French onion soup is comforting and gratifying. The flavors of caramelized onions are deep, the soup soaked bread with melted stringy cheese is hearty and the combination of all flavors and textures makes a filling meal.
Furthermore, French onion soup is a good clear-your-plumbing remedy if you’re feeling a little backed up ?
When I was a younger, my mom and dad would take us to a restaurant called Sunny Banks up along the St Lawrence River outside of Cape Vincent, New York. My mom would often get the French Onion soup and so would I! It was such a treat.
As I grew up I’d order the soup from time to time at other restaurants. For some reason I have meals I cook at home and meals I order out. For example, I never cook fish unless it’s out on the grill – it stinks up the boat. And I rarely make Eggplant Parmesan because it takes ½ day to make!
French onion soup was always an order-out option.
Looking back, I made an incorrect assumption. I presumed that making the soup was difficult. My mom is an amazing cook but she never made it at home so I just followed suit!
To my delight, however, I made the soup in my solar cooker (read the 10 Benefits to of Solar Cooking here) and discovered that its probably one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made.
If you haven’t yet purchased or made a solar cooker yet, I highly recommend the Solavore Sport Solar Cooker – it’s the one that we use on Britican.
Solar Cooking Recipe – French Onion Soup
6 – 8 onions (I’ve used all sorts – in the video they were white onions)
Beef broth (carton or use cubes to make around three cups)
Sherry to taste
Salt & pepper to taste
Toasted bread – French baguette works well
Sliced provolone, gruyere or even cheddar cheese
Roasted garlic (optional)
Slice the onions and add them to the pot. Add a tablespoon or so of butter and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Put the lid on and place in the slow cooker. Leave for at least three hours but it’s fine to leave them cooking all day.
Once you’re getting ready to eat, remove the pot and add the beef broth and sherry. Give it a good stir. Put the pot back in the solar cooker. While it’s warming up again, toast some baguette slices with sliced cheese over the top.
When you’re ready to put everything together, put a cheese covered slice of bread in a bowl and then cover it with the French onion soup.
Alternative uses for the caramelized onions
Use them as a base for a curry – caramelized onions are perfect!
Put them on top of burgers, sandwiches
If you have any suggestions, add them to the comments below…
Solar Cooked Roasted Garlic (optional)
Take a whole garlic bulb, and cut the narrow ended top off exposing the garlic cloves. Put in the solar cooker pot, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and cook for a couple hours.
Solar Cooking Recipe – French Onion Soup Video
Some books on Amazon about Solar Cooking
The first book listed below is the one I purchased before buying a solar cooker. It’s full of great information about how solar cooking works, how to build your own solar cooker, frequently asked questions and over 100 recipes.
A friend of mine is doing a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a nautically inspired pen (a great gifts for sailors idea).
If you haven’t come across Kickstarter yet, it’s an online platform that enables people/companies to get ideas off the ground. In return for people like you and I pledging an amount towards the campaign, we get a varying degree of rewards based on the amount pledged. In many cases, you’ll get the end product.
But let me back up and tell you about the pen…
Gifts for Sailors – Oceanus Bow Shackle Pen
Why? Because it’s cool. It’s really, really cool and if you’re like me, you like sailing stuff or you have friends/family that like sailing stuff.
So…my friend sent me one of the brass bow-shackle pens a few weeks ago. I’ve had the privilege of using it to write my checklists, create little notes for my daughter’s lunch box, make grocery lists, personally sign my book, ‘Changing Lifestyles’ (for those who request it – which I still find very strange that someone would want my signature!) and send out ‘thank you’ notes.
What I love most about this pen is that it’s nautical – its brass and has a shackle!
Not only do I love all things sailing related but I’m also a pen freak. One year, for Christmas, my stepfather gave me a bucket full of pens. It was the best present I ever got. My father-in-law made a pen from wood for me. And my husband has purchased a variety of interesting pens throughout our 18 years of marriage. Some are sterling silver with engravings, some have my name on them and others signify places I worked or vacations I took – Disney World, comes to mind.
Yes-I’m one of those pen thieves so keep an eye on your writing utensils when I’m near you!
I’m often found testing out how a pen writes when visiting Staples or any stationary section of a department store. I love pens!
Aside from looking awesomely nautical, the Oceanus Brass Bow-Shackle Pen writes easily and effortlessly. It’s one of those pens that glides across the page flowing from one letter and word to the next.
In addition to looking cool and writing well, the pen has a bow-shackle, meaning that I can attach it to my navigation station knowing that it’s going the be there whenever I look for it!
In the past I’ve been known to tape string to the end of a pen or tie string around a cap but it inevitably fails when someone gives a little tug and off my pen goes. In other words, my efforts to prevent other pen thieves has failed miserably…but not with my bow-shackle pen! I have it attached to my nav station book rail.
It would take a thief quite a bit of time to remove it.
Anyway, Kickstarter campaigns have set start and finish dates. This one will be ending soon.
If you like the look of the pen, or are in search of gifts for sailors, check out the campaign and determine if you’d like to pledge some money in return for getting one yourself (or for a friend). Not only will you get a pen but you’ll also be helping my friend and this awesome product get out into the world.
After enjoying St. George’s for a couple weeks we motored 2.5 hours to Bermuda’s Capital city, Hamilton. We would have sailed if the conditions were right but unfortunately the wind was on our nose. Even though we had the engine running the voyage was relaxing and full of beautiful scenery. With the Atlantic Ocean on our starboard side (right) and Bermuda on our port (left) we traveled most of the length of the country to seek a new anchorage. To enjoy our journey, watch Hamilton Bermuda by Boat.
Once we found our new anchorage we immediately settled in.
A neighboring liveaboard came over on his dingy and introduced himself. We gained knowledge about the whereabouts of the dinghy dock, the best place to get groceries and other important information.
The first night we enjoyed a lovely sunset and live music emanating from the tall ship parked next to us. We also were entertained by the creation of yet another one of our daughter, Sienna’s, ‘forts’ built from several sarongs. The latest fort was positioned on the aft deck over the double-bed sunning area.
