of our core muscles for balance and expending tons of energy. When everything is in motion and also hard to access, it takes three times as long to complete the simplest task. Even making the bed will break a sweat! Tremendous love for the person your with makes the blood, sweat and tears a little more bearable.

Life at sea is a true test of strength, both mentally and physically. It’s not for everyone but we absolutely love it :)


Do we get seasick?

We were shopping for boats and invited out for a cruise with one of the yacht brokers that also ran a timeshare business for sailboats. It had been awhile since Peter had used his sealegs and he was nauseous the entire day on the water. This could have been the end of our sailing dreams before we even got started. Luckily, he knew from previous experience that once he gets used to being on a boat again he would have no problem. His years of skippering fishing boats reminded him of that.

Then, as soon as we got back on land after our sea trial during the purchase of our boat, Peter got sick on land as soon as the rocking stopped. Again, deal breaker? I don’t think so! He’s a rockstar and kept the faith that it would eventually get better. Neither one of us has gotten sick since then. We’ve both felt a bit nauseous during some rough passages but only when we are in rough weather for 24 hours or more. To play it safe, we now both take seasickness medication in uncomfortable seas.

The dogs do quite well underway. Neither of them have gotten sick from the rocking of the boat. Gunner has puked once, but only after eating a couple mouthfuls of sand. Silly dog. When we’re sailing, Betsy finds a comfy spot in the cockpit and goes to sleep. She most likely doesn’t feel good, but she never gets dehydrated and always visits the Buddy Bowl in the cockpit for some water. Gunner tends to get a little restless but not anymore than he normally does. His old bones prevent him from staying in any one place for too long, unless of course its on our bed with our pillows!! He moves around and then we put him back in a safe spot. It brings a few extra challenges and gives us a whole new appreciation for those that sail with small children.


What about pirates?

In the past four months our travels have taken us from Florida through the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spanish Virgins, US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. These areas are well traveled by fellow cruisers and the local people in these areas have been very friendly. From the DR and south there are a few areas where we definitely felt safer locking up the dinghy but that’s about as much danger as we’ve been in.

Real pirates exist and we’ll need to stay away from the coast of Venezuela, but other than that we don’t plan on cruising in Africa or other places known for piracy. As we travel south through the Caribbean we will be extra diligent about safety. Some of the islands we’ll be passing by have higher crime than others so it’s important to stay in contact with other cruisers to get current local knowledge.

With two large dogs on board we are definitely at an advantage. Most locals we’ve encountered are afraid of them and often don’t come too close. Whenever we can, we leave the dogs in the cockpit. At anchor, Gunner LOVES to do his patrols up on the bow. He barks at anything that moves, letting them know he’s on duty. Betsy on the other hand, will only bark when another boat is unusually close. If we hear Gunner, we know that another boat, dinghy or animal is somewhere within viewing range. If we hear Betsy bark, we know someone is approaching OUR boat and we need to check it out. We’ve seen them in action when we’re coming back to the boat and until they know its us, they bark quite ferociously. Good dogs :)

In any event, we are far safer traveling around on a sailboat than we are driving down the freeway in California.


How do we get internet?

The availability of internet varies all around the world. In the Bahamas, free wifi was available in some locations but we found it more convenient to purchase a local BTC sim card and prepaid data plan for our internet usage. One of our iPhones was unlocked so we were able to use a sim card from another carrier with no problem. This allowed us to boost the signal to our other devices by means of tethering.

In the DR we only used free wifi signals on the laptop with the help of our ALFA long range wifi booster. Our friends Jan and David at commutercruiser.com gave us their old one before we left Florida and it works like a charm.

Puerto Rico and the USVI have great signal for AT&T so we temporarily reactivated Peter’s phone and data plan. Unfortunately, the case failed and leaked water inside damaging the phone. We were still able to use that sim card with the other phone and we’ve been sharing ever since. The BVI’s are close enough to USVI cell signal and work in most places. Very soon we’ll be suspending the service again before heading south through the rest of the Caribbean. Once we do that, we’ll be back to only free wifi signals with the laptop and booster, and maybe an occasional wifi connection in a café somewhere.

It’s nice being unplugged from the rest of the world when we don’t have internet connection. On the other hand it is such an amazing tool to keep in touch with family and friends and of course for updating the blog!


What do we eat?

