Category: Living Aboard

Underway (Again… sorta)

We left the marina…  Actually, I was having a lovely time drinking wine with my friends in CA, so really George and Ed drove Stormy Monday away from the marina in Melbourne to Vero Beach on November 1st.  Sort of like a baby step, the first of many that we hope will transport us to the Bahamas.  After our false start in March, when I got sick yet again, we are slowly making our way hoping I don’t have any issues this time.  We are trying winter cruising and so far it agrees with me!

Stormy Monday spent November in Vero and we visited her several times while we finished up our farm projects.  Folks call Vero Beach “Velcro Beach” because it is so easy to be lulled in by the many amenities, access to a bus for shopping and the frequent social activities (adult daycare.)

While we didn’t hear a Velcro separating sound as we left Vero, we were attacked by the no-see-ums!  Such is boating life.  As we headed south on the ICW, we were pleasantly surprised to not be swamped by power boat wakes.  We anchored just South of the Jensen Beach bridge and spent a rolly sleepless night due to the long fetch and frequent waves.

Underway

Underway

We pulled into our new home for a month, Cypress Island Marina, just in time to attend the homeowners association’s potluck and watch the North Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade.    Fireworks, lots!! o’ boats (no sailboats though Disappointed smile) , followed up by power boats with uniformed Marines on board collecting Toys for Tots from spectators on the docks.  The parade was spectacular!

North Palm Beach Christmas Boat Parade

North Palm Beach Christmas Boat Parade

 

We were very grateful to be invited by the HOA to attend the potluck and watch the parade, we met some really nice people and had a lovely evening.

We have rented the slip here in North Palm Beach (Jupiter area) to get Stormy ready to cross the Gulf Stream and cruise the Bahamas for ~ 4 months.  And hopefully we will do a little sight seeing and enjoy the area.

Looking kind of small among all of the large power boats!

Looking kind of small among all of the large power boats!

I belong to a Facebook group, “Women Who Sail”, whose members (> 3000) are women who sail all over the world.  Since we have arrived, we have been having a nice time meeting up with other sailors that are either locals or traveling on their way south.  Seriously, the BEST part about cruising is meeting the people!

"Women Who Sail" Meetup

“Women Who Sail” Meetup

We will drive back up to Melbourne for the holidays and then drive back down to West Palm to wait for a weather window.  Next stop, Abacos, Bahamas!  Join us, won’t you!?

Merry Christmas!

Thank you to Amy for the Jupiter Lighthouse ornament!

Thank you to Amy for the Jupiter Lighthouse ornament!

Grateful for it …

The Farm

It all started with kitchen pipes bursting and flooding the farm house.  Daddy’s farm house (aka man cave) in Melbourne was in a shambles after all his belongings had been boxed, furniture placed in a pod and flooring replaced.  He asked if we could come and help him put things back to together and live at the Farm while we are not cruising on the boat so we could help with maintaining the house.

Perfect timing!  We wanted to do some projects on the boat that would be very messy, making it difficult to live on the boat while the projects were going on.

So life got a little crazy with the Farm clean up and the boat projects.  But we are enjoying the Farm and all the beauty it has to offer.  It also provides a home base for us while we move the boat south this Fall.

20140901_172612

 

20140901_172804

Barn kitties, Rosie & Madeleine.

20140901_172743

The Barn & “Red” the 23 year old sweet horse.

20140901_173642

The Farm House.

susan sanding on stormy monday 2

Boat Projects

We have moved the boat to Vero Beach where she is on a mooring so we can check out all of her systems.  The head is having issues (again) and George is working on getting it fixed.  We will spend time on her in Vero, then start heading south after Thanksgiving.

Since I received a diagnosis a few months ago of “Hypotension” and heat seems to lower my blood pressure to the point that I become sick, we are going to try winter in the Bahamas instead of summer.

Please, join us on our journey.

 

Grateful for it all…

Phone and WiFi in the Abacos, Bahamas

Since we will be here for ~3 months we have been investigating and experimenting with the communication options here.

Phone:  You can purchase a SIM card for an unlocked GMA phone from Batelco for $14.95.  You can purchase GMA phones from them also (~$20-$40 for a non-smartphone.)  We went to the Batelco office in Marsh Harbour.  You can add airtime (voice calls) and data (internet & email) to your phone.  You can buy airtime cards (voice calls only) in $20 denominations and 1Gig data cards (email and internet) for $30 (the day we were there we got the $30 1Gig data cards for $20, they were on sale).  To load the airtime or data, you just dial a # from your smartphone (once the Bahamian SIM card is installed), then enter the unique # on the card, and the balance on your phone is updated.

