How to make or buy the best boat pillows

Boat Pillows

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:

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…)

Boat Pillows

Boat Pillows

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.

Boat Pillows
Boat Pillows

Sailing Britican Update

Previously on…I wrote about how we landed in Charleston, South Carolina after sailing 18,500 miles around the Mediterranean, crossing the Atlantic Ocean and sailing up the Caribbean and up to the States. (Read ‘Living on a boat in Charleston, North Carolina – USA‘ for more background)

Our decision to make a long-term stop during our around the world sailing adventure was brought on by one main factor – my husband and I were struggling with homeschooling our six year old daughter.

We also needed to find a hurricane hole for six months.

And if I have to dig deep, I think that a part of us felt worn out. It may sound hard to believe but looking out at palm tree lined white sandy beaches and amazingly blue turquoise water can get a bit boring. Having to constantly search for new grocery stores and spare parts can also cause one to dream of long lost days of convenience. The convenience of a car or ease of eating fast food.

Sailing Britican Update

As I write, we’ve been at the Charleston Harbor Marina now for six months.

The plan is to stay on the east coast until November 2017 and then we’ll head back to the Caribbean and make our way west eventually going through the Panama Canal.

Our daughter has made great strides at school. Her reading and writing have taken off in leaps and bounds. She’s made many friends and I think the experience has been exactly what we were looking for. In the mean time, I’ve researched more into homeschooling and am narrowing down a plan that will help us all move forward in a stronger position.

Interestingly, knowing that we’ll be leaving the place we currently call home has started to bring up a variety of feelings.

I now know what I’m getting into!

When we left England in 2014, I speculated what our life on a boat would be like, but I had no idea that the highs would be so high…and the lows would be so low. I didn’t know how much I would miss the convenience of having our car or the ease at being able to get anything I wanted at anytime of the day.

My husband and I were naïve. We didn’t realize how bad we’d get ripped off. We didn’t understand what it was like to be filled with real life-and-death fear. Nor did we fully understand the difficulties of having a child with us 24 hours a day, seven days a week (our daughter was 3 ½ years old when we left).

I know the difficulties ahead of me but I’m also a bit wiser now.

Furthermore, and probably more importantly, I also know that many future highs are just around the corner. I don’t know what the high points are going to be but I do know that there will certainly be many of them.

Perhaps we won’t see another volcano erupting hot molten lava 300’ into the air or walk through ancient cities that have been around for thousands of years. Maybe we won’t swim with another Sperm Whale or climb eight hours to see a boiling lake…

But, instead, we’ll come across other sights and other experiences. No matter what we’ll also continue to meet the most interesting, kind and amazing people on the journey. That will never change.

In fact, it’s the people that make the adventure so incredible.

Seeing volcanoes, incredible wildlife and breathtaking natural beauty is fantastic but without being able to share it with old and new friends it’s nowhere near as magical.

Above, I mentioned feeling mixed emotions about leaving America in November.

Sailing Britican Update

I’m surely going to miss Charleston. We have a great group of liveaboard boat friends (the photo above is some of our friends on A and B dock). Our social life is busier than it ever has been. Our daughter is doing great in school and it’s nice to have some daytime ‘me’ time. I will most definitely miss IHOP and PF Changs…and of course, Walmart. I will miss the busyness, the constant stimulation and the interesting political arena.

I will certainly miss the feeling of stability.

My day is laid out. I have a routine. There are no surprises. I will miss that. But…and this is a big ‘BUT…’ But when I’m 80 would I look back and regret staying in Charleston rather than heading back out into the unknown? Would I think, ‘Why didn’t I do it?! Why didn’t I get out and see and experience the world when I had the chance?!’

I hear my 80 year-old version of myself whisper these potential regrets to me. Loud and clear, they run through my body…and I smile to myself and think, ‘although the journey might be difficult the choice is easy  – we’re heading back out to sea’

So, with our future plan set for a November departure, we’ve been working like mad to get ourselves ready.

Most of my attention has been aimed at my business – the promotion of my online nautical gifts store, the creation and sale of my sailing related guides and my latest book launch, ‘Changing Lifestyles: Trading in the Rat Race for a Sail Around The World.’

Every morning I do my coursework – I’ve been taking classes about YouTube, how to make better videos, how to better optimize my website, how to promote my goods on Etsy, how to make money through affiliate marketing and essentially how to keep expanding my income streams so to pay for our adventure. It’s all hard work but it’s all very rewarding.

Just today I uploaded my first YouTube Trailer.

After having the channel now for a few years I’ve finally customized my channel landing page. I’ve worked on how the page is laid out and have created the two minute introduction to the Sailing Britican channel… Please let me know what you think of it!?!

Those two short minutes took around two full days to make. It’s crazy how long it takes to make videos but for some reason I absolutely love making them. I never thought I would. Our first videos were created to show friends and family what we were doing. I didn’t even know that there were other sailing bloggers out there! Now it’s become a sort of obsession…I love making videos. And hopefully I’m getting better at doing so 🙂

Sailing Britican Update Channel Trailer

And what about Simon?!

He has been doing some boat delivery jobs and will potentially be driving the Charleston Water Taxi this summer to earn more income. He’s also been working very hard to get the boat in tip-top shape.

Over the course of the last few months, Simon and I have:

– Replaced our Genset and Engine batteries
– Learned how to replace our Genset starter motor
– Repaired our swim ladder steps
– Affixed a new sheet guide for the staysail
– Got our cushions repaired
– Sourced new saloon blinds for a fraction of what they would normally cost
– Made new curtains for the whole boat!
– Swapped out the aft head blackwater hose (a stinky job!)
– Fixed our furler electrical deck fittings (Pulled out during Hurricane Matthew)
– Replaced our forward hatch in addition to pulling the whole unit out and resealing
– Swapped out an old engine exhaust hose
– Fixed our broken davit motor and replaced the other motor
– Repaired all our Gebo Portlight window latches
– Fixed two major leaks (one in the aft cabin and another in the forward cabin)
– Change our rusting LED ceiling lights for nice chrome recessed lights

Sailing Britican Update

And on the list to come is:

– doing the painful teak deck repairs
– re-caulking the heads
– cleaning out the water tank
– painting the outside black engine vents
– fixing the washing machine – keep getting an error code. Think it’s stuff in the line.
– Replace the screen and blackout blinds in the hatch fixtures
– Replenish our First Aid Kit
– Repair Gelcoat damage to the area near the anchor
– Caulk anchor chain plates
– Windless bolt sheer fix

One of my mentor’s used to tell me that most people are quietly decomposing.

In other words, most people aren’t living…they’re slowing dying. One thing is for sure – we are not in that position! If Simon and I are not working our butts off, we’re enjoying the benefits of sailing the sea. It’s a hard life…and I’m not kidding, it is very hard. But now that I’m living this life there’s no going back ☺

How to use a Stovetop Espresso Maker

What is the best way to get a fantastic tasting coffee while living or sailing on a boat? How can you ensure that when you’re anchored off a beautiful tropical island, your coffee cravings are not left wanting? The answer – learn how to use a stovetop espresso maker! (Video at bottom of the post)

How to use a stovetop espresso maker

How to use a stovetop espresso maker

Without a doubt, having a Stovetop Espresso Maker onboard is an absolute must.

Upon waking, the necessary energy needed for my body to rise has always been provided by the thought of my life-sustaining cup of Joe. Previous to moving aboard our sailboat I faithfully stopped by a café every morning to enjoy my medium-sized café latte.

