The one thing that drives me absolutely insane about liveaboard life is mosquitoes. After three years of living on our sailboat and over 18,500 miles of sailing my toleration for bug bites is extremely low. Learning how to make port window screens helps reduce the problem.
For boaters to avoid getting eaten alive, the first line of defense is to ensure that the boat has screens. Within this article I offer step-by-step instructions in written and video format.
Learn how to save over $83 making your own port window screens!
On Britican we have professionally made screens for some of our port windows but not all of them.
Our professionally made screens cost around $85 a pop. Being fed up with watching our savings drain down I decided to find an alternative solution – a Do It Yourself (DIY) option.
Each DIY port window screen came out to around $2.00!
Watch the video and below you’ll find the list of products used, step by step instructions and some helpful tips that are not included in the video.
How to make port window screens VIDEO
DIY port window screen materials
Note: that the links open in a new screen and are the exact products I used to make the port window screens.
Paper towel or paper (to make a template)
Sharpie or marker
Glue (I used a glue that had a permanent bond, washer dryer safe (in case they got wet) and flexible).
How to make port window screens
Step 1: Make a template
Use either paper towel or a paper thin enough to see through. I use paper towel because a single sheet of paper isn’t large enough. With paper towel, I taped the towel to the widow, folded to size and where I couldn’t fold (around curved corners), I used a maker to sketch the curve.
Once the paper towel is ready, take it down and cut out any pieces to make the master template.
Check that the template works. You’ll want to make sure that the template is larger than the screen area.
The aim is to have the finished screen fit in between the port window frame. There’s a gap and we want to get the screen to squeeze into the gap allowing it to stay in place.
Trim template to get as close as possible. Make sure to make the template too big rather than too small!
Step 2: Use the template to cut out the first foam piece.
Once the foam piece is cut out, check that it fits into the window. Trim the foam until you get a good snug fit.
Step 3: Use the first foam piece to outline and cut a second foam piece.
Tip: Make sure to keep the foam pieces in line. You might want to put a TL for ‘top left’ on both of them. If they flip over the pieces might not fit perfectly.
Step 4: Cut out the middle section on the first foam piece.
Using a rule, make dots ½” from the edge towards the body of the foam piece all the way around. Connect the dots with a ruler to ensure a nice smooth line.
Cut the middle section out.
Step 5: Use the first foam piece as a template for the second foam piece
Draw a line using the first foam piece as a template. Make sure to take your time on this – the foam will move around. You want both foam pieces to match as best as possible. Cut out the second foam piece.
Step 6: Cut out a piece of screen
Tip: I suggest you cut out a piece of screen that’s larger than the foam pieces. When I first tried making a screen I cut the screen using the template. When I laid the screen on the glue it didn’t match correctly, I couldn’t move it easily and I managed to get glue all over the screen!
Step 7: Glue both foam pieces to the screen
Before gluing make sure everything lines up. Glue the bottom foam, place the screen on top and then glue the top foam and make a sandwich.
Place a heavy book over the screen and allow to dry. Once dried, cut the excess screen away and discard.
Step 8: Fit screen to port window
Once the screen is dry, fit it into the window. If it doesn’t fit well and/or bubbles towards you, you might need to trip the sides down. Cut tiny pieces away until the screen fits snuggly.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please leave a comment below 🙂
A checklist to help boaters to better protect and organize their clothes, towels, sheets. Here are eight storage organization options and seven tips for using vacuum storage bags.
Grab yourself a variety pack of Ziploc Space Bags or similar vacuum suction bags (click on the image to view on Amazon). These bags are fantastic. They will allow you to:
Reduce space used.
Provide a waterproof, mold-proof container that can be stored in places that wouldn’t otherwise be acceptable (Putting items in a storage locker or the bilge without vacuuming packing them increases the chances for damp, mold and permanent damaged).
Help to organize seasonal or infrequently used items.
Read below to gain an insight as to how we use vacuum bags for our storage organization…
7 Vacuum Storage Bags Uses on a Boat
Winter versus summer clothes. One set is out and the other set is in a vacuum bag in a storage locker, the bilge, etc. Consider one bag for tops and another another for bottoms or, if you want a bag that covers the time between summer and winter, create an autumn bag for cold nights.
Winter bedding versus summer bedding. Comforters, duvet covers and duvets get swapped can be swapped out for vacuumed bags of sheets and light blankets.
Bedding and towels for guests. If space permits, separate each bed section into one vacuum bag housing the sheets, pillowcases, comforter and bed protector. Vacuum pack the towels for guests and store near the guest bedding.
Spare clothes. If you know you’ll need particular clothes in the future and know you won’t be able to find them, buy now and store in a vacuum pack. For example, bathing suits can be very expensive in touristy locations. Buy a few for the future and keep them clean, waterproofed and mold-proof in a vacuum bag.
Fancy/nice clothes for weddings, posh parties. If you have a hanging wardrobe on your boat, consider getting the Ziploc hanging vacuum bag. This will keep your nice clothes in good condition although they might need an iron before wearing 😉
Unneeded Clothes. If you have clothes that you want to keep safe to give for charity or to hand over to others put them in a vacuum bag. Remember to create a reminder in your calendar so that you dig them out to hand them over when the time is right!
Clothes you want to keep but no longer need. When visitors from home visit you can give them the bag to take back for you – perhaps a winter coat no longer needed or an unused blanket that’s just taking up space. You can also use vacuum bags yourself when traveling to and from the boat.
10 Vacuum Storage Bag Tips
If you don’t have a vacuum there are roll-up bags or bags that you can squeeze the air out of. Vacuum bags, however, are much better to use.
If you can’t find vacuum bags, you can use a quality bag and vacuum the air out. Simply fill the bag, create a tight grip around the vacuum suction unit and then twist the bag before pulling the vacuum out. Secure with any means that keeps the bag suctioned.
Clean items before putting them in the bag and ensure they’re completely dry.
Don’t overfill the vacuum bags as they are more likely to fail (e.g. vacuum seal comes undone and air gets in).
Put a dryer sheet in with the clothes to ensure a good smell when you are ready to use the clothes/sheets again. A natural alternative is a cotton pad with a couple drops of an essential oil.
Consider inserting a Silica-Gel moisture pack to ward off any moisture that might be present or gets in due to a hole/leak.