Over the course of a week we lived life like we normally do on board. Sienna did her homeschooling every morning. Simon attempted to fix things (and often fixed them!) and I worked on my culinary solar cooking skills. Thus far, all but one solar cooking adventure has ended on a plate rather than in the sea ?
We also spent time ashore exploring the wonderful city of Hamilton.
Interestingly when I did a Google search for ‘Hamilton,’ every place (eg. Hamilton, Canada)/thing (eg. Hamilton, the Musical) on Earth other than Hamilton, Bermuda came up. Even on YouTube I couldn’t find many video’s about the lovely city. I can’t understand why?!
The city is absolutely stunning. The main park is gorgeous – beautiful flowers, trees and walkways. The stores are brilliant – some mainstream brands but many one-off boutiques. There are cute little book shops, cafes and even the department stores have character.
The whole city is devoid of Starbucks, McDonalds, KFC and Pizza Hut.
There are lovely churches, architecture, scenic views of the harbor…and the Hamilton Fort is AMAZING. My husband, Simon, and I took Sienna for a little walk and uphill climb to find the fort. A sign was posted that said something to the effect of ‘enter at your own risk.’ I thought it would be in shambles, but it was in an amazing state.
The grounds were perfectly manicured and full of gorgeous shrubs, trees and flowers.
What totally blew me away was the walk around the forts moat. I don’t normally write this but OMG (oh-my-God) it was such a cool experience. Within the moat a forest has grown and it’s like walking through a wonderland of incredible foliage. The trees all have character – twists, turns, interesting changes in their growth…Some trees had roots that were visible that twisted and turned. Others were tipped over but still growing strong. It was enchanting. I felt as if I was Alice in Wonderland…
And amazingly we were the only people at the fort. I got the feeling that Fort Hamilton wasn’t promoted. Bermuda seems to be dominated by cruise ships and I think this fort is not on the list of options – thankfully! I’m not sure why it’s not popular because out of everything I saw in Bermuda this fort was one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been.
And to top it all off, the Fort of Hamilton is free to enter ?
But that being said, I’m a tree freak. I love trees. Always have and always will… I didn’t enjoy the fort for the history. Interestingly, I enjoyed the fort for its uniqueness, greenery and the way it made me feel. I think that I also enjoyed it because it felt as if it was a hidden gem. Not once did anyone recommend that we visited the fort. And even in the tourist map that I had the fort wasn’t even on it!
So…if you get to Bermuda check out Fort Hamilton. Yes, it’s a hike but on a lovely sunny day a walk in the cool moat with a forest rising above you is nothing short of awesome (and I’m not using the word awesome lightly)!
Without any more commentary the best thing I can do is present my video on Hamilton, Bermuda. My aim was to present the viewer with a inside view as to what it’s like to live on a boat day-to-day AND enjoy the surrounding area. Similar to my Sailing in Bermuda – Life At Anchor video while in St. George’s, this video shows our normal life in addition to what we saw when we went to shore.
Moral of my story… Go to Bermuda because it’s lovely. And when you do, visit Hamilton Fort.
For more information on the products used in this video check out these resources:
For all my articles/videos about Bermuda, check these out:
Good Resources for Bermuda
I purchased the first two items listed below before we sailed to Bermuda. Both were fantastic and I highly recommend getting them if you’re going to visit Bermuda for any length of time.
Would you like to buy a boat and travel around the world? Learn from our experience.
Get everything we learned in real terms. It’s easy to understand, no sailor jargon…hard hitting and will give you what you need to know to hit the sea successfully:
And that’s that. If you have any comments or questions please leave them below or email me at Kim@SailingBritican.com and when I’m not sailing I’ll work hard to respond. Thanks so much for joining us on the journey ?
After a couple weeks of living life quietly anchored in St. George’s Bermuda, we pulled up our anchor and motored to Hamilton Bermuda by boat. Hamilton, the Capital of Bermuda, is quite a beautiful bustling city. While anchored we enjoyed the views of the city by day and night. We also took several trips to land to explore our surroundings.
But don’t let me get ahead of myself! First thing first – getting to Hamilton.
Before pulling up our anchor we called Bermuda Radio seeking guidance as to exiting St. Georges and taking the southern channel over to Hamilton. After a quick VHF call on Channel 27, Bermuda Radio said we were clear to leave noting that the only traffic to worry about where the two cruise ships using the Northern Channel.
My husband, Simon, started the engine. I pulled up the anchor and off we motored.
The breeze was strong and right on our nose so we had no choice but to motor the 2.5 hours from St. George’s to Hamilton. It was nice to see the island from the sea. We could easily spot all the beaches and landmarks we discovered by foot.
During the passage our daughter, Sienna, watched a movie. I chilled out taking in the beautiful views and Simon kept watch for channel markers and Cardinals (floating markers telling you to stay to one side to avoid obstructions). The Cardinals point to East, West, North or South and you need to ensure your boat passes them correctly.
A few sport fish boats passed us in addition to some other motoring sailboats.
Otherwise, it was a gentle motor along the island of Bermuda. We could see the amazingly blue tropical waters, a flat-ish green island dotted with white roofed homes and a couple cruise ships docked at the Naval Dockyards.
Eventually we made it to the anchoring spot and found a Tall Ship from Columbia in addition to a huge motor yacht. After circling around for a while we decided to anchor in Blue Hole near White Island. Upon anchoring we were greeted by a neighbor located on a nearby mooring buoy. Captain Mike explained our spot was a good place to anchor – great holding. He then asked the usual question we get asked, ‘Is your boat an Oyster?!’
From there on out felt a part of the community.
The Hamilton Bermuda by Boat Video showcases the sights and sounds we experienced. Hopefully the music I choose to accompany the video will provide an enjoyable viewing experience. So, sit back and enjoy our trip from St. Georges to Hamilton Bermuda…
Any questions, comments or feedback about Hamilton Bermuda by boat?! Please leave it below.