Out of all my worries about being a full-time sailing live aboard, the question of finding good coffee was high on my list!

Thankfully, when we took over our boat, Britican, we discovered a Stovetop Espresso Maker in the cupboard. Not knowing what to do with it, my husband and I looked at it for weeks. Thankfully, my cousin, Loryn, came aboard and gave us our first stovetop coffee making tutorial (Loryn is pictured above).

Since that day my coffee needs have always been met and the money I’ve saved isn’t just pocket change!

Aside from being able to make a great cup of coffee these handy stovetop coffee makers help coffee lovers save money drinking at home rather than at a high-priced café. And heck, once you’re out sailing the seas, it becomes obvious that getting a proper cup of coffee is rarely possible.

Furthermore, what you think is a good coffee doesn’t necessarily translate in other countries. I remember having a coffee in Cyprus. The coffee looked like a shot of espresso. It was very strong. Milk was not offered but sugar was. Not only was the coffee strong but the coffee grinds were in the bottom! With an already tiny cup of coffee, the drinker was limited to only the available liquid above the grinds. One wrong swig and you’d have a mouth full of inedible shavings.

Anyway, the stovetop espresso maker has benefits over and above making a good cup of inexpensive gourmet coffee:

  • It’s easy to clean.
  • It’s easy to store.
  • If the coffee maker goes hurling off the stove it’s very unlikely to break (no glass). It might, however, dent the boat or someone’s toe, so make sure to secure it if you’re sailing!
  • No electrical cords.
  • Doesn’t take long to brew.
  • Can percolate any type of coffee. It’s not a proprietary machine where you have to buy coffee packages to fit the machine.
  • They’re super inexpensive to buy. These little stovetop jobbers make the same quality espresso as a industrial mega-expensive machine.

So, how do you use the stovetop coffee maker?!

  1. Pour water into the lower base unit ensuring that it does not go above the steam hole.
  2. Put the funnel into the basin and fill with ground coffee. Make sure to press it down quite firm. Note that that you need to use ground coffee and not instant coffee. Furthermore, if you have coffee beans, you’ll need to grind them first.
  3. Screw on the top of the coffee maker.
  4. Put the unit on the stovetop at high heat.
  5. In the meantime, heat a pan of water and/or a pan of milk depending on your coffee tastes. Put the milk on low – otherwise it will boil and curdle. Put the water on high if you like very hot coffee.
  6. Once the coffee maker starts to percolate and/or steam let it go for 10 to 30 seconds and then remove from the heat. Let it finish percolating.
  7. Once the coffee maker stops making noises, pour your desired amount of espresso into a cup and add water and/or milk to taste.

Where can you buy a stovetop coffee maker?

My answer to any question about purchasing items is almost always, ‘Amazon’. Below I’ve showcased a few coffee makers that will do the job. Ideally, you want to find one that is sturdy with a solid handle. We’ve had to superglue a handle on a few times, but ultimately these coffee makers stand the test of time. Also keep in mind how much coffee you’ll want to make (routinely).

I suggest getting one that isn’t painted (although I did highlight one above to show you various options). We have a black large stovetop coffee maker, as shown in the video, and it has scratches in it displaying the aluminum. I just doesn’t look very nice.

Regarding the size of the coffee maker. Consider how many people will regularly being using it. For our boat, we have a 2-person size and a 4-person size when we have guests. It’s not difficult, however, to brew our 2-person pot twice!

How can I see a live demonstration of using a stovetop coffee maker? (watch the video below)

If you want to know about other ‘MUST-HAVES’ on a boat, read: Top 10 Essentials for Living on a Sailboat And if you’re looking to buy a boat, maintain a boat or anything to do with being a boat owner, please visit my Sailing Britican Shop to check out our handy guides and books.

Finally…if you have any questions, comments or want to add a tip or suggestion, please leave a note in the comments below.

New Book: Changing Lifestyles – it’s been Published!

Changing Lifestyles

Changing Lifestyles

The book, Changing Lifestyles: Trading the Rat Race For a Sail Around the World reveals what it was like for me to transition from a land based control-freak work-a-holic to a sea loving, fly by the seat of my pants full-time live aboard sailor. Click here to buy the paperback version or here to buy the digital version. (Also available at

Prior to my lifestyle transition, my days were filled with an excessive drive to succeed as a business owner, wife, mother, friend, and on. I set out to have the handsome husband, 2.4 kids, nice house, fast car, exuberant vacations and all the so-called benefits of financial success.

Once I achieved what society deems successful, I thought, ‘If this is success, why don’t I feel successful?’

In a search for a more meaningful life, I convinced my husband, Simon, to sell everything we owned and use the funds to buy the largest boat we could afford (Simon didn’t need much convincing!). The ultimate plan being a world circumnavigation.

Throughout the book you’ll read about how I busted out of my comfort zones, gave up the need to control future outcomes and started to identify less with my old life. The new lifestyle allowed me to transform into a freer, more spontaneous and far more fulfilled person.

Reader review – 5 Stars: This is the story of a woman who was on multiple journeys; looking for a change in her life’s course, learning the ropes of a new boat, and navigating what it is to parent a child as she and her husband embark on this journey. Great as an adventure story, but also got me excited to read it as a travel guide! Cherie Shutz

Changing Lifestyles: Trading the Rat Race For a Sail Around the World is…

…a great book for anyone interested in making a lifestyle transition; or anyone looking for more meaning.

Additionally, I emphasize the pros and cons of being a full time live aboard. I’ve often been praised for my tell-it-how-it-is approach, so I do not gloss over the difficulties. Also, issues encountered with having a young child on board in addition to areas like homeschooling, system breakdowns, seasickness, being caught in horrific storms and more are described.

I also highlight the benefits of sailing around the world – and there are many! I detail the extremely close bond that live aboards share, the amazing sights and cultures my family and I have embraced, the magic of sailing at night, our 18 day journey across the Atlantic Ocean and on.

The book features our experiences of over 18,500 miles, 15 countries, numerous cities and sights around the Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean. This book is a must-have for anyone with a wanderlust spirit!

So…what will you gain by reading this book?

After reading Changing Lifestyles: Trading the Rat Race For a Sail Around the World, you may not feel compelled to sell everything you own and sail around the world, but you will most certainly feel inspired. The book will entertain, enlighten and potentially challenge you to ask yourself, ‘how can I make my life more meaningful?’

Buy the book now! Here are your options (click one):

  • Paperback from my online store (click here to purchase)
  • Digital version (PDF) (click here) or I can send it to your Kindle (email me for instructions).
  • Paperback or Kindle (supplied by

Still want a wee bit more information?

Watch my video about ‘Changing Lifestyles’ below

Buy the book now!

  • Paperback from my online store (click here to purchase)
  • Digital version (PDF) (click here) or I can send it to your Kindle (email me for instructions).
  • Paperback or Kindle (supplied by

Or if you have any questions about the book, please email me at

IMPORTANT: please note that the book consists of previous blog entries, all edited to read as in book format, found throughout this website.

Marine Diesel Engine Starting Problem

If you’ve never worked on engines before it’s quite a steep learning curve when it comes to troubleshooting. For over two years, and after a major refit, our trusted Westerbeke Generator has never failed us. That is, until recently! Unfortunately, we experienced a marine diesel engine starting problem.

After pre-heating the starter and then turning the engine on, all we could hear was tick-tick-tick-tick-tick (check out the video below to hear the sound – it’s below the following picture). It sounded as if the starter motor was trying to start the engine, but it just wouldn’t kick over.

