Top 12 Day Trips – Visiting Sicily in the Winter

Over the past several days I’ve been crafting this article and it has taken quite a bit of time to pull out photos, write descriptions and relate personal stories. At first, I thought that my top 12 day-trips to take when visiting Sicily in the winter, would be quick and easy but it’s turned into quite a long piece.

I’ve broken the article down into two separate posts so the following information contains the first five day-trips

And before I begin, I must admit that it would be impossible for me to list the following day trips on some sort of scale. Every day trip is special in its own right so realize that each destination is special and deserves equal consideration.

Right…let’s begin – Visiting Sicily in the winter

If you’ve never been to Sicily before you might assume that it’s a small island. The most common comment we hear from friends visiting is, ‘Wow – I didn’t realize Sicily was so big!’

So…if you think you can see Sicily in a day, a week or even a month, you’re wrong

Being the largest island in the Mediterranean, the island stretches 160 miles east to west and 110 miles north to south

There are a few motorways however the bulk of the road system is country roads – filled with some of the 5 million crazy Italian drivers!

During our around-the-world sailing tour, been fortunate to stay in anchorages and moorings along the southeast and east coast of Sicily, with a six-month winter stay in Marina di Ragusa. Read Marina di Ragusa Sicily Marina Review – Winter Season

During our amazing time in Sicily, we’ve enjoyed the following top day-trips. Once again, please note that there is no order to this list.

1. Ragusa – Ibla, Sicily, Italy

For months I drove within close proximity to Ragusa Ibla visiting the ‘new town’ of Ragusa missing out on Ibla or the ‘old town.’ The new town has Lidl (discount grocery store), Decathalon (sports shop), Brico (Hardware store), some shopping malls and a small shopping area, or high street.

Along the high street there’s a tiny Asian supermarket. I mention this tid-bit as it’s impossible to get curry paste, noodles or Asian spices in the regular grocery stores in Italy. If you’re in need of a curry fix, the high street in Ragusa is the place to stop! The store is the size of a postage stamp but it provides many of the Patak curry pastes, noodles, coconut milk and dry herbs.

Moving on…from a distance, the old town stands out on a hilltop peninsula offering the common sight of Baroque styled buildings found in the region. Week after week, I’d say to hubby, ‘we really need to visit Ibla as it’s only 20km away!’

Finally, the day came for a family outing to Ragusa. My husband, Simon, my 4-year old daughter, Sienna, and I caught a bus from Marina di Ragusa and headed into Ragusa. To our delight, an Australian man, who lived in the area since the 70’s, gave us the in’s and out’s about the land, crops, history and interesting facts during our half-hour journey.

We had our own bus tour guide!

Upon arrival to Ragusa, we had to do our errands and get some passport photo’s taken. Afterwards, we could explore.

Walking from Ragusa to Ibla seemed impossible

Not feeling confident, neither Simon nor I would ask anyone how to get to the ‘old town.’ We walked around aimlessly looking for the ‘old town,’ but couldn’t figure it out. And we couldn’t find a bus to get there either!

After a mini-shouting match, and a meltdown from my daughter (yelling, ‘my feet are tired’) we finally went to a fruit stand and asked for directions. In sincere Sicilian fashion, the fruit stand owner closed up his shop, told us (with hand motions) to get in his car, and drove us to Ibla – the old town.

Through windy roads and massive inclines we arrived at a breathtakingly beautiful piazza

Later I was told that there’s a walk-way/stair-way from the new to the old down. Perhaps before you visit you can get a map?!

And as usual for us, we entered the town center during siesta time – everything was shut. That being noted, it was brilliant to explore the town alone. Aside from a few people walking with purpose we had a wonderfully quiet and peaceful bumble around.

There were no tourists, no open shops and no noise

My family and I breathed in the sights, smelled amazing aromas wafting from restaurant back doors and absorbed the damp, ancient, unsettled feeling from the narrow cobblestone streets. After the famous earthquake of 1693, half the population chose to rebuild on the ridge above (Ragusa) and the other half chose to renovate the old village (Ibla).

While walking around we noticed terracotta roof-tiled buildings, the Duomo at the heart of the town and a few Baroque facades. There’s also the portal to a pre-quake cathedral that still remains.

Eventually we ducked into the one open café and enjoyed some Italian delights – pizza and cannoli’s. We wanted to trial Ibla’s famous wine ice cream from a nearby parlor however our stomachs were too full. Perhaps next time?

Click on a photo and you can see an enlarged view. You can also hit the arrow on the right, once enlarged, to scroll through all the photos.

2. Punta Secca, Sicily, Italy

Just a bicycle ride down from Marina di Ragusa, you’ll find Punta Secca. If you’re an Inspector Monteblano fan (popular Sicilian TV drama), this is a definite costal spot to visit. Apparently, you’ll find the Inspectors home in addition to his coffee shop in Punta Secca.

When we first arrived to Marina di Ragusa I purchased the Inspector Monteblano DVD box set (ordered it in the UK and had it sent down to Italy) but I’m sad to say that our social life at the marina has kept us from watching any of the series.

Perhaps when we’re sailing in the Pacific I’ll have more free time?

Anyway, the bicycle ride along the coast is spectacular! There’s rugged rocks, wonderful sea views and interesting bushes, shrubs and flowers. Upon arrival to the small town, we found a lighthouse, coffee shop and several small little cafes and restaurants. The town also offers views of a tiny fishing marina.

Ironically, we ran into the our French neighbor

After four months of being next-door (or shall I say ‘next-boat’) neighbors, we sat down and enjoyed a cup of coffee together. Never before had we spent time actually getting to know each other. Up until then we’d always say ‘hi’ and ‘goodbye’ but due to language differences we never had much of a conversation.

It’s funny how things happen like that – isn’t it? We all enjoyed our drinks, had light conversation and then we went back to our explorations. During the winter the coast road was quiet, the town was calm and the views (on a sunny day) are spectacular.

3. Scicli, Sicily, Italy

Similar to Ragusa, Ibla we drove past Scicli (pronounced, Shickley) several times. When driving to the town you can see it from the roadside and the view is spectacular. There are churches dotted around and a massive cemetery with mausoleum after mausoleum (the Sicilian’s don’t bury their dead in the ground).

My husband, a dear friend, and I took the morning off and did a bit of walking around Scicli one day. While my daughter was in school we played hooky! After a coffee, Italian pastries and a pleasant chat, the three of us walked around the back streets, climbed a hilltop trail and enjoyed the views.

While walking around, my friend, Angelina, said, “I must show you the storm drain – it’s the largest drain I’ve ever seen.”

We walked some more and when we came upon the drain I was in awe. I did take a picture, but I’ll let you find it for yourself. After seeing the drain I assumed that some serious water must filter through the town during storms.

During a second visit, we managed to get caught in a rainstorm!

The streets filled with water and there was no way you could walk or even drive through the flash flood. I wasn’t near the drain to see how high the water rose but I’m sure it looked like a raging river!

Check out some of the snaps I took in Scicli – obviously, there’s much more to see than the storm drain! It’s well worth a visit – there are some nice restaurants, bars, coffee and sweet’s shops! On my Facebook page, you can watch a video of Scicli (new window will pop up) too!

4. Catania, Sicily, Italy

Of the cities I’ve been fortunate to explore, my favorites include San Francisco, London and Catania – yes, Catania is on my list of most loved cities! When we first arrived in Sicily, a year ago, we spent a couple weeks getting repairs done in Catania.

And since our long stay we’ve been back to Catania (by car) more than ten times!

Fortunate for us, we made friends with some lovely Italians/Sicilians that live in Catania so we were able to enjoy non-touristy eateries, local ‘tours.’

For example, I know about the man-hole cover that can be removed and fished from – apparently, a fresh water river runs under the city and locals know how to catch fish from it! My family and I have had the opportunity to try horsemeat – marinated in a traditional sauce and grilled over an open flame (It was amazing). We’ve also enjoyed ducking into old buildings and have been given a personal guided tour on the architecture, uses and current standing of a variety of places!

But regardless as to whether or not you get a local tour of Catania, the city is amazingly beautiful

The churches are ornate, the university buildings are seeped in history and the main road leading up to Mount Etna is special.

When I first walked around the city I saw quite a bit of graffiti, grim and dirt but after several days my first observations changed. The graffiti and dirt seemed to fade away and I saw the city with new eyes. Catania is like nothing I’ve seen before – it has a special feel to it…a feel I enjoyed feeling over and over!

Here are some of my photo’s from Catania:

5. Mount Etna

You can see Catania and Mount Etna in the same day however it’s a LONG day. I would suggest a couple day trips to Catania or a weekend stay. We’ve been up the volcano a few times now and each time has been a different experience.

The first time we ventured to the lookout point was in April and there was no snow. It was numbing cold and extremely windy but no sign of the white stuff. At the lookout point you can opt to take a gondola to a higher lookout point or walk around and spend time in a massive crater.

The gondola ride was around 80 euros each so we decided the view we had was good enough. There’s no way to get to the actual summit so the need to be higher with a lighter wallet didn’t appeal to us.

The key to seeing Etna is getting a day when the sun is out and there are limited clouds. More times than not, Catania is covered in clouds, so if you take the curvy road up, you’ll get out and view clouds rather than the city, sea and awesome valley.

One time during February, we went up and couldn’t get to the lookout point – the road was covered in snow. We couldn’t see anything either. That being noted, we had a great snowball fight and enjo

Marina di Ragusa Sicily Marina Review Winter Season

After spending six months in Marina di Ragusa Sicily living aboard our boat, I have quite a bit of feedback about the marina and surrounding area. Please note, however, that this marina review is about ‘wintering’, or staying put in the marina for the full winter season (October to April). More about Marina die Ragusa Sicily review winter season…

It’s not about Marina di Ragusa during the summer, which from what I’ve been told, is a whole different kettle of fish

Apparently, during the summer months, the prices go up, the beaches are jam-packed and there’s lines at every café, restaurant and bar. During the winter, MdR is inexpensive, the beaches are calm and there is never a queue at the café’s!

That being noted, my overall experience of Marina di Ragusa will most definitely be remembered as one of my life-time highlights

I’ve never met such a wonderful community of caring, kind, open-minded and helpful people EVER. I’ve never spent six months in such a lovely surrounding – with beautiful beaches, amazing food and memorable experiences.

Marina di Ragusa

Usually, on my marina reviews I go through a similar format detailing customer service, facilities, noise levels, community, surrounding area and so forth but for this review I felt compelled to do a brain dump about the positives and negatives of Marina di Ragusa. There’s so much to say…that I had to just let it dump from my head (and heart) onto the page.

And speaking of ‘negatives’ – the positives far outweighed them!

So…if you’re surveying all the possible ‘wintering’ spots in the Mediterranean – perhaps you’re considering Malta, Crete, Turkey, Greece, Spain, Portugal… Well, here’s my account of Marina di Ragusa Sicily. Maybe this will help you make a decision?!

The positives of Marina di Ragusa

– Safe, secure, sheltered mooring. The pontoon and lazy-lines are well maintained. There is very little surge within the harbor and only when the wind is seriously blowing does the boat move around.

– Great facilities: clean modern bathrooms with hot showers, meeting rooms, café, restaurant, office/services (car hire, etc.), laundry, gym, chandlery, shops.

Marina di Ragusa Sicily

– Excellent customer service – office attendants were very kind, courteous, and quick to help with any matter. Marina technicians were fast to act when issues arise. For example, when the power went off on our pontoon, a technician would arrive in minutes to find a solution.

– Clean and tidy pontoons, boardwalks and common areas – flowers, palm tree’s and well maintained walkways.

– Cost for ‘wintering’ was very competitive with the rest of the Mediterranean.

