Saturday, April 18, 2015

Has it Really Been Six Months??

These days we mostly just tell time with our day clock... But it's still hard to believe that we have now been aboard Mowzer 6 months!

Six months ago we were flying to St. Thomas, the stress of selling the house, shipping our stuff, ordering boat parts, saying goodbye to family and friends, and making the move still very much upon us. I remember waking up the next morning with an unbelievable feeling of lightness, thinking that we had actually pulled it off, we were living on a freakin' boat.

Here are the stats (remember, I used to work as a data analyst):

  • 182 days, very rarely are we more than 10' apart,
  • 412 square feet of living space plus open decks - this includes galley, dining/living, 2 berths, 2 heads and our outdoor cockpit for all living and storage,
  • We have travelled 1002 nautical miles (1855 km) and ironically today we sit just 25 nm (46 km) from where we started,
  • We now find it cold if the temperature dips before 80F (27C) and break out a blanket or a sweater if it goes below 70F (21C),
  • Based on six months of spending we find we need (in USD) 1200/month for health & boat insurance, 1500/month for boat and travel related items such as maintenance, fuel, customs & immigration, and moorings, and 2500/month for all people expenses such as food, entertainment, household and other travel related expenses. This brings us to a total of about $5,200/month.
  • These numbers don't include the initial outlay we had on our various boat projects including the water maker installation, solar panel installation, radar, AIS, new batteries, dinghy replacement and multiple other small jobs that put us into cruiser mode.
So those are the cold hard numbers, but really what this six months has been about is acclimation to a new lifestyle. It is said that the highs and lows of cruising life can be extreme and that has certainly been the case for us, but in hindsight and with talking to others we know that we've had it pretty good and have probably had more highs than lows. Karma will probably pay us a visit for that! As I sit here I can see a search and rescue helicopter scouring the coast of Tortola so I hope they are doing a training exercise and this is not an example of someone's really bad day, but it is a sobering reminder of just how bad things can get if you're not careful and have a bit of luck on your side too.

In hindsight here are our lows - not too long or significant a list:

  • Fluky weather on our trip to Dominican Republic which meant we had light winds for the downwind sail and heavy winds and seas on the return windward trip. The weather woes continued with that horrible night and day at anchor in Bayahibe. All that bashing probably contributed to the fuel problems we had by the time we got back to Culebra along with dirty fuel that we picked up in the DR.
  • Sure wish we knew Spanish - it definitely would have helped make our visit to the DR more enjoyable.
  • Snagging the fish pot line in the dark and the ensuing worries about damage to our propellor.
  • Scary moments of wtf when the chart plotter would cut out at night, typically close to a reef which we now think was the result of a shorting wire in our electrical system.
  • Henry just added the fact that we are still in the BVI, he has itchy feet to explore farther afield, which is what the next six months will all be about.
  • We still break out and bicker when tensions get high, such as coming into a difficult anchorage or if the sailing gets tricky. I suppose that's nothing really new, just new situations.
The highs are what we're here for and thankfully there seems to be something most days to celebrate. I mean, who wouldn't when living in these beautiful islands at such a relaxed pace of life. Thinking progmatically though, it could be the relaxed pace of life that will do us in - Henry would like to move faster whereas surprisingly I am more content to sit in one place for a while. The converse though is that once sitting, Henry is content to just "be" while I need something to do, be it blogging, sewing or something else around the boat, and of course we both love getting off the boat to either meet other people and/or go exploring.

  • Jim's visit to St. Martin at Christmas including our third visit to Saba, and visiting with the gang in Dominican Republic.
  • Picking up our new ride in SXM - we still love our new dinghy and motor.
  • Puerto Rico was a surprise to both of us. I don't think either of us expected that we would enjoy the south coast villages and anchorages as much as we did.
  • Meeting up with new and renewed friends along the way. We both realize just how much we need some social interaction and the fun of making new friendships, especially with folks that we know we'll see repeatedly along the way is a highlight.
  • The daily high of learning some new skill or completing a new task. For example, Henry completed our first oil & filter change and transmission fluid change yesterday. Not a big deal for someone who has done this before but new for us and something we will have to do regularly. The sewing projects I've completed would also fall into this group and I'm absolutely thrilled that I decided to get a Sailrite machine to have onboard.
  • Getting about on foot really slows you down and gives you a chance to look around. Whether walking through an urban setting and checking out people's yards and businesses or hiking through a landscape that can vary from seasides to arid bush to rainforest, all in one hike, gives you time to really start to understand the space around you.
  • We both feel more fit and healthy, we both dropped about 15 pounds and I can certainly hike up a hill and get less winded. On the converse, the level of alcohol consumption in the cruising community has been well noted by others and we can definitely attest that a day without at least one drink is a very rare event.
  • Never wearing long pants - other clothing is debatable.
There you have it, I'm sure we've missed lots along the way but for that you have to read back through the blog ;-)

The next six months will see us move on to St. Martin (again) and then into new realms. We will fly home from Antigua for a couple of weeks to celebrate Jim's graduation and see family and friends, and then on our return will see us making quick tracks south to get out of the danger zone for hurricane season. This means that for June and July we could be visiting Guadaloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & The Grenadines and then finally making Grenada our destination for the most dangerous months of August through October.


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