Marine Diesel Engine Starting Problem

In hindsight, and knowing what we didn’t know before the issue, we could have saved ourselves loads of time and hundreds of dollars.

My hope is that you’re able to learn from our mistakes.

Whether you’re experiencing a starting problem now or you’re preparing yourself for life on a boat, this video will help you to potentially save yourself from a misdiagnosis. The video will demonstrate the issue we had in addition to using two potential solutions. One potential problem is the battery. The second is the diesel engine starter motor. The video covers a solution to both problems.

Marine Diesel Engine Starting Problem Video

Marine Diesel Engine Starting Problem Troubleshooting Checklist

  • Check the battery terminals – are they loose or dirty? If yes, tight and/or clean them.
  • Check the status of the battery. If it’s not charged and can be charged, charge it. Otherwise, check to see if it needs to be replaced. Do not rely on a green indicator as we did. If there’s another battery you can use, move the terminals and see if that works.
  • Check the ground connections. Check the starter circuit, particularly the starter ground.
  • Finally, check the actual starter motor for stuck or worn brushes. Also check the solenoid.

In the video you’ll notice that we started with the starter motor and worked backwards! Well, that’s not true. We did check the battery that powers the generator and the indicator had a green light. We assumed that if the indicator was green it meant that the batter was NOT dead.

Either the green indicator is faulty or the indicator stays green until the battery is completely dead. Our battery still had a charge in it however the charge was not sufficient enough to start the starter motor.

If we had known that our battery was the issue we would have saved time, money and effort.

Instead, we removed the starter motor, researched the Internet to find a replacement and then waited a few days for the replacement. Once we had the new starter motor we had to research how to swap the old for the new. We (or I should say Simon) then had to swap out the starter and all for a disappointing result.

To keep my PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) alive, I’m telling myself that at least we now know how to replace a starter motor. Not all has been lost – we have gained wisdom and experience 🙂

Back to the issue at hand…

While feeling dejected that our generator did not start with the new starter motor, and by odd coincidence, a friend paid us a visit. Our friend, having a background in the marine industry, questioned, ‘have you checked your battery?’

One thing led to another and our friend left us and returned with a proper battery checker. As shown during the video, you’ll notice that the charge in our generator battery was 63 cold cranking amps out of 1000. Although our battery light showed a green light it was close to dead.

We used one of our engine batteries to try and start the generator and it started right up!

The Marine Diesel Engine Starting Problem was our battery.

We got there in the end – eh?!

Let me leave you with a very helpful resource that we keep on board. The book below, titled Marina Diesel Engines – Maintenance and Repair Manual is super handy to have on board.

Unfortunately I looked at this book after we fixed our problem!

I used this book to get the information above for the checklist. What I suggest is if you’re new to Marine Diesel Engines, get this book. The first part of the book explains how Diesel engines work and it’s full of pictures and diagrams. The second part is all about maintenance. And the final parts contain repairs, breakdowns and winterizing.

When we took a Diesel Marine Engine course our teacher recommended these books to us.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure if this book is in print anymore. I think you might have to get a used copy. Regardless, if you can get a copy of it, grab it. Every page is full of pictures and easy step-by-step processes. We also have a book by the same author about outboard motors. I consider both the books as ‘must-have’s’ for our onboard library.

Live aboard sailing | 8 ways to avoid failure

Some people take to live aboard sailing effortlessly. Others find it a struggle. Many discover that full time sailboat cruising is challenging and stressful yet enlivening and fulfilling.

But how do you know where you will fit in?

When your dream becomes a reality will you love it or is there a slight possibility that your dream could turn into a nightmare?

Over the past several years I’ve had the opportunity to meet hundreds of full time live aboard cruisers. I’ve met sailors of all ages that absolutely love the sailing lifestyle and would never give it up. I’ve also met several boat owners that can’t sell their boat, and head back to land, fast enough.

And I’m talking about full time sailing cruisers here – people that purchased a boat to actively sail it around; not people that are full time live aboards that never leave a marina.

First I’ll list the eight ways to avoid failure and then I’ll expand on each of them below…(keep reading)

Live Aboard Sailing

Live aboard sailing – 8 ways to avoid failure

  1. Gain experience. Sail as much as possible on other people’s boats to try before you buy (Charter, join a sailing club, take classes, etc.). Find out what you like, don’t like and whether or not everyone in your future crew really likes the sailing lifestyle – warts and all.
  2. Build confidence. Become confident with boat handling skills! Buy or rent a small boat to play with and allow yourself to crash and make mistakes. Get yourself to the point where you’re not afraid to handle a boat.
  3. Set expectations. Set accurate expectations. If you own a boat you’ll need to either have an unlimited amount of money for tradespeople to fix your issues OR you’ll need to get good at wearing the following hats: plumber, electrician, carpenter, heating/cooling expert, sail mender, mechanic, and on and on the list goes.
  4. Understand that problems are an everyday occurrence. Embrace the lifestyle of problem solving. Problems don’t have to be good or bad…if you want to live on a boat they are a part of everyday life. If you’re looking for a problem free lifestyle, being a live aboard cruiser is the wrong lifestyle for you.
  5. Generate on-going income. Make sure to set up income streams or have a plan that will enable you to pay for the lifestyle. Sure anchoring is free, but keeping the thing attached to the anchor floating has an ongoing cost.
  6. Understand the true nature of going with the FLOW. Learn how to go with the flow. If you’re currently a control freak, find ways to change. (It’s possible. I’m a recovering control freak).
  7. Prepare for hard work. Realize that being a live aboard cruiser is hard work.
  8. Have a future plan. Consider your future. Have some sort of plan. Mitigate the chances of getting yourself stuck.

Let’s dip further into these failure areas:

1. Gain experience

If you’ve never sailed before, don’t go buy a boat. If you have sailed before but haven’t completed a long journey (say…sailing non-stop over five days) don’t buy a boat. If you have sailing experience and have endured storms, bad swells, engine breakdowns, etc. but your partner hasn’t, don’t buy a boat.

Sailing into the sunset has many positives. For me, I can’t imagine living any other way. However, it is not something to jump into without prior experience. For every romantic notion you might have about the live aboard lifestyle there is an opposite.

Find a way to determine if you can handle seasickness, bad weather and all the other negative aspects to sailing. If you’re okay with those AND so is you’re partner (or other crewmember(s)), then it’s time to consider buying a boat.

2. Build confidence

If you go to almost any marina on a hot summers day you’ll notice that the vast majority of boats are docked rather than out at sea. Most boat owners are too afraid to motor in and out of a marina. Many newbie sailors get a boat and have a minor crash or two (totally normal!). Unfortunately, fear of failure stops dreams, especially sailing dreams.

If you’re going to buy a boat and want to enjoy full time sailing, make sure you can handle the boat you want to buy. OR ensure that you can live through failure, and the fear of failure, during the learning process. When we got our first boat we sailed through the winter when the waterways and marinas were less populated. It reduced our anxiety and increased our ability to manage the boat.

Even now we still get into tricky situations but our failures don’t prevent us from moving forward.

3. Set expectations

Sailboats need constant servicing and maintenance. Furthermore, there’s always a list of needed repairs. Boats live in the most corrosive environment on Earth. They’re surrounded by salt water and soaked by UV rays from the sun. Furthermore, boats are tossed all over the place making breaks and bruises a norm.

If you think that the live aboard cruising lifestyle is more about sunsets and sailing and less about maintenance, I suggest you think again.

There’s a balance between the two… For months we’ll go with only routine maintenance enjoying sailing and the positives to being a live aboard. We then might spend a month or six weeks fixing things. Sometimes a week will pass without major issues and sometimes months. Often, things break, we fix them and then something else breaks.

