Kindred Spirit Cruising Costs

This looked like an appropriate picture for this blog post. Credit goes to the www.cruisemapper which is a cruise ship site. Entirely different cost!

Here’s  an appropriate picture for this blog post. Credit goes to the www.cruisemapper website which is a cruise ship site. Entirely different cost!


“How much does it cost to go cruising?” That is a question with as many answers as there are cruisers. Hang around with any group of cruisers or surf the internet and there will be answers given, from to extravagant. Most of the cruisers we have met fall in the middle.


The answer to the question of “what does it cost to go cruising?” — It all depends.
On what?

  • How obsessively expenditures are recorded (the accuracy factor),
  • How expenses are categorized (the organization factor),
  • Maintaining a land home as well as the boat (part-time or full-time factor),
  • Wants and needs (the life style factor),
  • Cruising grounds (the where factor),
  • and, most of all, your income (the reality factor.)

I have decided to share our cruising costs for this recent trip, knowing that I may regret it. 😉 How you spend your money is a very personal decision, on land and on water, but hopefully this might be useful to anyone considering future cruising on their own boat.I have provided a description of each expense category for clarity. My definition of a category could be quite different than someone else’s. Our home and boat are mortgage-free and we live within our retirement income.

About our cruising costs: The expenditures presented in the table below are for the 8 months (September 13, 2015 through May 11, 2016) of cruising only and do not include the costs to outfit and remodel Kindred Spirit. (That’s another spreadsheet.)