Keep a list; perhaps in excel, on where you store the vacuum bags in the bilge or storage cupboards. By using excel you can use the search function to lookup where you stored items in storage lockers and under floorboards.
Get a variety of sizes of bags to help fill large and small storage and bilge areas.
Never, ever, ever block the passage of water that needs to run through the bilge.
List the items of what’s inside the vacuum bag. Even if you can see everything you’ll need to know if it’s the starboard forward sheets versus the port forward sheets or how many items of one kind are in a bag (e.g. three white sheets). Use a post-it note or a piece of paper and insert it where it’s easy to see.
Links to products used for storage on Britican
Storage Organization Video by Sailing Britican
If you’re interested in more sailing checklists, take a look at…
Can you add any more organization tips?
If yes, please leave a comment below. We’re always looking for ways to better organize Britican 🙂
When sailing into a marina for a short stay there’s few considerations to make. When making a marina a full-time or long-term hub, however, there’s loads of variables to contemplate. Choosing a marina is not as simple as it might first appear to be. There are good and bad marina’s – read this to make sure you know how to choose a good one!
The considerations for a long-term marina stay all depend on how you plan to use your boat in regards to the marina.
If you’re interested in finding a marina to house your boat full time but want to take the boat out for day trips and the occasional week vacation, there will be a different set of requirements than on plans for living on the boat in a marina full time.
Some boat owners put a boat in a marina and are rarely step foot on it let alone take it out. Others, however, use their boat as a stationary weekend floating vacation home. And there are some that visit the boat as often as possible taking it out as much as possible.
On one hand you have boat owners that just need a place to store the boat and on the other side of the continuum you have boat owners living on the boat!
1. So, step one in choosing a marina is to determine what you’re going to use the marina for.
If you’re just putting the boat in a marina and won’t be staying on it, you won’t care if there’s an overhead flight path, a loud tourist pirate boat exhausting terrible fumes or an annoying smell coming from random directions. However, if you’re going to live on the boat or enjoy the boat (in the marina) those things will be a big issue!
If you’re going to use the boat several times a month to go out and race or explore the area you’ll want a marina that is easy to get in and out of. You might also want quite a few restaurants nearby when the weather is bad and you have to stay put.
And as for liveaboards, there’s a long list of things to find out to ensure that the marina will be suitable. Perhaps there’s the need for clean hot showers, calm waters, quite surroundings, access to close supermarkets and more.
After you know why you’ll be using a marina you can then create a list of questions relevant to your needs.
2. Step two is to research marinas in your preferred area.
The first way to narrow down marinas is to determine what you can and cannot get to. If your keel is deep that might instantly help you to cross a few marina’s off the list. If the conditions to get into the marina are severe – perhaps only at high tide, that might also cause you to scratch it off the list.
Once you narrow down the available marinas then it’s time to get into the nitty gritty and compare and contrast things that are most important to you.
After we purchased our boat in Majorca we sailed her to Gibraltar. When looking for a mooring in Gib we wanted a safe place for our boat for the least cost. Our plan wasn’t to stay on the boat and once we returned we’d be leaving so the ultimate priority was to keep our boat safe and secure.
When we wintered in Marina di Ragusa, Sicily our list of requirements included:
a good price
walking access to supermarkets and restaurants
good showers and facilities
a welcoming live aboard community
When finding a location in America for a long-term stay our first priority was good schools for our daughter. After that we wanted clean facilities, a kind live aboard community and quiet surroundings.
3. Step three is to call the marina and ask as many questions as possible so to determine if the marina is the right marina for you…and if you’re able, visit the marina in person!
When we went to Gibraltar and Marina di Ragusa we didn’t have the ability to visit the marina’s ahead of time. We, however, did loads of research by asking the marina staff loads of questions, doing internet searches on cruising bloggers and visited many sailing groups.
For Charleston Harbor Marina, however, we were able to physically inspect the marina before deciding to stay long term. When we went to the marina office we asked our routine set of questions. My husband and I then walked around to check out the things that were important to us. We looked at the laundry area and the showers and bathrooms. We also walked the docks, looked at available slips and determined what would be best for prominent airflow.
While walking around my husband and I also went up to everyone that looked like they might be a live aboard. Doing so allowed us to ask even more questions. We asked what the level of service was with the marina staff. Additionally, how safe the area was. And whether or not the marina cared if you worked on your boat or not. We’d also ask if the electricity stayed on in addition to having ongoing access to running water.
Hands down you’ll get a far better picture about the marina by talking to tenants rather than the marina staff.
Due to the fact that my family and I have been to hundreds of marina’s over the past several years we’ve seen the worst of the worst and the best of the best. Staying at a bad marina for a couple days is okay. But signing a long-term contract and being ‘stuck’ in a bad marina is not a situation you want to find yourself in. Keep reading below the video to find out what I mean by a ‘Bad’ marina…
Choosing a Marina – Video
What makes a bad marina?
We’ve been to marinas where the docks are breaking apart from the marina (unsafe). There’s no electric, no water and no WIFI. A bad marina will have dirty unkept facilities – perhaps no shower curtains, or hot water, or soap or toilet seats. Syracuse Marina in Sicily comes to mind as I write this list.
Bad marina’s will have major traffic causing waves and massive movement on the boat. Or a bad marina might be one where there’s a constant swell or movement. Movements can cause the boat to make never-ending noises not to mention it’s not good for your rigging!
There are loads of things that can make a marina ‘bad’ in relation to what you want to use the marina for. Make sure to first determine what you want out of a marina. Then research your options and finally do your research.
Here’s over 60 questions to ask a prospective marina…
Would you like to take advantage of our experience on marina’s? Would you like to ask ALL the questions necessary to make an informed choice? If yes, grab a copy of our Boat Owners: Choosing A Marina guide… (Click on the image of the guide below for more information).
Readers of the SailingBritican.com blog often send us questions and a popular one is, ‘What are your top lessons learned sailing?’ Within this article and video, Simon and I discuss five biggies.
This ‘Questions Answered,’ style article and video is a series of other common questions answered. Make sure to also read/watch: – How did you get into sailing? (Q&A Video 1) – Why we sold up and sailed away? (Q&A Video 2) – What it’s like voyaging with kids – homeschooling? (Q&A Video 3) – How we sold up and sailed away? (Q&A Video 4)
So, what are our five lessons learned sailing 18,500 miles?