4. Understand problems are an everyday occurrence

When my husband and I are on the move, which can be for months, we often spend more time sailing and less time fixing things. When we’re stationary, however, we wake up every morning and discuss our list of priorities.

Which leak is the worst? What problem, if not solved soon, will lead to a more expensive problem? And it’s not just boat challenges. Often, when going to a marina the electricity hook-up doesn’t match the adapter we have OR we need a certain part but they don’t make the part anymore. Or, when we’re sailing, the wind is coming from the completely wrong direction as forecasted – we’ll never make our destination…what do we do now?

At first, I thought that eventually the problems would subside, but now I’m convinced that they actually increase over time. The more you learn about what you didn’t know, the more you realize just how many issues you really do have. Eventually I made peace with problems. Now it’s just a part of our life. Like I mentioned above, t’s not good or bad – it is what it is. Some live aboards can’t make peace.

5. Generating ongoing income

We’ve discovered that the longer we sail, the less expensive things get. We’ve grown wiser over the years. We know what is a con versus what is necessary. Furthermore, we’ve started to understand what has to be ‘marine’ quality versus what can be purchased at a normal store. We’ve also learned how to become more proactive so that we fix or service things before they break down.

Overall, however, boats require a constant stream of money to pay for the upkeep. Boaters that head out to the sea with a pot of savings will watch that pot evaporate. Without money, the live aboard lifestyle can become very uncomfortable. If creating income while sailing is a part of your future plans, make sure to read my free guide: ‘Making money while sailing around the world,’

6. Understand the true nature of going with the FLOW

Sailing and the live board lifestyle truly is one where things change all the time. More often than not, we’ll head from destination A to destination B only to end up somewhere near H. Several times we’ve wanted to leave an anchorage or marina only to have the weather or a repair stop us for weeks and even months! Being a live aboard cruiser you have to often make the best of the current situation…and the current situation might not be ideal. Live aboards that have a hard time going with the flow will find this lifestyle a nightmare.

7. Prepare for hard work

There’s a huge movement going on right now. Many people want to find a way back to a simpler life. A life, perhaps, without mainstream media and negative news or overwhelming amounts of stimulus. Becoming a live aboard sailor can help people to remove themselves from the mainstream rat race of go, go, go with every moment being measured in terms of productivity.

However, living a lifestyle on a boat is anything but easy or simple. Problems happen all the time. Getting and preparing food is often a challenge. And even the most basic things, that you probably take for granted now, become obstacles. Moving onto a boat definitely does not simplify life. If anything, it creates different stresses and issues. Personally, I prefer live aboard stresses over business world stresses…but needless to say, stress is still present and life is not easier.

8. Have a future plan

It’s no fun when you feel stuck. Some live aboards sell everything to get the boat and when things don’t work out, they have nowhere to go. If money is tied up in the boat, a situation can arise where live aboards have to wait to sell their boat before they can move on with their life. Some boats don’t sell very quickly…


So, what did we do to reduce our likelihood for failure?

How did we prepare for a full time live aboard sailing lifestyle?

For ten years, my husband, Simon, and I went on an annual week long Flotilla Sailing Holiday (boat charter). We often dreamed about buying a boat but never took our dream too seriously. We always thought – ‘one day’! After having our daughter, Sienna, we opted for a land based vacation rather than a sailing charter. We thought it wouldn’t be safe enough to take a six month baby on a boat.

Our vacation on land was miserable – we hated it!

Out of anger and frustration we decided the time had come to buy a boat. A month after our land-based vacation, we aquired a 35′ Moody sailboat. Simon found the boat on Ebay and we got it for a very low price. It was an old boat…but we felt that it would give us confidence and allow us to prepare for our dream boat ‘one day’!

Low and behold, we discovered that we loved sailing our Moody. We went out every weekend and took week-long breaks as often as we could. Every time we returned to the marina we’d be sad. For over a year we practiced entering and exiting various marinas. We endured an experience where we had engine failure in an extremely busy waterway. We also almost sank due to a snapped off through-hull fitting. (The list goes on…)

Needless to say, the more we sailed, the more we loved sailing.

Our original plan was to sell our house and buy another one closer to the coast. We wanted to sail as often as possible! One thing led to another and we decided, ‘heck, let’s sell the house, buy a boat and sail around the world!’ There was no doubt in our minds on whether we liked sailing or not. And due to sailing our Moody, we built up a good amount of boat handling skills over two years.

Before we left land we took a variety of live aboard sailing courses and had reasonable expectations. I think we thought it would be easier than it has been. Furthermore, it took me a very long time to learn how to go with the flow. I struggled for the first year to simply ‘let go’ of having to control things. Sailing taught me so much about that.

Regarding the money side of things, we have a variety of income streams, all described in my free guide, ‘Making money while sailing around the world.’

So…if you’re interested in becoming a live aboard sailor, make sure that some of these reasons for failure are addressed. And if you have something you’d like to add, please add it below in the comments section.

My top 15 sailing maintenance tips, tricks and little known secrets

During our first year of living on our sailboat I kept a running list of sailing maintenance tips, tricks and little known secrets. Some of the items noted are big-time money and/or time savers and others are simply common sense that isn’t common when you’re a newbie sailor. Considering that this has been our first year living on a sailboat full time our learning curve has been massive.

I’m sure someone could create volumes of sailing maintenance tips and tricks but those listed below really made an impact on me

And I thought that perhaps a few might make an impact on you too!?

What’s your top sailing maintenance and living tip, trick or secrete? Can you add to list? If yes, please leave a comment below the article.

My top 15 sailing maintenance tips – the list is not ranked in any priority

1.  When staying in a marina, if there’s enough room either side of the boat, tie your fenders in a way that allows them to rest on the top outside corner of the deck rather than along side of the hull.

By having the fenders pointing out and away from the hull it reduces the likelihood of the hull exterior or jell coat from being worn down. (If you like my sexy sailing t-shirt I’m wearing below and want to get one for yourself, visit my shop)

Sailing Maintenance Tips
Sailing Maintenance Tips

Do you like my scoop neck t-shirt? You can buy it in my store – click the picture!

2.  Would you like your propeller to look shiny and new even after a whole season in the water?

Avoid buying any fancy shmancy propeller solution! The secrete is to paint your prop with egg whites! When your boat is out of the water (perhaps when you get it antifouled) paint a coat of egg whites on the prop, let it dry and then repeat four more times. I discovered this tip after being laid up next to a boat crane at the end of a season in the Mediterranean.

My family and I watched about eight boats a day for three weeks be hauled out for the winter. One boat, in particular, came out with the shiniest propeller we’d seen the whole time during our stay. My husband had to ask him what product the boat owner used as all the other props were barnacle ridden, brown-green and disgusting.

We were all flabbergasted when we heard the egg whites answer!

3.  Squeaky floorboards? During the evening do you attempted to sneak into the galley to grab a cookie only to be exposed by a squeaky floorboard? Try rubbing candle wax on the underside of your floorboards to prevent floor squeak.

Sailing Maintenance Tips

Sailing Maintenance Tips

4.  Over time the black stuff between your teak boards on your deck expands upwards.

When it gets too high it can become uncomfortable to walk on and worse, it creates areas where water can pool on the teak surface – a no-no. Every so often, you’re suppose to ‘skim’ the black stuff down so that it’s level with the teak boards or very slightly lower.