  • Groceries and Provisioning
    • We purchased as many non-perishables in “sufficient quantities” (whatever that may mean to me at any given moment) before we leave home and again in Florida before crossing to the Bahamas. Groceries are much more expensive in the islands than at home. For both convenience and cost, we stock up on:
      • Toilet paper and paper towels
      • Coffee
      • Snacks – e.g. crackers, pretzels, chips, granola bars, nuts, dark chocolate (15 bags of Dove Promises).
      • Canned goods such as beans, diced tomatoes, tuna, salmon, and chicken (I learned not to bring a lot of canned vegetables and fruit because we don’t eat them, and we were able to find fresh often enough.)
      • Favorite cereals
      • Easy ingredients for happy hour foods or jars of special dips and spreads (Trader Joe’s).
      • Spices, sugar, flour, pancake mix, pasta, quinoa
      • It’s true what experienced cruisers say – If you don’t eat it at home, you won’t eat it on the boat. That said, we did try new things that have become new favorites for us.
    • Our Engel freezer holds quite a bit of meats and frozen foods for just 1.5 cubic feet. I packed it full in Florida before crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas and never bought any meat while in the islands. To ease the strain on the Engel, I asked the Publix grocery store in Florida to individually wrap and freeze each piece of meat for me. Picked it up the next day and everything was frozen solid.
  • Restaurants, Snacks  – Lunches and dinners in restaurants, as well as all trips to local ice cream shops, coffee shops, and any snack we ate while off the boat. Enjoying local restaurants in ports is part of the enjoyment of a trip like this so we ate out much more often than we do at home, on land.
  • Beer, Wine, Alcohol –We purchased all of our beer and wine, and gin and rum in the United States. Wine is a mix of box wine and bottles. We take the bladders out of the boxes and store them in a plastic bin. When ready to use one, we have a nifty “wine bag” that holds the bag. We finally found a few good beers (Sam Adams and Founders IPA) that come in cans, which are easier to store, and won’t break. We also indulged in a Soda Stream to make tonic for gin & tonic and seltzer for me. No need to store the cans and/or bottles, or worry about discarding the empties.
  • Entertainment, Excursions – A rental movie, play, performance, local event, museum, tour, or any activity in a port.
  • Recreation, Hobbies – books, including e-books, iTunes, tires for our bikes. I read constantly while cruising (never really had decent tv reception with the little antenna) but kept my book costs low by using my hometown library’s e-books. I highly recommend this option to any heavy reader!)
  • Cell Phones and Internet – This is a challenging category. We tried to keep the costs as low as possible and still remain reasonably connected. Our decisions may not be acceptable to others.
    • Cell phones – I have an iPhone and Al has a flip phone (yes, there is still one person left with a flip phone). We increased our data (Verizon) to 12 gigabytes per month and used my phone as a hot spot for MacBook and iPad internet connections. In the Bahamas I suspended our Verizon cell phone service for 3 months, saving those monthly fees. We did not use a cell phone while in the Bahamas. The VHF radio was enough for local contacts and FaceTime on a wifi connection helped us to stay in touch with our families.
    • Internet – We chose one of the Bahamas internet providers, Out Islands Internet and paid the cheaper rate for multiple months rather than go month by month. OII is inconsistent and slow, but we heard that WiMax, the other option is the same. That’s just the Bahamas, mon. We got used to it, almost.
    • Al installed a wifi booster, the WIRIE, to amplify weak signals and make them usable on the boat. Without this, our monthly 12 gigabytes of data would never have been enough. We were often able to get free wifi in many locations or amplify a marina’s available free wifi in the anchorage or mooring field. Without the WIRIE we would not have been able to use the Bahamas OII signals on our mooring in Hope Town.
  • Souvenirs – Anything purchased as a special memento.
  • Clothes – Certainly spent much less than when I am home! No malls, no shops, no place for delivery!
  • Laundry – Ahhh, laundry. A must-do that isn’t fun, unless you can hang out by the Hope Town Inn and Marina’s pool on Elbow Cay in the Bahamas. The downside of that lovely setting is the cost of laundry in the Bahamas — $5.50 per wash and $5.50 per drying cycle compared to $1.50-$2.00 each in the U.S. marinas. A few marinas, such as Charleston Maritime Center and River Forest Marina in Belhaven, NC, have free laundry.
  • Water – This refers to water purchased to fill the boat’s water tanks. Water is free in the U.S., but not in the Bahamas. We chose not to install a watermaker on Kindred Spirit. Since we do not live aboard and have no plans to venture into uncivilized regions, there really wasn’t a need for such an expensive piece of equipment. However, I do like having water. Really like it. Kindred Spirit carries 250 gallons in two tanks. Al installed a water filter at the galley sink so we have drinkable water. His water collection system was a tremendous success in the Abacos this winter, thanks to the frequent rains. We only purchased water once during those three months, just before we left to return home.
  • Miscellaneous – I really tried not to use this category, but it was helpful for things that just didn‘t fit anywhere else.)
  • Personal – Haircuts and color, special toiletries or personal care needs
  • Travel has been separated in two parts. The basic travel category is for taxis, buses, rental cars, etc. while in ports. For this second cruising experience, we also budgeted for two return trips home to visit our families, once for 10 days in November before we crossed to the Bahamas, and once for 12 days in March after we returned to Florida as well as a road trip across Florida to visit Al’s mother. These trips included airfare, hotels, rental cars, additional food costs, but have not been included int he table below.  The costs were  worth every penny!
  • Marina & Mooring Fees – Covers the cost of dockage and moorings. We anchor whenever possible. Our 77-pound Rocna anchor has been well worth the expense – we sleep peacefully at night. Until we went cruising the first time, we had never taken a dock anywhere in 20 years of boating together, but when cruising, a dock is often a nice treat and sometimes a necessity. We now have friends with docks along the way and were able to stay with them sometimes as well as the occasional free municipal dock (Chesapeake City, MD, Dismal Swamp Welcome Center, Portsmouth, VA). In the Bahamas, we took a mooring on a monthly basis for the 3 months we spent in the Abacos, making Elbow Cay our “homeport.”
  • Things for Boat – Items not related to maintenance or equipment. For example, anything decorative or non-mechanical.
  • Maintenance and equipment for the boat – Al does virtually all of our maintenance on the boat. He is highly skilled, creative, and talented at problem solving and troubleshooting. HUGE savings! Our maintenance costs are generally only for parts and equipment. Since we had just remodeled our “new” Kindred Spirit, we only experienced a few minor costs during the trip. If we were permanent live-aboards or cruising for a longer than 8 months, these costs would be higher.
  • Fuels – Separate categories for diesel for the boat, gas for the dinghy, and propane for the grill and galley
  • Insurance – boat, BoatUS, DAN

The costs of the following categories in our budget have been omitted from the published cruising costs below because they are personal or too variable depending on whether or not you maintain a home, carry health insurance, gifts, etc.