Watch the video and then for more information and stories read the below article.
Lessons Learned Sailing Video
Lesson #1: It’s okay to make mistakes. In fact, it’s best to get comfortable making them.
If you can’t get over making mistakes you’ll find boating very difficult. We’ve met so many would-be-boaters that took their boat out once or twice only to quit boating after a some small mishap.
Sure, it’s embarrassing hitting a dock, anchoring too close to another boat, hitting a boat, failing to understand how to tie your boat to a dock, running aground, motoring on the wrong side of a shipping channel and, and…
The issue is, however, the only boaters out there enjoying the rewards of boating are those that fall off their horse and get back on (over and over again).
It’s often said that you’re not a boater if you haven’t run aground at least once!
Simon and I have sailed well over 18,500…that figure is just what we’ve done in our current boat over the last three years. In that time we’ve messed up quite a bit. Fortunately all our mess-ups have mostly bruised our ego only.
My worst recollection is when we took our old boat, a Moody 345, into Cowes Yacht Haven in the Isle of White. Cowes is the European sailing mecca. I believe it’s where the World Cup started.
Anyhoo, imagine Simon and I motoring into a VERY busy marina that’s full. We managed to get the last spot. Instead of it being a slip, we were instructed to ‘raft’ onto another boat. I yelled out to Simon, ‘how the heck do we raft?’ I had no clue.
Simon entered the marina where there were gin palaces that seemed three stories high – all occupied by upper-class, wealthy, gin and tonic drinkers. The watchers proceeded to look down upon us as Simon navigated into a DEAD END.
We had to somehow manage to back the boat out of the area we went down. And as many Moody owners will attest, ‘Moody 346’s don’t go backwards!’ Well, Simon managed to go backwards and forwards to do a 251 point K-turn.
Back, forward, back, forward, back, forward…
…And with only 6” to spare in the front and back. It was NUTS. I stood on the bow of the boat holding the bow line thinking, ‘God, please get me out of here.’ I was event temped to just jump in the water and end life.
We got out of the situation but we were still in the fire.
Simon managed to get around the correct corner and thankfully at the very last minute someone walked along the jetty to grab my bow line. I was thinking that I’d have to jump off the bow somehow, not realizing that it’s okay to get on another person’s boat when rafting.
And to make the horrifying experience even worse, when all was said and done I realized the front of my skirt was tucked into my knickers. HOW EMBARRASSING!
I shook for a couple hours while drinking a bottle (not a glass!) of wine.
Anyway – these things happen. If you get too shaken up about it you won’t go out sailing…you’ll spend all the time dreaming, getting the boat and then the boat will end up sitting in the marina.
So, get used to making mistakes. Get used to having your ego bruised. It’s part of the game.
Lesson #2: Servicing and repairs are the norm – expect them!
Everyone and anyone will tell you that boats need constant servicing and repairs. It’s 100% true. Not a day goes by where our servicing and repair list gets smaller. Once one thing is fixed two other breaks.
If you are going to get into boating and have the expectation that the lifestyle requires continues fixing/servicing it will make your life much easier.
When we started out we thought that once we fixed X, Y and Z we’d then be able to ‘enjoy’ the boat. Well, we’re still fixing X, Y and Z and the rest of the whole darn alphabet! Simon and I, however, have learned to laugh about our issues now.
We expect things to break and we now enjoy just getting on with it and fixing things.
Lesson #3: Don’t ever commit yourself to being at a particular place at a set date/time.
When we first started sailing we’d tell friends and family that we’d be in Greece by June or France by September. Not once were we correct in our estimations.
A few times we were caught out and had to sail non-stop for days to make sure we’d be where we said we’d be. Each time we took risks by sailing through storms that we should have avoided.
Lesson learned. We no longer tell people we’ll be anywhere. If anyone wants to fly out to us they need to get in touch a week earlier and then fly to the closest airport. From the airport our friends then need to find a ferry to get to the closest town.
It takes us all day to go the tiniest distance. We’ve learned that people need to find a way to get to us AND when we have guests, if we can’t get them to the airport in time we’re not risking a situation where we’ll sail through a storm.
When sailing there is almost never any certainty. Plans change. The weather gets in the way. Things happen. We learned the hard way…perhaps you’ll take this lesson from us and remember the lesson 😉
Lesson #4: There’s ALWAYS someone around to help when you have a problem.
This lesson kind-of makes ‘Lesson #1: It’s okay to make mistakes?’ a bit easier. No matter what country we’re in and what our situation is, someone is always around to help when we need it.
When our engine cut out in the Solent (one of the busiest waterways in Europe) another boat towed us to a marina. When our generator wouldn’t start, countless engineers/boaters helped to get it started (for free). During the scary situation of getting our main sail stuck up, a boatload of newfound Italian friends borrowed a friends boat and came out to help us get it down. This list goes on and on…
And in turn, we also are there to help other boaters all the time. We’re often helping newbies enter and exit a marina slip, help with anchoring or mooring balls. Simon has been known to retrieve countless run-away fenders, kayaks, hats and occasionally a tender or two.
The sailing community is amazing. Sailors help sailors.
But what we’ve also learned is that everyone we come across is happy to help – sailors and land people (landies). We’ve had several situations where we couldn’t communicate in the local language but that never stopped locals from helping us with all sorts of issues.
By sailing around the world we’ve learned that, despite what the media has to say, people are actually very kind and very helpful.
So…yes, you’ll run into issues. Yes, it’s often embarrassing or difficult to deal with when there’s such uncertainty, HOWEVER, in the end you’ll often find a solution AND make a new friend.
If you’re interested in knowing more about the variety of situations and experiences we went through during our 18,500 miles, please read my book, ‘Changing Lifestyles: Trading in the rat race for a sail around the world.’
Lesson #5: People will tell you you’re crazy and that’s okay.
When we first told friends and family about our sailing around the world plans the majority told us we were nuts. Heck, the Daily Mail in Britian published a few stories about us being the most selfish parents in England.
Looking back, I often felt very hurt by not having support. Simon and I truly felt as if we were on our own. We easily could have broken down and listened to our friends/family and stayed on land but instead we covered our hurt feelings and plodded on.
Now, everyone thinks we made the right decision and I oven overhear friends/family say, ‘I supported them all along! I knew they’d make a success of it.’