Update 6/21/13:  You can add airtime to your phone on the Batelco website if you have registered your SIM card with them.

If you bring a GMA phone that is not unlocked, we hear you can get it unlocked in Marsh Harbour for ~$60.  We opted to have ours unlocked by Cellcorner.com for ~$30.  They will email you a unlock code.

We did not see any options from Batelco to make your phone a hotspot.  But while we were in Lake Worth I found this Android app PDANet that will allow you to tether your phone to your computer OR make your phone a hotspot.  We tried it on both our phones, the wireless hotspot and tethering (USB connected) worked on my AT&T Samsung Galaxy II, but the tethering was all we could get to work on George’s Boost Mobile Samsung Galaxy II phone.   So in theory, you could buy data for your phone and then use an app to tether it to your computer so you could get on the internet on your computer.   However, we are finding that 1Gig doesn’t go very far!  See *

Having a phone has already come in handy.  We have used it a few times to call home and to call locally here in the Bahamas.  Roaming rates on your US phone can cost up to $2-3 a minute, while the rates here to the states (depending on when you call) are closer to .50c a minute.

WiFi:  There are 2 main providers of WiFi here in the Abacos, Out Island Internet (OII) and Bahamas WiMax.  Their rates are very similar (~$15 a day, ~$100 a month, ~$200 3 months).

The key is to get a good connection to their hotspots on the islands.  In December we purchased an “IslandTime System” (high gain antenna) from Island Time PC at the SSCA Gam in Melbourne.  We purchased our own router, but you can purchase one from them also.  The router allows us to use all of our devices on board (2 computers, 2 phones & 1 Ipad.)  We can easily see hotspots from > a mile away.  We occasionally find unlocked hotspots, but it seems these days, most folks have theirs secured.

We are experimenting with an AT&T hotspot mobile MiFi box that I bought on Amazon.  I thought it was unlocked, but it wasn’t, so we paid ~$26 to have it unlocked by Cellcorner.com.  To get it to access Batelco services, you have to purchase SIM Card for $14.95, then purchase 1Gig Data Cards ($30).  In order to get the data applied to the SIM Card, you have to put the SIM card in a phone, load the data card, then put the SIM card back into the box.  * But it turns out this may not be a good option for us.  We have been using it for 3 days now and have already used .5Gig.  This could get pricey! We use the internet a lot for email, blog posting, uploading photos, surfing the internet, checking weather, etc.  What we may do is go ahead and purchase 2-3 months from OII or WiMax and use the MiFi box as a backup.

Update 5/25/13:

  • We anchored in Red Bay at Water Cay.  We were between Marsh  Harbour and Treasure Cay and could physically see both of them, but could not get OII or WiMax, but we were able to use the MiFi Box because we could get cell service.
  • Once we hit 100% on the first Gigabyte on the Mifi Box, we received a message from Batelco on the box that we had hit 100% and that they would be slowing down the service.  The service definitely slowed down, almost unusable!  I added another 1 Gigabyte and it did not speed back up!  We didn’t try to fix it since we think this isn’t a good solution for us.

Here is what worked for us…

First know where you are going to go and verify that Batelco, OII and WiMax will offer service there.  If the services will be available:

  • Phone:
    • Bring a unlocked GSM phone
    • Purchase a Batelco SIM Card $14.95, then add air time
    • Optionally add data time (email & internet)
    • Optionally try a “app” for your smartphone (i.e. Android app PDANet) to make your phone a hotspot (note:  we have not tried this in the Bahamas, but it worked in Lake Worth)
  • WiFi:
    • Get a high gain antenna and router (i.e. Island Time PC)
    • Purchase OII or WiMax WiFi (the longer the duration, the more cost effective) Updated 5/25/13:  In the future we would select WiMax over OII…  OII requires us to continually re-login and WiMax didn’t.

Grateful for it all…

 

Bon Voyage to Canise & Emme!

The other 2 boats (Canise & Emme) decided to go ahead and cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas this morning. They left about 10:30am which will put them at their night anchorage about 10:30pm tonight.  We wish them well!  And hope to see them soon in the Bahamas!