  • Medical and Dental, Health Insurance – We carry health insurance. Al is now on Medicare, but I have continued to pay my own insurance through my former employer. As an ovarian cancer survivor with lymphedema, I would never be without health insurance. Just too risky. We also bought DAN insurance, Divers Alert Network, which provides transportation back to the U.S. in the event of a serious health emergency. Fortunately, both of us are healthy “seniors” otherwise and didn’t have medical or dental issues while cruising. Now that we are back home on land we are catching up on all of our appointments.
  • Gifts – Obviously, a very personal category. We have four adult children and their spouses, and 3 grandchildren with 3 more on the way in 2016! As retirees on a fixed income now, we are not extravagant with gifts, but we do “give.”
  • Housing – We own and maintain a small home in Connecticut. I need that anchor. Those costs are separate and not included in this because it all depends on where and what kind of home you keep. Our utility costs are minimized by turning the heat down to 50 degrees, canceling the cable tv and internet. Our house is a condo-style so there is no need to worry about lawn care or snow removal, just pay the monthly fee. Property taxes are the biggest cost of maintaining a home.
  • Auto costs – We suspended the insurance on one car and left it on the older car.

Kindred Spirit’s Cruising Costs – The Numbers

Category Budgeted (Monthly/Total) Monthly Average Range Total
for the 8 months
Groceries & Provisions $600 / $4800 $523 $314 – $1108 $4,183
Restaurants, Snacks $400 / $3200 $388 $332 – $484 $3,108
Beer, Wine, Alcohol $80 / $640 $58 $0 – $286 $467
Cell phones $150 / $1200 $91 $0 – $157 $730
Internet (OII in Bahamas) $70 / $280 $64.50 For 4 months $258
Hobbies/Recreation $50 / $400 $19 $0 – $85 $150
Entertainment/Excursions $100 / $800 $55 $0 – $236 $444
Souvenirs $50 / $400 $66 $0 – $183 $528
Clothing $50 / $400 $61 $0 – $132 $491
Personal Care $30 / $240 $35 $0 – $167 $281
Water (in Bahamas) $25 / $100 $35
Laundry $50 / $400 $29 $0 – $83 $230
Travel $40 / $320 $24 $0 – $161 $188
Miscellaneous $100 / $800 $85 $0 – $238 $682
Fuel – Diesel for Boat $875 / $7000 $447 $0 – $911 $3,337
Fuel – Gas for Dinghy $25 / $200 $19 $0 -$80 $150
Fuel – Propane for Galley and Grill $50 / $400 $6 $0 – $27 $47
Marina & Mooring Fees $500 / $4000 $452 $353 – $516 $3,532
Boat Maintenance & Equipment $200 / $1600 $121 $0 – $256 $968
Things for Boat $100 / $800 $49 $0 – $177 $394
Bahamas Cruising Permit $300 $300
DAN Insurance $55 $55
BoatUS $150 $165
Boat Insurance $1600 $1600
 Total $30,085 $22,323

Budget surprises: Diesel fuel costs were a pleasant surprise. After cruising on a sailboat that consumed less than 1 gallon per hour, we had braced ourselves and prepared for a significant budget increase in this category. The trawler uses between 2.5 and 3 gallons per hour, but fuel costs were so low this year that we it was well below our budgeted amount. A nice bonus.

Our bottom line – Cruising costs us less than staying at home, even with the cost of maintaining the home while cruising. Interesting!

Here We Go Again!

I began this blog two years ago to record and journal about our cruising adventure on our Morgan 43 sailboat during the winter of 2013-2014. And here we are again, ready to repeat the adventure. I should feel experienced since this is our second time, but I don’t. With a different boat, much of the preparing part feels new, or almost new.