People are funny. Anyway, we learned a good lesson. When you go out and do things that are different from the norm, people often react in not-so-supportive ways. But that’s okay ☺
So, there you have it! Our five lessons learned sailing 18,500 miles. What lessons have you learned? Please leave a comment below as we love to hear (and learn) from others too!
What’s the best dinghy anchor? To determine the best dinghy anchor we tested three variations: the folding grapnel anchor, the claw and the Mantus anchor (deemed ‘the best dinghy anchor’).
Allow me show you a picture of each anchor, explain why a sailboat owner would need an anchor for their dinghy, and the results of our anchor tests in dry sand (to show how the anchors worked), wet sand and while in a dinghy anchoring in mud. Towards the end if this blog post you’ll find a video demonstrating our best dinghy anchor tests 😉
The Folding Grapnel Anchor
Click to view on West Marine
The Claw Anchor
Click to view on West Marine
The Mantus Anchor
Click to view on West Marine
Choosing the best dinghy anchor depends on the type of seabed that you’re going to anchor in – whether it’s sand, mud, grass, rock or a mixture. In actuality, not one anchor can handle all situations. Overall, however, the ultimate aim is to keep your dinghy anchor from dragging and potentially losing your dinghy to Poseidon!
But why do sailing cruisers need an anchor for their dinghy?
You might speculate, as I did, that dinghy’s will presumably be dragged up on the beach and/or tied onto a dinghy dock. It’s not a common scene to see an area where dinghies are actually anchored.
However, there are definite times a dinghy owner will need to use the anchor!
While sailing throughout the Caribbean, we usually tied our dinghy to a dinghy dock (rather than pulling it ashore). In addition, we also threw an anchor off the back of the dinghy, getting it to grab and pulling it tight. We did this to prevent the dinghy from smashing into the dock with oncoming waves. Or worse, it was known to happen that dinghies would get stuck under a dock and get jammed with the rising tide!
When Simon and I anchored in Mustique, a private island in the Caribbean, we successfully used the dinghy dock on several occasions. On one dockage, however, we weren’t so successful!
We returned to our dinghy and the starboard inner tube had popped.
Simon and I clambered onto the floating side, motored back to our boat as fast as possible and then hoisted our outboard up before we lost it! Our dinghy was popped by an exposed nail. With the waves bashing the boat against the dock, it was inevitable that a puncture would result. On that occasion we did not use an anchor! You live and learn – eh?
Aside from helping to keep your dinghy away from the punishment of the waves, dinghy anchors can also be used when you can’t pull the boat ashore or tie it to a dock.
When we anchored in a northern bay off the island of Sardinia, west of Italy, we found ourselves unable to beach our dingy and the private dock refused us use. We were with friends and in total had three children and five adults in addition to picnic boxes, water toys, towels and beach matts. Fortunately the owners of the dock let us unload the children, some adults and all our ‘stuff’.
My friends husband and Simon then took the dinghies to a safe area and anchored them in the sand. It wasn’t ideal and those kind of situations didn’t happen often, but they do happen.
Furthermore, when we were in Grand Turks, an island in Turks and Caicos (Caribbean), we wanted to beach our dinghy however the beach was so long there was nothing to tie it to! Eventually we noticed other dinghies that were anchored and simply followed suit.
And what about going out fishing?!
If you want to get to a location where your sailboat won’t take you, you can take your dinghy, throw an anchor off the bow and put your pole in.
So…what is the best dinghy anchor?
Well, if you’re going to anchor in sand or mud, you’ll want something that is pointy, digs in quickly and has enough area to hold rather than pull up the mud and drag.
If you’re going to anchor in rocks, you’ll want something what spreads out and almost wedges itself behind a rock or rocks.
Ideally, it’s worth having a couple anchors if you’ll find yourself in a variety of seabed conditions.
For the past three years we used a folding grapnel anchor.
It folds up, is easy to store and doesn’t weigh more than 4lbs. For the most part, however, it’s a terrible anchor. From time to time it might work in rocks but almost always Simon had to dive down, strategically position the anchor and then push it into the seabed and/or wedge it behind a rock.
On our previous sailboat, we had a claw anchor and that performed well.
But just last week Simon purchased what is being hailed as the best dinghy anchor ever – the Mantus Anchor.
We wanted to test our new anchor and let you see our findings. To get an idea of how the three anchors dragged along the seabed and eventually dug in, Simon, Sienna and I tested the anchors on the dry sand (just to see how they moved), on wet sand (more realistic to actual anchoring situations) and finally we took the anchors out into the Charleston harbor and anchored them in mud.
When we anchored the anchors in the mud, we let out the exact same scoop for every anchor. So, we were in 7’ of water and therefore let out around 30’ of line. For each anchor, we let the tide pull us back until the rope became tight. Simon then put the dinghy into reverse on ‘tick-over’. We then put the dinghy in reverse under substantial revs.
The results of our best dinghy anchor test?!
In last place came the grapnel anchor. It didn’t dig in and dragged no matter what we did to try and get it to bite.
In second place came the claw anchor. This anchor dug in and held the dinghy when we put it in reverse just ticking over. However, when we increased the revs, the anchor pulled put and we dragged with out biting back down. When Simon pulled up the anchor it was caked with mud and therefore would have no chance of digging back in.
In first place was the Mantus anchor. During our dry and wet sand trials we noted that the Mantus anchor digs in almost instantly with the sharp point and the stronger the pull, the more the anchor bites down.
The Mantus anchor not only dug in upon reverse in tick over, this lightweight nicely designed anchor kept us from moving with increased revs. We were not going to move! (Watch video below and then carry on for more information about pricing…)
The Best Dinghy Anchor Video | Sailing Britican
What about pricing?!
Well, as you would expect, the Mantus comes in at a higher price. However, it comes with a high quality bag, an anchor shield (fits over the pointy end), and 50’ of rope.
As far as the grapnel and claw go they are less expensive however are sold without the protector, bag and rope.
My husbands verdict is that we’ll keep our folding grapnel as it doesn’t take up much space anyway. Whenever we need to anchor in rocks it might come in hand. Overall, however, we’re extremely pleased with the Mantus anchor. We look forward to testing out waters in the Caribbean, Pacific and wherever else we sail to 😉
And lets remember that in order to anchor a dinghy you first need to have a dinghy!
