Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Annapolis, MD

I should have named this post "Checklist of Things Learned the Hard Way," which seems to be the way we learn everything. This dog-eared list, usually taped beside the companionway, has served us well as a reminder of everything that needs to be done before moving the boat. It has grown over our three years of living aboard and obviously needs a rewrite.

Here it is in a more organized format.


  • Check oil
  • Look at Racor clarity
  • Check fuel level
  • Look around in engine compartment to make sure nothing's amiss
  • Check raw water filter
  • Make sure engine intake seacock is open
  • Check engine coolant level
  • Turn on engine battery
  • Check transmission -- before pulling out, engage both forward and reverse
  • Monitor packing gland (once underway)

  • Close hatches (definitely learned the hard way with boarding waves in the Tongue of the Ocean)
  • Double-check hatches (see above)
  • Lock drawers
  • Stow
  • Turn on VHF to 16
  • Turn on electronics switch
  • Toilet bowl dry
  • Check battery charge
  • Stow companionway boards (unless leaving them in place)

  • Binoculars at hand
  • Handheld VHF in place and on 16
  • Covers off helm electronics and stowed
  • Covers off dodger
  • Life jackets in place
  • Make sure plug is out of dinghy
  • Check dinghy securing
  • Charts in place as needed
  • Route pulled up on GPS
  • Gates closed and locked

  • Turn on windlass power
  • Check chain in locker/pull back to make room as needed

  • Turn off AC main and unplug from shore power
  • Stow shore power cord.
  • Stow water hose if out
  • Discuss undocking plan

  • Remove main sail cover
  • Unlock jib
  • Untie boom (secured to keep from moving)
  • Remove forward dorade horn (gets caught in staysail lines)
  • Attach main halyard
  • Sailing gloves 

  • Offshore jackets on
  • Tethers in place
  • Heavy duty stowing
  • Check that cockpit lockers, gear clear of autohelm and life raft accessible
  • Pray ;-)

Monday, August 26, 2013


Annapolis, MD

The Great Wave off of Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai (1830 ish)

Hollow Sea A condition usually occurring where there is shoaling or a current setting against the waves. The line from crest to trough makes a sharp angle, and consequently the sea is very dangerous.

I wish I could say I have never experienced this. It left my stomach rather hollow.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Annapolis, MD

"I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes..." Walden, Henry David Thoreau

Could the same be said for enterprises that require a new vocabulary? I've already written about my philosophy on unnecessary nautical terms, which I eschew. But others have secretly sneaked right into our everyday parlance. For instance ...

A sailor without a berth or a shipboard assignment.

clean bill of health
A document issued to early ships on their departure showing that the port they sailed from was free of epidemic or infection at the time of departure.

show your true colors
Some early warships carried an array of national flags onboard to deceive the enemy, but the rules of civilized warfare called for ships to hoist their true national ensigns before firing a shot, showing their true colors.

taken aback
When a boat's sails are unexpectedly caught by the wind and filled from the opposite side, it slows the forward motion of the boat. This is called 'backing,' thus 'taken aback' has come to mean 'startled' or 'shocked.'

Also, from a previous post: aboveboard and footloose.

Friday, August 23, 2013


Annapolis, MD

Drill in use for installing solar panels back in 2010, prelaunch.

1. A lanyard.
This might not technically be a tool, but I put it here first, because, if it weren't for lanyards we would have no tools. Don't leave home without it. Actually, you can just use string, but we like to encourage lanyard use. The easier it is to clip in, the better.

2. Cordless Drill
We LOVE our Makita cordless drill and use it for many things. What? A drill on a boat? Don't you want to FILL holes? Here are some of the ways we use it:
  • Screwdriver attachments
  • To operate the little drill pump - for pumping out water filters, the bilge (sometimes), etc.
  • Installing solar panels!
  • Yes, sometimes drilling holes in things, like the lid of my sprouter....