New boat = new card. We had to order new boat cards, again. I surely hope that this set of boat cards outlives the first two sets. Each of the previous boat cards became out-dated because something changed and we needed new ones. What can one do with leftover outdated boat cards?? Not enough for wallpaper, if I even wanted wall paper!

On the left is a pile of our first boat cards, but then we moved and changed emails, etc. On the right is the boat card from 2013 for our first trip.

Same boat, different cards:                                                                                                                               On the left is a pile of our original boat cards. When we moved and changed email addresses, etc. we needed a new card. 
On the right is a pile of the 2013 boat cards  for our first cruising adventure.

Al’s daughter is very patient. 🙂 As our in-house (or would that be “in-family” graphic artist) we send her the photos and the information and she designs and prints the card. Below is the new card’s front and back.  Technology has changed so many things, but business cards and “boat cards” still seem to play a role. We enjoy trading them with other boaters as we travel.

of new boat card

Back of new boat card





Technology Update  For the last trip I described the technology we would be using while we cruised – Tech Talk 1 & Tech Talk 2. We are still using many of the same websites for advice, weather, and  other boating/cruising info and tips. I still have an iPhone (a 6 has replaced my old 4s) and Al still has a flip phone ( a new one, but still an old “flip.” What can I say? He had a chance to join the rest of us and chose not to do that yet.) However, he does have a “new” refurbished Nano for his music because his ancient one disappeared. I still have a Nook for my reading, although it is a newer model thanks to a Christmas gift. I have it LOADED with a variety of novels to read over the next 8 months. Yeah!!  I have the same camera, but not the same camera, and that’s a long story. The first died twice on that trip, but it was replaced and continues to work …… for now. I still don’t really trust it, but if it ain’t broke, it ain’t getting replaced.

Last time we used a MiFi device and got our data package through for  internet access. This time we plan to use my iphone as a hot spot and increase our data plan with Verizon. Hopefully, this will work, because how many of us can live without our internet these days??

In my first “transformation” blog post I wrote about the systems and described our IslandTime wifi connection device, called the Ubiquit Bullet, a booster, coupled to a marine antenna and a Netgear router. This helps us pick up wifi signals that would not ordinarily reach us on the boat. We need it out on the mooring to get a stronger signal from our yacht club, and it was really helpful Hope Town to catch those OII wifi signals. BUT……. it stopped working. Al tried a new router and spend countless (literally countless) hours over a week’s time, emailing back and forth with the IslandTime guy to figure out the problem. Nothing worked. Eventually, we simply ran out of time. Al decided to try a new system called The WIRIE, a plug and play, totally waterproof marine system. It arrived the day before we planned to move onboard the boat.  Talk about down to the WIRE…..

The WIRIE is mounted up on the flybridge. It has been tested and it works!!! Yeah!!! We can connect.

The WIRIE is mounted up on the flybridge (the little blue box with the antennae sticking up). It has been tested and it works!!! Yeah!!! We can connect.

We have the same GPS chart plotter, Garmin 5212, but will also use Al’s  iPad more as another navigating tool.  We have our AIS and hope that our current position will load onto the blog’s page titled “Where is Kindred Spirit?”

Coffee   I’ve made another major change for this trip. After much consideration, I have ditched the Chemex coffee pot (please refer to my detailed blog post on the last adventure about coffee making on a boat -Coffee Onboard Your Boat). The reason? I got tired of waiting for the water to boil and for it to drip though the grounds and filter. It took so long that the coffee cooled, in spite of the cute little quilted jacket I made for the glass pot. I discussed my concerns with the Captain, and he assured me that a small electric drip pot was totally do-able. 🙂

YES - I have gone back to an electric drip coffee maker!!

Here is my cute little 4-5 cup Mr. Coffee. Quick and hot. I use either thermal mugs if we have a traveling day ahead of us, or a small thermos to hold the coffee when we use our china mugs. The entire coffee making “system” fits along side of the chart table, aka, dish holder.

A necessary task that Al really delayed for too long. Who can blame him? It’s not as though he wasn’t busy with other boat projects, right?

Our dinghy is finally legal with new Connecticut numbers. It only took Al one year to get to the DMV and then 6 hour wait in line. And that was AFTER the they shut down to upgrade their computer system. Haha.