We live on a boat traveling through tropical islands. Going to a grocery store when we need more food isn’t always an option. Now, we do what is called “provisioning” where we stock up like crazy on as much food and supplies as we can as cheaply as possible. We filled two carts at Costco before leaving Florida for staple items like rice, beans, canned food, baking supplies, spices and snacks. Shopping for food is also a great time to stock up on items like toilet paper, shampoo, soap and other toiletries.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are surprisingly hard to come by in the Bahamas. The DR and Virgin Islands have been more plentiful and we’ve enjoyed eating healthier fresh foods whenever we can find them. They don’t last long in the heat so we are looking for fresh foods on shore often. When we do find fresh foods, our evaporator unit refrigeration system comes in very handy. We added a freezer unit to the boat which is the exact same unit as the refrigerator, just turned up to the coldest setting. As with most boat refrigerators, they require a bit of acrobatics to reach anything inside.

Our boat is a Whitby, designed by Ted Brewer, and has a ridiculous amount of storage. In fact, the second Costco run we made was in Puerto Rico and we tripled the amount of food we bought the first time after seeing how much space was still left in all the lockers and cubbies. It was truly amazing we were able to make it all disappear. A place for everything and everything in its place!

The primary source of food for both us and the dogs is fresh fish. Peter is an excellent fisherman and we are always catching fish. After landing a yellowfin, we cut up fresh sashimi on the deck as Peter cleans the fish. The dogs get all the red meat scraps while we package up the harvest for storage in the fridge or the freezer. We also enjoy spearfishing and diving for lobster when the local regulations allow. The amount of seafood we eat living on this boat is some of the finest dining we have both ever had. Brie stuffed lobster anyone?


How do we wash our clothes?

Our boat came equipped with a small WASHING MACHINE! Yes, a washing machine on a 42′ sailboat. This might be a little more common on boats upward of 50′ in length where everything is exponentially bigger. For a boat our size, it’s pretty rare. The previous owners did a beautiful refit of the forward head to install the washing machine. One of the two doors accessing the head was removed and a box was built around the new appliance. It slightly restricts the entrance to the forward cabin but not enough to matter.

The little washing machine has a 110V A/C plug which requires the inverter to be on, the generator to be running, or to be plugged into shore power on a dock. There is a hose that attaches to the sink nozzle in the forward head, as well as a drain hose returning the dirty wash water back into the sink drain. There are multiple settings for light, medium and heavy with a selection for the number of wash cycles as well. We like to connect a flexible hose to the drain hose, catching the water from the last rinse cycle in a bucket and then dumping it back into the empty washer as wash water for the next load.

Our clothes are hung up to dry on the life lines with clothespins and kissed by the sun and Caribbean breeze. We really don’t mind not having a dryer anymore. Sundried clothes cost nothing and smell so crisp and fresh.

The small investment made in this machine saves us a ton of money while cruising. Depending on the location, a load of laundry done on shore by locals or in a Laundromat can cost anywhere from $4-$20 from what we’ve heard. If our machine ever dies on us, there’s always a bucket!!


How do we have power?

We do our best to live simply and use only the resources we need. Electricity comes at a premium now that we generate our own power. We have (2) older 80 watt rigid solar panels, (2) 104 watt semiflexible Aurinco solar panels and a Four Winds wind generator. This allows us to keep our (3) 4D lead-acid batteries charged up with plenty of power left to run our lights, watermaker, washing machine, refrigeration, stereo, VHF radio, SSB radio, chartplotter, radar and computer.

The Caribbean provides constant Tradewinds of 10-20 knots so while we are at anchor the boat is always facing into the wind bringing in power from the wind generator. Lately we’ve had quite a bit of cloud cover, but our 370 watts of solar panels usually do a fantastic job of bringing in a ton of power for us between the hours of 10am to 2pm when the sun is directly over head. All of our panels are adjustable and can be turned or tilted to achieve the maximum amount of exposure, but we usually prefer not to babysit them. They do just fine all by themselves :)


How do we get water?

Fresh water is one of our top priorities. Our primary source of water is generated by our Village Marine Little Wonder Watermaker that is installed in the bilge. It converts seawater into fresh filtered water at a rate of 6 gallons per hour and runs off of the 12-volt electrical system. We have two water tanks on board with a total of 160 gallon storage capacity and the watermaker is plumbed direct to both tanks.

If clean water is available for free in the towns and villages we visit, we will fill up 5-gallon jerry jugs and carry them back to the boat in our dinghy. The further south we go, the less available good drinking water becomes. Watermakers are a huge upfront cost but being able to make our own water is critical for remaining completely self sufficient.