Marina di Ragusa Sicily

– The weather during the winter in Sicily – well…that’s a difficult one. We just lived through what’s been noted as the worst winter in 50 years. We’ve had a lot of rain and wind. And from time to time we get the winds from the Sahara desert that drop red sand all over the boat. That being said, when the sun does come out and the wind stops, people are often in t-shirts. It seems like the weather is good up to December and then January through March it’s cold, wet and windy more so than sunny and calm.

– The social opportunities within the live-aboard community were amazing. Every morning at 9am a VHF radio broadcast went out announcing weather reports, social activities, items wanted or for sale and any other business. And if there were any medical or safety emergencies they were discussed and dealt with quickly.

Marina di Ragusa

– Social activities, all arranged by the live-aboards, included two weekly happy hours (starting at 6pm at the Stellar Bar and/or Marina Bar), happy hookers (knitting, crochet, craft morning), writers circle, coffee afternoons, Tai Chi on the beach, Yoga, fitness instructors, running, planned trips (to Ragusa, Catania, festivals), olive picking trips, pot luck, pizza and movie nights in addition to weekly talks on photography, diesel engine maintenance, cruising around Turkey and more. Furthermore, Christmas and New Years parties were a blast! (Read about my top 12 day trips to take in Sicily during the winter here)

Marina di Ragusa

– An eclectic mix of nationalities all interested in sharing customs and traditions. We had over 15 different nationalities and celebrated American, Dutch, Irish, English, German holidays/festivities.

– An abundance of help, knowledge and know-how was always available. If we had an issue or needed a special tool we’d just put out a radio message and within minutes help or the tool would arrive. Never in my life have I felt so connected and close with a community.

Marina di Ragusa Sicily

– The town of Marina di Ragusa is lovely – a car-free boardwalk along the beach and town square made walks and bicycle rides very pleasurable. The beach stretches as far as the eye can see and is dotted with fresh water showers, restaurants and café’s (not all open for the full winter season).

– Several great restaurants and café’s remain open all winter long.

– There is one large supermarket (EuroSpar) and two discount supermarkets (ARD and MD), a market every Tuesday with fresh fish, roasted chickens, veggies, meat and housewares offerings. There is a butcher in the square and several bakeries dotted throughout the town.

Marina di Ragusa Sicily
Marina di Ragusa Sicily

My daughter, Sienna, enjoying some food and the sun in March

– For children, aside from the beach, there is a large playground, a small indoor play gym with an arts and crafts room (3 euros/hour) and the whole square to mix and mingle with boatie and local children. Every late afternoon families and parents sit around the square and the children run around playing for hours. Furthermore, there’s a pre-school that takes boat kids in addition to standard schools with openings.

– The local’s are AMAZING. Horatio, the fisherman, took me and a friend out so we could see what it’s like to go fishing (see Come fishing with me on a traditional Sicilian fishing boat – VIDEO). A family welcomed a group of us into their home and olive farm to teach us about olive picking and the authentic life of Sicilians. The family at the Stella Marina Bar constantly fed us snacks during happy hours, Rugby games and events…in addition to helping with airport pick-ups and arranging open-mic nights. The servers at the bakeries always greeted us with big happy ‘Ciao’s’ and remembered how we wanted our coffee’s made. The attendants at the supermarket went out of their way to help us figure out the code system for weighing veggies… and much more. We also had a local farmer bring us organic produce every Monday – the veggies were out of this world! If we ever forgot our money, we were always told to ‘just pay us later… ‘ Furthermore, during holidays the community have a variety of events that take place. As foreigners, we were always invited to take part in any event.

The Sicilians took us in with open arms and always made us feel welcome

– The Comiso airport is only 25km away from the marina and Catania Airport is only 1 ½ hours away making the marina a great place to come and go from.

A video of a spectacular sunset over Marina di Ragusa

– The town of Ragusa, 20km away, has everything you could ask for – a massive hardware store, malls, grocery stores, Lidl’s and more. And in Catania, you’ll find an Ikea and anything else that you can’t get in Ragusa. (Buses take you from MdR to Ragusa and from time to time the live-aboards plan day-trips to the town).

– Day trips out are plentiful. Just to name some within a two hour car journey from the marina are: Noto, Syracuse, Catania (Mount Etna), Villa Romana del Casle (Roman Villa), Agrigento (Valley of the Temples), Modica (where Chocolate was invented in Italy), and loads of beach stops, castles, agritourism (eat or buy farm products from the farm), hikes, horse riding and much more.

Beef fillet at Marina di Ragusa

– Have I mentioned food yet? It’s Italy and I haven’t mentioned food! All the food you eat at restaurants and buy in the stores is often local. You can often get everything you need from local farmers. Everything that’s in season is very inexpensive and plentiful. The beef fillet is special in the Ragusa area – give it a try for yourself. I found it to be exquisite. And, of course, there’s loads of fresh fish.

– Cost of living in the area – if you don’t eat out, it’s very inexpensive.

– Public transport is great. There are buses that go to anywhere you’d want to go. They, however, don’t operate on a Sunday.

The negatives of Marina di Ragusa

– The walk to the bathroom from the furthest pontoon can take about 15 minutes (25 minutes with a child).

– The chandlery has a very limited stock and we found it far quicker and less expensive to order pieces/parts from other parts of Europe and have them shipped to us at the marina. For some reason the staff don’t seem interested in making any money (and I wouldn’t make that statement from my own experiences only – it seems a consensus amongst the whole community!)

– The cost for having a lift-out or any work done on the boat (out of water) is extremely high in comparison to other areas in close proximity. For example, a lift-out for our boat in MdR was quoted in the 1.000’s, whereas a lift-out in Preveza, Greece cost less than half of that.

– The electricity went out often. In many cases, the whole down of Marina di Ragusa went out. In other cases, it was just our pontoon. Every time it rained pontoon M lost electricity. Mostly, the electricity was often on within a few minutes to a few hours so although it was an inconvenience if we were in the midst of cooking (with electric), in most instances it didn’t bother us.

– The weather did get quite extreme. We had warnings of water spouts/tornados and when the rains came there was quite a bit of flooding. And when I say flooding I mean water rushing down from the higher grounds along the roads and causing serious waterfalls into the sea. You wouldn’t want to be walking, riding a bike or even driving a car during some of the floods we witnessed.

– Getting around – you really need a bike or scooter. To get to the main grocery store, it’s quite a hike up a hill. Most live-aboards have bikes with attachment baskets to collect groceries and supplies. This really isn’t a negative unless you don’t have a bike or don’t want to get one! Note: There’s a Decathalon sports shop in Ragusa (20km away) and they sell the fold-away bikes for 100 – 300 euros.