What makes someone want to say ‘screw it, I’m trading my life in for a sail around the world?’ In the following video you’ll hear what made my husband and I decided to quite our ‘normal’ life, leave our financially secure set-up and head out into the unknown.
If we can do it, so can you!
Directly below you’ll find our video made over three years and 18,500 miles after we set sail. After the video, you’ll be able to read my thoughts/feelings that I jotted down BEFORE we left.
Why we sold up and sailed away video
October 7th 2013 – before we sold the house, purchased the boat and left land
Have you ever had a situation when things get so bad that you just can’t handle them anymore? You’ve toyed with making a change for years, but never did anything and then one day you feel as if you’re going to burst if something doesn’t change?
Well, I’ve been living like that for years. And ironically, I’ve made massive changes to my life, yet they haven’t been enough. Let me give you a very quick update on where I was, where I am now and how I’m finally saying screw-it. (Keep reading to find out why we sold up and sailed away – perhaps you currently feel similar to how I felt back before the big decision?!)
First I quit my job
In 2011 I quit my job because I was frustrated, exhausted, bored, unchallenged and seriously lacking fulfillment. Furthermore, my health was declining – mentally and physically. Quitting my job was a bit difficult as I owned 50% of the company I worked for, but that’s another story.
Needless to say, I quit my job and decided to find out how to live a more enjoyable journey. Up until then I had controlled, forced, cajoled, and pushed my way through life. If I wanted something I’d go get it regardless to whether the journey or the final destination was enjoyable.
If the journey isn’t good then the destination won’t be rewarding either
Thankfully I woke up and realized that if the journey isn’t good then the destination won’t be rewarding either. This whole idea of working hard until your 65 and then you can relax is a total joke. Everyone I’ve met that worked hard either dies once they retire or loses their sense of purpose and falls into deep depression. And then they wonder why they spent years being miserable!
Not for me. No way. I took a jump off the end of the rat race pier. Are you wondering what happened once I did?
I quit the rat race and then found true happiness – errrrr, not really!
Well, I’d love to say that my life become fun, enjoyable and full of great experiences but it didn’t. Just because you change the scenery YOU don’t change. The grass is not greener anywhere – no matter how hard you look! I thought that if I removed the thing that made me so miserable, my job, that I’d instantly be happy. Not the case.
It took a while, but I eventually realized that I had to change me. I had to change what I thought about me, my life, the world and my relationship with me, my life and the world. What a growth spurt. An emotional journey that lead to some low lows and some high highs. That’s another story too.
I want fulfillment with my life!
After quite some time, I eventually leveled out a bit. I understood more about who I was, what I wanted and how I wanted to go forward through the rest of my life. My main objective was to enjoy the journey – to increase my overall fulfillment of life.
Thankfully, I’ve made quite a bit of progress but it seems like the more I learn about me, the more I realize that I’m not in the right place doing the right things.
Doing the right things for the wrong reasons?
I started my company in 2004 because I wanted to get rich and I also wanted to be a writer. Rather than write a book or take up journalism I instead started my own company. I was told throughout school that I was a good writer but had no clue about grammar or spelling. I mistakenly thought that I could never be a writer. Starting my own company would allow me to write because I’d be the one who ‘okays’ it. Funny way of thinking – isn’t it?
So I end up starting a finance company. Did I mention that I’m not good a math either and as far as finance is concerned I’m really not interested in it (other than having lots of money). So – I go way out of my way to have the ability to write. After 8 years, I find myself burned out and miserable. On the positive side, the company enabled me to write everything – the website, promotional materials, guides and I even published quite a few books! That led to me writing for many popular magazines. By the time I left I’d been published in over 50 publications including the NY Times, Times and loads of magazines.
By now, I figured it all out – errrr, not really!
So you’d think that I’d quite my job and then become a writer – yes? No. I’m not a writer. I can’t really write that well…but I do love writing! So once I left my job I started a couple blogs (for fun) and then offered management consultancy and started a couple more companies. I bombed at the consultancy – couldn’t handle it. It was too much like working at my company. As for the companies I started, they were and still are interesting but there’s no real challenge. I’ve realized that just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean that you need to do it for the rest of your life.
For the past 2 years I’ve bumbled around doing this and that. For the most part, I’ve really worked on getting myself into a better place. I’ve learned so much about me. And I’ve learned to like who I am. Previously I wouldn’t even look in the mirror at myself – I was too ugly and unworthy.
Here comes the screw it part (almost)!
So, as the title suggests, I’ve finally said screw it. The pain has now become too much for me to bare. I’ve lived a life I thought I was suppose to live based on my past conditioning and now that I’ve taken time out to figure out who I am it’s time to really change.
What about sailing? Where’s that fit in?
Just a little bit more background. For fun, I love to sail. I’m not the best sailor in the world and I do get sea sick. However, for the past 15 years I’ve going on a sailing holiday most years and every time we’ve had to return home I’ve cried. In 2011 we purchased a Moody 346 yacht and I would rather be on that then doing anything else.
Stating that, sailing is fun – it’s a hobby. My dream has been to sail around the world but it’s only a dream. It’s what you tell people when they ask you what you’d do if you won the lottery. It’s not something you actually ever do – is it?
SCREW IT, SCREW IT, SCREW IT!!!
So this is where the screw it comes in. For all my life I wanted to be a writer and for a huge chunk of my life, I’ve enjoyed sailing. I’m not attached to my house (or the things in it), I think the amount of commercialism in the world is distracting us from what’s most important and I’m craving homemade food from local sources. So…logically, what should I do?
Yep – I’m selling everything I have, buying the biggest yacht I can afford and setting sail with my husband and 3 year old daughter. And although I’m not a writer, I’m going to write. I’m going to write about my adventures, my doubts, my fears, my successes, my learning lessons and even some practical tips for those that want to say ‘screw-it’ too. YIKES. I’m scared but excited but scared but excited.
I’m very scared. I’m very excited….
To read about the Captain (my husband) our Deck hand (my daughter) and me, go to The Crew.
The next article is: That’s it – I’m selling everything and sailing around the world!
Or…if you’d like to carry on reading all about our journey from selling up and sailing away, you can purchase my book, ‘Changing Lifestyles – Trading the Rat Race in For A Sail Around The World,’ (click the link to find out more…) The book will take you step by step through the blog articles. You can grab a beer, pour yourself a glass of wine or get a nice coffee/tea and curl up with a book or digital version to enjoy all in one go. Otherwise, navigating around to 300 articles can become quite a task!