Our dinghy is finally legal with new Connecticut numbers. It only took Al one year to get TO the DMV followed by  a 6 hour wait in line once he was there. And that was after the they shut down to upgrade their computer system. HaHa.

One evening this week, I found him painting in our living room. Yes, the living room.

What a nice "reserved" mooring buoy we will have.

What a nice “reserved” mooring buoy we will have.

Provisioning   I have come to the conclusion that we do not cruise simply and we do not cruise lightly. We brought car load after car load froth house to the boat – so much stuff! The “stuff”, such as clothing, toiletries, medical supplies,safety supplies, personal things and entertainment, boat equipment are just one aspect of the preparations; but the provisions, oh my the provisions! Provisioning takes time, thought, planning, and space. I become OCD about what we will, or might, need. I re-read my 2013 blog about the provisioning — “Organizing, moving, and stowing supplies and provisions aboard has been quite an experience. Where will it all go? Will it all fit? And do we really need it all?? Al reminded 3 times each day that there are grocery stores up and down the east coast.”  Ditto for 2015.

Car load #317

Car load #217 (or so it seemed.)

This was the first load of provisions, spread out in the salon. Aye Yai Yai!!

This was the first load of provisions, spread out in the salon. Aye Yai Yai!!

The size of the freezer was a concern to me – less than the Morgan’s custom freezer and refrigerator. I knew I would overbuy, especially if there was a sale, only to discover that it won’t all fit into my little freezer. I asked Al to make me a cardboard box the exact dimensions of the Engel freezer so that I could buy and package meals over a few days and know that they will fit.

My "cardboard" freezer

My “cardboard” freezer box inside of my home chest freezer and the real thing on the boat. It all fit, just barely.

Not only do you have to eat, but you do drink as well. We drink a lot of water so Al added the water filter at the galley sink for drinking water. We stowed 2-3 cases of beer in the lower depths of the boat. And bought boxed wine which then became “bag wine” after we removed the boxes. We also indulged ourselves with a Soda Stream. Al likes a gin and tonic and I enjoy seltzer. This way we won’t have to carry and stow the bottles and cans and there won’t be piles of empties to discard.

wine and soda

Our bags of wine are stowed in a plastic bin and stored under a bunk. The soda stream neatly fit in the cabinet on the bottom shelf. It’s a little crowded at the moment because we haven’t really figured out the organization in there yet. More on that in a future blog.

We are bringing our bikes so that we can travel a little farther on land.

This time we are bringing our bikes so that we can travel a little farther on land.

The bikes fit very well up on the flybridge, near the kayaks. As I said – we are not traveling simply or lightly. And I am not apologizing for that!

Al was so proud of how neatly he packed his shirts in the drawer that I thought it deserved a mention in the blog. Shall I take another photo in a couple of weeks??

Al was so proud of how neatly he packed his shirts in the drawer that I thought it deserved a mention in the blog. Shall I take another photo in a couple of weeks??

I searched for photo frames that would fit on the boat so that we could have our family with us.

This window int he salon is behind the ladder to the flybridge so I thought it might function well as a place to hang the photos. We also added a new photo - both photos of our boats taken by MJ and Dean now hang side by side. The Morgan when we left in 2013 and the Mariner when we brought her home in 2014.

This window in the salon is behind the ladder to the flybridge so I thought it might function well as a place to hang the photos of all of our children and grandchildren. I can see them every day.
We also added a new photo – MJ and Dean have taken those wonderful photos at the top of our blog. The Morgan 43 passing Ledge Light in 2013 as we headed south and this Mariner when we brought her home in 2014. They are side by side.

There was a nice little space on either side of our cabin for more photos. One side is grandchildren and parents, plus my sister and sister-in-law. The other side holds pictures of each child's wedding. They were beautiful and loving days when we were all together..

There was a nice little space on each side of our cabin for more photos. One side is grandchildren and our parents, plus my sister and sister-in-law. The other side holds a photo of each of our children’s wedding days. They were beautiful and loving days when we were all together.