And if you’re interested in other articles and video’s about Bermuda, make sure to take a look at:
Do you have to get a gift for a lady friend, wife or husband in the not-so-distant-future? If your friend/partner likes sailing please consider getting them a nautical gift from my Sailing Britican Etsy shop. All gifts have a sailing theme, are high quality and in some cases I made them myself. So, check out the Jewelry, Sarongs, T-shirts, Spices for Sailors, Pillow Cushion Covers and more at Sailing Britican Etsy.
Or if you’re looking to sell up and sail away or just sail away consider getting my guides!
READER REVIEW “Do yourself a favor – get all of the guides on offer by Sailing Britican. Each one offers several nuggets of wisdom and many money-saving tips. I was debating on buying a few of the guides but I purchased them all. I’ve dipped in and out of most of them and ever time I find more value. Any newbie boatowner and/or sailor should read these guides. ” T. Butcher
It took us five days to sail from USA to Bermuda, St George’s Harbour. The inlet welcomed us in with beautiful calm turquoise water. After sailing to Bermuda it was fantastic to sightsee all around Bermuda – especially St George’s Island.
There was a massive reward for the unfortunate seasickness I endured on the trip over. I know that readers often question why I live through seasickness time and time again but the rewards are worth it.
The reward of seeing new lands and exploring the unknown is so exciting. I just love walking on a trail with a bend ahead and then I love turning on the bend to see the next view (and then repeat). And I absolutely love beautiful views! Views of the sea, beautiful tall majestic trees, white fluffy cloudy skies and everything in between.
During our month-long stay in Bermuda we anchored mostly in St George’s harbour. Here’s a breakdown with some practicalities for sailors, tips to help you better enjoy your stay and the seven best things to do while anchored in Bermuda St George’s.
1. Enjoy the anchorage in Bermuda St George’s
In Bermuda there’s a wide variety of anchorages but, by far, St George’s is the all-around best. The holding is good. There views are fantastic and beautiful island smells waft through the air including the smell of lavender, jasmine, passionflower and frangipani.
There’s an abundance of room to anchor – the bay is huge and can accommodate hundreds of boats. The water is clean, warm and offers a refreshing swim from the back of the boat. Aside from a fast ferry, an infrequent small cruise ship and/or small tanker, the bulk of marine traffic is from a pilot boat and other local and foreign private boat owners. A dinghy ride around the area provides hours worth of exploring, snorkeling and sightseeing by water.
Before arriving contact Bermuda Radio on Channel 27 in advance.
We called around six hours before entering St George’s harbor to notify Bermuda Radio that we were in Bermudian waters. And once we got closer to the entrance channel we radioed again seeking clearance to navigate the very narrow channel into the harbor.
While entering we raised our yellow q-flag (stands for quarantine – I think?!) on the port or left side spreader. On the right we had the Bermudian curtesy flag.
To clear Customs, all boats are required to dock at Customs & Immigration in St George’s Harbor. There’s quite a bit of space but it does get busy. We tied onto the dock and all passengers entered the Customs building, passports in hand, to do the paperwork. Aside from passports, we needed to show boat proof of ownership and boat insurance. The process is easier if using the SailClear, and online system. On this occasion we did not use it (we forgot). After clearing Customs, we anchored and jumped in for a swim!
Once on land there’s everything a sailor could ask for…
…ATM’s, free WIFI, trash receptacles, a small but well stocked food store, a variety of restaurants/bars and loads of sightseeing options. The airport is only ten minutes away by bus making this anchorage great for crew and guest drop off’s and/or pick-up’s.
There are several bus stops and bus tokens can be purchased from the Visitor’s Center, in the square, and most of the shops in the area.
Within the harbor there’s access to fuel and water at dockside. Duty Free fuel can be obtained in St Georges but it needs to be a minimum of 950 liters and is delivered to the boat by truck at the fuel station. Every vessel is granted a certificate that allows for one free Duty Free fuel purchase. Note that if you need less than 950 liters of Duty Free fuel it can be obtained at the Naval Dockyard through the fuel pump.
WIFI can be obtained from the boat when anchoring in Convicts Bay. There is a fee for the WIFI but I can verify that it was good quality. Log onto Ocean Sails WIFI (it will appear in your WIFI selection area) and a page will open up displaying the options. There’s a 1-day, 3-day and weeklong option ($35 for the week per user).
To watch read what what it’s like to be anchored on a boat rather than sightseeing, check out Sailing around Bermuda – Life At Anchor. There’s also a video too!
TIP: If you’re not in need of WIFI from Convicts Bay, I’d suggest you anchor further out into the bay. We spent a week in the middle of the bay and a week closer to land to get WIFI. While closer to land we found an increase of cockroaches landing on the deck of our boat.
2. Stroll around the streets of St Georges, Bermuda visiting museums, churches and parks
Are you a history buff?! Do you enjoy museums? Days, not hours, can be spent strolling along the narrow labyrinth styled alleys of St Georges. In 2000, the town was named an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town, and Bermuda itself, was discovered in 1609 when the English flagship, Sea Venture, got lost and blown ashore.
The ship was bound for Virginia with provisions for new settlers but was blown off course and destroyed when it hit Bermuda. The passengers survived the wreckage, settled in St Georges for several months and eventually remade two ships to provision and sail onward to America. The Deliverance was called the ship that saved America. By the time the Deliverance and the other ship made it to Jamestown the colonial inhabitants were near starving. The ships were stocked with meat, vegetables and fruit from Bermuda – surely an amazing sight to behold.
Amongst many excellent museums in the town there’s also a replica of the Deliverance that you can visit.
Some of the museums to check out include the Bermuda National Trust Museum at the Globe Hotel – you’ll find the interesting part that Bermuda played in America’s Civil War. There’s the Town Hall that has open doors when not in session. You’ll also find the Bermudian Heritage Museum, the St. George’s Historical Society Museum, Printery & Garden, the Tucker House, a replica of a prominent merchant’s home and there’s also the World Heritage Centre.