A gelcoat repair on a boat can be inexpensive and easy. Here you’ll find step-by-step instructions and a video on how to use a gelcoat repair kit to make a nick, scratch or chip disappear.
Gelcoat Repair Kit Instructions
Clean the damaged area using acetone to eliminate dirt, grease and wax. Make sure to avoid getting acetone on the non-damaged area. If possible, tape up the area not damaged.
Squeeze the polyester resin gel into a plastic mixing cup.
For colored gelcoat put a small amount of base color into the gel. Keep adding until the desired color is obtained. Mix thoroughly.
Once mixed, add 4 drops of hardener for every teaspoon of blended gelcoat paste (or as per the directions provided on from the manufacturer). Mix thoroughly.
Having around 15 minutes before the gelcoat hardens, apply the mixture to the damaged area. Use a mixing stick or flat surface to smooth the gelcoat.
Lay a piece of plastic film or wax paper over the repair area. Ensure that there are no air bubbles.
After one hour, remove the wax paper.
Sand repaired area with wet 600-grit sandpaper and buff with a fine polishing compound and wax.
Note: that we used the West Marine Gelcoat Repair Kit when making our repairs. At the time of the repair it cost us $34.99 and we were very pleased with the results.
Gelcoat Repair Tips
Make sure to do your gelcoat repair on a day with low winds. Various chemicals have to be mixed and wind will easily cause them to fly off the boat. The mixture is goopy and it could be inadvertently blown onto undamaged areas of the boat. Furthermore, wax paper will blow away in windy conditions.
Before mixing the chemicals, open each item and inspect them. In some cases, you’ll need scissors to cut a tube end off or a pin to poke through a tube.
Try your best to match the color of the hull or gelcoat but remember that over time the area will match better once exposed to the weather.
Some of the chemicals in gelcoat are extremely dangerous. Make sure to dispose carefully of any leftovers and ensure that unused portions are kept away from children.
Gelcoat Repair Video
Stories of gelcoat mishaps
First, before I let you in on our gelcoat mishaps it’s important to know what gelcoat actually is! So…gelcoat is the outermost structural layer on a fiberglass boat hull, designed to protect the underlying fiberglass layers. Gelcoat is a compound that produces a high-quality finish on fiberglass surfaces and incorporates epoxy, polyester resin, a catalyst, and other chemicals to achieve its strength and water-resistant properties. When dried, gelcoat combines with fiberglass to produce a smooth and durable surface that retards hull weakening from water intrusion and ultraviolet light.
So on with some gelcoat stories….
When Simon and I were Sailing around Rethymno Crete (island in the south Mediterranean) we had a heck of a time docking the boat. There were no marina attendants available, it was windy and there was a massive lack of working ‘lazy lines’ or ropes used to secure the front of the boat.
Traditionally, in the Mediterranean, boaters back the boat up to a jetty affixing two stern warps to the dock and one lazy line to the bow. Unfortunately for us, it took a while to find a lazy line and once we did it was so large that I couldn’t lift it!
If you’ve never used a lazy line, they’re found by pulling up a small rope attached to the jetty that often leads to a larger rope anchored by concrete on the sea floor (in front of the bow of the boat). To grab the rope, you’ll need to use a pole, pull the rope up and then quickly walk to the bow of the boat pulling more and more rope up as you progress.
After a 45 minute struggle and some help from a neighboring boat, we managed to secure Britican.
We learned about comradeship amongst sailors that day as our neighbors worked hard to help us. Our experience wasn’t, however, without mishap. Unfortunately the stern bottom of the hull scrapped the dock. There was a tiny bit of damage. For us it physically hurts when we see our boat get scratched or nicked. It’s like watching your child fall and not being able to catch them before they hit the ground.
Errrr, actually, I think it’s worse.
Usually with a child the body will heal itself. With a boat, the miracle of cellular rejuvenation doesn’t exist 🙁
Within a week, the damage was fixed by our dear friend, Admiral Stefano. Stefan Stefano flew over the Crete to help us sail the boat back to Sicily. Lucky for us, he had done many gelcoat repairs in the past so he offered to do the fix. After Stefano worked his magic it was impossible to find the area that was previously damaged.
Another story is about how I managed to nick the bow of the boat with the anchor (twice!).
While anchoring in a very turbulent bay the anchor started swinging too much and hit the hull – twice. When I saw the damage I wanted to die. Instantly, I thought, ‘Great – there’s another ££££’ For months I simply ignored the damage and secretly hoped the gelcoat ferries would appear or cellular rejuvenation would kick in and fix the issue.
And then there was the episode where a crew member was on the boom tightening a reefing line and a tool dropped onto the coach roof putting a nice tiny nick in the gelcoat. Every time something like this happens I feel so sick. There’s the cosmetic damage, the unknown cost associated with fixing it and the knowledge that you may just have to live with it.
For about a year Simon and I avoided looking at the small but annoying damaged spots. Since the Admiral did the original gelcoat repair we didn’t know how to do it ourselves.
I find that Simon and I avoid things that we don’t know how to do.
It’s so hard to learn things for the first time. Especially when you know the result won’t be perfect. Sure, we are often outside our comfort zone and trying new things. For some reason, however, with these gelcoat repair jobs we just didn’t want to make a hash of it.
Finally the day came where the weather conditions were right and we had a gelcoat repair kit. Not only did Simon give it a go, he let me video him. I suppose the pain of things gets to a point where we think, ‘who cares…I’m going to go for it and if it’s crap, so be it.’
If you look very hard you can see the repair job…
Well… Simon and I were both surprised at how easy and inexpensive it was for us to repair the gelcoat.
The kit cost $34.99 and it took around one hour to learn, mix and apply the gelcoat and another hour to sand and polish the repaired area.
In the end the fix isn’t perfect but it’s not bad. In fact, I have to work hard to find the once damaged area.
The important lesson that we learned (once again) is to not be afraid of doing things. It’s okay to be imperfect. It’s okay to learn…
No longer do we have to avoid looking at our damaged areas. A 1 ½ hour job removed a bit of weight and anger I had hovering over my shoulders.
Do you have any tips on gelcoat repairs? If yes, please add a comment below so we can all benefit.
What’s it like to sail around the world with a child or children? What happens with education? What’s the scoop with voyaging with kids?