Most people painstakingly use a chisel to remove the black stuff however the secrete is to use one of those snap off razor blades

By slightly bending the blade and skimming along the black stuff you get the perfect shape and it’s a rather quick method. Make sure to tape something around your fingers, however, as holding the blade in the same position can cause callus’s.

Sailing Maintenance Tips

Sailing Maintenance Tips

5.  If you have a stern gland it’s suppose to drip every minute while in use.

Read my article “When I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they have – looks like we might have fried our propeller shaft” for more information on the stern gland. That being noted, your bilge will get a steady flow of salt water, which is never a good thing.

My husband affixed one side of Velcro on the hull under the stern gland, and then the other onto a Tupperware container

The Velcro was the type with stickers on either side. Now…we can pour the salt water out if gets high and more importantly we can determine whether or not our stern gland is dripping!

Sailing Maintenance Tips
Sailing Maintenance Tips

Click the picture if you like the t-shirt Simon is wearing. We sell it in our store 🙂

Sailing Maintenance Tips

Sailing Maintenance Tips

6.  What’s the best solution to clean the interior wood, ceiling panels and bathroom?

The magic solution is warm water and vinegar

I think there’s a book out there about the 500 uses for vinegar. The stuff is amazing. I use it to clean the toilets, wash any mould that develops off the walls and on our ceiling. Not only is it environmentally friendly but it works!

And a note about mold…I’ve included a picture below of what mold looks like on wood so you can identify it – this is actually called mildew. When I leave the boat for any duration of time (a couple weeks or more) whenever I come back my walls have a white substance on them. At first I thought it was dust and I was okay with that. Recently I’ve been told that it’s mold. How disgusting is that?! Read my Boat Mold Removal article for an in-depth explanation of mold. The article includes various ways you can prevent and remove it.

Apparently,  if we ran a dehumidifier while we’re gone it will reduce the likelihood of mold but that’s yet another device to buy and store. Anyway, mould can easily come off using a vinegar and warm water solution…

Sailing Maintenance Tips

Sailing Maintenance Tips


Do you like the t-shirt I’m wearing? Click the picture and you can buy it from my store!

7.  Now that we’ve spent a year on the boat I’m not exaggerating when I say that every towel, bed linen and article of clothing that we own has a rust stain on it.

The picture below doesn’t really show the rust stains but it does show my ‘mad face’!

Unbeknown to me, I innocently spent the summer drying our laundry on the safety rails that surround the boat. Not knowing the source, rust stains started to appear on everything. It didn’t take long to realize that our safety lines had spots of rust (unseen by the naked eye) and were therefore transferring the stain onto our clothes.

After trying to clean the rust off the safety lines I then had laundry with long black stains across everything – it must have been the rust solution that I evidently didn’t wash off good enough. In the end, I discovered that the best solution is to buy a clothesline and attach it from the mast to the front of the boat. I now only put darks on the safety line!

Sailing Maintenance Tips
Sailing Maintenance Tips

The t-shirt I’m wearing is also available at our store! Click the picture to see it.

8.  Speaking of clotheslines, I find that the best clothespins are the wooden type.

The plastic pegs will only last a season or two at most

The sun, sea air and sailing conditions seem to destroy plastic quickly. Often, I’ll use a clothespin and it will snap off sending a bit of plastic in one direction or another. The LAST THING our seas need is more plastic. I’ve changed all my clothespins to the wooden type now.

9.  Never agree to buy anything from anyone when you first meet them.

I suppose this tip is the same in the land-based world too

But when you’re a newbie you can often be swept up with the abundance of kindness offered within the sailing community. What am I talking about? Well, the first quote I had for new sails for the boat came to €23k. The person that offered to make them for us was a wonderful guy (and I still think he’s wonderful) but the sails on offer were not only beyond our budget, they were not exactly what we needed.

I gave my word (that I later had to break) that we were going to buy the sails thinking that we were getting a good deal only to find out that what we needed/wanted would cost us around €14k. BIG DIFFERENCE.

Like anywhere in the world, you’ll meet great people that offer a great variety of products and services. Don’t change what you’d normally do – always go out, get several quotes and talk to several people before making a commitment to making a large purchase. See the picture below to discover why we need new sails!

Sailing Maintenance Tips

Sailing Maintenance Tips

10.  Before moving onto your boat, go to IKEA and buy as many plastic containers as you think you can store. You will use these for all sorts. First of all, anything that comes in cardboard needs to be removed and repackaged. Cereal boxes, pasta boxes, outer cardboard covers. This needs to be done for two very important reasons. The first is that cockroaches lay eggs in cardboard and if you happen to get some cardboard with some eggs on the boat you’ll have a massive situation on your hands.

The second reason is bugs (other than cockroaches)

Bugs are latent in all sorts of products – flour and pasta come to mind immediately. This year I’ve had pasta that I’ve taken out and the bag it was sealed in was full of living, crawling bugs. If that pasta was in a cardboard box, rather than a bag, my whole cupboard would have been full of bugs. The bugs can’t escape plastic or Tupperware but they can easily get out of cardboard boxes. I put flour, polenta, rice, pasta and anything that comes in a box into Tupperware immediately and discard the boxes.

I often use the smaller plastic containers for odd pieces of stuff (screws, etc.), my daughters hair clips or office stuff like paper clips and so on. The pack displayed below is from Ikea and stacks within itself to take up very little space. The cost to buy is cheap so if you give a neighbor left-overs and they forget to return the container it’s no big deal.

Sailing Maintenance Tips

Sailing Maintenance Tips

11.  Some sailors will most likely disagree with me on this but based on the courses I took I’m a firm believer that on a boat if you don’t use it you lose it. Things like pumps, refrigeration units, air conditioners, engines and so forth all need to run on a weekly, if not monthly, basis.

We’re laid up now in Sicily for the winter for five months. Every Monday we turn on everything that runs.

Just take an impeller, for example. These little plastic wheels found within pumps are stuck in one position once the pump is turned off. If they’re not moved around they can become weak and brittle.

Perhaps they need lubrication or the pieces that are bent the most need a change of position

If you ask any boat professional, they always say that the majority of issues come from commissioning a boat after wintering. If you’re not wintering your boat, exercise everything at least every month. This also applies to seacocks too. If you don’t move them around, barnacles grow, seawater sets in and they won’t move.

When a pipe busts and you can’t close a seacock it’s not a pretty sight!

12.  Another one on fenders…Fenders are not cheap! It makes me feel sick if we lose one as ours cost around €80 each. That being noted, if you’re going to moor up along side a cement wall it’s very important to carry a plank of wood to put over the fenders so that it’s positioned between the fenders and the wall. Otherwise your fenders will be slowly eaten up and eventually destroyed by the wall.

13.  Make sure you have a multimeter.

At first I was afraid of these handy devices however this year I’ve used it time and time again

They help to determine if electricity is flowing and the amount that is flowing! They even help to let you know if a light bulb is good or dead. Before taking anything electrical apart, a multimeter helps to troubleshoot a whole variety of issues. Below is my husband checking the voltage of our batteries.

Sailing Maintenance Tips

Sailing Maintenance Tips

14.  Vaseline your hatches and window seals – better yet, use a Silicone Grease. If you do this on a routine basis it will keep the plastic soft rather than allow it to dry out and become brittle. My husband looks like he’s enjoying this job a little bit too much! (Scary!)

Sailing Maintenance Tips

Sailing Maintenance Tips

Our first year sailing our new boat has been an incredible year – 2014 will go down in history as being nothing short of remarkable. We’ve learned so much. At times I thought that my head was going to explode. At other times I put my head in my hands and thought, ‘how are we ever going to survive’?