In between all the museums, you’ll find several churches. One of them being the oldest continuously operating Anglican Church in the Western Hemisphere. St Peter’s, Their Majesties Chappell, dates back to 1620! And the unfinished Church is my favorite – it looks like an old English ruin.
And the Somers Gardens are well worth a visit. Rumor has it that the British admiral charged with developing the Bermudian colony has his heart buried in the park! There’s a tomb to check out in addition to beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers.
If you want to take home the amazing bouquet of Bermudian floral smells, make sure to also stop at the Bermuda Perfumery. The perfumery still makes and bottles all its’ inland inspired scents on-site using more than 3,000 essential oils extracted from frangipani, jasmine, oleander, and passionflower. A bottle of perfume would make a fantastic gift for someone too (HINT, HINT Simon!)
3. Watch the 12:30pm public punishment sessions in the King’s Square.
During the summer months, there’s a performance put on that is highly entertaining. A woman is sentenced with nagging her husband. Her penalty is to be dunked into the water several times. Additionally, an audience member is picked from the crowd for public drunkenness and sentenced to standing at the whipping post in the hot sun. The drunk cannot leave the post until the sun is covered by cloud three times.
If you time your clearing at Customs correctly, you can book into Bermuda and watch the performance. The Customs & Immigration building, on Ordinance Island, is next to the King’s square.
4. Walk just outside the Town of St. George’s to find AMAZING SIGHTS
Within a mile’s walk, you can enjoy snorkeling at Tobacco Bay or Achilles Bay. Both provide clear water, beautiful rock formations and coral reef housing puffer fish, squid, amazingly colorful parrotfish and more. And if you’re not into snorkeling you can enjoy a relaxing swim or a nice sunbath on the beach.
In between time spent on the beaches you can visit St. Catherine’s Fort. This is the best fort on the island and the views are absolutely breathtaking. Both children and adults alike will enjoy the moat, drawbridge, tunnels, towers and ramparts.
TIP: As you’re heading out of St. George’s you have to pass the grocery store. Make sure to pick up some water and perhaps some food for lunch. There’s a small food stand with burgers and a licensed bar at Tobacco Bay. There’s also a restaurant above Achilles Bay and a tiny bar on the beach, but if you want to save some money and/or eat more healthy food, the store is your best bet. St Catherine’s Fort had a very tiny café but it wasn’t open when we paid a visit.
5. Enjoy a meal and beverage at one of the lovely St. George’s eateries
My family and I were fortunate to enjoy several meals at Wahoo’s Bistro & Patio in addition to White Horse Pub & Restaurant and one other. By far Wahoo’s was our favorite. The WIFI was good, the drinks came quickly and the food was excellent. Furthermore, I noticed that Wahoo’s was filled with tourists and locals alike.
There are also several cafés and ice cream shops worth a grabbing a snack at.
6. Take a short bus trip to nearby attractions
Within a short bus ride you’ll find the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo. It’s one of Bermuda’s premier attractions. We managed to visit the attraction on a day without cruise ship visitors so we had the place to ourselves. It’s a small attraction but we easily spent several hours taking in all the great stuff. It’s laid out extremely well and there’s so much to observe, read and watch.
The aquarium is fantastic – we learned about all the fish we later went to see when we went snorkeling. The zoo is entertaining – there’s displays of animals from around the world. We liked the open enclosure that housed the monkeys, turtles, birds and iguanas. At one point our daughter had to walk around a huge iguana right in the middle of our path.
And near the Aquarium are the Crystal Caves…not to be missed!
7. Head further afield to visit the capital city, Hamilton, and/or the Naval Dockyards
We visited Hamilton by bus on several occasions and the Naval Dockyards by bus and ferry. Eventually, we motored our boat around from St. George’s to Hamilton and dropped anchor. Whatever way you want to make the trip, it’s enjoyable. The buses drive fast down very narrow roadways. There’s a huge amount of sights to take in looking out at the sea. You’ll pass quiet inlets, busy beaches and buzzing towns.
By sea, you’ll take in Bermuda’s flat terrain picking out a few hotels, the governors’ house and estate, and white roofed properties lining the island. From St. Georges’s you can take a fast ferry directly to the Naval Dockyards. Once I publish my article, review and video’s of Hamilton and the Naval Dockyards I’ll insert the link here ? So…coming soon!
Things to do in Bermuda St George’s VIDEO
Aside from the above there are several Bermudian golf courses worth trying!
Simon and I love to golf but towing our seven year old daughter around for 18 holes would be hell. When Sienna’s off to University we’ll surely return to Bermuda and give the golf courses a go. They all look amazingly maintained and super challenging. And the views…I love the views!
Furthermore, if you’re a dive buff, there are hundred’s of ship and plane wrecks. Make sure to research your options as there’s loads to choose from. Again, with Sienna, we can dive with her yet so we’ll save that for later. Regarding the visibility of the water – we were actually disappointed as we expected it to be clearer. We couldn’t see the bottom in St. George’s Harbour at all…
Upon further research we discovered that July and August have the worst visibility due to growth in the water. That being said, however, we had some great views of fish and sea life while at Tobacco and Achilles bay. Before booking a dive I’d just enquire as to where you can get the best visibility and the best dive!
Good Resources for Bermuda
I purchased the first two items listed below before we sailed to Bermuda. Both were fantastic and I highly recommend getting them if you’re going to visit Bermuda for any length of time.
Overall Tips about visiting Bermuda St George’s
If you’re sailing into Bermuda make sure to bring as much food, beverages and paper supplies as possible. Everything and I mean everything is around double what you’d normally pay. Celery is $9.00. A glass of wine is $11.00. And the average cost of an entree start around the $25.00 mark. There’s no local veg shop with affordable vegetables!
If your’e staying a while like we did, consider bus passes that are longer than the day tokens or passes. You can get a week or month pass at a discount.
Many restaurants/bars have WIFI but many do not. It’s worth asking before you enter.
Tips/gratuity is usually added to all bills so make sure you don’t tip twice.