3. Mega wrench
I admit I've never used this. Chip, however, loves it for anything that requires major league torch (autocorrect's version of 'torque'). He has used it to remove a stubborn anchor shackle and taking off collar bolts on the windlass. This is also #1 on our Most Borrowed Tool list.

Chip feeding his wrench. Wrenches eat wrappers.

4. Detail sander
This is our favorite tool that we don't own yet, but we borrowed one recently. It's awesome. Lots of attachments/uses, little hacksaws, wood saws, that could get in those hard to reach spots a.k.a. all spots on a boat. And it's a great sander for those challenging spots that need to be sanded.

5. Sheets of rubber 

We've used this stuff, found at marine and hardware stores, for all kinds of McGyverish applications, most recently to fix the cockpit circuit breaker. In that photo, Chip was making a new washer for the engine raw water filter. (This photo was taken just before I yelled at him for using the kitchen cutting board for a boat chore.)

In case you don't think we have the full gamut of run-of-the-mill tools, this post will dispel that.

You might also like:
Tammy's Ten Things ... That Crossover for Life on a Boat
Tammy's Ten Things ... That Make Life Better

COMING SOON: Our favorite McGyver tools.

Monday, August 19, 2013


Annapolis, MD

It's late August, and time to think about flying south for the winter. At least, my blog readers seem to be thinking about it, coming to me on Google searches for 'bahamas provisioning,' 'normans cay' and 'icw anchorages.' Let's make this easy.

I've created some new directories to help you find information and destinations around here.

  1. Places Along the ICW -- This is a Pinterest board with many of our hops down the ICW. Anchorages are not necessarily described but our coordinates are on the posts. Questions about cities or anchorages? Just ask.
  2. Bahamas Posts -- You don't have to search around, just use this Pinterest board to follow our track through the Bahamas. Bimini, Nassau, The Berries, Exumas, Abacos, Eleuthera and Long Island.
  3. Places We've Visited -- If you want a broader brushstroke of places we've travelled, including Paris and New York, you'll find a good visual reference with links on this board.
  4. And because I know you're looking, here's a link to my Bahamas Provisioning post recently and one earlier this year.
And, finally, if you need a boat to head south in, Cara Mia is for sale!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

FLASHBACK TO 2009: 10 WHAT?!?!

Annapolis, MD

With the boat on the market, we have to be ready to show it on short notice, staged, clean, perfect. This week, with guests onboard, I'm thinking that's going to be even more challenging than usual.

This perpetual preparedness got me feeling all deja vu-ish, remembering back to 2009 when we had our house on the market and were playing this same staging game. I fished up this blog post from my old, landbound blog, ploddingTOparadise, about getting 'the call' to show the house.

Guess I'll be reenacting this a few times ...

FLASHBACK:Thursday, January 22, 2009

10 WHAT!!?!?

Our realtor called this morning to ask if another realtor could "preview" our house for a client.

"Of course," I said. "When?"

"In 10 minutes."

"Oh, shit," I said (paraphrased).

There are times in your life when you realize how far the apple really does fall from the tree. I used to call my mother Hurricane Marge for the way she would spin through a room cleaning, fluffing, dusting, leaving a sparkling, photo-shoot-ready room in her wake. Okay, technically that's more like a reverse hurricane creating order from chaos. If George Bush had only sent mom in after Hurricane Katrina, she might have secured a better place for him in history.

Once my mom found her longtime friend Dene, a friend who is more "terrestrial" in her housekeeping, on her knees peering under the bed in the guest room.

"What are you doing?" Mom asked.

Dene replied seriously, "Trying to find where the heck you keep the dirt."

That apple must have fallen somewhere else, because I did not inherit this trait. I leave a wake behind me that consists more of rumpled couches, fingerprints and dirty dishes and less of sparkle and shine. I've tried to convince my mother that low standards are much easier to maintain.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Annapolis, MD

Need a little Hump Day distraction? I've already told you about my old-school Sailing Blog Log link list, a long, boring list of links. Now you can see it in a beautiful visual form on Pinterest -- without signing up for Pinterest.