– It’s impossible to buy a car in Italy and leasing costs too much. Most live-aboard’s simply rent a car when they need it – either from the Marina or from the local airport. Rental’s from the airport are far cheaper but you have to take a bus to get there.

~~~~~

So, as I mentioned at the beginning, wintering at Marina di Ragusa has been an incredible experience for my husband, 4-year-old daughter and I.

We will hold the time we spent here dear to our hearts

The friends we made will last the test of time. The memories will be etched in our minds forever – My daughter, Sienna, singing Frozens, ‘Let it go,’ at the open-mic night, trick or treating on the pontoon, playing Rummykub on our friends boat, enjoying a snow-ball fight wearing t-shirts up on Mount Etna, doing runs to Lidl to get cheap wine and cheddar cheese, picking olives and then watching the process of turning them into olive oil, fishing with nets, watching my daughter run free along the beach with all the other children, having visitors join us on the boat from home, the amazing conversations had at the Stella Marina Bar…and even the tears some of us shed. Tears of missing ‘home’ and family. Tears about not knowing ‘what’s next.’

Marina di Ragusa

Through the good and the not-so-good, our time at Marina di Ragusa has certainly been fulfilling

It hasn’t always been easy – we’ve had many repairs, I’ve felt lost and ‘stuck’ at times and I still go through phases where I’m scared about how our daughter will adjust to moving again… HOWEVER, I’ve never felt so alive in my life.

In summary, I highly recommend Marina di Ragusa for wintering. The facilities, attendants, community and surrounding area are fantastic. I, however, at this time, suggest you consider alternative locations for out-of-water work (such as antifouling). Several boaties winter in MdR and then sail to another destination at the beginning of the season, get their work done and then carry on.

Perhaps in years to come, MdR will become more reasonable with boat maintenance?! If they do, it will certainly be an even more amazing place.

Let me leave you with some photo’s I took over the winter season… Click on them to see a larger view. I hope you enjoy ?

Finally, for more information about our time spent in Marina di Ragusa, please read the following articles. All of them were written during our stay at the marina and will provide you with even more information on our time spent in Sicily:

Living aboard a boat in the Mediterranean during the winter – what’s the scoop?

My journey of living full-time aboard a sailboat has hit the 7th month – how does it feel?

Live-aboard boat communities – when you return home for the holidays you’ll realize just how special the live-aboard lifestyle really is

Briticans Captain Simon Brown – A Video Interview from Marina di Ragusa

Ten months of living on our sailboat full time – Do I have tears of joy or tears of sadness?

Has the decision to sell up and sail away impacted my quality of life or not?

Ten ways to make money while sailing around the world

First of all – is it possible to make money while sailing around the world?

Yes – it’s definitely possible to make money while living and traveling around the world on a boat. But the question is, just how much can you make and how can you make it?

At the time of writing this, I’ve been living on our sailboat in the Mediterranean full time for the last year. I’ve met a variety of people doing an assortment of things to make money (and find ways to minimize the amount of money that’s spent).


IMPORTANT UPDATE FOR 2017: This article has been updated since originally posted in 2015.  At the time of writing I had only one year of experience making money while sailing. The article below is still worth reading but if you want more more in-depth information and ideas to get your brain ticking, please request my Free Guide, ‘How to make money while sailing around the world’ (another window will open).


Before talking about making money, many readers first ask me how much it actually costs to maintain and live on a boat

And there’s really no quick answer to that question. Some boat ‘experts’ quote that the cost of living is around 20% of the value of the boat (per year) but we will never come close to spending that figure.

The cost of food, boat repairs/maintenance and living expenses vary greatly depending on where you are and how you do things. For example, in Thailand you can have your teak deck replaced at a fraction of the cost of what it costs in Europe. In the Med you can get your boat hauled out of the water and antifouled for 250 euros in Tunisia versus 2000+ euros in Sicily (they’re only 160 miles apart).

Once you start sailing around for a bit, you’ll start to learn the tricks of the trade

You’ll discover how to avoid the tourist super markets and find the one’s that the locals use.  You’ll  learn what country to sort out your VAT bill. You will also gain information about what marina to hit for out-of-water jobs and how to find boat service people for inexpensive prices.

In the Med the first thing that any boater asks upon arrive to a new port is, ‘where is the closest Lidl’? If you haven’t heard of Lidl, it’s a discount grocery store. Lidl is, by far, the least expensive shop to get your groceries and all us boaters rejoice when there’s one nearby. (Yes, I know that’s sad!)

make money while sailing

make money while sailing

But this article isn’t about the cost of living full time aboard a boat

This article is how to generate an income while enjoying the live-aboard lifestyle, so let me get into the make money while sailing information.

But before I list all the ways you can sail around the world let me give you an indication of the type of boaters I’ve met. There are the millionaire’s on one side of the spectrum.  Then there are the very low budget sailors on the other.

The millionaires don’t seem interested in making money for obvious reasons

And the low budget sailors focus on saving money and living within their budget rather than making money. The millionaires have crew, often stay in marina’s and for food you’ll see a helicopter fly in to deliver the fresh Main lobster.

The low-income sailors tend to do everything themselves and I mean everything from sailing to maintenance to repairs. They always anchor. They often eat canned meat, fish they’ve caught and anything found on the clearance section of the supermarket. Low-income sailors are often not interested in making money – they seem to thrive on not spending money. This is not a bad thing…

And then there’s us folk in the middle

We’re not necessarily on a low budget; rather we have a bit of savings to help us out for a while. And perhaps we have an income through pensions, rental income or investments. But the cash flow isn’t always guaranteed OR it’s not necessarily enough to keep us feeling secure for the long term.

For me, personally, I have a bit of money in the bank and some pensions that won’t come into effect for another 15 to 20 years. I think we can last for five to ten years but towards the end we’ll really have to watch the pennies.

And that’s of course if we don’t have any major disasters!

I’d rather not have to watch the pennies – I’d rather have a way to generate and build up a variety of cash flow sources. A little bit of money from a lot of sources sounds like a good plan to me.

That being said, here are some ways that I make money while sailing around the world and how I’ve learned about others who are doing the same.

make money sailing

1. Work for six months and then sail for six months

Now that I know about this option I wish I knew about it before we left for our world adventure! I had no idea that people worked during the winter months and then took six months off to sail around the Mediterranean or Caribbean. Looking back, I think that would have been a better way to ease into the live-aboard lifestyle.

While sailing around the Ionian Islands we met a few men, aged between 24 and 54, that had consultancy type jobs in England for the winter. They’d work November to April and then fly down to the Mediterranean, put their sailboat in the water and sail from May to October. Their consultancy job paid for their work/sail lifestyle. One guy I met rented out his house while he was gone. Ultimately, he actually made money while he was sunning himself in the Greek Islands.

I also met a guy that with three other friends are all sailing around the world season by season. They work during the winter and then they sail as far as they can get every summer. When the summer is over, they find a marina, pull the boat out of the water and return the following season. Isn’t that a great idea?!?!

2. Find a work-from-‘home’ job

The work-from-home trend is still on the increase. I imagine it will exponentially increase. More and more companies see the value in having employee’s work from home. There are a couple of people in the marina, that I’m in now, that appear to work from home but they’re really working from their boat.

I have to say that having an Internet and/or a good phone connection can often be hit or miss, Technology, however, is getting better and better every day. If you can find a home-based job, and there are loads out there, there’s nothing stopping you from working and sailing.

3. Consultancy – on land

If you have the skills to do consultancy – perhaps a past record of success in a particular field – you can potentially pimp yourself out (infrequently) to do some consultancy projects.

There is a woman eight boats down from me that jets up to England every few months. She does some consultancy work and earns a bit of cash. The woman then flies back to the boat to enjoy the live-aboard community. It’s not something I would want to do, but heck, it works for some.

4. Consultancy – on the sea

Again, if you have a set of skills that do allow for consultancy, the possibility exists to set up an online consultancy service. There’s a photographer in Greece I stumbled upon that teaches other photographers how to make money online.

If you have a skillset and are happy to offer your experience it’s definitely not rocket science to create an online service offering. Yes, it might be time consuming and it might be a steep learning curve, but loads of people offer consultancy services online so why can’t you?

5. On-line project based work

If you can write, edit, design, program, transcribe, research, and any other work that can be done online, you can find thousands of opportunities on the Net. Check out websites like elance.com (now called Upwork.com) just to get an idea on online projects. For this particular website ‘clients’ post a job that they want completed and you can bid on the job. If you win, you fulfill the requirements and then get paid.

A great online work opportunity for designers is Design Crowd. A ‘client’ posts an outline of what they want. You can decide to create a design and if you ‘win’ the project you get the money on offer.

Elance.com (Upwork.com) and DesignCrowd.com are just two of hundreds of online project based work opportunities. As long as your work can be completed over the Net you’ll be sure to find opportunities to serve people and companies around the world.

6. Services aboard or near the boat

I’m often amazed at boaties that come to me asking for advice on how to make money. Usually they know some sort of trade and don’t consider offering it to the boating community.

For example, I met a lovely live-aboard named Pam. She was desperate to make a little extra cash so she could enjoy a night out with her hubby every now and again. When I asked her about her past work engagements she said she was a hairdresser.

Within a couple hours I convinced her to offer her hairdresser service.  We made flyers for her to hand out while at anchor and in marinas. She’d send around flyers, give out a VHF channel that she monitored and make boat calls when requested.

Since I last spoke to her she was earning over 250 euros a week and enjoying a couple nights out with her hubby.

The list of things you can offer on and from a boating environment are limitless, but just to name a few:

  • Hairdresser
  • Massage Therapist
  • Photographer
  • Taxi driver (while holed up at a marina for the winter, you can make money by renting a car and taxiing marina guests and friends to and from the marina)
  • Babysitter
  • Cleaner
  • IT Geek (Every marina has one of these around and they’re invaluable!)
  • Mentor

7. Services within the world of boating

Over the year I’ve met several boat people that are always happy to help out with boat maintenance and repairs. Some people want a nice home cooked dinner and others want a bit of cash for beer. The cool thing about being a live-aboard is that the longer you live aboard the more you learn how to do things that other people will pay you for! Here are just a few examples:

  • Teak repair
  • Boat washing/cleaning
  • Engine maintenance
  • Boat repairs
  • Delivery
  • Skippering
  • Boat handling (teaching)

I think a good point to make is that no boatie seems to be out to make money. Everyone is out to fill their time doing things they like AND perhaps get something of value in return. For one boatie it might be a home cooked lasagna and for another it might be 20 euros to spend at the happy hour.

Living the boating lifestyle has nothing to do with making loads of money. I does, however, have everything to do with enjoying the fulfillment that living aboard a boat brings.

8. Charter the boat out

This is an interesting area. Hubby and I looked into this and setting a boat up legally for charter is not cheap. You need to have the boat ‘coded’ – that means that you have to have X amount of in-date fire extinguisher’s, bungs on ever stopcock, massive amounts of safety systems and on and on.

That being said, we were told that we could charge over 40k euros to charter our anchored boat in Monaco for a weekend during the Grand Prix (so, perhaps, in some cases, it might be worth getting the boat coded?)

From what I’ve discovered, however, many boat owners charter their boat in an under-the-radar fashion. In other words, they offer some sort of charter service illegally. This is not something I’m necessarily suggesting…I’m just saying that quite a few people do it. Some options include:

  • Sort out a charter company to rent your boat out
  • Allow others to take your boat out privately
  • Take others out yourself
  • Do day-trips for tourists

9. Products from the boat

So…are you a crafty creative person? I’d like to think I am but everything I make looks like something my daughter came up with (she’s 4 years old). Me aside, there are loads of amazingly talented knitters, jewelry designers, bakers and craft creators out there on boats.

Several of the crafty boaties make things for themselves, or family members, but there are a few that create goods to sell.

Jewelry is a great option. With limited space on a boat, jewelry doesn’t take up a huge area and as long as you’re making quality goods, sales can really add up.

And I have a personal tale on this option

I make and sell Britican Galley Herb & Spice blends on our boat and online. I get the raw bulk ingredients from ‘local’ herb and spice manufacturers – mostly organic. Then, I mix the spice blends, package them (using bags and printed card labels from my printer), and create recipes and galley recipe videos for the blends for boaties to enjoy.

Note: my YouTube Britican Galley recipes channel is different from my main SailingBritican channel. If you want to catch a glimpse into what it’s like to live on Britican, check out some of our 70+ videos here: YouTube.com/SailingBritican