 

 

False Start

We decided against crossing to the Bahamas on Monday. The weather is just not conducive to a safe a comfortable trip.  So we will stay here at the marina and hope for a crossing weather window later this week.

In the meantime I think there will be a “girls” shopping trip and maybe get the group of boats waiting for the weather window together for a BBQ.

It’s all good…

Grateful for it all…

 

Water maker commissioned!

On Tuesday our water maker was commissioned!  Dick Murray from Murray Marine Services came out to the marina and checked out the water maker, fixed a few little things about the installation and commissioned it!  Which means we are now self-sufficient with regard to water.  This is huge!  No worrying about where we will replenish our water tanks! Where is the next marina we can get water?  Or worse even, where is the next place we can fill jerry jugs with water?  The water tanks on Stormy Monday hold ~120 gallons of water, that would take  a long time to fill with jerry jugs! 

 

We purchased a Spectra Ventura 200t which is specifically designed for tropical waters.  It is rated for 8.3 gallons an hour, but Dick told his he saw ~9 gallons while we tested the water maker because there was such good electrical power (great  job on the electrical system George!)….   George added a 140W solar panel that should help offset the amp draw from the water maker. This water maker is said to be the most efficient 12 volt water maker on the market. 

 

Once we leave the dock we will wait a day or so for the water tanks to get a bit low, then we will run the water maker for 1-2 hours a day. 

 

Grateful for it all…

Anchored in North Lake Worth

We motored down from Jensen Beach today are anchored in North Lake Worth.

Lots of bridges and lots of traffic on the ICW today so it was a little stressful.
Time for a shower, a glass of wine and a nice dinner.
grateful

Anchored in Jensen Beach

We left Vero Beach this morning and are anchored just south of the Jensen Beach bridge. No internet access so this is a test to post to the blog from my phone.

All is well except we don’t have any hot water. Brrrrrrrrrrr
We will motor down to North Lake Worth tomorrow.
We still don’t see a good weather window coming up so we’re just hanging tigrate.
Grateful for it all.

Hello from Vero Beach…

We are still in Vero!  A few things cropped up for us to deal with… the sink faucet in the galley was leaking, but George was able to fix it with new valves.  We noticed we were still listing to Port so we are still rearranging provisions on the boat to better balance the load.  We also noticed that the fridge/freezer is not as cold as it should be, we are waiting on someone to come and look at it for us.

We are also going through some of the new systems on board.  We installed a new Furuno navigation suite which includes a chart plotter, integrated radar, satellite weather and radio.  We also purchased the MaxSea software to communicate with the chart plotter.  MaxSea allows us to do route planning on the computer and send the route to the chart plotter.  It will also (the manual says) allow us to input weather GRIB files and help us plot routes that will get us to our destination in the fastest possible time given the wind conditions forecast.  Cool!  Now we just need to figure out how to do that…

We have started a list of things we want to change on the boat, and at the top of the list is to have the energy from the solar panels divert to the water heater once they have topped off the batteries.  We haven’t needed to run the engine since we got here on Monday, so we don’t have hot water, which translates to cold showers.

Each morning we dinghy into the marina and I go for a walk.  As I have been walking I have reflected on our journey to this point.  George and I met in Apirl 2001, which was the same week he bought Stormy Monday.  Our first date was on Stormy.  We talked about our mutual dreams to retire and cruise on a sailboat.  Stormy was a “fixer upper” and need a lot of work, so as our relationship developed we also worked on Stormy to make her a safe and comfortable cruising boat.  In 2007 we set a date for retirement of Nov 2010… but there were a lot of setbacks (Hurricane Wilma, the economy, unemployment, etc.).  Finally, in 2012 it became a reality.  We feel very blessed to be able to live our dream.

We are already adjusting to the lifestyle.  If someone asks “Are you going to go to so-and-so?” we just answer “Not today!.”  We are in no hurry and are just taking our time and enjoying ourselves.

Grateful for it all…

We have left the dock!

We left Telemar Marina in Indian Harbour Beach, FL this morning and 6 hours later we are moored in Vero Beach, FL at the Vero  Beach City Marina!

We put the motor on the dinghy, checked in at the marina, then headed to the Riverside Cafe for a early dinner.

Every adventure begins with the first step!

We will stay here for a few days to see how all the systems work.  We have officially started cruising!

 Stormy Monday moored in Vero Beach