Some grocery stores offer a discount to boaties – the one in St George’s does so it’s worth asking for the discount.
There are rip tides and Portuguese-man-of-war (they look like bags so don’t grab them!) so make sure you understand what to do if you encounter either of these things.
Everyone say’s hello and goodbye so don’t be surprised when someone gets off the bus and shouts out, ‘good bye everyone.’
Would you like to buy a boat and travel around the world? Consider this:
Two weeks have transpired since we safely arrived in Bermuda. How does it feel to be sailing around Bermuda and anchoring rather than living in a marina?
It feels outstanding…and I mean amazingly outstanding.
Our five-day sailing to Bermuda trip from Charleston, South Carolina to paradise had it moments. There was a bit of wind, no wind, sun, rain – you name it, we had it. For most of the trip I was seasick often doubting my decision to be a sailor. At one point I cried out, ‘why did we choose our first sail to be five very long days?!’ (Watch our sailing to Bermuda video)
But I had to keep reminding myself that seasickness reduces in severity over time. My body was out of practice. It wasn’t accustomed to the Atlantic swell.
With the swells behind us and the calm St George’s Harbour surrounding us in comfort, I was reminded as to the benefits of living on the hook.
Every morning I wake to a beautiful rising sun, the sent of Jasmine and Frangipani the air, soft waves lapping along the hull and a backdrop full of soft blues, oranges and yellows. A calmness pervades the boat and it remains all day!
I can see normal life in motion from the boat. The pink and blue number 11 bus heads down the road. Tourists circle the Town Square. Locals drive to their place of employment. The town’s men line up near the coffee shop to talk politics. But there’s a strong sense that I’m removed from that world. It’s a sense that I didn’t get when living in the marina.
The small amount of water between an anchored boat and the land provides enough space to see the reality I choose not to be wholly a part of. And when I do go to land I know it’s only temporary. Instead of being pulled back into the mainstream depressing media, commercialism, multi-tasking, fast-food, fast-everything, an incessant feeling of over-working and underachieving, I instead feel peaceful, do what I came to do and then head back to my island of calm.
I think I was born to live on a boat. It’s truly the only place I feel balanced.
With that being noted, my family and I have spent these first couple weeks doing a variety of ‘normal’ tasks like cooking, cleaning, searching out leaks and finding solutions to remedy them. We’ve polished the chrome deck fittings, had some repairs done to our mainsail and replaced quite a bit of teak deck calking.
Our daughter, Sienna, does her homeschooling right after breakfast. She does a bit of reading, mathematics, writing, language arts, spelling and special projects. We often save science for later in the day where we learn about the weather and log the vitals – temperature, cloud coverage, cloud type and rainfall. Or we perform some sort of chemical experiment and record our findings – combing vinegar and baking soda is always a winner.
In between our homework and chores, we enjoy at least three swims off the back of the boat each day.
The water is refreshing and enlivening. One dip provides a coolness that can revive any lull in energy.
At anchor there’s always fresh air and thus far we’ve found the Bermudian breeze to be perfect. It’s not too hot and it’s not too cold. If it wasn’t for the hurricanes this tiny little rock gets, the location would get my gold seal approval for the best summer anchorage spot ever. But alas, we faithfully check tropical storm formation off the coast of Africa every morning. It brings me great joy when my husband, Simon, yells out, ‘No tropical storms on the radar. We’re good for at least another five days.’
We’ve lived through one named storm and one Category 1 Hurricane. For me, that’s enough for a lifetime. I’ve never been more scared in my life than when Hurricane Matthew hit Charleston in 2016. But let me get back to my peaceful floating atoll…
Before leaving the States I acquired a couple solar cooking ovens.
A few months ago I never knew that cooking by sun was possible. Sure, my mom used to say, ‘it’s hot enough to cook and egg on the hood of the car!’ but I personally knew it didn’t work. Yes – I tried to cook an egg on our car when I was kid and all it did was leave a terrible mess.
While surfing Amazon for my next read their fancy system introduced a book to me called, ‘Cooking With Sunshine,’ by Anderson and Palkovic and I was immediately intrigued. I’m not sure how Amazon does it but they’ve got me pegged. A few minutes later the book was ordered and two day’s later I knew my future would be filled with sun cooked food.
Unable to test my solar cooker until we arrived in Bermuda, I was initially disappointed with the cloud cover. For our first week we had several severe thunderstorms and loads of dark looming clouds. I was about to give up but the weather broke and we’ve had over a week of beautifully sunny days.
The sun cooker I started my learning curve with is called the Solarvore Sport Sun Cooker.
It came with the cooker, temperature gage, two pots, a water purification device and an information booklet with some recipes. I thought I’d start slowly and make some vegetarian meals. The idea of having meat or fish sitting in the sun didn’t feel appealing.
You can purchase the Solarvore Sun Cooker on Amazon – click the image for more information.
Our first solar cooked meal was sweet potato and black bean tacos. I followed the recipe, threw a bunch of ingredients into the provided pot, stirred them up and put them in the cooker. Simon, Sienna and I kept watching the temperature gauge. Within ten minutes it was up to 200F. After an hour or so, we then left the boat and went for a swim at the famous snorkeling beach, Tobacco Bay.
As we swam our dinner was being baked with the power of the sun!
The solar cooking booklet highlighted that there’s a very small chance for overcooking so set the food in the cooker in the morning and leave it all day. And as long as the temperature is over 180F for the more than ½ hour in every hour, the food is cooking (rather than not cooking and potentially growing bacteria!). After a very enjoyable day at the beach, we all returned to the most amazing smells wafting off the back of Britican.
The sweet potato and bean tacos were a hit. The potato was perfectly cooked and all the ingredients infused to make a taste sensation.
After our first success, I went on to make a Moroccan Tangine, a pot of rice, baked potatoes and boiled eggs! The rice I cooked for three hours – 1 cup of rice and 1 ½ cups of water with a dab of butter. It was the best rice I’ve ever made.