When I first started sailing I realized that there’s a massive lack of space in the galley. On land I had cupboards filled with different spices. When I moved onto the boat I had to be picky. Instead of having all the spices necessary for chicken soup, a chicken roast, chicken salad, etc. I simply combined several spices to make a chicken blend. Instead of having jars of basil, oregano, parsley, sage, garlic, lovage, turmeric and bay leaf (all the spices that work perfect with chicken) I combined them all into one jar.

Reflecting on the type of food we eat, I then had a blend made for beef, seafood (obviously), Italian dishes and Greek dishes.

making money while sailing

making money while sailing

My sales force (hubby and my daughter) take the dingy out or walk around the marina asking if there’s any interest and we get loads of sales. And once someone tries one of my blends, they come back for others and the word quickly gets out!

Note: I shouldn’t say ‘my blends,’ as they’re my mom’s blends! Back in NY she started an amazing company over fifteen years ago and I’ve just taken her blend recipes and rebranded her product as mine (‘Thank you mom!’)

I just wanted to include this idea as it’s not rocket science to come up with something of value that people will want to buy. As long as you create a product that adds value people will be interested. In my case, I help people to quickly and easily add amazing flavor to their galley dishes ☺

10. Products online

Okay…this is a big area – so big that I could write a book on it, so watch this space! This is the area where I’m focusing most of my efforts on and hopefully I can share some practical ideas with you.

When you’re sailing around the world, it’s a great idea to either create products or discover local products to sell back on the homeland HOWEVER there’s a serious shipping issue. Shipping anything from one country to another costs so much that often the buyer fails to buy when they see the shipping fees. Furthermore, if you’re like me and in Greece or Italy, it’s questionable if the recipient will ever get a shipment!

That being said, I’ve decided to sell items from various bases in my two ‘homelands’ – America and England.

Let me explain

First, there are my mother’s spices that I’ve rebranded as ‘Britican Galley.’ Not only do I make and sell them from the boat, I also have my mom make and sell them from America on my behalf. And I also have a friend in England blend, package and ship them in the UK.

I sell my herb & spice blends on a website called Etsy. Etsy is a marketplace for homemade and handmade goods. Click here to see my spice blends on Etsy here: Britican Galley.

Making money while sailing
Making money while sailing

Click on the picture to visit my shop and view my herb and spice range ?

So, I’ve essentially found a product that I’ve ‘white labeled’ as my own and have the manufacturer (my mom) take the order and fulfill it from the States (and my friend from the UK).

I’ve also utilized a really cool thing called ‘Dropshipping’

There’s all sorts of dropshipping companies. These companies offer products for you and I to sell on our websites. We collect the money, the dropship companies stock the product and do the fulfillment. Dropshipping is a dream come true if you can find good products!

If you look at my online store, you’ll see that I offer a line of sexy sailing t-shirts for women. I had the designs created on Elance.com (now called Upwork.com) and then found a t-shirt printer/fulfillment company that fulfills in the US and UK. When someone buys a t-shirt from one of my stores, I simply forward the order to the t-shirt company, they print the t-shirt and then ship it to the end client.

making money while sailing
making money while sailing

Click on the picture to view my latest designs

I take the money for the t-shirt and then pay the t-shirt company for the order

It’s a great system. I’d like to say that I make a big profit from the t-shirts, but I don’t. I’m lucky to make a few dollars, euros, pounds. These t-shirt fulfillment companies are not cheap, however, I have no stock, no delivery headache and…if the t-shirts do start to sell (in a big way) I can get more printed in bulk and reduce my costs.

Check out my Etsy shop to find out the other products I sell online. Aside from herbs & spice blends and t-shirts, I have nautical jewelry, marine pillow cushions, sexy sailing sarongs, trendy adjustable sailing belts and more. Visit: Etsy.com/shop/SailingBritican

Now…let me take about books

I didn’t intend to publish a book at first. Heck, I simply started to collate a little booklet of VHF templates so that I had a reference manual for our nav station. In fact, I went to Amazon to see if I could by a VHF template book – something that had the MAYDAY, Pan-Pan, Securite, requesting medical advice, etc. wording – and I couldn’t find anything.

So…I created a book of what to say if X happened. And X was anything from a MAYDAY to how to deal with a situation when a child accidentally pushes the MOB button! I wrote my little book and then when visitors saw it, they asked for a copy.

One thing led to another and I decided to publish it on Amazon

I got my cover done on Design Crowd, I created the content and within a couple days the hard copy and Kindle version were up for sale. To my amazement, I’ve had several sales and I haven’t actively promoted the book yet!

VHF Radio Checklist Book
VHF Radio Checklist Book

If you click on the picture you can view the book for sale at Amazon.com

Note: Aside from this book, I also have one titled, ‘Checklists for Sailors – Passage Planning, Sailboat Maintenance, Cleaning, Medical and More: Making it easier to enjoy sailing your sailboat‘ (Link to Amazon.com will open)

So…books are a GREAT opportunity to create on a boat that you can then sell to the world. There’s no stock and there’s no need to fulfill the product – Amazon does everything for you.

There are also opportunities to create partnerships with people that sell products you want to promote or you can become an affiliate. You promote the product and a company will pay you a percentage of all sales. Furthermore there are fulfillment houses that will hold your products and ship them for you.

Perhaps you’re massively creative, have some great ideas for products and want the world to know about them. Yes – you can create a product, get it manufactured, find a place that will stock and ship it for you.

Just because you’re sailing around the world doesn’t mean that you can’t use your brain to create an empire! Right?!

Anyway, this article is getting way long.

What’s my point?

Well…if you’ve decided to not live your dream of sailing around the world (or anything for that matter) because you can’t figure out how to make an income, SHAME ON YOU!

No…I don’t really mean ‘shame on you.’ It’s not easy to know what you don’t know. My point is…don’t sit back and let life pass you by because you can’t afford to do what you want to do.

There are always ways and means to ‘live the dream’ – make money while sailing

You just have to have a vision and believe in yourself.  Take little steps every day to get what you deserve. And you know what? We all deserve a good life!

I’ll stop there. If you want any further information, please email me. If you find value in my articles, please support me by purchasing a produce from my online shop.

And if you’re very serious about buying, owning, and maintaining a sailboat checkout my shop here. It’s an ever growing online shop of quick, hard-hitting, no-nonsense, no salty sea-dog sailing terminology, results-driven guides.

Finally, as mentioned at the top of this article, I have an updated version of this article. The update accounts for three years of making money while I sail rather than just my first year. I know far more now than I knew when I wrote this. Get the free report, ‘Make money while sailing around the world.’

Has the decision to sell up and sail away impacted my quality of life or not?

Quality of Life

Warning: This article is all about flowing with life rather than sailing around the world. Some of my readers have noted that they’re not interested in the fluffy ‘how to live a more fulfilling life,’ stuff that I write about (and find so fascinating). So…if you’re life is totally amazing and you’re not interested in making it better I suggest you close this article and instead, read one of my travel reviews ?

Quality of life – has it been impacted?

Almost one year ago, in April 2014, my husband, 3 ½ year old daughter and I left the world we knew for a new life on the seas. The plan included selling our house, car, possessions, buying a sailboat and setting sail around the world.

Since I left what many friends and family members call,  ‘the real world,’ my life has dramatically changed…or perhaps I should rephrase that and say, as a human being, I have radically changed.

But as I write this I’m sitting in Boston International waiting for a plane to take me thousands of miles back to my yacht, currently moored in Sicily.

Let me get you up to speed

In April, we took our sailboat from Gibraltar to Malta (850+ miles) and throughout the summer we sailed around Italy, Greece and Turkey (over 3000+ miles). Our travels were massively amazing – read more of my blog to see what we got up to.

By October we had to find a place to ‘winter’ and therefore ducked into the marina at Marina di Ragusa in Sicily.

The Mediterranean isn’t a nice place to sail during the winter, and our initial plans to cross the Atlantic didn’t pan out, so…our around the world trip was put on hold for the winter. Heck – I wasn’t too upset – living in Sicily is one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.

But that’s not what I want to write about today.

Today, I want write about the transformation I’ve experienced in less than a year. I want to demonstrate how my decision to drastically alter my quality of life and lifestyle has changed me – how it has led me to become more patient, less distracted, far less judgmental and far more alive.

I didn’t realize it until recently, but I’ve been a caterpillar for a very, very long time

I’ve inched my way around life slowly and at many times going in the wrong direction. Heck – I think I’ve fallen off the tree and have had to climb back up it over and over and over again. I might be premature in saying this but I feel as if I’ve finally found my wings. I’ve finally become a butterfly.

Back to Boston…why am I in Boston and why does being in Boston even matter?

My grandfather (age 91) has been in the hospital several times over the winter with pneumonia and my grandmother (age 86) has been recovering from cancer surgery.

Considering that I was ‘stuck’ in Sicily, I thought it would be a great opportunity to fly solo to the States to visit with family – especially grandma and grandpa.

The trip included three flights to get to the area that my mom and brother live in. And then several days later… two flights, with my brother, to get to my grandparents (and two flights back to my brothers area)…and then eventually three flights back to the boat enduring a massive snow storm, cancellations and reschedules.

Over the course of two weeks I’ve been in Sicily, Italy (Rome), New York (NYC), North Carolina, New York (Rochester) and Massachusetts (Boston). Logistically most people would have thought it was a nightmare.

Considering all the travelling, the fact that I got a terrible stomach bug that wiped me out for two days and a two day extension on my stay due to a massive storm, I’m amazed at myself for being so calm.

In fact, I’m more than calm – I’m easy-going, full of energy and seriously happy to have not only made the trip but have witnessed my, until recently noticed, metamorphous.

I suppose we often grow a lot yet we don’t benchmark ourselves between the ‘new version of ourselves’ and the ‘old version of ourselves’

By travelling back to America, my home, I was pleasantly surprised to see and feel like a different person. I had fundamentally changed but didn’t realize how massive the change was.

Being in the states allowed me to compare who I use to be with who I am now

Let me step back just a bit. Let me tell you who the old Kim was…

Back before we decided to sell everything and set sail, I was a work-a-holic, fast-food junkie, control freak. I worked hard and I played hard. I set out to make my millions and to me, nothing was more important than making lots of money.

After achieving a reasonable level of financial success and owning the house, car, boat, great vacations, etc. I had a reality crisis. I woke up one day and realized that all that’s left for me was to make more money.

That’s it – the game was over (in my mind). I had made a lot of money and I had everything I wanted. There was nothing more I could achieved accept to amass more money. Some people get off on making more and more money. For me, I didn’t see any benefit. What’s the point of having loads of money in the bank or in the market? Sure – I could get a bigger house, a bigger car or more vacations but that just didn’t float my boat. I didn’t want those things.

I wanted a fulfilling life…not more things

That’s when I entered my mid life challenge phase. I spent a year or so in a numb void realizing that I spent my life chasing after something that ultimately didn’t make me happy. Looking back, instead of getting up and living the best life I could, I got up and lived the life I thought I needed to live to make millions.

While in my void I slowly fell apart. I slowly started to be more and more honest with myself and realized I didn’t like who I was, where I was going or what I was doing. I also realized that there was only one person responsible for changing all those things…it was me.

So…I left my company, got rid of everything I owned, purchased a boat and set out to find a new life…a more fulfilling life.

I’d like to say my new life exceeded my expectations but that would be wrong

My new life is far better than I could have ever speculated. It is so amazingly fulfilling that I often have to pinch myself because I feel like I’ve transferred over into a heaven on Earth and the old me was living in hell.

No…I’m not going to sit here and preach out that everyone should sell everything and go sailing

What I am going saying, however, is that once you stop doing what you SHOULD do and start listening to who you are/what you want/what you like and start doing what makes you feel alive your reality drastically changes for the better.

As a side note, I get seasick

Sailing is not my number one passion, but being with my family, being outside, being on the water, connecting with amazing people, travelling, eating amazing foods, and writing about my learning lessons is what does fill me with massive amounts of passion.

And my life is not easy. I don’t have fun all the time. Things are not perfect.

I have struggles, bad days, bad weeks and bad times. Overall however, all the ‘bad’ things (if I must label them as bad) are so worth the life I’m now living.

Let me give you some solid examples of how things have changed for me

And let me be blunt – I don’t think the secret to a fulfilled life is about selling up and sailing. Yes, it’s worked for me but that’s not my message. My message is this – stop freaking doing things for others. Stop doing what you should do. Stop making other people’s business your business.

Start putting yourself first