Well…we’re still here, we’re still learning. And I’m sure we’ll be learning until we decide to dry up back on land. That being noted there is so much we have to learn. If you know of any tips you’d like to impart with us and the readers of this blog, please share! My motto is to learn from my mistakes so that you don’t have to make them yourself.

First Aid Kit For Boat | Ready-Made versus DIY

Did you realize that you can purchase a ready made First Aid Kit for boat? You can also make your own First Aid Kit depending on your particular requirements.

How long for Emergency Services?

The question to ask yourself is, ‘What is the longest amount of time it will take Emergency Services to get to your boat?’ In some cases, the answer might be ‘within an hour’ and in other cases it’s possible that Emergency Services might take several days.

During our Atlantic Ocean Crossing , I remember thinking ‘I better not get sick or hurt now, because we’ve sailed out of the helicopter rescue air lift zone!’ Injury or illness at sea is a terrible thing to contemplate but it’s far better to be prepared rather than watch yourself or a loved one suffer (or dare I say, ‘die’) unnecessarily.

First Aid Kit for Boat

First Aid Kit for Boat

What does a boater typically require from a First Aid Kit?

We’ve been sailing for around three years now and the most common injuries we’ve had are cuts and bruises – mostly from a fall from the stairs or a kick to a deck fitting. We’ve also had burns, stubbed toes, bug bites and splinters. The illnesses that we’ve faced include: dehydration, common cold, allergies, seasickness and hair lice (yes – I know that’s gross! Took me months to get it off the boat!).

Half way across the Atlantic I came down with the worst ear infection ever! Due to the seasickness pills I was taking, they had the terrible side effect of turning my inner ear liquid to a solid. I couldn’t hear for over a week and it took three months to recover. When we looked in our First Aid Kit for Boat I thanked the gods that we had ear drops. I then tried a seasickness patch and discovered I was one of the 1 in 10,000 people allergic to the adhesive! Talk about bad luck – eh? Thankfully, I had some Hydrocortisone.

Before my husband and I left for our around the world sailing adventure we took a First Aid Course (Read more about the Sailing Courses we took). I know that First Aid isn’t very interesting but while taking the course I discovered 10 crucial tips that you’ll want to read. Seriously…after reading that article you’ll think, ‘wow – I’m happy I now know those things!’

Anyway… Below you’ll find some ready made First Aid Kits and addition to a list where you can, perhaps do-it-yourself. Or, use the list to check off what’s in a ready made kit and perhaps top-up what is missing. Remember to add that lice comb!

First Aid Kit – Ready Made Kits

First Aid Kit For Boat – DIY Checklist

  • General Assortment of plasters/ Band-Aids
  • Non-stick dressings – a variety of sizes
  • Bandages – a variety of sizes and lengths
  • Adhesive tape
  • Non-latex gloves
  • Alcohol-free moist wipes
  • Scissors, safety pins and tweezers

Topical or external treatments

  • Anti-septic cream and or spray
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Hydrocortisone ointment
  • Burn gel or ointment
  • Calamine lotion
  • Eyewash
  • Eardrops
  • Anti-fungal ointment
  • Local anesthetic gel


  • Painkillers: Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen
  • Antihistamine: (Allergy, allergic reaction, bug bites)
  • Antibiotics: two types of broad-spectrum
  • Rehydration packets
  • Other: Laxatives, Imodium, heartburn
  • Seasickness pills
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Oral antihistamines
  • Pre-loaded adrenaline syringe for anaphylaxis
  • Common cold medicine
  • Thrush, yeast infection, vaginal infections

First Aid monitoring tools

  • Thermometer Pulse checker
  • Otoscope to check ears
  • Cuff for heart rate
  • Stethoscope
  • Pee stick tests
  • Pen light (eye dilation)
  • Bone fractures
  • Slings Splints (variety of sizes)
  • Non-stick dressings
  • Bandages and tape


  • Heat diffuser gel pads or instant ice pads (or ice if you have an ice maker)
  • Paraffin non-stick bandages
  • Non-stick dressings
  • Serious cuts
  • Non-stick bandages
  • Dressings
  • Steristrips
  • Suturing kit

Dental & Other Considerations

What else? Anything missing?

If yes, please leave your suggestions in the comments below for others to see. When we got lice on the boat, we didn’t have a lice comb but our Canadian friends next to us did! The comb that comes with the shampoo is terrible, so we were happy to borrow a proper lice comb. Surely, there are other things I haven’t experience yet, so please add anything below – even if it’s a bit odd!

Preventing the need for a First Aid Kit

There will always be cuts, bruises, minor burns and bumps to deal with on a boat. It is important, however to get to grip with common boat safety tips a understand How to Prepare for Medical Emergencies When Boating. You don’t want to spoil a good thing with a terrible experience. Be prepared!

Want more?

In the Sailing Britican shop you’ll find a variety of quick, easy-to-digest, results-orientated guides for boat buyers and boat owners. Check out the store now!

Sailing in the Mediterranean

Whether you’re sailing for a week, a season or becoming a long term live aboard, you’ll find a variety of information about sailing in the Mediterranean here. My family and I spent two full years in the region and loved every moment of it.

In order to pull in the majority of our sailing in the Mediterranean information and videos, I’ve chronologically referenced where we started off in the Med through to our travels to Spain, Gibraltar, France, Italy, Greece, Malta, various islands and even Northern Africa.

Where we visited the same area two years in a row, I include all the articles I wrote from year and one. That way, I’m hoping, you’ll be able to select an area of interest and discover every thing I’ve written about that area all in one place.

All my links located within this article about sailing around the Mediterranean are either links to articles I’ve written within this blog OR to my SailingBritican channel. All links will open in a new browser so you won’t lose your spot. I only referenced a few of my videos. If you want to see all 70+ videos visit our SailingBritican YouTube channel.

Cala Galdan Minorca

Spanish Balearic Islands – Mallorca and Minorca

My family and I purchased our boat in Palma, Mallorca – a Spanish Island of the east coast of Spain. We took possession of the boat in December and had to move it out of the EU for tax reasons. Just before the Christmas season (in 2013), my husband, daughter, a professional skipper and I sailed the boat for three days to Gibraltar.

Before I move onto Gibraltar, however, we did return to the Balearics the following year! I wrote quite an extensive article about sailing around Minorca. Check out: Sailing around Minorca – Article and video (If you’re going to watch one of my videos, this is probably the most popular one. It’s have over 33,000 views on it)

Sailing into Gibraltar

Our journey from Minorca to Gibraltar was a baptism of fire. Upgrading from a 35’ to a 56’ sailboat was a massive learning curve. Furthermore, we got caught in a Force 10 storm. We were all very thankful to see and have the opportunity of visiting Gibraltar.

To read about our first trip sailing in the Mediterranean start with, ‘My first trip on our new yacht – dolphins included!’. This article is the first of a series of articles and videos detailing our exciting first trip.

After moving the boat to Gibraltar, my family and I returned to our base in the UK to prepare for moving aboard full time. While preparing, we some courses, including Diesel Marine Engine course (visit the link to ready about the top 10 interesting tid-bits I learned), a VHF Radio course, and an excellent First Aid for Boaters course.

Finally, the day came when we flew back to Gibraltar and prepared for our second trip in Britican. Our plan was to sail nonstop from Gibraltar to Malta. The trip was 900+miles and would take around seven days.

Our second trip sailing around the Mediterranean did not go as planned!