Just click on that graphic above or here. As of today, there are 121 sailing blogs, but I add more every day. Enjoy!

Have a sailing blog that's not on there? Put your URL in the comments below.

TIP: Please make sure you're NOT already there. Let the page load completely. Then hit Control F (or Control Command on a Mac) to get a search box in your browser. Search to make sure your blog isn't already there.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Annapolis, MD

This could be your view -- this winter! Our magic carpet will take you there.

Check out the listing on

Some of the recent upgrades we've already done for you this year:

New standing rigging (preventative)
New AGM batteries
Rebuilt windlass
Chainplates rebedded
New dinghy motor: Tohatsu 6hp
Bottom paint and hull wax

With those new batteries, 350 watts of solar panels and a Honda 2000 watt generator, you can hang out in remote spots like this until you run out of food!

Cara Mia is in Annapolis and chomping at the dock lines, ready to head south.

And for you ploddingINparadise fans, don't worry. The next grand adventure is in the works. It involves plodding and water and paradise in a new way that we think you'll love. Stay tuned ...

Monday, August 12, 2013


Annapolis, MD

When we bought Cara Mia, one of our To Do items from the surveyor's tick list was 'Replace Shore Power Circuit Breaker.' Well, three years later, that was still on the our To Do list. LOL

Chip decided to conquer this 'small' item, but the chore followed the old adage about working on boats: Triple the amount of time you estimate it should take.

The circuit breaker was working -- or was it not working? Well, the circuit part was working, because all these years, we've been able to use shore power. However, the breaker part was not. When flipped to the off position, it didn't turn off.

He removed the casing to find a number of problems.

  1. It was wired wrong. Both wires, hot and neutral, were wired to the top post. Nothing on the bottom, which rendered the breaker useless.
  2. The plastic plate attaching the breaker to the casing was broken (that black disk).
  3. Water had infiltrated through the break causing the whole breaker to corrode.
SO, he called around about replacing the 'thingy' that was broken. Have you ever tried to explain boat parts on the phone? Very embarrassing. After several long conversations, he found that they don't sell the single piece, you have to buy the whole setup for close to $100.

At this point, we had a little brainstorming conflab, not to say our brains are little. We pondered options -- while the inside temperature of the boat slowly rose. No power = No AC. 

We thought about gluing the little plastic piece together. We thought about gluing the plastic piece to something strong and thin. We thought about finding plastic and cutting our own piece. Then we decided to use one of our favorite go-to fixes: make one out of a sheet of rubber gasket. 

It worked great, and it might seal the breaker better than the old one. The stainless steel cap keeps the whole thing out of the sun and weather, so it should up beautifully -- for about 69 cents. YAY, Chip!

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Annapolis, MD

... that crossover for use on a boat.

Now you're probably wondering why there's a picture of a Nerf football there. Who would guess it's a valuable tool on the boat?

There are a lot of things we use that are not technically marine products. Here are my Top Ten.

1. Nerf football

The Coast Guard actually gave us this tip. Instead of spending $20+ on a TruPlug, just get a Nerf football to plug any unwanted, gaping hole in the hull. (Note to self: Never make a hole in the boat large than a Nerf football.) Fortunately, we've never used it for its secondary purpose, but we've found yet another. When it's cold out, and we want to keep the warm air inside the boat, we use it to stuff the dorade vent:

2. Nylon Climbing Ladder

Our boat is hard to get onto from the water. We have a transom ladder, but when the dinghy is on its davits, the ladder can't be lowered. I bought this as an emergency ladder in case on of us went overboard, and thankfully have never used it for that secondary purpose. We keep it right at hand under the companionway door, just in case. Instead, we use it often for guests boarding from the side deck. If our dinghy is raised, and thus no ladder, we just throw this ladder over a wench and wanted guests climb aboard.