Find out what you love and then work towards doing more and more of it. By doing so you are not being selfish…you are giving everyone around you a gift. You are proving that life can be heaven on earth. And the more of us that do this, the more that others can learn by example. The more fulfilled we are, the more fulfilled the world can be.

1. Going with the flow

Since leaving my old life, I’ve had to learn to seriously go with the flow. Especially when you’re sailing. Your intention might be to get to destination B but more often than not you end at destination C or D or E or get nowhere at all. Either the wind is wrong, there’s a storm coming or the engine dies!

What I’ve learned is that by going to the flow, wherever I end up is a great place with the option for amazing experiences

I’ve lost my attachment for things to go the way I want them to go. Now, I accept whatever happens knowing that wherever I end up will be fine. Sailing and the boat taught me this lesson and it’s expanded through to my ‘normal’ life.

For example, when I arrived in North Carolina to spend time with my parents, I had a mental list of all the things I wanted to do and see. The morning after I arrived I woke up to a snowstorm that shut the whole state down. Mom and I had to cancel our shopping/spa/lunch day and stay home instead. I just went with the flow and mom and I had a ball. In fact, usually I run around and get tired but this visit we hung out at home and actually created a whole new product line for my Sailing Britican store. The old me would have been annoyed at the snow, complained to anyone who would have listened and sulked around.

The new me went with the flow and enjoyed every moment

Another example – my brother and I flew up to Rochester, NY and my brother caught a bug on the way up. He was down for the first two days so I had to visit family without him. I was sad that he couldn’t join me but for the most part, I spent quite a lot of time with him sitting on the sofa (at a friends house where we were staying). We sat around joking, laughing and having a rather enjoyable time. The last two days we were in Rochester, I got sick! It was no big deal. I let the illness take its course and just chilled with my brother.

All in all, we didn’t do much yet the time we spent together was priceless

The old me would have wallowed in self pity thinking, ‘what a waste.’ As a side I spent loads of time with my grandparents and that was priceless too!

And finally, the day came for me to leave the States and a huge storm hit the whole East coast. My flight was cancelled and rebooked for a couple days later. The old me would have been livid. I would have been attached to getting back to Italy – to my hubby, daughter, friends and boat. I would have focused on not being able to see my hubby and daughter. But the new me just went with the flow. Due to a change in my flight route I was able to see my dear cousin – he met me in Boston and we enjoyed a couple hours together – something that wouldn’t have happened if the storm didn’t hit. Furthermore, I was able to go out with my brother and his wife on their ‘date night.’ We had a blast.

2. There’s no hole to fill

Back when I did what I should have done and lived in my big house with my fancy car, I always felt I had a hole to fill. Hubby and I would spend our free time shopping to buy things that would ultimately be left in a cupboard and usually forgotten. I spent years feeling the need to buy more shoes, more clothes, more house stuff and then, once I gave birth to my daughter, I had to buy more and more so that she could have the best of everything.

More, more, more, more. Holes, holes, holes…there was always a hole to fill!

During my various excursions on this trip, when the snow disappeared, my mom or my brother would ask, can I take you anywhere to get anything. Usually my response was, ‘nope – I don’t need anything.’ It’s so funny… I live on a boat so there’s no room for anything. My clothes are sun bleached, full of rust stains (from drying them on the metal safety rail around the boat), and falling apart. When something eventually passes the point of no return, I make a mental note to get a replacement and that’s all I replace.

There’s no need to buy more

Furthermore, I don’t watch TV anymore. No more TV means no more media and that helps me to avoid society from telling me what I should have. It’s funny, since I stopped watching TV I’ve stopped feeling so inadequate. Furthermore, my cravings for fast food has totally stopped!

Perhaps I felt as if something was missing in my old life?

I think that I was actually living a lie – I wasn’t being the best me I could be and therefore I always felt I had a hole to fill. Now that I’ve said, ‘screw it – I’m going to live life the way I want to live it,’ that hole has totally disappeared.

3. Time to be present

I really can’t stand it when people say that want to live in the ‘now’. It sounds so corny. But…that’s where this line of writing is going. For some reason my past no longer haunts me and my future is more about going with the flow. I choose to believe that everything works out and therefore, there’s no need to spend time worrying or speculating.

No…I’m not in the ‘now’ all the time – I have issues

I ruminate and get caught up with things every once in while…but in contrast to the old me, the transformation is nothing short of a miracle.

The old me was either feeling emotional pain because I was wronged as kid OR I would be experiencing increased stress levels because something didn’t go the way I wanted it to go. Neither of those things had any real meaning in my life! Thinking of the past or speculating about what might happen in the future was and is a total waste of time. I was so distracted by emails, drama, the news, being right…being perfect that I never just lived life as it came to me.

Now, I have all the time in the world for whomever I’m engaging with

Whether I have to take twenty minutes to explain something to a child or I’m engaging in an interesting adult discussion. Furthermore, I have time to really look a sales clerk in the eye and respond genuinely to the ‘how are you?’ question and genuinely return the question. The smiles I get when I truly engage with people – even people on a very casual basis – are deep and full of energy.

I don’t know how I became so distracted by non-life?

But now I can see the difference. Boy, can I see the difference.

4. Acceptance of my past

Up until this past visit every time I visited my hometown of Rochester, NY I went through a constant good/bad judgment game in my head. I’d justify my decision to leave ‘home’ by picking out all the ‘bad’ things about Rochester and more significantly, I’d remember all the ‘bad’ experiences. My thoughts would sound like this, ‘This city is a shithole. How do people live here? How do people live with so much snow? My time in school was the worst time of my life. I hate this street. I hated my life here….’

It wasn’t pretty

During this trip I didn’t make any judgments. I felt myself wanting to do so but instead of thinking something was good or bad, I just kept saying to myself ‘there is no good or bad – there’s just my interpretation of it.’

I didn’t get caught up in a bad memory

I didn’t look down on people that live there. I didn’t think I was better for ‘getting out’. I didn’t feel anything accept for a genuine happiness to be able to spend time with my brother, my grandparents and my aunt, uncle and cousins.

My mind didn’t spiral. I just went with the flow and by doing that my past record of judging everything as either good or bad, black or white didn’t need to exist anymore.

It was weird. It was empowering. It was beautiful.

So…it’s been eleven months since I left land and they’ve been the most remarkable months that I’ve ever had. Yes – it’s cool that I’m sailing around in a boat, but what’s more impressive is that I’m now flowing with life. Rather than paddle insanely up a raging river, I’m letting life take me where it wants to take me.

All I’m doing is waking up every morning, making sure that I’m doing more of what I love and letting the flow of life take me where it wants to take me.

Wooo woooo!

In conclusion, I haven’t written this article to say, ‘look at me – look how great my life is…’ I’ve written this article because I’m a born-again-human. I’ve realised that life can be amazing and I want anyone out there that doesn’t feel alive to realise we all have the opportunity to make changes…to improve our quality of life.

Enough said. May you have an awesome day…big love, Kim

Who else admits to feeling nervous about VHF radio etiquette?


At first I thought it was only me that baulked at the idea of having to make a VHF radio broadcast and understanding VHF radio etiquette

My husband, Simon, went to extreme measures to try and get me to make a call. He’d say that he couldn’t leave the cockpit and yell, ‘just make the call.’

I, of course, yelled back, ‘I’ll steer, YOU make the call!’

Looking back, all I had to do was say, ‘Port Solent, Port Solent, this is Selene, Selene, over.’ And when the marina responded, I just had to let them know we were ready to enter the lock system and request instructions. (Selene was the name of our last boat).

I’m not sure why I was afraid of making a call?

Perhaps I was scared that I’d make a mistake? Perhaps I’d pronounce the marina name wrong, say the wrong thing or say ‘over’ when I should have said ‘out?’ And the fact that several people could potentially hear gave me some sort of ‘stage freight.’ Perhaps there’s a known term called ‘radio fright?’ I suppose that VHF radio etiquette isn’t the same as simply talking…and I didn’t have any experience in doing it.

And, I hate to admit this but I often feel like there’s load of salty sea dogs, or men who call themselves ‘Captain,’ judging us women on the seas. Before I make a call I can hear them say, ‘There’s another one messing up what used to be our perfect world.’

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not anti-men!

I love men and for the most part, I get on with men. It’s just that the sailing world is still very male dominated and some of the salty sea dogs are not very nice to us want-to-be-cool-while-sailing women folk.

Anyway, as time went on and we had more and more visitors on our boat, I noticed that everyone tried to avoid making a VHF call – young and old, male and female, sober or tipsy. It wasn’t just me! VHF radio etiquette is not something that just comes natural.

Only a couple brave souls volunteered to make a broadcast and it was only after listening to Simon several times that they’d give it a go. One friend wrote down everything they wanted to say and practiced for quite a while before they made the call and that got me thinking.

What the sailing world needs is a dummy’s guide to VHF radio etiquette!

Heck, I needed the guide and I witnessed others that desired assistance when first starting out. I went on a hunt to find templates that could be used for the routine VHF radio broadcasts.

The best I could find was one MAYDAY template and that’s it!

Surely, I thought, there is a collection of templates for making a Pan-Pan’s, Securite, requesting radio medical advice, and a standard protocol template for calling another boat, and others?

To my surprise, I couldn’t find anything, so I made my own guide

One in which I could fill in the blanks. For example, I wrote down all the generic text, inserted my boat specific information like MMSI, Call Sign and boat name and the left spaces for descriptors such as longitude/latitude, reason for distress, time of day and so forth.

I laminated each broadcast template and put it in a folder for future use

By laminating the templates, I was then able to use a white board marker to write event-specific information and later wipe it off reducing the need for several copies. Furthermore, the lamination protected the template from the sometimes damp conditions on the boat!

The result was a booklet of every potential VHF radio broadcast I could ever imagine having to do – all with my boat specific information and all written out so I simply had to decide on the call necessary, fill in the event specific details and then pick up the radio microphone and make the call.

MAYDAY calls are an obvious one, but doing any kind of radio broadcast for the first several times does not come naturally. And especially when in an emergency, you don’t want to have to think – you just want to be able to do things quickly, calmly and efficiently.

I really couldn’t believe that nothing existed like a VHF radio broadcast template guide

First of all, there is very specific wording necessary for making broadcasts. Furthermore, in most cases, the average person won’t make many emergency calls over their lifetime; therefore what you don’t use you lose. Sure, you can take a VHF radio course but what happens when you need to request radio medical advice two years later?

Yes – you can ‘wing-it’ and disregard VHF radio etiquette…

…and I’m sure you’ll get assistance, however, to make sure that there’s less room for error, especially when a life might be at risk, wouldn’t you want a handy step-by-step guide and template available at all times?

Well…that’s why I created the guide, VHF Radio Checklists and Templates for Sailors – Reducing mistakes & making it easier when speaking over the VHF radio.

VHF Radio Checklists

After showing several other cruisers my ‘guide,’ they’d ask for a copy. One cruiser said, ‘Hey, you should put this on Amazon so others can benefit.’

And as they say, the rest is history!

All that being noted, the 40+ page guide that I created does not replace or act as a substitution for a VHF radio course or professional document. In the guide I don’t explain how to use a radio although I do offer various tips and suggestions.

Here’s the Table of Contents

  • Free Upgrade – Read This! 3
  • Introduction 4
  • Thank you and final comment 9
  • VHF Radio General Tips and Information 11
  • VHF Radio Checklists and Templates 27
  • Using the VHF to call a boat or place 28
  • Sending a MAYDAY Broadcast 29
  • Sending a MAYDAY RELAY Broadcast 30
  • Sending a PAN PAN Broadcast 31
  • Sending a Broadcast to Request Medical Advice 32
  • Sending a SÉCURITÉ message 33
  • Cancelling a VHF Alert 34
  • Sending a RECIEVED MAYDAY Transmission 35
  • Receiving a VHF Distress Message 36
  • Appendix – Phonetic Alphabet Table 37
  • Appendix – Phonetic Numerals Table 38
  • Customized VHF Checklist and Template Guide (PDF) 39
  • About Kim Brown 40

Within the first section of the guide, I offer an explanation of each type of call, what it’s for and provide a working example. In the second section of the guide, you’ll discover the various step-by-step instructions and fill-in-the-blank templates. I also included the phonetic alphabet and numerals table, used when making a VHF broadcast, for reference.

And, finally, within the guide, I offer instructions on how to get a FREE boat specific PDF version of the guide!

With a boat specific PDF the guide owner can then print, laminated and collate the templates for safe keeping in their navigation station!

So…who do you know that might feel nervous when making a VHF radio broadcast?

Could you please tell them about my VHF Radio Checklist and Templates for Sailors guide?

Buy the guide at my online store or pop over to Amazon (see below)

Buy the guide from Amazon

VHF Radio Checklist and Templates for Sailors (USA version on Amazon.com)

VHF Radio Checklist and Templates for Sailors (UK version on Amazon.co.uk )

VHF Radio Checklists and Templates for Sailors