Even though we can make our own water, it requires enough electricity to power it. Our solar panels provide enough power during peak sunlight hours and we usually run the watermaker every other day for a few hours a day to use up the extra power being generated. We try to keep both tanks full so if it is cloudy or if we don’t have any wind bringing in power for a few days, then we won’t be completely out of water and needing to run the watermaker. If our batteries get too low to run the watermaker we have to run the engine or generator when we need to make water. We like to conserve diesel as much as we can.

We usually have plenty of fresh water for showering every day, for making coffee and for drinking water. Even though we can make water as needed, we still conserve as much as we can. Systems break down and if we are careful to not be wasteful, all of our equipment will last much longer.


Where do we keep our tools and toys?

Peter grew up surfing and fishing in Southern California. This adventure is all about having fun which means we needed to find a place to store all of our toys. We brought Peter’s 6 epoxy surfboards, one foam surfboard and two inflatable Stand Up Paddle boards. 30-some fishing poles are stashed around the boat under floor boards and on the ceiling of the engine room. We have an Airline Hookah Dive compressor that lives in the salon. The forward cabin has been converted to our garage where we keep the surf boards, a guitar, compound bow and arrows, spear guns, Hawaiian slings, lobster snare, surf gear and power tools. There is also ample storage inside the boat for tools near the engine room. We even have a vice installed on the inside of the engine room door!

On deck we strap our dinghy to the bow while under way along with jerry jugs of spare fuel and water, a foam target block for the bow and arrows, plastic crates with a 75′ hose and the dinghy gas can, SUP paddles, oars and boat hooks.

Our wet locker holds all the rest of our dive gear when not in use. We are careful to rinse everything off with fresh water after each use to prolong the life of our gear. Salt water will corrode almost anything.


Where do the dogs go potty?

Before we left the dock in Florida we purchased a replacement piece of astroturf from Petco that is supposed to fit inside a plastic tray. Peter installed a couple of grommets and some paracord, then tied it on to the lifelines on the port side of our aft deck. It took a few tries for Betsy to figure out she was supposed to go potty on this crazy thing. We initially took the Astroturf up on shore and slid it underneath both dogs as they went pee. Eventually there was enough scent to convince Betsy it was what she was supposed to pee on, with a little coaxing of course and some tugging and pushing to get her in the right spot. After she went on the mat on shore, we tried it on the boat. We had also been diligent with using a command “Go Potty” and Betsy now goes potty on command everytime. She’ll even fake us out and pretend like she’s peeing, even when she doesn’t have to go!

Gunner is another story. He wasn’t too happy we were putting that thing underneath him on shore, and he would NOT go potty on it on the boat. Gunner is 13 and set in his ways. The only time he ever had an accident in a house was when he ate too much of another dogs food, giving him diahrrea, and when he had a bladder infection. The poor guy is so stubborn we couldn’t get him to go on the boat for a long time. It took our first overnight passage and subsequent days keeping him on the boat for him to finally go. He knows exactly where to go now and often takes himself if we aren’t paying attention.

Lessons learned? Don’t use regular grommets. They rust. And don’t use white paracord… it will turn yellow :( We have since switched to stainless steel grommets and dark green paracord (to match the boat of course).


Did we know how to sail before we bought the boat?

Nope! We had each been on a sailboat maybe once or twice before we made the decision to buy one of our own. Peter has been around the ocean all his life and ran fishing boats for several years so operating a boat wasn’t new to him. Jody grew up boating but never sailing.

We considered taking sailing courses but after talking to several people, we decided it couldn’t be too hard to figure out. After just a few times on the water by ourselves, we felt confident enough to continue learning as we go and skip the high priced courses.  Our insurance required signoff from a licensed captain stating that we are capable of operating the boat on our own and we passed with flying colors.

Sailing is one of those things it takes a lifetime to master. We have the basics down and can operate all the equipment on our boat sufficiently. With experience we’ll continue to learn tricks for balancing the Center of Effort on our ketch-rigged boat as well as how to handle our boat better in heavy weather. We have safely made it through several passages and 2000 nautical miles after starting with zero sailing experience. That’s pretty darn good!


Why did we decide to live on a boat and sail away?

It has always been Peter’s dream to live on a boat and sail around to all the best surf spots and fishing grounds. After his mom passed away in 2012 everything fell into place for us to take this journey in honor of her. She would have loved to do what we are doing and we know she would be proud.

We both prefer to live outside the box and go against what mainstream society perceives to be normal. To us, living a life of adventure and happiness is more important than working a dead-end job paying somebody else’s bills. Life on the hook is about so much more than that. We are surviving against whatever Mother Nature brings with our own knowledge and skills. It’s an Ultimate experience in every sense of the word.