We also enlisted it once after a hurricane when the water was too high for us to climb aboard from the dock. Great to have -- and in perfect boat style, it collapses down to a small package.

Oh, and if you have trouble climbing into the dinghy from the water, it's great for that too!

3. Pickup/Car Straps

It took me an entire year to figure out how to secure our dinghy to the davits satisfactorily. Drove me crazy. Then I learned to shop in auto parts stores. They have a great array of straps that are heavy duty and somewhat weather resistant. Me = happy. (They have some good cigarette-lighter light options too -- and spray paints for various materials.)

4. Climbing Carabiners

I bought these at REI. I don't really know their strength or weight specs, so I don't use them for anything critical -- like strapping anyone I like to anything. However, they have come in handy for many things, including a quick, easy way to secure the anchor on deck. (Our windlass locks it in place, but I use the carabiner on a line as a backup.) Mine has been in full-on sun and saltwater(!) for over a year and shows no wear. That hinged closure is good for attaching a lanyard lest it go for a swim. I admit to donating one to Neptune before I figured this out...

5. Plastic Clip-On Clothespins

I know it sounds extreme, but I don't know how I'd get by without these little treasures. They are made to snap onto plastic hangers, but that little inside bracket that attaches to hangers fits perfectly on lifelines. YES! I try not to leave them out in the sun, because the sun takes a toll. We clip them under the Bimini, so they're close at hand.

I have found them at Walmart, at hardware stores and once at the Container Store.

6. Solar Lawn Lights

Most cruisers have discovered the many applications of solar lawn lights. We keep some lashed to the back of the boat for easy identification in a dark, crowded anchorage. I do have to put socks over them on night passages, because they kill my night vision. Amazing how much light they emit.

Lots of us use them as makeshift 'navigation lights' for the dinghy in Florida, where they require an all-around light after dark. Just hold it over your head like the Statue of Liberty. Here's a funny blog post about that.

7. Insecticide Sprayer

This treasure came with our boat. It took me a long time to learn why. I now use it for lots of things: bleaching the mildew out of the anchor locker; washing anything when I need to conserve water; cleaning up the deck after a muddy anchor raising; holding an extra few gallons of water in places where it's scarce. LOVE THIS THING.

8. Egg Timer

The old fashioned, turn the knob kind. No batteries required. Yes, we use it for cooking, but it reminds me that my laundry is ready to switch to the dryer at marinas. It wakes me at regular intervals on tough night watches. It makes me stir around every hour when I've been sitting for too long. It is my friend.

9. Locking Bins

The entire contents of our boat are contained in these things, food, tools, spare parts, paperwork, etc. I have tried every brand -- every one -- and I like the Lock & Lock brand the best, because, 1. They last and don't break. 2. They come in a lot of practical sizes -- and even an egg holder. 3. They have squarish bottoms unlike the Rubbermaid brand. This means you can get a lot more in them, and they stack more efficiently. Just remember the mantra: It's round, put it down!

10. Headlamp

Yes, you can look foolish too. Just get one -- or two. We've only had to anchor at night two times, but how could I have managed without my headlamp? It's also great for nighttime dinghy rides -- as long as you don't turn to look back at the driver. LOL

On night passages, we keep it handy for any potential need to go forward. It's impossible on a pitching boat to dedicate one hand to a flashlight. Of course, the foredeck light on our boat works for most things, but if you don't have time to run down there and turn it on ....

We use it for working on things in hard to reach places (and isn't everything on a boat?). Another valuable opportunity to blind your mate here. Night bike rides.

My favorite use of the headlamp: Our Norwegian friends on s/v To Be use the blinking feature for their weekly, onboard disco night.

Hi Norwegians! Hope to dance with you again soon...

What are your crossover products? TELL ME!

See also: TAMMY'S TOP TEN THINGS ... that make my life onboard better.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Come, come, whoever you are.

Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving.

It doesn't matter.

Ours is not a caravan of despair.

Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times.