VHF Radio Checklists and Templates for Sailors

How to fix a topside hatch from leaking

As we have quickly discovered, boats leak from all sorts of areas – and often, the water enters a spot nowhere near the apparent leak.

While preparing for a 850+ mile journey from Gibraltar to Malta we discovered a minor water flow coming out of one of our cupboards. At first we thought the water was making it’s way in through a deck fitting but later discovered it was running under our teak and in through a missing teak nail! During a rain storm we all had to take turns holding a towel up to the ceiling of the cupboard to limit water damage. Needless to say, the water was entering the boat much further away than we originally thought.

We’ve also had water leaking through side hatches and even up through the underside of the hull!

One leak that we were determined to fix quickly was our aft bedroom topside hatch. The leak was slow but during a rainstorm we’d have a small damp patch on our bed. At first, we assumed that the rubber seal was ineffective, however after an expert inspection we were told that the rubber holding the glass inside the upper casing was at fault.

Until our expert, Andy Willett from Stella Maris Yachting Services, pointed out the defect I didn’t even realise that the potential leak area even existed. Please watch the video below to see the start to finish steps on how to fix a topside hatch from leaking.

How to fix a topside hatch from leaking

Hopefully the video offered a solid example on how to fix a topside hatch. Apparently, silicon is usually a no-no on boats but for this particular job, it worked a treat. It has now been over a few months since I shot this video and I’m happy to confirm that everything has been dry ever since.

Andy also gave us a great tip concerning our side windows

One of them leaked during heavy rain and he suggested that we put a washer between the open/close lever and the window. By doing so the open/close lever created a tighter seal. My husband did this to a couple windows and we’ve had no leaks!

Finally, it’s very important to put Vaseline on the rubber area of all windows. The Vaseline keeps the rubber soft and less apt to cracking or drying out. Every couple months my hubby does this job. For more information on maintenance tips, read: My top 15 sailing maintenance tips, tricks and little known secrets from 2014

Ten months of living on our sailboat full time – Do I have tears of joy or tears of sadness?

It feels like ages since I’ve written about my thoughts and feelings regarding our ‘new’ lifestyle of living on a boat rather than in a house. This time last year, my husband, Simon, and I were living in a temporary apartment taking courses on diesel engines, motors, water pumps, water makers, refrigeration, air conditioning/heating, First Aid and Medical Care for boaters.

First Aid for Boaters
First Aid for Boaters

Learning CPR in Southampton before moving onto our sailboat full time

I remember feeling so anxious, stressed, scared and overwhelmed. Sure, there was a part of me that was excited too, but overall I wanted time to pass quickly so that we could just get on our new boat and start living our new life.

We moved aboard our sailboat last March so we haven’t hit a full year of living on the boat yet

Currently, we’re tied up in a marina and have been since October (three months). We’ll stay in Marina diRagusa, Sicily until April (another three months) when we can get back out in the Mediterranean and start sailing again.

Living on our sailboat

Originally, our plan was to sail across the Atlantic in November, following the warm weather, however we just weren’t ready for the crossing. The boat needs more repairs and I need more time to get my head ready for two to three weeks of no land.

That being noted, wintering in the Med wasn’t our intention so having a six month stay in Italy was unexpected

Ideally, we would have been able to carry on sailing, but the Med becomes quite a dangerous place during the winter months. Almost all sailboats find a marina to wait out the cold, raining, stormy season.

That being noted, I can’t help but feel a bit ‘stuck’

I envisioned us sailing and enjoying warm winds. And now we’re sitting and waiting for an often cold and rainy season to cycle through.

On the flip side, however, we couldn’t have found a more amazing marina to stay in

The other live-aboards (around 50 boats) are all incredibly kind, helpful, generous and fun. The social life amongst us boaties is amazing. Every week there are a wide range of activities to join that are organized by live-aboards.

Living on our sailboat
Living on our sailboat

Our dear friend, Angelina from Cygnus3, taking my daughter’s spot on the back of hubby’s bike!

This week I enjoyed a session of yoga, went to one of the two ‘happy hours,’ checked out the ‘Happy Hookers’ group (crochet), met with several sets of friends for coffee in the town or marina bar and had a couple dinner parties. And on Sunday, I’m heading to the meeting room to learn how to play Italian card games.

If I had the time, I’d also take up guitar lessons, photography, cooking, exercise classes, hiking, Tai Chi, arts & crafts and more!

Living on a sailboat

Living on a sailboat

In a couple weeks time we’re having our second ‘Open Mic’ night and considering I’m tone deaf and have white-girl rhythm I’m opting out from performing. However, my daughter, Sienna (age 4), has signed up to sing, ‘Let it go,’ from the movie Frozen. She’s going to have two back-up singers so rehearsals are how under way (rehearsals with Samantha pictured above).

Speaking of my four year old daughter…

Sienna would have never had the confidence to sing in front of a crowd before we left our land-based life. Over this past year I’ve seen her confidence soar. Aside from signing up to sing, she did karaoke with my husband on New Years Eve (I’m a believer, by the Monkeys) and is eager to preform for our dinner guests!

Sienna says ‘hi’ to almost everyone in the marina and she often gives great big hugs to those close to us in our marina family. Rather than having a few neighbors to connect with, like we did when we lived in a house, we seem to connect with all our neighbors now. No matter who we walk by, someone yells out, ‘Hi Sienna!’

Living on our sailboat

And our neighbors all send love and support her way

They’re always commenting on how well she speaks, sings, rides her scooter, cooks and so forth. Sienna is growing up around people that are positive, inspiring and eager to take the time to send positive words her way. She’s growing up, at least for these six months, in such a beautiful environment. Yes, we’re ‘stuck’ in a marina but I couldn’t imagine a better place for my daughter (and hubby and I)!

Living on our sailboat

Sienna has a range of friends aged 2 years to 80 years old. And her friends come from Italy, Poland, New Zealand, Britain, America, Canada, Holland, France, Spain, South Africa, Germany and on and on. She doesn’t see color, language or nationality as a separator but a connector! One evening we’ll visit a boat of Brits and the next evening we’ll have a French couple over.

And Sienna attends a pre-school Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 1:30 where she mixes with mostly Italian teachers and students. Her grasp of the Italian language is coming on in leaps in bounds. Interestingly, however, she keeps trying to teach me new Italian words only for me to find out they don’t exist! Yes, Sienna is also developing a great sense of humour.

To think that I was worried about Sienna gaining positive social skills?

Social skills are definitely low on my ‘worry’ list now. And as far as education goes, that’s quite a low worry too. Every day Sienna is learning in her pre-school and then we use an online homeschooling website called ABC Mouse (www.ABCMouse.com) to ensure she’s doing letters, numbers, math, music, reading and more. We spend time every day writing letters, creating pictures or doing a craft session. Often, other kids from the marina or the town come over to the boat and we paint pictures, play with stickers or create props for a play.

Living on our sailboat

Before we left I was terrified about teaching and even entertaining a four year old but I often find myself more involved in craft time and colouring than the children!

From what I can make out, Sienna seems to be on par with other children her age. If and when I discover she should be doing something, I make more of an effort. For example, I noticed that another four year old was really good at writing his name, so my hubby, Simon, and I spent a couple days with Sienna helping her to get better at writing her name.

In a way we’re still ‘winging-it’ but it’s working right now

Living on our sailboat

I don’t think I’ll be so easy-going when Sienna gets a bit older

I’ve been thinking of ordering a ‘homeschooling pack’ that contains all the materials for a curriculum but perhaps I’ll do that next year or the year after. As it stands now, I’m letting Sienna tell me what she’s interested in and then we learn about it.

Last week some of the things she wanted to know included: how are clouds are formed, how do you make chocolate, where do beans grow, where do you go after you die and when you have a baby, do you poop it out?

If I know the answer to her question I give an explanation and then I’ll follow it up with more information that I can find on the internet. We also have some amazing apps on the iPad that help with everything from the human body, outer space and some great science games, math, reading, art and music.

So…Sienna seems like a normal kid – yes, we live on a boat but she’s currently going to school, has a range of good friends and is really sociable.

Do I feel there are any issues or weaknesses?

Sometimes I worry that she doesn’t spend enough time playing alone, however saying that, she’s been in the bathroom playing with her buckets and water (in the shower) for the past 1/2 hour. I suppose when you’re a mom you always worry about your child. You always want the best for them.

Saying that, I truly believe that she’s growing up in the most supportive, loving, engaging environment possible

And as for Simon and I, although we’re ‘stuck’ we’re probably in the very best place that we could be right now. We’ve made some amazing friends that will be friends for life. We’ve learned to slow down a bit more. We’ve started to find the funnier side of life rather than take things so serious. When something breaks on the boat we laugh instead of doing what we use to do – cry!

Living on a sailboat

I’m actually enjoying finding out what exists in the galley – In fact, I’ve made muffins two days in a row and tomorrow I’m making pancakes! I’ve cooked for guests and they’ve actually asked me for my recipe! And…I’m enjoying taking the time to cook with Sienna. It might take an hour longer and be very messy but I now seem to have the time to enjoy these small, but priceless, moments.

Living on our sailboat

On a sad note, however…

I can’t help but think of April when we have to leave and that makes me feel sad. I’ve made some really amazing friends and my heart already hurts to think that I’ll be leaving them. Yes, I know that we’ll find each other again and that when one door closes another opens.

But even now I get a bit teary-eyed because I suppose, for the first time in my life, I finally get it

I get what it means to be a true friend. In my workaholic past I had good friends but I didn’t value them as much as I should have. I was too busy climbing a ladder of success and trying to make my millions.

It’s funny actually. I now feel as if I had to do all the ‘wrong’ things to realise just how great the ‘right’ things are

I could never understand why women liked to cook when you could just buy ready meals. I didn’t understand why those maternal moms wanted to spend all day with their children. And for the life of me I couldn’t grasp the concept of having a coffee for a few hours talking about random stuff.

For me, time was money and I didn’t want to spend any time doing anything that wasn’t deemed ‘productive.’ Looking back I feel like I was Scrooge (but not that bad!) and now I’ve been visited by all the ghosts and I’m ready to live a new life.

living on our sailboat

So…it’s been 10 months living full time on our sailboat and any tears that I have are actually based on joy. I never know what’s next and around each corner we keep finding new treasures, amazing friends and a life that truly is a dream come true.

Sailing around the Greek Ionian Islands for a month

After a month in Sicily and mainland Italy, we sailed across to the Greek Ionian Islands for a month long visit. Laid out below are the ports we visited, some of the amazing views we enjoyed and the sailing passages that we took. If you’re planning Sailing around the Greek Ionian Islands, perhaps our experiences might help to guide you towards or away from certain places?!

With such a huge area to cover, a sailor could spend years exploring the Greek Ionian Islands!

We were fortunate to spend the month of June in Greek Ionian islands and then at the end of the season, we spent most of September in Preveza, Greece – a spot on mainland Greece near the island of Levkas (in the Ionian). Our knowledge of the area is not extensive but a two month stay provided us with a great insight to the area.

Living aboard a boat in the Mediterranean
Living aboard a boat in the Mediterranean

My daughter, Sienna, at Marina diRagusa, Sicily

As I write this, it’s winter and we’re moored up for the season in Marina diRagusa, Sicily

We’ll be here until April when the sailing season starts back up in the Mediterranean. To read what it’s like to ‘winter’ in the Mediteranian, read the article entitled (note: all my links off of this article will open in a new window so you won’t lose your spot on this page): Living aboard a boat in the Mediterranean during the winter – what’s the scoop?

Fortunate for us, we’re amongst 60 other live-aboards allowing us the ability to meet new friends, share stories and discuss where we’ve been and where we want to go. Several boats are headed east, to Greece and Turkey in the Spring and many others are going West to visit the Balearics, France, Spain and so forth.

That being noted, I’ve realised that while speaking with other boaters, there’s quite a demand for destination knowledge and route planning. Several people have asked to ‘pick our brains,’ to determine good anchorages, fun places to stop and recommendations on everything from good restaurants, fast internet connection areas, through to favourable diesel prices.

For the benefit of my new friends at the marina and perhaps for you…

…I’ve gone through our logbook and have written out the passages we took, over the course of one month, through the Greek Ionian Islands. We started the season in Gibraltar, sailed to Malta, then Sicily and then enjoyed the Greek Ionian Islands for a month before going through the Corinth Canal, hitting several Greek Islands in the Aegean, stopping off in Turkey, enjoying a few weeks in Crete and then heading back to Sicily via the Greek Ionian Islands before winter hit.

The aim of this article is to point to any previous posts I’ve written regarding our time in the Greek Ionian in addition to walking you through our passages. In other words, this post will act as a hub for our time in the Greek Ionian. If you’re starting off in Sicily, please read, Sailing from Sicily to Corfu hitting mainland Italy on the way as I describe the route we took to get to the Greek Ionian Islands, where we stopped and descriptions of each mooring.