What personality traits have been the most helpful for living on a boat?

Patience is definitely at the top of the list. After 8 months of being liveaboards, nothing is easy and patience is key to getting anything done. We’ve accepted the fact that most everything is just harder on a boat. We stub our toes, hit our heads and jam our fingers on a daily basis. It makes us tough and keeps us young. We do our best to remain patient with ourselves and with others and it seems to lighten the load.

Determination is something we both have. We don’t give up. We push on, striving to overcome every challenge we are faced with. In the middle of the ocean you can’t just call a plumber or call a mechanic. When something breaks, we figure out how to fix it with the resources available to us and the skills we already have. Each challenge is a learning experience and we are determined to succeed at being self sufficient surviving at sea.

A creative mind is invaluable on a boat. We often make due with what we have and jury-rig systems with odds and ends that we brought along with us or find on shore. U.S. stores are now far behind and the convenience of ordering a part off the internet or running to Home Depot is not an option. There has got to be a million ways to use a zip-tie and duct tape. Patch and repair jobs may not be pretty, but they will get you back to safety more often than not. One of our first creative projects was to convert our aft companionway ladder into a ramp for the dogs. It’s amazing what you can do with a little ingenuity.


How has cruising affected our personal relationships?

The further we travel and the more remote places we visit, the harder it is to stay in touch with friends and family. Internet is great for helping to bridge the gap but it’s not the same as seeing loved ones in person. We are comfortable enough on the boat now to have family and friends come visit. It’s such a treat for them to see our new life and how we live. We wish everyone could visit us and experience what we’re doing. In the mean time, we try to share pictures and stories of our adventures on the blog.

Cruising has also made our friendships with others more genuine. For some, its out of sight and out of mind where certain people don’t make much of a return effort to stay in contact. For others, their true friendship shines through and strengthens ten-fold. We truly cherish those lifelong friends both from our past and that we meet along the way.

Cruising has also brought our own relationship into focus. Sharing a Tiny House with your significant other will put any relationship to the test. It brings out the best and worst in us both and has challenged us in ways we didn’t think possible. Ultimately, we are stronger and have a better partnership because of it. Love makes everything better!


What is the best part about the cruising culture?

Most everyone says it’s the people. We totally agree. There is an unspoken code of sorts among fellow cruisers laced with an overwhelming camaraderie. Everyone we meet on the water is so genuinely kind and generous. If we are ever in need of help, any of the cruisers around us are happy to lend a hand or lend a tool or part.

Some even do enormous acts of kindness, like our friend Paul in Salinas, Puerto Rico. We asked Paul if he knew how we could get to the Customs and Immigration office in Ponce which was more than 30 minutes away. Paul lives on his boat but had a car there at the marina nearby and he offered to take us all the way to Ponce, even stopping at the grocery store on the way back to the boat. He wouldn’t accept any money for gas or his time, he only asked that we Pay It Forward.

Our friends Anne and Brad on S/V Anneteak and Dave and Patti on S/V Dream Ketcher both helped us with some major repairs in the Bahamas. Friends Jan and David on S/V Winterlude (commutercruiser.com) taught us so much about sailing on our first few harbor sails. We are so grateful for all the generosity we’ve experienced and we make every effort to Pay It Forward and help anyone else we can.

We are kindred spirits and share many of the same dreams and aspirations. We are all following our hearts and leading a life of adventure that only few get to experience. That has brought us all together in a way we never could have imagined. It’s a magical thing really, and the world would be a better place if everyone were this kind to one another.


Will you ever move back to land?

As they say, our plans are drawn in the sand! For now, we will continue south from BVI traveling through the Caribbean toward Grenada for Hurricane Season. In October we will either head back up through the Leeward and Windward Islands or we will continue West to the San Blas Islands of Panama and cross through the Panama Canal. The surfing and fishing is amazing on the Pacific side of Central America and we hope to spend a good amount of time there. Someday we may cross over to the South Pacific for some of the best surf and most beautiful islands in the world. Until then, we are living in this Grand Adventure one day at a time!


What else would you like to know? Contact us with any other questions. We would love to hear from you!!

Living on a boat is a lot of work!


For those of you that don’t follow our Facebook posts, I wanted to share our most recent quote of inspiration spoken from Peter himself.