Come, yet again, come, come.

-- rumi

Friday, August 9, 2013


Annapolis, MD

... THAT MAKE MY LIFE BETTER. At least these are the ones for today!

1. GO TOOBS -- NOT the knockoff brands -- in that photo above.

I remember pondering over these little tubes in REI three years ago, wondering if they were really worth the money. Now having used them daily for the intervening three years, I know they are an amazing bargain. These little tubes are impervious to heat, cold and salt water. The liquid only comes out if you heartily squeeze the tube. They are irregularly shaped and slightly grippy, so they don't go flying off in showers. They float, so when I'm washing my hair in the biggest bath tub on earth, they just float there next to me. My only tiny complaint with them is that the lids crack. Small beans after three years of daily use!

ONE OTHER TIP: If you add some fresh water to your shampoo, it lathers up better -- even on land.


I found a roll of this stuff at Home Depot and have been using it ever since. Window coverings for boat portholes are confounding and often incredibly expensive. I did my whole boat including overhead hatches for less than $30, and it's UV protected.

At a private anchorage? Pull them off. When you tie up at a dock, just wet the film or the glass and stick it back on. So A.W.E.S.O.M.E.

The only challenge is cutting to fit. It has to be a wee bit too small or air gets under the edges. Mine are plain frosted, but the film comes in designs and colors. For this price, you could change every season!

This helps keep the cabin cooler, blocking out direct sun.
Type 'static cling window film' in Google for an array of options. I like this etched leaf design. Wouldn't this be nice in the bedroom or bathroom.


I read this tip in the book Why Didn't I Think of That? You fill your glasses a third of the way with water and put them in the freezer. The next day, voila, pre-iced glasses.

We pop the ice out and store it in a gallon Ziploc for backup. They are much bigger than cubes, so therefore last a lot longer without watering down your drink so much. No fuss ice, a.k.a. sailboat diamonds. For mixers, freeze the juice!


We love sprouts. I just drilled holes in a plastic peanut jar lid, and there's my free sprouter. I had a much better one using a squared container but gifted it to a fellow cruiser. My general policy for buying any storage container on the boat: IT'S ROUND, PUT IT DOWN!


My trusty little friend is great for a quick cool down on a hot day, a swift antidote for hot flashes and for putting on booboos. God knows, there are a lot of those onboard -- at least on ours! Keeps swelling and bruising to a minimum.

And if you'll set it on something curved in the freezer, like a bottle laying on its side, the ice will freeze into a body-friendly shape that's easier to keep in place.


Remember hot water bottles? When you have limited AC power, it serves nicely as a heating pad. Soothing for sore muscles and is such a delicious treat at the foot of the bed on a cold night. They are a little hard to find in stores, but Amazon has a bunch.


You probably already know about these. Not much to report, except they're awesome, and they politely fold up and tuck away out of sight when not in use. I soak mine in a bit of bleach water every week or so to keep the cooties away.


I use these for so many things. They last longer and are easier to find than big-ass rubber bands. They are nice and firm for holding the bag around the trash can. I attach duty-specific rags to their matching cleaning agent (clean towel attached to spray cleaner for dodger windows, polishing rag to stainless polish). Cuts down on rags, washing them and potentially using a dirty rag to clean, I mean scratch, your dodger windows. No rifling around for a rag.


Chip actually thought of this. When dusting or oiling the teak louvres on doors, it's hard to get in those little slots. A small foam brush makes it easy.


I've tried every brand of high tech (quick-drying) towel I could find and hated all of them but Aquis. We absolutely love these waffle weave ones. They are pricier than most others, but more than worth the money. After using them every day for almost 5 years now, they are just starting to look tired. As a bonus, they feel sort of like real towels but roll up very small. I've learned the hard way to dry them separately at the laundromat, because they absorb the water from everything else and just get wetter! Often I hang them in the cockpit or on the lifelines if we're in a place where that won't look too ghetto. They dry super fast and rarely mildew. Amazon's are cheapest: Aquis on amazon (Don't be tricked by cheaper "hair towels" from Aquis. They are not bath towels.)