So – I’m now hooked on solar cooking and I think the Solavore Sport Solar Oven is brilliant. When I try using other solar cookers I’ll be better apt to write a review on what I like/don’t like about the various options. As it stands now I’m such a newbie so I can’t really comment (so watch this space!)
And Simon and I are discussing our options for green energy.
Until our success with the solar cooker I didn’t feel that power from solar or wind would benefit us enough. We already have solar panels that help keep the batteries charged when everything is off. But my issue is that we need to run the generator to run our electric cooker, water maker and washing machine.
Currently there’s no green energy that will power such massive draws.
However, now that I have the ability to cook without our electric cooker, we’d only need to run the generator every few days (instead of ever day_ – that is…if we had green energy to keep the batteries topped up.
In other words, as it currently stands, we run the generator every day to cook, make water, do the laundry and top up the batteries. If I don’t have to use the cooker and I had something organically topping up the batteries, we’d only need the genset every few days to do laundry/make water.
So…discussions have started about generating enough amps to power our DC Panel. The main draws on that are the fridge, freezer and inverter (for our plugs – to charge our computer, Ipad, camera’s, etc.). By covering those, we won’t have to use the generator to top the batteries up…we’ll only use it for high-powered draws. So…interesting times ahead.
Tobacco Bay – where we went swimming
So, while anchored in St George’s Bay, Bermuda, life is easy for a sailor.
First of all, the anchorage has excellent holding and it’s sheltered from the Atlantic. The very narrow entrance provides quite a calm bay that feels worlds apart from the Atlantic rollers just outside the landmass.
The views in every direction of the boat are appealing. The water is often the sought-after turquoise green-blue that tells you you’re in paradise. The visibility of the bay, however, has not been very clear. After reading up on Bermuda we did however discover that the months of July and August have the worst visibility due to algae growth. But don’t get me wrong – it’s 100% better than the brown muddy polluted water of Charleston.
After a very short dinghy ride to the dedicated dinghy dock you’ll find a fantastic restroom. I’ve seen my share of disgusting public toilets… Italy is renown for them. Bermuda, however, is the exact opposite. The public restroom outside the Customs & Immigration dock is top notch. It’s a shame they didn’t install showers for sailors but at least you can get onto land and have an enjoyable, shall I say ‘movement’?! Hehehehe.
St George’s Supermarket
You’ll also find the Tourist Information office, a small supermarket with a good selection of items and ‘fast hot food’. Additionally, there’s a laundromat, pharmacy, bus station and several eateries close by. There are two mobile phone carriers on the island. SIM cards can be purchases in a handful amount of places. If, however you want a data SIM, you’ll need to get that at the main Digicel branch in Hamilton.
And the options for day trips from St George’s is plentiful.
The amount of things to do and places to go within walking distance of the anchorage are plenty. Furthermore, the buses are easy to understand and there’s even a fast ferry that takes passengers from St Georges over to the Naval Dockyards directly. And every museum, attraction, display and even public restroom is kept to the highest standard.
It didn’t take long to realize that Bermuda is a well kept, wealthy island. Unlike the poverty you see in the Caribbean and other islands around the world, Bermudians have a high standard of living.
But allow me to stop here. In future articles and video’s I’ll cover what to do and see in St George’s, Hamilton, Naval Dockyards and Beyond…and an overall review of the island (from a sailors perspective).
And if you’re interested in sailing to and around Bermuda make sure to read/watch:
Sailing to Bermuda – Article detailing the preparing, provisioning and five day sail across the Atlantic Ocean
VIDEO: Sailing Around Bermuda – Life at Anchor
What more from Sailing Britican?
Well…if you like reading about our adventures, please make sure to read my book! It covers our first three years and over 18,500 miles of traveling from the Med across the Atlantic, up the Caribbean and along the east coast of America. The book also covers the lead up to why and how we sold up to sail away.
READER REVIEW “I finished your book this week and absolutely loved it! It was great to read about your early days in many places we also sailed. I loved the way you combined your blogs/real life scenarios with advise on boat maintenance, letting go of your previous life and about your honestly throughout. I enjoy your style of writing Kim, and I loved the little Sienna quotes.” Jayne Eames-Thornton, s/v Delphinus
Sailing to Bermuda has allowed us to hit our 20,000 nautical miles mark! Woo woo! And this sailing to Bermuda video showcases our trip.
Looking back, my family, guests and I have really made quite a bit of progress on our around the world journey. Part of me always wonders if we’ll actually make the full circumnavigation. But with sailing I’ve learned to take it one day at a time (or shall I say one journey at a time?).
Anyway, to truly get a feel for what it takes to prepare for a five day sail, watch our video, ‘How to Provision and Prepare for Boat for Passage,’ as that video is the precursor to Sailing To Bermuda video below. It covers what we did to prepare the boat and meal planning. It also covers passage planning, dealing with Immigration and Customs and more.
And if you want the full scoop – and all the behind the scenes information – of what its’ like to prepare, plan and sail for five days (the good, bad and ugly), read my article entitled Sailing to Bermuda. Video is great to provide a feel for what we’re doing. But to get the full scoop, the articles will provide more in depth information.
Without any further ado, allow me to present our…
Any comments, questions or feedback on the Sailing to Bermuda video? Please leave your thoughts down below.
And if you enjoyed the video and want to read about our voyages leading up to the purchase of Britican through to our Mediterranean circumnavigation, Atlantic Ocean crossing, time in the Caribbean and voyage to America please purchase my book, ‘Trading in the Rat Race for a Sail Around The World.’
You can purchase the book in digital or hardcopy in my store by clicking on the book cover below or, you can can purchase the book on Amazon.com by clicking here: Buy on Amazon
And if you’re thinking of following in our footsteps make sure to check out the many guides we’ve created to make it safer, easier and more fulfilling to get into boating. We have guides on the boat buying process, awesome checklist to keep on board once you get the boat, templates for how to make every VHF radio call, what to do in hurricanes and more. Visit the shop now ?