Greek Ionian Islands Map

Greek Ionian Islands Map

Here’s a chronological list of the places we stopped while sailing around the Greek Ionian Islands

1. Palaiokastrit, Corfu – anchored (free)

2. Gouvia Marina, Corfu (to clear customs) – stern-to (around €80/night for 56′ yacht plus water and electricity)

3. Corfu Town, Corfu – anchored (free)

4. Petriti, Corfu – anchored (free)

5. Ormos Lakka, Paxos – anchored (free)

6. Port Gaios, Paxos – anchored (free)

7. Random Bay, Cefalonia – anchored (free)

8. Fiscardo, Cefalonia – stern-to (free – amazingly!!! Can pay the taverna for water)

9. Nidri, Levkas – stern-to (€12 for our 3 night stay – no water or electricity)

10. Levkas Town Marina, Levkas – stern-to (€80 plus water and electricity)

11. Port Atheni, Meganisi – anchored with line to shore (free)

12. Vathi, Ithaca – stern-to (free)

13. Sami, Cephalonia – side-to (€8/day – no electricity/no drinkable water)

14. Ay Nikolaos, Zakinthos – side-to (free)

Sailing around the Greek Ionian Islands

Greek Ionian Islands
Greek Ionian Islands

Once in the Greek Ionian Islands, we first hit Corfu visiting Palaiokastrita pictured above (west side), Gouvia Marina (east side), Corfu Town (Ormos Garitsas) and Petriti.

I wrote quite a comprehensive article about our stay in Palaiokastrita and Gouvia Marina here: Sailing around the Greek Ionian Islands – Corfu. Gouvia Marina was a necessary stop to clear customs. The article includes tips about both destinations.

After we left Gouvia Marina, we sailed a very short distance to Corfu Town and anchored in the amazingly lovely bay of Ormos Garitsas (bay pictured below to the right of us). I wrote about the town and the bay in my article entitled: Corfu Town is not ‘nice’ and this is why – More about sailing around the Greek Ionian Islands.

Corfu Town
Corfu Town

After several days in Corfu Town, we sailed down the east coast of Corfu and anchored outside the fishing village of Petriti. A few people suggested the town to us and I was in the mood for some local, fresh fish. We anchored outside the tiny port and took our tender to one of the free jetties outside a taverna. Moorings were available to sailboats, space permitting however we liked to anchor whenever possible.

We ate at a restaurant with a wooden patio leading up that sea and octopus hanging on a clothes line!

While eating we could watch the tiny fish swim by and enjoy the lovely sounds of the waves lapping upon the shore. Everything we ate was great, my daughter enjoyed playing at the waters edge and the town was very quiet and tranquil.

Sailing Around The Greek Ionian Islands
Sailing Around The Greek Ionian Islands

sailing-around-the-Greek-Ionian-Islands02

sailing-around-the-Greek-Ionian-Islands02

Next we sailed to the island of Paxos and stayed at Ormos Lakka and Port Gaios

Ormos Lakka is an absolutely brilliant bay with some lovely tavernas, shops and stores. We stayed in the bay two nights. On our first night we anchored as far out as possible. The bay was very busy and we didn’t want to get too close to other boats. Also, it’s hard to enter a busy bay and try to anchor when you’re new. Everyone watches and it can often be stressful.

Unfortunately, however, the swell at our anchorage was very annoying. The boat rocked back and forth all day and all night. Furthermore, we felt very far from the amenities.

During our second evening at Ormos Lakka, we moved our boat closer to the shore despite the bay being packed with boats. Unfortunately, we learned a massive lesson about anchoring that day. The full story is under the heading “And here comes my disastrous anchoring story…” within my article entitled: How to anchor a sailboat – what I’ve learned about anchoring thus far

In the article, you’ll hear about what happens when a 60 mph gust of wind hits a bay full of too many boats

How to anchor a sailboat
How to anchor a sailboat

Needless to say, Ormos Lakka is a lovely bay but it does get too busy. If any bad weather is forecasted I’d suggest that you think twice about saying in this harbour. (Picture above is the bay when seated at one of the tavernas)

Port Gaios was a lovely mooring to enjoy a stroll, get an ice cream and take your pick of several excellent restaurants

Sailing Around the Greek Ionian Islands

Sailing Around the Greek Ionian Islands

It’s not often that hubby and I are able to enjoy an evening alone. My cousin offered to watch our daughter and stay on the boat (you can see our boat anchored in the picture above), while hubby and I took the dingy to the shore. We enjoyed a cocktail and then passed some sailors whom owned the same boat as ours – a 56′ Oyster. The owners invited us on their boat and we discussed a whole range of things – as you do. We learned some great tips on how to better handle our boat so hubby and I were pleased with the chance meeting.

One thing led to another and they invited us to join them for dinner. Knowing that it was an ‘alone’ night for hubby and I, we declined and spent our last moments in Port Gaios enjoying another lovely fish meal. In fact, I’d say it was my favorite fish meal in the Ionian.

Sailing around the Greek Ionian Islands

Sailing around the Greek Ionian Islands

With sore heads from the wine the night before, we then attempted to get into Ormos Vasiliki on the island of Levkas. The wind, however, was blowing from the wrong direction and we didn’t feel safe – especially after our anchoring scare in Ormos Lakka. We then sailed to the island below, and tried to get into Fiscardo, Cefalonia but the port was jam-packed. In the end, we found a small bay, not mentioned in the pilot book, south of Fiscardo and we anchored. All we could hear were sheep’s bah’s and bells.

I can’t say I felt safe

The anchorage was too deep for me (I wasn’t happy with the scope for our anchor) to feel comfortable and I felt so isolated.

The following day we found a spot in Fiscardo, Cefalonia and stayed for several days. Fiscardo is mine and my hubby’s most favorite sailing destination. Read, The magic of Fiscardo Cephalonia, to get a taste for this amazing destination. There are some tips in the article so make sure to read them before you go. For us, this spot is a MUST to visit.

Fiscardo Cephalonia

Fiscardo Cephalonia

While in Fiscardo (entrance of the bay pictured above), we hired a car and explored a variety of places on Cephalonia. We enjoyed a underground fresh water cavern, did some sightseeing around various villages and took in the beauty of the island.

Next, we sailed to Nidri on the island of Levkas. Our intention was to anchor in the bay but it looked packed. As we looked over at the town quay we noticed several open spots and went stern-to. Later we realised that the ferries and tourist boats cause quite a bit a movement along the wall, but overall the mooring was fine for a couple nights.

While my hubby, my father-in-law and my daughter were cleaning up the boat, my cousin and I took a little stroll to the restaurant that had the best wifi rating (from the boat). Our usual plan was to get a beverage, find out the wifi code, pay the bill and then go back to the boat so we could use the wifi from the luxury of our own abode.

Our wifi hunt, however, took a different turn on this particular occasion

My cousin, Loryn, and I ordered a 1/2 carafe of wine, poured a bit into our glasses and then started to download emails. As we were hooking ourselves up to the Internet, our server started chatting with us. We mentioned the boat we were on, pointed to my hubby cleaning the decks and explained our adventures.

To our amazement, our server, took two glasses from our table, poured two more glasses of wine, jumped on his scooter (parked outside) and took the wine to my husband and his father. We were both amazed at he servers actions! Loryn and I were also happy when our server brought us another 1/2 carafe of wine for free.

Greek Ionian Islands

Greek Ionian Islands

Nidri is an interesting place – it’s lined with restaurants and tavernas all along the waterfront. There are various pirate tourist boats and entertainment. Behind the line of restaurants there’s a main street that has stores, boutiques and the standard things you’d expect. There’s a bar on the main street called Road House – it plays rock-n-roll so my cousin and I enjoyed a few beverages while listening to some good tunes.

After Nidri, we ducked into Levkas Town Marina to ride out a storm

To get to the marina you have to motor up a very long channel and it takes quite a long time. Furthermore, it’s very narrow. As we went in one sailboat was grounded. And of course, there’s always motor boats wanting to go fast so they speed along trying to pass other boats.

We motored up the long channel and when we asked the marina for a berth they said that they didn’t have any available. I was deflated. A storm was coming and we wasted all that time going up the channel. I then yelled at hubby saying, ‘why didn’t you call before we entered the channel?’ As luck would have it, we called the marina again and said, ‘Are you sure you can’t fit us in somewhere?’ The marina kindly found us a spot.

I never wrote a review for the marina. There was a fee for the showers so we showered on the boat. The bathrooms were very nice. The whole marina was very well kept, had couple places to eat and a supermarket. And the town surrounded the marina so you could get anything and everything you’d expect in a town.

Overall, our stay in Levkas Town Marina was fine – nothing exceptional

But then again, I’d rather be anchored in a quiet bay or stern-to a free village quay. Sailing in Greece is so inexpensive so it hurts when you have to duck into a marina and pay a high price.

Leaving the busy waters around Levkas, our next port of call was the quite bay of Port Atheni, on the island of Meganisi. This was another one of our favorite spots – we anchored and then ran a line to shore to keep us from swinging (see picture below). The trees are all green, the waters are clear and it’s relatively quiet. We could easily take our tender to the inlet next to us and enjoy one of two lovely tavernas.

Sailing around the Greek Ionian Islands

Sailing around the Greek Ionian Islands

The owners of the taverna on the right have children so my daughter played with the kids the whole time we were on shore. It was funny to see her running around the back area playing with the children and their toys while we enjoyed a beverage and ate some lovely food.

A short walk away is a little town with a couple grocery stores, and some restaurants and bars. We found some good wifi and I enjoyed making a few Skype calls back home to the family.

We filmed our ‘Greek Burgers’ video in this particular bay (they have a Feta cheese surprise in the middle!). If you’d like to see a panoramic view, watch the Greek Burgers video about how to make the burgers and at the end my cousin presents the views.

Greek Burgers

Greek Burgers

After the quietness of Meganisi, we received word that friends we met in a Sicilian marina would be in the area. To read about how we met our friends in Marzamemi, Sicily read: Visiting Sicily – it’s one door before you get to heaven

We arranged to meet our friends at Vathi on the island of Ithaca

Sailing around the Greek Ionian Islands

Sailing around the Greek Ionian Islands

What a visit! After our initial hugs and greetings it didn’t take long for the Italians to feed us a plate full of pasta – of course! We had some drinks, caught up and eventually arranged for taxi’s to take us to a lovely traditional Greek restaurant at the top of Ithaca.

We enjoyed great food, amazing service and in the end some of us had a go at dancing on the tables. It was so wonderfully amazing to hook up with friends we met earlier in the season. We ate, drank, laughed and all had a great time together.

Sailing around the Greek Ionian Islands

Sailing around the Greek Ionian Islands

The following day, we had to push onto the town of Sami on Cephalonia

The Daily Mail (UK Tabloid Newspaper) was having a journalist fly down to interview us on the boat so we arranged to meet in Sami. Previous to the journalist coming we also wanted time to clean the boat, relax for a few days and have some down time.

The town if Sami has the usual things – grocery stores, butcher, bakery and several restaurants, bars and coffee shops. We enjoyed eating at several of the tavernas and my daughter sampled as many ice cream flavours as she could. We moored up along the wall and it was an easy stroll over to the restaurants. The one thing we did miss was a nice beach nearby.

After a week in Sami we knew it was time to start heading towards the Corinth Canal – the waterway that cut mainland Greece in two. We finished our stay in the Ionian Greek Islands on the island of Zakinthos at Ormos Ay Nikolaos and what an enjoyable stay it was.

When entering the harbour we first attempted to anchor however we were told that we’d be obstruct a ferry

Fortunately, a very tall Greek man on the jetty waved us over and helped us tie Britican side-to the wall (pictured below). The gentleman gave us his card and explained that his family owned the taverna on the beach and that they’d love to see us there. We later discovered that the mans family seemed to own the whole town!

Sailing around the Greek Ionian

Sailing around the Greek Ionian

After settling in, a older gentleman came down on his tractor to sell us olive oil and wine. My cousin managed to get a ride on the tractor!

Sailing around the Greek Ionian

Sailing around the Greek Ionian

Later during the week the whole family went out for a ‘Greek Night’ at the taverna on the beach

We enjoyed traditional Greek music, dancing and clapping. Everyone one of us got up and danced around the dance floor (below you can see the back of my husband and daughter). My daughter had a great time and I couldn’t help but have perm-a-grin the whole evening. The food was great, the entertainment was wonderful and the local and visiting guests were all in great spirits.

Sailing around the Greek Ionian

Sailing around the Greek Ionian

The following morning I woke early and went for a run

I run three times per year, if that…but on this particularly beautiful morning I just wanted to get up on higher ground to see the sun and the sea. I ran/walked for three or four miles and enjoyed the most wonderful sights – seaside and countryside. Below are some of the photo’s I took – I wish I could also offer you smell-o-vision as the smell of wild sage was so strong! As I walked around the area I just kept feeling so grateful to be alive.

After our amazing trip through the Greek Ionian Islands for the month of June, we then turned towards the Corinth Canal. Read: Travelling through the Corinth Canal during a Gale Force 8.

Overall, the Greek Ionian Islands provide loads of anchorages, harbors, eateries, scenery and like-minded people. We found the other tourists, sailors, local people and anyone else to be kind, friendly, helpful and grateful to enjoy the delights of the area. I highly recommend a sailing vacation or an extended cruising stint in these islands!

Boat brokers – how to find a good one!


Boat Brokers

After a professional survey and a personal look-over of the boat, we purchased a 35′ Moody. The whole thing took a matter of weeks and everything was organised between us and the seller.

That being noted, the purchase price of the boat was low