We left with beautiful clear skies, hit another terrible storm and ended up stormbound in Algeria! Who gets stormbound in Algeria?! After leaving Algeria, we had to pull into a port in Tunisia (North Africa) to fix a part of our rigging.

Grand Harbour Marina Malta

Sailing to Malta

Eventually we arrived in Malta and, once again, we were all very happy to get off the boat. This ended up being the first out of two visits to Malta that we enjoyed. We stayed at the Manoel Island Marina the first time and the second, we enjoyed Grand Harbor Marina (click the links to read my reviews on the marinas).

The trip, however, was extraordinary. Read, ‘Our sailing adventure’ to get a feel for the what it was like sailing in the Mediterranean along the north coast of Africa. And discover my thoughts about Malta by reading, ‘Our expectations on Malta were minimal – boy, were we in for a surprise.’

After a fantastic stay in Malta, we sailed north to Sicily. It was the very first time that Simon and I were alone without a professional skipper on board. We had the helping hands of my cousin and the look-out eye’s of my daughter but otherwise, it was just me and Simon. We felt a bit scared 🙂

I was blown away by Malta. When we arrived in Sicily, I was once again totally gobsmacked at the amazing people, food and sights.

Sailing around Stromboli

Sailing around Sicily, the Aeolian Islands & Mainland Italy

Our sailing trip from Malta to Sicily (read about the voyage and view a video) started off calm yet it ended with us docking in a Force 8 Storm. What is up with us and storms? We successfully moored up in a town called Marzamemi. Little did we know the amazing experiences that were about to happen.

Most notably, we met a boatload of Italians whom eventually became great friends. Incidentally, only one out of the six Italians spoke English. We ended up sharing some wonderful memories and I truly started to learn that there are no walls in the sailing community.

From Marzamemi, we sailed over to Catania, Sicily to get some repairs done. The sail was great until our main got stuck at the top and wouldn’t come down. In my article ‘Sailing to Catania in Sicily – dolphins and disasters included!’ you can get the full scoop on that crazy experience.

After a fantastic stay in Catania…

…we stopped at Riposto Marina before heading to the Aeolian Islands. On our first visit to Riposto, we only stayed a few days. This marina is right at the foot of Mount Etna, an active volcano. Little did we know that in our future, we’d visit Mount Etna on several accounts! My fondest memory is when we had a snowball fight just below one of the craters!

Simon and I created a video on what it’s like to enter a marina in Sicily, Italy. The footage was taken upon entering Riposto Marina. If you’re interested in finding out what to expect, watch the video: Sailing into an Italian Marina

After Riposto, we sailed to the Aeolian Islands with a brief stop in Calabria on the mainland

The Aeolian islands are north of Sicily on Italy’s boot (above the foot). It’s home to Stromboli, a very active volcano. To my utter amazement, we were able to sail by Stromboli at 3am in the morning witnessing lava blow out the top of the volcano. Read, ‘Sailing around Stromboli Volcano needs to be on every sailors bucket list!‘

While in Italy’s Aeolian islands we stayed at the Salina Island Marina for one night and another night we docked up to a jetty on another island.

Eventually, the time came to leave Sicily

Sailing from Sicily to Corfu hitting mainland Italy on our way is an article about our voyage. Between mainland Italy and Corfu, I learned a massive lesson about looking around rather than simply relying on your plotter for information (Read article here).

Before, we head across the Ionian, I’m going to include some other articles about Sicily from the winter and the following year. I feel that I can then, at least, organize all my Sicily/Italy articles in one place.

If you’re interested in sailing around Sicily and/or Italy, check out the links below:

Also, we wintered in Sicily…so after we went to the Ionian, through the Corinth Canal down the Aegean and back to the Ionian Sea, we returned to Sicily to spend the winter.

To understand what it’s like to winter in the Mediterranean, read Living aboard a boat in the Mediterranean during the winter – what’s the scoop?

While at Marina di Ragusa, for my 40th birthday, I was privileged enough to go out on one of those tiny authentic fishing boats. If you’d like to see what it was like, watch my video, ‘Come fishing with me on a traditional Sicilian fishing boat‘

If you’re looking for Marina’s to winter in during the winter months, there are loads to choose from. For our experience, read my review of Marina di Ragusa, Sicily. And if you’re interested in what you can do over the winter, check out: Top 12 day drips – visiting Sicily in the winter.

Fiscardo Cephalonia

The Ionian Sea – Corfu, Cephalonia, Ithica and more…

While in the Ionian Sea, we stayed in various ports on Corfu, Paxos, Cephalonia, Levkas, Meganisi, Ithica and Zakinthos, before sailing towards the Corinth Canal. The Corinth Canal cuts Greece and the Peloponnese in half allowing boaters to sail directly to Athens.

The following year, we spent more time in the Ionian.

The main article highlighting all our stops while sailing around the Greek Ionian, is ‘Sailing around the Greek Ionian for a month‘. This article will give you a breakdown of where we went, what we saw and any articles that came out of our voyage.

Before moving on and into the Corinth Canal, I’m going to include the articles I wrote about the Ionian the following year:

Sailing through the Corinth Canal

After the Ionian, I wrote and video’d us Traveling through the Corinth Canal. Before we made the epic passage, however, we took out time to run the original Olympic track at Olympia AND we visited the oracles at Delphi – the ancient center of the world.

Greek Island of Poros

Sailing the Aegean Sea – Athens, Poros, Hydra, Kos, Symi and more

Once we transitioned over to the Aegean Sea, we stopped at Athens to visit for a couple days. Aside from the Acropolis and historical sites, Athens is a very dirty run-down city. We didn’t stay long.

Our first port of call after Athens was Poros. Don’t visit the Greek Island of Poros for Provisioning or Good Food! There was good and bad about Poros…but overall, I would certainly recommend a visit.

We then went to the beautiful Greek Island of Hydra. Out of all the Greek Islands, and there are thousands, this is one of my favorites. It seems so quiet and unspoiled. Read. ‘The Greek Island of Hydra‘ to get more on that destination.

After Hydra and some other islands, we made a mad dash down to Delos, the uninhibited ancient island. Then to the island of Kos to pick up friends arriving at the airport. Kos Marina is a great marina to stop in and the town of Kos is lovely.

Within Greek waters, we also sailed down to the Greek Island of Symi, an incredible port that’s very close to the country of Turkey. I was super impressed with this quaint fishing/sponge village. Anyone who has ever been to Symi will urge you to visit.

Vai Beach Crete

Still sailing the Aegean Sea – Crete

We then started to head southwest and dropped down to the large Greek Island of Crete. I managed to write loads about this lovely Island. It’s worth knowing that most of the marina’s are not good. Also, anchoring can be difficult. This is definitely and area where you’ll want to research before heading out.

Still sailing the Aegean Sea – Santorini, Monemvasia and Methoni, Greece

From Crete, we sailed to the famous Greece Island of Santorini. Needless to say, if you’re anywhere near Santorini I urge you to stop. It’s probably the most beautiful Greek Island there is! Whenever you see an iconic picture from Greece, 9 times out of 10 it’s a picture of this island. Unfortunately, it’s very expensive and extremely touristy, but we’ll worth the visit.

As chance would have it, one of my readers wrote to me saying, ‘don’t miss out on Monemvasia or Methoni, Greece…you’re in the area.’ Again, if you’re in the area, check both of these destinations out!

We made it around the Peloponnese and then got stuck in Preveza, Greece, for weeks due to engine failure and rigging issues. After getting things fixed, we sailed 49 hours/281 miles from Greece back to Sicily, Italy. The pictures of our journey are breathtaking. The Ionian Sea was flat calm!