The tide is changing in our lives. We’re soon sailing Britican to Bermuda and our long-term liveaboard neighbors, Brad and Cherie from Sailing Puffin, are moving too. Brad and Cherie, however, are hanging up their sailing caps and moving back to land. Whenever we spend a winter, hurricane season or any length of time with other boaties it’s often very difficult to say ‘good-bye.’ And saying goodbye to Sailing Puffin and her crew is no different.
This video showcases my husband and I helping Captain Brad to motor (for the last time) Puffin up the Wando River so to put her up on the hard. Sailing vessel Puffin is a 1978 62′ Jongert Steel Ketch. She’s now up for sale so if you like the look of her you can find more details and a 3D inside tour from the brokerage, Ashley Yachts, here.
The first question that my husband, Simon, and I are asked about the 3+ years of our liveaboard sailing lifestyle is not, ‘do you do a treasure hunt for kids?’, but it’s ‘what do you do about your child’s education?’
That’s when I take a large inhalation and proceed to explain, and hopefully enlighten, my audience of one or many…(eventually I’ll get to the video and explanation of the most amazing treasure hunt ever but you’ll have to hold tight for bit).
Since our daughter, Sienna, was 3 ½ years old we’ve been using a combination of homeschooling and formal educational institutions as and when possible. When Sienna was four years old we stopped in Marina di Ragusa, Sicily, Italy for six months. Sienna enjoyed going to an Italian pre-school from 8am to 2pm Monday through Friday. She learned how to speak Italian and was truly submersed in the Italian culture with other Italian children.
From the age of four until six we home schooled Sienna using a variety of on and offline homeschooling resources.
Whatever country we were in we learned about the history, culture, food, landscape, animals, language, music and traditions. While learning about the various countries I would read to Sienna and get her to do some writing. Read Homeschooling a 5 Year Old On A Boat.
To cover Math, Simon and I just made sure to show examples of adding, subtracting and problem solving. For example, when going to a public market, we’d ask Sienna to get eight oranges. When we arrived back on the boat we’d all have an orange and Simon would ask, ‘how many oranges are left?’ As and when Sienna progressed we increased the difficulty level.
Prior to arriving in America, when Sienna turned six, I felt that homeschooling was increasingly getting more complicated. I wasn’t sure if I should follow the British school system or the American…or any other system?! (I’m American and Simon is British).
I suppose the question I had to ask myself is where will we end up and what system will I need to best prepare Sienna for.
Aside from complications I felt inadequate. I felt that as a mom I wasn’t a good teacher. Every week I tried to scour the Internet (when I could get a connection) to find fun ways of teaching. I felt quite alone and didn’t know what was best to do. My approach was flippant and almost desperate.
Due to a very limited time on the Internet (only when we were on land) I had to do things fast. I felt rushed. Looking back it would have been of benefit if I found a homeschooling online group of mums/dads to bounce things off of.
Also…I wasn’t having any luck getting Sienna to read.
Our plan was to visit America to avoid the Caribbean Hurricane season (and visit family) and then carry on sailing. What happened, however, is that we decided to stay for a year so that Sienna could benefit from a public school. In America, public schools are free as opposed to England, where they are fee based. Considering that I pay US taxes even though I haven’t lived in the US for 20 years I didn’t feel back about using the Public school system. In fact, I felt a bit better about the huge tax bills I’ve been paying!
Anyhooooo, we worked hard to find a marina that would take ‘live-aboards’ and a school that would accept our daughter as a resident. As fate would have it, we ended up in Charleston, South Carolina. Unbeknown to us, we enrolled Sienna in the 2nd best school in the entire State.
We couldn’t have landed in a better area for Sienna.
Not only was the school amazing but her First Grade teacher, Miss Royal, was the very best teacher a child could ask for. Within a couple weeks the school worked with us to get Sienna another amazingly special teacher to help her with her reading (Mrs Morrow) and the rest is history.
By year’s end Sienna went from not reading at all to reading at the appropriate level.
If we didn’t put Sienna into school would she have been able to read eventually?
I think so. I think Sienna’s life was so full of stimulus that reading just wasn’t appropriate for her at the age of six. Instead of reading, she was speaking Italian, telling onlookers the name of every fish in the sea, learning how to make friends aged 2 to 92 and being our spotter for inland waterway channel markers!
Looking back, she just wasn’t ready. And…I wasn’t ready to teach her.
Going forward I think I’ll be more relaxed with whether or not Sienna fits the ‘Standard’ for her age. In so many ways she’s more advanced and in others she’s behind. Overall, in the long scheme of things, she’ll eventually balance out and I have no doubt she’ll grow up to find a way to be of service to this amazing world we live in.
Sienna’s year in school has come to an end. I’m now back on the homeschooling journey and am more prepared than the last time. For the summer we’re going to do a ‘test’ run and do schooling every week day when we’re not sailing. I’m using some left over teaching materials from her school and I’ve purchased various supplemental books/kits to work from.
Once we leave American in November, after the hurricane season ends, I’ll work from a mostly off-line homeschooling program. The program I’m looking at provides all the materials I need in addition to a schedule so I can make sure Sienna and I are kept on track.
Sienna hanging with some of the B Dock girls for a baby shower!
All that being noted, and coming back the response to my audience about, ‘ what about your daughters education,’ academics are only a small part of Sienna’s education!
The lifestyle of being a boat kid provides so much more! So, so, so much more.
Sienna doesn’t just hang our with her peer group – she has friends of all ages. On the dock we’re currently berthed on, she’s friends with a couple girls aged 12 (Ashley) and 14 (Savanna) and their parents, Heather and Tripp. She spends loads of time with both our boat neighbors – Brad and Cherie (In their 50’s) and Jodie and Robbie (In their 30’s) and is often found petting our other lovely neighbors, Mercedes and Ron’s dog Pepper.
Nora, Lily and Sienna
On a couple docks away from us is the lovely Lily and Nora – Lily is four and Nora is nine. Several nights a week we all gather on the dock to swap stories, give updates as to what’s going on with our boat repairs and discuss new recipes. The kids all run around catching crabs, puffer fish or unidentifiable floating creatures.