Other lists you might enjoy:
Our Five Favorite Tools
Tammy's Top Ten crossover products

Have your own list to add? Share it with us in the comments or on my topic in development at Monkey's Fist.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Dear New Owner of Cara Mia (I know you're out there somewhere),

I hope you are having a relaxing summer, because we have been really busy getting your boat ready for cruising season. Start packing those bathing suits, your snorkel gear and a lot of good books, for soon you'll be here:

With nothing more to do than this:

You might have already seen the posts from last month at the boatyard in Deltaville. The bottom is freshly painted, the prop is coated and the topsides are shiny.

After leaving the boatyard, we then sailed Cara Mia's shiny self up to Annapolis via Solomons. Since arriving in Annapolis, we've been polishing, sanding, varnishing, cleaning. You'll be so pleased.

First, we raised eyebrows:

I somehow never got motivated to refinish them for us, but I did for you!

Chip sanded and refinished the bowsprit for you:

The companionway and combings got a fresh coat of varnish and the cockpit, a waxing -- along with everything else, including the nonskid.

We'll have her all ready for you this fall. You can just hop aboard and fly south.

We'll be so happy and so sad to wave goodbye to you and Cara Mia from the dock -- and very jealous to think where you'll be bound.

Just tell Cara Mia 'The Bahamas,' and she'll show you the way. She might also track down some of the awesome boats she knows out there and introduce you to your new friends.

In the meantime, don't be surprised if we take her out joy sailing in the Chesapeake!

Your chariot awaits.

Cheers from Annapolis,


Cara Mia's listing in Yachtworld
Cara Mia's page on this blog
Places We've Been where you can go too!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


In case you think we're out here sailing by ourselves, have a look at our new sailing blog roll. I've been surfing around looking for active sailors that are keeping their blogs up to date.

Many of my newer links came from a great Facebook group called Women Who Sail. If you're a female sailor, check it out. A great resource. It's a closed group, so request entry, and we'll let you in. Soon-to-be-launched and newbies welcome!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


I interrupt this travel and adventure blog to talk about a major news event.

Many (most?) of my readers don't know I worked for The Washington Post for eight years. That probably explains why I use apostrophes correctly (usually) and foolishly cling to legacy semicolons. Few other than poor Chip, who has to hear my screeds, know how much I fret about the future of the news business, since we collectively decided we should get news for free.

In 1996, I started working in the digital newsroom of the Washington Post in Arlington, Virginia, then separated from the newspaper newsroom by a river and a gulf too ponderous to cross.

My first day on the job, the airplane carrying Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown crashed in Croatia. We all stood watching coverage on CNN, not nose down tapping on computers, because the Washington Post was not on the worldwide web yet. That came two months later in June 1996.

In July 1996, TWA Flight 800 went down at 8:21 p.m., and I pulled my first all-nighter. Our little band of step kids south of the river was learning about the insatiable nature of a 24-hour news monster. We invented and reinvented ourselves and online news coverage on a worldwide stage, although ironically outside the glare of the Post newsroom, because in 1996 the Post newsroom didn't have internet.

Back then, the Post's distribution -- and therefore audience -- was strictly local. You couldn't buy the Post very far outside the D.C. area (this is still true today). Overnight, the website took the Post global. Inexplicably, many at the Post didn't grasp the significance of that. For years.

But there was at least one who did, and his name was Don Graham. He crossed the abyss between the newsrooms to talk to us, to encourage us and most significantly to underwrite our paychecks. All those years, before the tables turned, when the website was a financial drag on a then profitable paper, he grasped what he was investing in.