We said good-bye to Adam and Steph. Thanks for the ride to the yacht club.

We said good-bye to Adam and Steph. Thanks for the ride to the yacht club.

In 2013, we left on my birthday, September 12th.  It would have been an interesting coincidence to leave on the same date, but we just weren’t quite ready.

Dean and Mary Jo brought a chocolate cake and Prosecco out to the boat to celebrate my birthday and wish us bon voyage.

Dean and Mary Jo brought a chocolate cake, ice cream, and Prosecco to celebrate my birthday and wish us bon voyage.  Thank you!

I think we are ready now. We will leave early tomorrow morning on our new adventure.  I plan to continue the blog and will try to look for new things along the way to share and to remember.

Family Visits and Preparing to “Cross”

I haven’t posted any photos or news in the past week. There haven’t been many sunsets or dawns, dolphins or other nature to photograph; and I got lazy while also feeling very busy. Thank you to the friends who emailed to ask if everything was ok with us since there had been no posts.

While in Florida we took the opportunity to visit some of Al’s family who live here. While we were in Vero Beach, we rented a car and drove to Spring Hill to spend a couple days with Al’s mother. We enjoyed our visit with mom and her friends at Timber Pines. The bonus was our stay in a hotel – let the water run while we shower, watch tv, use the air conditioning, and provision for the next phase of the trip using a car instead of the bus and dinghy.
al and mom On our way back to Vero Beach, we stopped in Orlando at the Customs and Immigration Office for our interview. The US Customs and Border Protection has implemented the SVRS (Small Vessel Reporting System). SVRS is a web-based automated on-line reporting system created to allow  boaters to quickly and easily report their arrivals from foreign waters. This will allow us to “phone in” our return to the US instead of travel to a customs office, which requires a taxi or renting a car. We completed the necessary online forms and brought our boat documentation and passports with us. I expected this to be a formal and thorough process and interview, but it was actually very easy and low key.

Orlando Customs Office

We said goodbye to Cutting Class who left Vero a few days before us. They crossed over to the Abacos earlier this week and are already enjoying the Bahamian sights, sounds, and weather.

Goodbye and Good Luck!

Goodbye and Good Luck!


Our next stop was Stuart, where Al’s brother, Bill and his wife, Barbara live. Bill is the owner of Stuart Yacht Sales and arranged a free dock for us near his office in Port Salerno. We enjoyed our days visiting with them and truly appreciated their gracious hospitality.

Stuart Yacht Sales – i wish I had remembered to take a picture of Bill and Barbara!!

Our free dock

Looking out at the ocean from Hutchinson Island

And we did more provisioning…… again. We bought meats as well as assorted other items. It took me 3 hours to pack it away and vacuum seal the meats in smaller packages. Lately, it seems as though all we do is “provision.” Shop, lug it all onto the boat, unpack, reseal, organize, stow away. Since I have never done this before I really have no idea if we have the right amounts or even the right foods. 15 weeks/ 3months is a long time.  I have read and spoken with other cruisers and everyone has a different style and their own suggestions. We tried to really stock the things that are expensive or hard to find in the Bahamas.  Experienced people told us that beer and wine are both expensive, but rum is cheap.

Bags of wine and cases of Yeungling!

Bags of wine and cases of Yeungling!















I expanded  my herb garden by adding another pot with more basil, oregano and cilantro. I like looking at the greenery and using the fresh herbs in cooking. After loosing the first herbs early on the trip (sorry, Trudy!) I was determined to try again.

My fresh herb garden

My fresh herb garden

We decided to go outside for the run from Stuart (St Lucie Inlet)  to the Lake Worth Inlet. The winds and waves looked good. The morning began well – I took the helm to get us out of our snug little slip and I took the boat away from gas dock after fueling. I don’t usually do this so it was a big step. The current was against us as we went out St Lucie Inlet —

Current against the green can

Current against the green can


Current against the red nun

Current against the red nun

On our outside run from St. Lucie Inlet (leaving Stuart) to Lake Worth Inlet (the Palm Beaches) we encountered higher seas than expected. Nothing really awful, just a lot of water over the bow.