On occasion a boatie will yell out, ‘lets all go for a sunset cruise’ and we take a boat out and enjoy the sights.
I often joke that it’s like we live in a commune…but it’s an awesome commune.
B Dock Gathering – a common sight a few times per week!
We are all respectful of each other and never have we had a situation where our neighbors become ‘too much.’ We all share and look after each other…and that goes for the children too. Sienna can visit any neighbor of any age and they have a real conversation about real stuff. She’s not pigeon holed into a ‘little kid’ to be heard and not seen. I think it’s great. I often look at our daughter and think that she truly has a fairy tale life!
By integrating with a range of people that are different age groups Sienna is always learning a wide variety of things. She’s learned to feel safe asking questions and it’s amazing how much time people will take to explain things to her.
Aside from learning from people of different age groups, Sienna learns about things like the weather by living through it. Last year we experienced one hurricane downgraded to a tropical storm and Hurricane Matthew. She knows that a squall is and what to do when one is spotted. She knows if tomorrow will be nice or not based on the amount of airplane trails she can see in the sky!
I could go on and on.
Anyone that thinks Sienna’s education is limited due to our lifestyle choice simply doesn’t understand our lifestyle. And that’s okay. I surely didn’t realize all the benefits until I made the crazy decision to sell up and sail away! Errr…actually, more and more I’m thinking that my ‘crazy decision’ was probably the most sane thing I’ve ever done.
Anyway, without any further ado allow me to introduce you to a glimpse of Sienna’s life while docked in Charleston Harbor Marina in Charleston, South Carolina.
Our neighbors Brad and Cherie Schutz have docked next to us for almost the full year we’ve been in Charleston. All our neighbors are fantastic and Schutz’s are no exception. We’ve had many game nights, potluck dinners, have helped each other with various boat projects (most recently How to install outboard stabilizer fins), have gone on excursions to parks, fun fairs, restaurants, miniature golf and more.
The one downside to having such amazing neighbors is, however, the terrible feeling that comes when we all have to part ways and say good-bye. It’s flat out heart-wrenching . As I write this, Simon is helping Brad and Cherie move their boat to an outer pontoon. And this week Simon and I will assist Brad with moving the boat to a land-based storage area.
Sienna with Brad and Cherie on s/v Puffin
Brad and Cherie have the boat for sale. Are putting it on the hard and moving to Colorado to start their next adventure.
And as for us, we’re heading to Bermuda. And then, not long after, we’ll be on our way to the Pacific.
If only we could put people in our pockets and carry them around with us! My family and I will dearly miss Brad and Cherie and all our B dock buddies. The lump in my throat grows as the days draw closer to our departure date.
Before tears start to flow, let me leave you with this video. Brad spent weeks planning a treasure hunt for Sienna. As you’ll see in the video it wasn’t any normal treasure hunt…it was an amazing adventure.
So, these are the kinds of things a boat child gets up to… Especially if you have Captain Brad from sailing vessel Puffin as your neighbor!
Voyaging with Kids – A Treasure Hunt For Kids Video
Click here for more articles I’ve written about homeschooling. And if you enjoyed the video above, make sure to check out Sienna’s experience with starting her own cookie business. Read about/watch: Voyaging with Kids – Homeschooling
Will you be a new sailor soon or are you one already? Make sure to check out my bookstore full of helpful guides.
There are three key items to making or buying long-lasting boat pillows!
1. First of all, you’ll want to buy material that is durable. The atmosphere both inside and outside a boat requires strong, long-lasting, UV resistant, mold resistant, easy-to-clean material.
On the easy-to-clean side of things, you’ll want pillow covers rather than full pillows. With covers, you can simply slide them off, clean them and air them out to dry.
With full pillows they’re harder to clean, the filling can become distorted and getting them to dry fully can be an issue.
2. The second key requirement is good pillows for a boat are making or buying pillows with a plastic zipper or an envelope casing. Anything metal will eventually corrode and stop working.
3. And the third requirement is to find pillow covers that you like looking at! It’s amazing how a few new pillow covers can totally enliven a saloon or cockpit area. It’s a small inexpensive touch that not only provides a bit of delight to the eye but comfort too!
We use our indoor/outdoor pillows around the saloon when we’re inside and during trips or when entertaining in the cockpit, you’ll find our pillows up on deck.
Boat Pillows – How to Video
To visit my Etsy shop where I list all my nautical gifts, please visit: Etsy.com/shop/SailingBritican
All of the fabric’s I’ve used I’ve found on Amazon.
To give you a idea on what’s available, I’ve provided some options below. I can certainly recommend the indoor/outdoor navy anchors on white background fabric. We’ve had these pillows for over three years and have spilled all sorts on them – even red wine!
After a quick wash they come up white and looking brand new.
Once you have your fabric, you’ll need to cut three squares, depending on how large you want the pillow. Our pillows are made for 18” x 18” pillow inserts but you can make these any size that you want.
Next, you’ll need to hem the two smaller pieces that will make up the envelope opening. The side of the fabric that makes the envelope will need to be hemmed. (See photo below – that back hem is the envelop side of the pillow…)
Then you put the pillow together – all the right sides together. So, big square face up and two envelop pieces right side down. Pin the fabric together.
Sew a square around the whole square being careful to pivot at the corners rather than running off the edge of the fabric (as shown in the video).
Once the fabric has been sewn, cut a diagonal across the corners.
This will allow the corners to look sharp rather than have a rounded unprofessional look.
If you have a surger, surge the ends. A surger puts thread around the fabric preventing it from fraying or unraveling. If you don’t have a surger, skip this step.
Turn the pillows right-side-right. Poke out the corners using a poker or a utensil that helps them pop out.
Stuff the pillow case with a pillow insert, smooth out and set out to be admired by all!
Or…if you don’t want to make the pillows yourself, you can buy my high-quality indoor / outdoor boat pillows at my nautical gift shop.