When we decided to buy the home that would carry us around the world, our first port of call, however, was a broker. When you’re spending a chunk of your life’s savings you want all the help you can get. Our broker at Oyster UK was brilliant. He really worked hard for us when it came to finding the right boat, negotiating the price and making the deal happen.

Unfortunately, however, the Oyster that we purchased was outside of the UK and we were handed over to another Oyster broker during the survey and sea trials…

The second broker unfortunately did not meet expectations, but that’s another story

Needless to say, I can definitely say that I’ve experienced the good and not-so-good side of boat brokers.

But this article isn’t about my experiences – let’s hear from a professional boat broker!

Over the past year I’ve been in touch with a wonderful person named Matt Howard. He stumbled upon this website and has been very helpful with support, tips and feedback for me and my family.

Matt has been a boat broker at United Yacht Sales, in America, since 2009. He lives just outside of Washington DC and serves the Mid-Atlantic region. Matt’s background includes yacht design, he is a USCG licensed Captain (50 ton Master) and a graduate of the Yacht Broker Institute. Previous to his life in the boating world Matt was a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot.

Many readers of this blog are in the process of looking to buy a boat therefore I thought an article about boat brokers could prove useful.

I sent Matt the following list of questions and he filled in the answers.

So – here’s everything you need to know about boat brokers

1. Can you buy or sell a boat without a boat broker?

The short answer is yes. In some cases ‘selling by owner’ is perfectly fine. However, both buyers and sellers should carefully consider the risks involved and proceed accordingly (see number 3).

2. Is there a certain price threshold where a broker is necessary? For example, if you’re going to buy or sell a $10,000 used boat should you use a broker? What about a $100,000 boat?

There’s no pat answer to this question, because it really comes down to the comfort level of buyer and seller and the nature of the deal. That said, we commonly broker the sale of boats valued anywhere from $10,000 on up.

3. Why use a boat broker? What service do they perform for buyers? What service do they preform for seller? Do brokers help boat owners to trade-up (sell and buy another boat)?

Brokered transactions are more secure than informal proceedings between buyers and sellers. If you want to buy a used canoe or a small skiff you can go eyeball the thing, ask a few questions of the seller, haggle the price, strike a deal and off you go. But if you’re after something bigger, there’s going to be more money involved. Maybe lots more.

If you’re a buyer, you need a way to check things out thoroughly with at least a qualified mechanic but better yet a professional surveyor. You need to arrange financing, insurance, registration/documentation and dockage or storage. Maybe you need some training to refresh your skills especially if you’re moving up.

You need to trial run the boat out on the water and put her through her paces. And after all that you need to be able to walk away before you accept the vessel if you’re not satisfied with any aspect of the deal. A good broker will see that all this and more is accomplished in order to protect your interests.

If you’re a seller, you want to make sure your boat gets seen, and better yet, stands out in a crowded market. You need to know what the fair market value is for your boat. Note that this figure does not equate to what others are asking for similar boats. Fair market value represents what the current market in your geographical area will likely bear. This ‘sold boat’ data is not available to the general public. Brokers have access to it, and good brokers will put together a detailed comparative market analysis on your boat so you know exactly where you stand.

Then, as you get prospective buyers, you don’t want to waste time with tire kickers. You’re not in the business of giving free boat rides. You want some assurance that a potential buyer is serious. You want some type of deposit held in escrow as ‘earnest money’ as an instrument of that buyer’s commitment. To best protect your interests, you need a legal, professional, iterative and documented process to which both buyer and seller agree. A good broker will take care of these details and help ensure the process runs smoothly, keeping you fully informed every step of the way.

(Matt wrote quite a bit on this topic. If you’re interested start with this article and follow on to his others: Selling or buying a boat? Here’s what a good broker will do for you)

4. Do boat brokers work only with the stock they hold or do they work with other boat sales companies/individuals?

Brokers should, and will usually be happy to co-broker deals with any other brokerage. Some will attempt to limit co-brokerage (in other words discourage outside brokers bringing a buyer to the deal) in order to prevent having to split the resulting commission by keeping the sale in house. This does a disservice to both buyers and sellers.

5. How do boat brokers make their money? Is it negotiable?

Brokers earn a commission when they sell a boat. The usual figure is 10% of the selling price, which is split between the listing broker (representing the seller) and the selling broker (representing the buyer). This figure will vary and may be negotiable depending on the circumstances of the deal.

6. Are there ‘good’ and ‘bad’ brokers? Can you describe the difference?

I’d love to say there are only good brokers out there… but this not the case. I think the best way to differentiate the two would be to focus on the positive and infer the rest. Put simply, a good broker is one who is always looking after his clients’ best interests. This means listening to the client, understanding his or her needs and desires, placing that resulting objective front and center, and then delivering on it.

If representing a seller, it means doing your homework and establishing accurate market value for the vessel and pricing it accordingly. In some cases this means a little ‘tough love’ is required for the client who because of emotional attachment or other factors believes the boat is worth more than the market will bear. It means producing a first rate listing complete with numerous, high quality photos, and a detailed vessel summary to match.

It means using all available sources to aggressively market and advertise the boat. It means being intimately familiar with the vessel so that when a prospect calls or emails the broker is able to provide accurate information and answer all the questions the prospect may have. When an offer comes, it means tracking and shepherding the process to closing with a near fanatical attention to detail, communicating constantly and ensuring the client’s fiduciary interests are well represented.

If representing a buyer, it means casting a wide but specific net, globally, if necessary, to capture available vessels that may suit the buyer’s needs. When a buyer isn’t quite sure what he or she is looking for, it means having detailed discussions, asking questions, listening, and providing options and alternatives so that over time, the details are teased out that ultimately describe the ‘perfect ‘ boat for that buyer. It means travelling far and wide, if necessary, with that client (and spouse!) to view as many vessels as possible to help narrow the field.

It means doing the homework that arrives at a fair market value for that vessel and making offers accordingly. Once on contract, just like in the above example, a fanatical attention to detail through survey, trial run, vessel acceptance and closing is necessary. Once the deal is done, it means providing either directly or indirectly whatever additional services the buyer may need, be it delivery services, crew sourcing, training, and dockage.

I think it’s fair to say that if a broker does all of the above, we can call him or her one of the good ones!

7. Once a boat sale is complete does the broker offer any other service?

Absolutely, but let’s back up a step. Brokers can help buyers well before closing with other matters; maybe they need recommendations on marine lenders if they’re financing or help finding insurance providers. Once the deal closes, in the short term buyers may need help arranging dockage, vessel documentation or getting recommended service providers. In the longer term, being there after the sale and staying in touch is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a broker.

8. If your mom, wife or loved family member was going to buy a boat and they couldn’t but it from you, what suggestions or tips would you recommending for finding a good broker?

Ask around. Ask your boat owning friends who they worked with and what they thought of their broker(s). Referrals and testimonials are the coin of the realm in this business, so don’t hesitate to ask candidate brokers for a list of their client testimonials.  Take time to meet candidate brokers in person, because let’s face it, chemistry is important.

9. Are there any well-known tricks that brokers perform that can be considered disingenuous? What should new buyers keep an eye out for?

First, ensure your broker is listening to you. If you’re a buyer, be wary if you’re being shown listings above your desired price point. Good brokers are not looking to maximize commission: good brokers are looking to satisfy their clients’ desires. And the truth is, buying the smallest boat that will do the job is always good advice. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed. Brokers should be patient, not pushy.

If you are selling, before you sign a listing agreement with a broker ask to see examples of listings he or she currently has active or sold previously. Those listings should reflect high quality photography and detailed, complete write-ups. Ask that candidate broker where your listing will be advertised. You should expect to be told it will be online with multiple listing services, not just locally or only in local print resources. You should also be shown comparative market data, in writing, that shows what the market will likely bear for your vessel.

10. Do you always recommend a marine survey on a boat prior to purchase?

Yes, absolutely, and without exception!

11. Do you recommend that a buyer brings an independent person skilled in boats (engines, hulls, rigging, steering, etc.) to have a look at the boat in addition to getting a marine survey from a professional surveyor?

A qualified and proficient surveyor should be able to critically evaluate and assess all aspects of a vessel and be able to provide a general overview of installed engine(s)/generators. Additionally, in many cases buyers will elect to obtain the services of a dedicated engine surveyor who will be able to evaluate the installed propulsive and auxiliary machinery in a more in-depth fashion than the hull surveyor.

Good brokers will nearly always recommend a survey, and in many cases will also recommend a dedicated engine survey, but this is solely at the buyer’s discretion. There are valuable resources available to help buyers select a surveyor. Two of these are the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (S.A.M.S.) and The National Association of Marine Surveyors (N.A.M.S.). These organizations’ websites allow users to search for surveyors worldwide.

12. Before a boat buyer contacts a boat broker what should they think about? What information will the boat broker want to know?

I mentioned a few suggestions above to find a good broker. In turn, your broker will need a few things from you to help find the right boat to suit your needs. What type of boat you are looking for, desired price point, maximum or minimum size, whether you plan to finance or not; the more details you can provide, the better.

A good broker will also ask you how you intend to use the boat, where it will be used, who will typically be aboard with you, and what activities you like to do while aboard. I like to ask prospective buyers “describe your ideal day on the water”. All these details will help shape the search, and also help the broker think of options you may not have considered that might be a good fit.

13. Is there a governing body for boat brokers or an association that brokers belong to so that potential clients can look them up?

There are multiple regional associations that brokers can join that help keep members up to speed on current issues dealing with the recreational boating market, help provide a uniform voice, and also prescribe a set of ethical guidelines that all members are required to practice. Membership in these organizations demonstrates a broker’s commitment to his profession.

Matt Howard Biography

Matt

Matt

Matt Howard has been an avid boater since his dad first put him behind the wheel of the family’s classic Chris Craft runabout when he was four years of age. Throughout his lifelong love affair with boating, he has owned, operated, and maintained a broad range of boats both power and sail, running the gamut from Hobie Cats to cabin cruisers to offshore performance powerboats.

After graduating from the Virginia Military Institute with a degree in Civil Engineering, Matt began his career as an active duty U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot; a career that took him around the country and around the globe. During his many tours of duty, including a stint flying the President as a Marine One pilot, Matt owned and operated a variety of boats in lakes, rivers, and the coastal waters of Hawaii, San Diego, CA, and Norfolk, VA. Before leaving active duty, he enrolled with the Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology’s Yacht Design course, a rigorous program designed to give students the ability to design, from the ground up, sail and power boats up to 100 feet in length. Matt is also a USCG licensed Captain (50 ton Master) and a graduate of the Yacht Broker Institute.

Since leaving active duty, Matt has used his infectious passion for boating and his comprehensive knowledge of power and sailboat design, construction, and operating characteristics to help friends and colleagues find the right boat to suit their lifestyle. His enthusiasm and innate talent for doing so led him to the next step – becoming a yacht broker. He has been with United Yacht Sales since 2009, lives just outside of Washington, DC and serves the mid-Atlantic region.

“The best thing about this business is the relationships you build along the way. Staying in touch with clients and hearing about their adventures aboard vessels I helped them acquire is tremendously rewarding. I can’t imagine a field of work that I would enjoy more.” Matt Howard

Briticans Captain Simon Brown – A Video Interview

Although I work hard to express the thoughts and feelings of my husband, Simon, the SailingBritican.com website is mainly based on my perspective. That being said, I’ve had various readers write me, send tweets and messages through Facebook asking if they could hear more from Simon.

After asking several times I finally got Simon to sit down and answer some questions. I asked him how his first year living aboard full time has gone, what is most memorable moment is thus far, what he wished he knew before that he knows now, what it’ like to live full time with his lovely wife and daughter, how his social life has been impacted, his worst experience and much more. So…without further ado, here’s Briticans Captain Simon Brown offering his thoughts on a lovely day in January from Marina diRagusa, Sicily.