When we tell someone that we’re in the process of sailing around the world, the person often has many questions. When we tell someone that we have a six-year-old daughter there’s usually one main question. That question is, ‘what do you do about your daughters education?’
Voyaging with Kids – Homeschooling
The quick answer is homeschooling.
Our daughter, Sienna, is just like any of the other 1 1/2 million kids in America currently being taught at home. The long answer is that we also make use of traditional schools when the opportunity presents itself.
For example, while we wintered in the Mediterranean in Sicily for six months, Sienna went to an Italian pre-school. She was 4 at the time. And for the past year, while we’ve been preparing for our next leg of the trip – heading out into the Pacific, Sienna has been going to 1st grade in Charleston, South Carolina.
Homeschooling, for us, consists of curriculum-based workbooks, project based learning (which this video will demonstrate for you) and loads of experiential learning.
What I mean by experiential learning is that Sienna learns whenever the opportunity presents itself.
And those opportunities are often. For example, when we see a whale, we pull out our book on whales and learn about what they eat, how large they grow and what we can do to ensure their environment thrives. When we climb up a volcano we later reflect back on an iPad app that lets us climb inside the volcano to find out how it’s actually functioning.
What I’ve come to realize with homeschooling, and voyaging with kids in general, is that it’s not a 8 to 3 job or something that necessarily gets done within a few hours. Homeschooling, for us, is a lifestyle. We’re always guiding and teaching and I have to say that Sienna is often guiding and teaching us too.
The above video that I’ve created for you to watch will hopefully give you an example of how we allow Sienna to choose her own projects and then guide her on them.
And just before I get started, a bit of background.
Sienna and I decided to make fake Playdough cookies to sell to the boats in our area. We went as far as creating the cookies, making a promotional video to share and drawing up a sign. Once were finished Sienna asked me if she could make real cookies and sell them for real money.
One thing led to another and Simon and I found ourselves mentoring a 6 year old on how to start her first company.
What I love about project-based learning is that it’s play for the student. Sienna didn’t realize that we were making sure she did her writing, spelling, math, reading, and so forth. She just thought she was starting a business…So, I’ll leave you with that. Watch the video and find out whether a profit was made or not!
One last note – Sienna also wants her own YouTube channel.
I have mixed feelings about that. But it’s important to realize that on top of learning her age appropriate academics, Sienna is also learning about business and social media.
My hope with the video above is to perhaps provide entertain as Sienna is a natural entertainer. But to also inspire you if you’re thinking of doing a long-term trip with your child or children or even grandchildren.
There are no rules. The limitations we live by are in place because we put them there… So…on with the show.
If you prefer to read rather than watch the video, allow me to describe the journey we took with Sienna’s business creation. The above is the script I used to create the introduction to our Voyaging with kids – Homeschooling project but the below is off script.
Sienna decided that she wanted to sell real cookies for real money.
Previous to Sienna’s decision we role-played with Playdough. Sienna made Playdough cookies, created an advert displaying the name of the company, a logo/picture of the product and the cost. Sienna also made a short video explaining the benefits of the product in addition to the cost.
After spending several hours role-playing Sienna, Simon and I started to discuss what it would take to sell real cookies. Within a couple days of the initial brainstorm, Sienna and Simon went to a café for WIFI to find the best cookie recipe.
A recipe for chocolate chocolate chip cookies was found and a list of ingredients was created. Thus far Sienna has had to use the following skills (to name a few): reading, research, writing, decision-making…
With the list of ingredients in hand, Simon took Sienna to the store to buy everything she needed.
A loan was granted for Sienna to get her set up but the money would be paid back over time.
Once Sienna was back on the boat I helped her get organized. We laid all the ingredients out on the table and discussed what everything was. She was excited to taste the various raw ingredients – especially the coco. And of course, I was eager to see her reaction!
Sienna and I followed the recipe and tasted most items as we went along. She was surprised with the taste of the coco, vanilla extract and backing soda. Sienna certainly learned an important lesson that ingredients, alone, might not taste very good but when you add them together not only do they change shape and consistency but they also form to create something worthy of taste sensations.
Once the cookies were done we extended our R&D (research and development) to include Charleston Harbor Marina ‘B Dock’ testers. Sienna notified a few of our neighbors that ‘tasters’ were required. Within minutes we had three boats and five people for the tasting session.
The vote was unanimous – the cookies were excellent.
Sienna and I then tallied up all the costs of making the cookies and estimated the actual cost of each cookie. We came up with the figure of 30 cents per cookie. We then designed the packaging. Sienna thought the cookies would look best wrapped in a light plastic back with a gold twist-tie (not silver!). We also created a card using printable business cards listing Sienna’s company name, Sienna’s Sweets,’ in addition to instructions on how to reorder and how to follow our blog.
Once the cookies were all packaged up, Simon spent an hour role-playing how to deal with orders, take money and offer change. It was an excellent way for Sienna to understand how to make change and work with American currency. She also started to gain a perspective on how much work is involved to create an income. And then how much money it takes out of the income to pay for new ingredients. Finally, what profits are left over to spend on something she wants.
Sienna’s goal was to achieve $400 to put towards a trip to the Harry Potter attraction in Florida.
We discussed the importance of also ‘giving back’ and charity so Sienna decided that 10% of profits would go to the local animal shelter.
With a basket full of cookies and her change purse Sienna went to an Oyster Festival put on by the resort we’re currently berthed at. Within five minutes she sold out making over $64.00 for 20 cookies. Many people offered her money and told her to keep the cookie, which was interesting (I’m still trying to figure out what lesson I need to extract from that…help!)
All in all, however, she experienced success.
We took around $20 from the proceeds to buy a few more ingredients and the business moves on.
Reflecting back over the process, the whole family enjoyed working on the project. Sienna had loads of support and learning lessons. And it was very interesting to watch Sienna think of marketing ideas and extra profit earners. For example, she thought it would be a good idea to make coffee on the boat and invite customers to eat on our back deck. Sienna also offered a boat delivery service for $1 delivery charge.
Sienna’s Sweets is still going but interest has waned somewhat.
Sienna probably needs to sell cookies at eight more events and I’m not sure if a six-year-old has the tenacity to keep going. I’ll do my best to push her along but on the other hand I don’t want her to become disengaged. I don’t want her to be put off by real work. Am I being too protective?! I mean she is only six-years-old!!