The Grahams were remarkable stewards of a critical institution, key to our democracy. Their paper held our government accountable, challenged our politicians and understood the critical nature of investigative journalism that turns on a very slow wheel but without which the press cannot serve its Constitutional purpose. I considered it an honor to work for the Washington Post, and I am grateful for how it has molded my view of the world and journalism's place in it -- and for the amazing, intelligent and witty people they hired, who are now my friends.

I have been an unforgiving critic of a faltering Post the past few years, but I have retained my respect for the Grahams. All the years I worked there, I felt confident knowing a Graham was watching over us, because the Grahams understood something that new media often doesn't: journalistic ethics.

The sale of the Post is rattling news. Stories about it are full of 'end of an era' sentiments, but the truth is, the era ended in 1996, and it has taken this long, 17 years and two months, for this reality to fully surface for the Post.

I feel nostalgic that the Grahams will not be at the helm, but I am deeply hopeful that someone who is a product of the internet, not a victim of it, can rescue the news business. If Don Graham thinks this is a good idea, I have to suspend disbelief. As my friend and former Post colleague Dan Froomkin said to me the day before this news broke: this is not a game, y'all. (I might have added the 'y'all.')

Bezos said yesterday, in a letter to Post employees, that he understands journalism's role in a free society and is taking lessons from the Grahams about getting it right and about following the story no matter the cost -- and arguably he mitigates that budget problem for a while.

I hope that Bezos, with his burgeoning toolbox of technology and his unfettered vision of the future, will make relevant again. I hope he will rehire those the Post sloughed off as if they weren't the very core of potential relevance. I hope his presence won't stifle relentless coverage of big business and its friends in office.

I most earnestly hope that this man with none of the crippling legacy issues of print will carry the irrefutable journalistic legacy of the Grahams into this not-new era and make the Post formidable again.

And, perhaps most hopeful of all, as my friend Jim Brady says in today's Washington Post, “I think it shows that someone who really, really understands digital and consumer trends and consumer behavior thinks this is a good business to be in.”


Monday, August 5, 2013


Have you noticed the new section over there in the left sidebar called FEELING LOST? 

I'm using Pinterest to help readers find stuff in this very long blog. Blogger tells me this post is number 401 -- and that doesn't include the 394 posts on the old blog @!

Pinterest has a beautiful visual interface, much more attractive that a long page of links -- and you don't have to sign up to view the pages.

Here are some of the directories I've created so far:

Just show me pictures!
Tammy's Travel Photos

Tell me about places! A directory I put together for those researching sailing destinations along the East Coast and the Bahamas.
Places We've Visited

Give me some good reads!
My favorite blog posts


Sailing books
My published writing
Freediving -- for those insatiable freediving fans that come to my blog Every. Single. Day.

Enjoy! I hope this helps you find what you're looking for -- and I'll let you know when there are new directories to explore...

Sunday, August 4, 2013


It must be provisioning time of year. Google Analytics tells me folks are landing here by typing "Bahamas Provisioning."

Thanks for stopping by! I haven't written about the mysteries of provisioning in a long time, so I thought I'd share the lessons of three years of provisioning on planet me.