We had quite a ride - higher seas than expected and lots of water over the bow!

We had quite a ride – higher seas than expected and lots of water over the bow!

That would have been no big deal except that the hatch over the forward head was not secure. Good news – heads are meant to get wet. Bad news – Al hangs his shirts in there. Totally soaked in salt water. Now we needed to find a laundry, again. There are no reasonable moorings or docks here in Lake Worth so we are anchored, but there are no public dinghy docks. We paid $10 a day to bring our dinghy to the Riviera Beach Marina. We also rented a car (Enterprise $10/day weekend deal, but that is another story) to take care of other last minute tasks.

Another laundramat - Mega dryers this time.

Another laundramat – Mega dryers this time.


Florida's version of a snowman inside of the Dunkin Donuts.

Waiting for the clothes to wash and dry – Florida’s version of a snowman, inside of the Dunkin Donuts.

















Using our rental car, we drove to Pompano Beach with our three CNG tanks to have them filled before we go to the Bahamas.  Funny thing about the CNG. In Connecticut, it cost us $218 to fill the three tanks. With WiseGas, in Pompano Beach, FL, Scott charged us only $40. Even with a $40 car rental, it is much cheaper!!

Getting our CNG tanks filled by WiseGas

Getting our CNG tanks filled by WiseGas

While down in Pompano Beach on Saturday, we drove along the Fort Lauderdale beaches. Oh my goodness!! Monster cruise ships everywhere. And people everywhere!!

Fort Lauderdale beaches

Fort Lauderdale beaches

We stopped at West Marine for a “couple things.” Yeah, right. 🙂 What boater/cruiser only picks up a few items?? (Actually, we usually only do that.) This West Marine is the mega/flagship one, largest West Marine anywhere. We bought some additional sun and snorkel shirts, and I replaced my good sunglasses which had been crushed.

The Mega Flagship West Marine Store - biggest one anywhere!

The Mega Flagship West Marine Store – biggest one anywhere!

While staying on the free dock outside the now closed restaurant in Port Salerno, we acquired a stowaway – a mouse who loves cilantro. He ate all the leaves. Once that was gone he tried the chex mix and peanut butter crackers over a period of four days. Every night we have tried a new trapping system. The mouse hasn’t left any evidence the past two nights, but he hasn’t been caught either. All of our food is now secured in heavy plastic tubs so he can’t get at it – can you picture this on a boat? For an easy-going, sweet guy, Al has become quite aggressive and totally obsessed with eliminating our stowaway. He keeps muttering, “I have to think like a mouse.”  We just have to get rid of this little guy before we leave for the Bahamas – he has no passport!!

So here we are in West Palm Beach, getting ready to make the crossing over to the Bahamas. It feels like we have spent most of the last two weeks getting ready to make this crossing. You can only get ready for so long. Sooner or later, you just have to go because you will never be 100% ready.  We are now waiting for our “weather window.”  Tuesday is looking promising.

Ready or Not……. Here we GO!!!

Be brave in teal.

Be brave in teal.

After 12 years of dreaming about this, and 3 months of intense preparations, we think we are ready. Am I excited? Yes.  Am I afraid? Yes.  My sister, Lisa, gave me a bracelet engraved “Be brave” for my birthday this year.  It is for ovarian cancer, but I think it is meant for any one of us, whenever we do anything that is scary, big or small. If you aren’t afraid when you do something, you aren’t being brave. Each of us reaches deep inside for courage every single day; it just isn’t always visible to others. So, thank you to everyone I know who helps me find my courage. Especially my dear husband, Al.

Al had lots of projects over the past few weeks. Dinghy maintenance, head repairs (for those of you are non-nautical, that means the toilet), cleaning the enclosure’s “glass.”

Dinghy maintenance, cleaning the "glass," head repairs

Dinghy maintenance, cleaning the “glass,” head repairs

There were also some larger projects, such as installing a new forward hatch and adding the name and homeport to the transom.

~Applying our name and homeport ~ A nice new forward hatch!

~Applying our name and homeport
~ A nice new forward hatch!