“You don’t know your strength until you know your limits”

-Peter Pieschel

It took us awhile to get over the initial exhaustion of becoming liveaboards. It takes a LOT of work to live on a boat and for the first month we were just plain exhausted every day. It’s one thing to go boating for a weekend but when you live on a boat it takes some getting used to.

  • If its windy, we have to pull the boat closer to the dock for us and the dogs to get on and off safely. (When we are anchored we will have a whole new process for preparing the dinghy to take to shore)
  • Our muscles are constantly working to keep us balanced since the boat is always moving.
  • When stock up on groceries we put them all in a cart, pull it from the parking lot way down to our dock and begin passing them over the lifelines, into the cockpit and down the 5′ vertical ladder into the depths of the boat.
  • We have to lift a ladder up onto the bed to get the dogs in and out of the cockpit.
  • Every time we want to get something out of the fridge we have to stretch our gumby arms way down to the bottom, take everything out to get to what we want and then put all the other items back in.
  • When we want a pot or a pan, we have to get down on our hands and knees to get it from a locker underneath the stove which extends way down against the hull.
  • When we want to use the kitchen table we lift it down from its latched position against the bookshelf.
  • If we need more water, one of us goes topside with a hose and one of us opens the floorboards inside the boat to prepare the water tanks for refilling.
  • When we need to empty our holding tanks one of us has to be on deck to attach the hose and one of us stands by in the heads to flush fresh water through after the first round of pumping.
  • Taking a shower requires us to simultaneously keep the two shower curtains in front of the toilet from attacking us as we shower off and then flip a switch several times for the sump so the water will drain out.
  • Power is needed for LOTS of things we take for granted: lights, fans, radio, cell phone chargers, computers, hot water heater, dehumidifier, navigation instruments, coffee makers, microwave and air conditioning. If we’re not plugged into shore power, we have to generate our own with solar panels, a wind generator, or by running the engine or diesel generator.
  • When something goes wrong, we have to be very innovative and creative to figure out how to fix it with the tools that we have at hand.
  • When we’re done using something, it has to be put away because there’s no room to leave clutter out.
  • When we use dishes, we have to wash them by hand every time we eat.
  • We have to be plumbers, electricians, mechanics, navigators, chefs, fishermen, sailors, excellent communicators and fun-havers.
  • This is just the beginning…

Living on a boat is much different than living on land. There is a lot to get used to, but it has slowly started to feel normal :) We absolutely LOVE our little home and we say it out loud to each other every day!! Its hard work but SO worth it in the end. We are preparing our home to travel across oceans to visit far off lands, beautiful tropical beaches and crystal clear waters. We’re going to go Where The Coconuts Grow and the wind in our sails will take us there!

Its going to be a hell of an education too. As the months go by we will be forced to learn so many new skills and we’ll learn how to live with ‘less’ all around. We need the basics, safety equipment, a few personal effects from home and all the rest is just stuff. Our priorities have already begun to change as we work on the boat every day and prepare to set sail. We appreciate the little things we didn’t even notice before. We take a lot less for granted and our happiness increases by the minute.

We do get frustrated sometimes but I think we’re getting better about understanding that we’re both doing our best. Our patience with ourselves and with each other is growing too. Everything we do, we do it as a team and it seems much easier that way. We’re helping each other figure out how to do things we haven’t done before and it’s actually really fun! It’s hard at first to step outside of your comfort zone, but when you do, that’s where the magic happens :)


After the initial exhaustion wore off a little, Peter and I committed to running again to get ourselves and the dogs the exercise we all need. The last couple of days have been a chilly 38 degrees at night here in Southwest Florida, and this is not exactly what I signed up for, but Peter laid the inspiration down pretty thick. His quote about strength and limits really did get me thinking and even though it’s almost freezing outside I perked up a little and tried to see things in a positive light instead. We should be able to handle a little cold weather and still keep exercise a priority. We’ve done 3 miles each night through the cold winds and by the time we’re done we both smile and feel glad we went :)  We really are stronger than we think we are, and as a good friend said to me yesterday, we have to BELIEVE in ourselves!!

Peter and I are about to set sail on an adventure of a lifetime with our two dogs and we both feel so lucky that everything has just fallen into place.  It’s one of those moments where we know we’re in the right place at the right time, and now is the time to go for it. We’re young, we are finding strength we didn’t know we had, and we’re throwing our fears and doubts aside in exchange for this amazing opportunity. What better time in our lives than now to travel and see the world? There’s so much beauty and joy out there just waiting to be shared.

We hope our adventures will inspire others to take a leap of faith, step outside your comfort zone and find out where the magic happens. Dreams really do come true, if you believe!!