FACT OR MYTH: There's food everywhere. You don't need to stock up. Well, of course, where there are people, there is food, but for me, this is a total myth. Here's why:
  1. There are no grocery stores on deserted islands. Having food buys me the freedom to loll for weeks on end on little islands with white sand beaches and turquoise water and no people.
  2. Yes, there's food, but when you find it, it will cost more. Provisioning is the only way to control your budget. You'll certainly need to buy some things, but I prefer to keep that to a minimum.
  3. Sometimes, there really is no food. In the Bahamas, groceries are delivered by the mailboat, which is notoriously unreliable. We made a 6-hour trip to Staniel Cay on mailboat day to buy some produce before tucking in for a storm front. No mailboat. I left with floppy celery and 5 oranges to last two weeks!
FACT OR MYTH: If you don't eat it on land, you won't eat it on a boat. Again, partially a myth for us.
  1. When we've gone two weeks without fresh produce, there are some lovely options in cans that I would otherwise never consume.
  2. On a sloppy passage, Chef Boyardee raviolis are easy and taste like fine dining. Strangely, on land, they make me feel pitiful and destitute -- and they taste horrible. ;-)
  3. When provisions are low, and we're feeling lazy, canned black beans or chick peas make the basis for a satisfying meal that doesn't seem like it came from a can.
  4. We discovered a delicious paella-in-a-box that I would now eat on land! (It's Vigo.)
  1. NIDO INSTANT MILK. You won't find it with American instant milk, but track it down. They sell it at most large grocery stores and at Walmart. It is whole milk (all American ones are nonfat), mixes easily and tastes surprisingly good. A large can will provide milk for weeks. Don't forget to get a securely closing carafe/container to mix it in.
  2. DRINK THE ALCOHOL THAT LOCALS DRINK. This is a great way to both put money into the local economy (an obligation, I feel, when visiting another country) and try things you might not ordinarily drink. And, if the locals drink it, it won't be expensive. However, if you can't live without cheap beer, take it with you.
  3. PROVISION THINGS WITH CRUNCH. When I'm running low on fresh produce, I crave crunch. Ways I've found to satisfy it: Canned french-fried onions (great as a topping or in a sandwich), water chestnuts, Pringles (again as a topping), croutons.
  4. SPROUT! SPROUT! SPROUT! You can grow your own greens for salad or stir-fry. You don't need anything fancy, just a plastic container with holes drilled in the lid. Buy your mung beans, sunflower seeds, etc. before you go. You won't believe how excited you'll be to eat your sprouts -- and it's fun to watch them grow.
  5. VIVA LE PRESSURE COOKER. We can eat for weeks from a tiny hatch full of dried beans and legumes, rice and quinoa. We can cook them in a short amount of time, not heat up the galley and not use a lot of propane.
  6. LEARN HOW TO MAKE TORTILLAS. They are SO easy to make and don't require the long, hot cooking time of bread.
  7. STOW A VARIETY OF SAUCES. Starches are quick and easy, but they need to be made palatable. There are lots of great pre-made sauces in jars and packets that turn noodles or rice into a yummy meal.
  8. MAKE YOGURT. It's just shockingly easy to make -- in a bowl. And you can use that instant milk! All you need is some plain yogurt to use as a starter. Here's an array of ways to do it.
  9. CURED MEAT. This is the best boat food -- ever. It is self-preserved, even after opening the package and doesn't require refrigeration. At the bottom end of this category is beef jerky and pepperoni sticks. At the upper end is fine, handmade charcuterie, like prosciutto and salami.
  10. IF YOU HAVE A FREEZER, USE IT WISELY. We are not die-hard meat eaters, but we enjoy it as a treat. This last season I froze some beautiful steaks and a couple of organic chickens (YAY pressure cooker). It was a wild treat to pull them out occasionally. A corned beef brisket made our month!
  11. INSTANT MASHED POTATOES ARE DELICIOUS. My sister told me this. I didn't believe her. She was right. They are shockingly good. 
  12. CHIPS AND CEREAL CAN TAKE UP A LOT OF ROOM. Pringles are compact -- but don't be tricked into thinking those cardboard tubes won't collapse or absorb water. Stow accordingly. I switched from boxed cereal to oatmeal -- cold 1-minute oats uncooked. It is very compact, much cheaper than Cheerios and is probably better for me!
  13. DON'T FORGET SUNDOWNERS. You can't have too many little app options for cockpit hoo hahs. Hearty crackers do much better than fragile ones. Olives are hard to find and, when found, are really expensive. The more creative you are, the less bored you get with your offerings. There is a season limit on cheese and cracker consumption. Some of our favorites: meatballs, artichokes/dip, hummus, kippered snacks on melba toast, cream cheese w/pepper jelly.

Don't worry. You won't starve, and if you do, you'll be in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Here's another of my posts about provisioning that lists some of the things easily found in the Bahamas: Bahamas list.