You may be wondering what I do, other than take photos. I am not nearly as talented as Al when it comes to maintaining a sailboat, but I can plan, organize, and gather (otherwise known as shop.) The behind the scenes person.  I also make sure the Captain is well-fed and happy. Every once in awhile, I use the tools, too.

Sanding and repainting the stove top grates.

Organizing, moving, and stowing supplies and provisions aboard has been quite an experience. Where will it all go? Will it all fit? And do we really need it all?? Al reminded 3 times each day that there are grocery stores up and down the east coast.

We are not going to starve... at least not for the first month or so.

We are not going to starve… at least not for the first month or so.

6 bags of Dove dark chocolates


You won’t be surprised to hear that we have a nice supply of our favorite guilty pleasure – Dove dark chocolates. Six bags should last a little while…….


After stowing everything all away,  I quickly discovered the real problem. It is not finding places for everything, it is REMEMBERING where you put it all!!!! So we now have lists and diagrams.



We were both surprised to find that everything we have carried onboard has a home. For us, Kindred Spirit is our new home. I have listened to Philip Philips’ song  “Home” quite often, as we make this boat our home for the next 8-9 months.

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home

The galley

Starboard side

Starboard side

Port side

Port side

We are ready. Next post will hopefully be about the adventure!!

Tech Talk – Part 2, The Marine Side

Sailing the seas has a very complex technical side in the 21st century with tools that earlier sailors could not have imagined. As “small craft” and pleasure boaters, we only use a fragment of the technology used by the commerical and government sides.

GPS (Global Positioning System) revolutionized boating before it became the norm for land use. We have used a Garmin 5212 Chartplotter with integrated radar for navigation since 2009 (birthday present for Al). Adding the Garmin Homeport app to the iPad and to my Mac will make plotting routes even easier for the trip. Active Captain is a web-based site and is integrated with Homeport to provide up-to-date information and reviews posted by other cruisers. There are reviews of marinas and anchorages, fuel prices, bridges, locks, stores, local knowledge, hazard information, and more.

Garmin 5212 with Homeport on the iPad and the Mac

Garmin 5212 with Homeport on the iPad and the Mac

Our helm has the traditional navigational tools. The compass is critical, even with all of the fancy stuff. The electronics at the helm include autopilot, speed, depth finder, wind direction and speed, and even water temperature. The VHF radio is the primary communication device for ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore.

Compass in the center with Autopilot above, and the rest on either side

Compass in the center with Autopilot above, and the rest on either side

We now have AIS (Automatic Identification System) which is an automatic tracking system used on ships for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data which identifies you, your position, and your track. Commercial vessels are required to have AIS.  It is an additional tool in our toolbox to aid in avoiding collisions with other ships, especially the very, very big ones. An added feature is that we have incorporated it into this blog (see the “Where is Kindred Spirit” page) so that our location will show on the map (through when we are transmitting. Less privacy? Sure, but there is no such thing as real privacy anymore; it’s only an illusion.

AIS transponder with Mac below it showing the location

AIS transponder with Mac below it showing the location

Next to the AIS device above, you can see our solar monitor. We have two 84 watt solar panels mounted on the hard top.  Love them! They really help to keep the batteries charged.  As long as the sun shines……

Today’s technology is awesome and does make things much easier. BUT, and this is a BIG but, it can fail. We have all experienced that. So we also have our paper – charts and guides.

PAPER!!  Good old-fashioned aper charts and  guides

PAPER!! Good old-fashioned paper charts and guides

Handheld VHF and EPIRB

Handheld VHF and EPIRB

For additional safety, we also have an EPIRB now, mounted just below our handheld VHF radio. An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon or EPIRB is used to alert search and rescue services in the event of an emergency. It does this by transmitting a coded message on the 406 MHz distress frequency via satellite and earth stations to the nearest rescue co-ordination center. We hope we will never, ever use this. If disaster does strike, we grab both the EPIRB and  the VHF above it on our way off the boat. The “ditch bag” (or abandon ship bag) is also ready to grab quickly.




Only about 13 days left to prepare…………….  still so much to do.