Looking back I think it would have been better if I guided her to select a goal with a lower price point? Perhaps instead of $400 I could have suggested $100. And then Sienna could have gone to the store and spent a bit of profit more immediately. Then again, our world is already too focused on instant gratification. Perhaps the higher amount and longer journey is better?!
The project has thus far lasted over three weeks. We’ve concentrated our efforts in bursts of one to two hour time slots. Around the dinner table we discuss ideas. But we’ve discovered it’s good to do a little work, get something finished and then let that sit for a while before moving on to the next step.
The project flowed very well and Sienna benefited academically, socially, mentally and more.
Furthermore it was great to do something as a family.
So…when voyaging with kids, education is an interesting topic. There are families that work solely with company supplied curriculums. And then there are families that don’t have any formal education guidelines knowing that their child or children will simply learn by life itself.
But voyaging with kids isn’t just about education!
Gosh – there’s loads that needs to be considered and I’m definitely not the best person (or only person) to learn from. My friend Behan Gifford co-wrote an excellent book titled ‘Voyaging with Kids – A Guide to Family Life Afloat. If you have children and are going to sail/live on a boat, this is a must have guide:
Getting seasick is horrible. I know because I’m a sufferer. Even after living and cruising full time on a sailboat since 2014 I still have episodes where I turn green and have to use some sort of seasick remedy. Listed below is everything I’ve ever tried and/or have given to crew members afflicted with the debilitating issue.
The best thing to do about seasickness is to prepare for it to happen
Some drugs and tablets can be taken before a trip. Others can be used when the symptoms of seasickness presents itself. Sometimes particular remedies will work in certain conditions and sometimes they won’t.
It’s also possible for some seasickness remedies to create other issues – perhaps side effects that are far worse. For example, when I crossed the Atlantic Ocean (18 days of nonstop sailing and swells) I took a drug for nine days. On the 9th day my ears plugged up. I then developed an earache that was excruciatingly painful. After that, I used the chemical patch to reduce my various bouts with nausea and dizziness but that left a rash on my skin for over three months!
The next thing to do is to get a few different remedies and try them out
Start with natural seasick remedies as they are least likely to have harmful side effects. Furthermore, it’s important to realize that seasickness will reduce over time. Once your body gets used to being on a boat it will improve. When I first started out, I puked every trip. Now, I no longer puke at all and I often won’t feel sick unless I’m in a side to side motion swell. Perhaps when I’m 80 I’ll be rid of seasickness once and for all?!
Seasickness Food Products
For me, I often chew quite a bit of gum. For some reason it settles my stomach. Hard candies also work well.
Whenever I feel seasick or car sick I rub the points on my wrist that are supposed to alleviate motion sickness. I find that it works for a few minutes and can often ward off vomiting but it doesn’t miraculously make me feel better. I do have the watch listed here but it’s one of the last things on my list to try…I’m’ afraid to try it and fail so I just keep it in my jewelry case for the day when I am truly desperate. I will eventually test it out!
With aromatherapy I find that it either works or it makes the situation far worse. I tried the Quease Ease and it almost made me puke instantly. For me, strong smells are not a good thing when I’m feeling ill. I have, however had friends where aromatherapy worked very well.
Natural Pills and Patches
Note that these patches are not the drug patch, otherwise referred to as Scopolamine. These are natural remedies. Ginger has always worked for me. Every morning I have a ginger pill and on the days when I forget to take it I don’t fair very well. By far, ginger has been a fantastically inexpensive and natural remedy that I swear by.
Regarding Scopolamine – Call your doctor to request a prescription if in the USA or Canada. In Europe it can be purchased at most drugstores/pharmacies over the counter. Otherwise, here are the common seasickness drugs that are available at any drug store.
Other options worth considering
I haven’t tried the head rest thing yet but I’m certainly going to give it a go. When I feel sick my head gets heavy so this might just help by keeping my head up! For that price, however, I went a head rest and an massive improvement in my overall condition. Regarding the Louise Hay Book, it has some affirmations that you can use for seasickness and motion sickness. And the copper bracelets – again, some people swear by them! Whatever works…If someone told me to hand a potato around my neck I’d give it a try!
Seasickness remedies for children
My daughter has been sailing since she’s been one year old. At first she wasn’t affected at all. As she got older I noticed that she’d get seasickness the first day we sailed if there had been quite a bit of time between sails. What usually happened is that she’d puke for the first day but after that she’d be fine. Hyland’s Motion Sickness Relief Tablets worked well. And sleep is a good remedy too!
Sailors are more apt to get seasickness if they’re dehydrated. And once someone is sick dehydration becomes a massive issue. It’s bad enough to feel motion sickness but by adding dehydration to your situation you’ll want to die. Avoid this at all costs!
If you’ve ever tried something that’s not listed here and it’s worked for you, please add a comment below letting us know about it. I’m always on the search for new seasickness remedies.
And if you’re very serious about preparing for and dealing with seasickness, for yourself and your family/crew, consider purchasing my guide on Seasickness.
The objectives of my Preparing for Seasickness guide are to:
explain how to prepare for someone getting seasick – It’s going to happen!
help you and your crew/guests understand the symptoms of seasickness so measures can be taken to mitigate affects
highlight ways that seasickness can be prevented or stalled
list several remedies available that can be instigated before or during a seasickness episode
Questions & Answers: How we sold up and sailed away. What sequence of events happened that caused us to sell all our possessions and buy a yacht to sail around the world in? Looking back, over three years now, you can read exactly what happened and how I felt. Read Negotiations 56 Oyster Yacht have finished but not without massive pain. That article was written back in October 2013!
Since then we’ve sailed over 18,500 miles around the Mediterranean, crossed the Atlantic Ocean, sailed the Caribbean and are currently preparing to head towards the Pacific Ocean.
How we sold up and sailed away – Video
Selling up and sailing away certainly isn’t for someone with a medium interest in sailing
To get out on the sea you might have to move heaven and Earth – your passion for the lifestyle must be huge. The process might be overwhelmingly stressful. But as described in our video, if you really make your mind up and go for it anything can happen – and boy, can it happen fast.
Are you ready to sell up and sail away?
If yes, check out my pre-boat owner collection that will assist you with setting goals, viewing boats to buy and fully understanding how much it costs to buy, own and maintain a boat.