Eventually, we made it to Marina di Ragusa, Sicily in October where we’d winter ourselves and our boat for the winter months. I’ve included all my Sicily and Italy articles above in the appropriate section.

After our lovely winter at Marina di Ragusa, we sailed back to Preveza, Greece where Simon stayed with the boat to do a refit. If you’d like to see what we did during our refit, there’s a nice video that gives an overview: What happens when a boat undergoes a refit?

Southwest coast of Italy

Southwest coast of Italy

Heading West – Starting with the southwest coast of Italy

After hanging out in Greece for six weeks finishing the refit and visiting with friends, we eventually crossed the Ionian, hung out in Toarmina, Sicily for a while and then made our way into the Straights of Messina.

Check out Sailing along the southwest coast of Italy: Reggio, Vibo, Cetrar, Sapri, Salerno and Capri for an article and video series of our voyage. For me, it was a highlight to finally see Pompeii.

We then spent a few weeks anchored of the Italian island of Sardinia. I wasn’t too impressed with the area but I’m sure that’s down to our lack of proper exploration. I just found the place to be very expensive – the area we were in was designated for the rich and famous…and we’re not rich or famous! Hehehe.

Sailing into Bonifacio on the French Island of Corsica

The French Island of Corsica at Bonifacio

Now…if you’re anywhere near Bonifacio, it is a MUST-SEE. Read my article and watch my video to find out why: Sailing into Bonifacio on the French Island of Corsica.

After Bonifacio, we sailed to the Balearics where we started off! Not only where we sailing around the Mediterranean, we sailed around the Mediterranean – a circumnavigation.

From the Balearics, we stopped in Spain (Marbella), hit Gibraltar and then made our way down to Gran Canaria to prepare for our Atlantic crossing.

So…there you have it. One concise list of most of the articles I wrote about sailing in the Mediterranean. If you have an questions about a particular area, please ask them below in the comments section. If you have a question, so does someone else 😉

The Top 14 Boat Mold Removal Techniques

So you think you’re going to sail off into the sunset enjoying fresh air and feeling amazingly healthy? Not if you have mold on board…and every boat has mold. The good news, however, is that there are actions you can take to prevent the spread of mold and several techniques for boat mold removal.

Before listing the 14 top mold removal techniques, please allow me to provide a bit of background on mold and mildew so you understand what it is, how it forms, how best to prevent it and ultimately how to remove it when you find it.

Boat Mold Removal

Boat Mold Removal

What is mold?

Mold is a fungus that wreaks havoc aboard boats. Eventually, every boat owner becomes a boat mold removal expert. Not only can mold make a boat smell terribly musty and rank but also it can create significant health problems. The most common health issues include: respiratory problems, allergic reactions, migraines, inflammation and pain in the joints, mental deficiencies, and extreme fatigue.

Mold often looks furry and is circular. It starts off as one spore and then grows and spreads. Mold comes in all sorts of colors – black, blue, yellow, brow, white and gray.

What is mildew?

Mildew is a form of mold that looks like a thin dusting of black, grey, yellow or white powder that appears on fabric, upholstery and walls. Mildew on boats seems to appear overnight. From time to time we’ve had our whole galley coated with what looks like a light dust…It’s disgusting.

How are mold and mildew formed?

Mold and mildew grow on surfaces that are damp for extended periods or where dirt is allowed to accumulate.

With warmth and high humidity mold grows quickly and once it’s formed it can survive for years. Mold also grows in cold climates. And unfortunately freezing temperatures don’t kill mold as the spores are resistant to drying out. If temperatures go up after a freeze, mold spores will reactivate and grow.

boat mold removal

boat mold removal

Boat mold removal techniques are important…

…but eliminating the conditions that allow mold to grow is the key!

Ultimately, it’s easier to prevent mold from growing that it is to stop it. A boat owners three main priorities to prevent mold and mildew are as follows:

1. Fix any leaks the second you discover them

Considering that there’s always a servicing/maintenance ‘to-do’ list on a boat it can often be difficult to priorities what’s important versus what’s not. When it comes to leaks they are ALWAYS important. A leak that’s left untended can quickly turn your boat into a stinking unhealthy environment.

Obviously, if your boat is sinking it’s best to deal with that issue but stopping leaks is not something to avoid. Don’t put your head in the sand if you can’t figure out the source of the leak. Keep looking… make trails of paper towel to find the stream and consider pouring buckets of colored water over the boat (use food color) to get a better visual.

Leaks that are left unattended will turn into a serious mold fest and you will regret not fixing them sooner…

2. Prevent mold by reducing the likelihood of damp conditions

Mold thrives when boats are closed up. Air that is trapped inside holds moisture that can’t escape. And with water, air and hull temperatures changing at different rates, condensation forms. Add people living on board and there’s even a higher chance for moisture.

There are a couple major actions a boat owner can take to prevent damp. You can either use a dehumidifier and/or maximize ventilation.

A dehumidifier reduces the level of humidity in the air allowing the boat to dry out.

Dehumidifiers work well when a boat is sealed up and left unattended. Many boat owners reduce humidity by using the boats air-conditioning system (many have a dehumidifier setting) or you can set up a stand-alone dehumidifier in the galley sink or place one in the bilge so that the water run-off can exit the boat.

The key with dehumidifiers is that the boat must be well sealed. The objective is to take the moisture out of the air within the boat to reduce the likelihood of damp.

The other major action you can take to minimize damp is to make sure the air within the boat is circulated

This can be done by ensuring the boat is well ventilated in addition to having electric vents or fans move the air around.

Generally, a standard ventilation system won’t be enough to keep mold at bay. It’s imperative that the air is moving through the boat. Ideally, you want the air inside the boat to be replaced at least every hour. Ventilation systems can be installed that pull air in and exhaust air out. Alternatively, fans can be used to move air around provided the ventilation system is allowing air in and out of the boat.

The ultimate aim, therefore, is to remove the moisture in the air and/or constantly circulate the air so that the possibility for dampness is eliminated.

This leads us to the third main priority to prevent mold and mildew…

3. Clean up dirt, spills, crumbs and wash any seawater that touches canvas, soft furnishings, etc. with fresh water immediately

Mold and mildew grow on dirty surfaces. When something gets dirty you’ll want to clean it up. When something gets wet with salt water you’ll want to wash it off with fresh water. Salt keeps things damp. And even with fresh water, you don’t want it sitting around. If you have a shower curtain, open it up so it’s not folded against itself preventing air to dry it. After a shower in the head, make sure the window is open to allow the air to circulate. When doing laundry, ensure that items are super dry before folding and storing.

Do weekly spot checks looking for mold and mildew. Problem areas include:

  • Portlights and hatches
  • Leak spots (if you don’t fix them…)
  • Loose stanchions
  • Chain plates that penetrate the deck
  • Deck-stepped masts
  • Water leaking though the deck core – big issue as it can rot the decks core
  • Clogged cockpit scuppers – if these get clogged water can overflow and run into areas it’s shouldn’t be
  • Teak deck filler that bubbles up rather than down…Over time the black filler on teak tends to bow up rather than create a small valley between each plank of teak. When this happens you can take a long flexible box knife, slightly bend it and carve a valley back in the teak filler. It’s a painstaking job but it allows water to sit in the filler rather than on the teak wood)
  • Places where snow can accumulate
  • Closets (whenever possible open all your closets to let air circulate in them and never pack them too full)
  • Hatch roller blinds (make sure to periodically spray with a anti fungal solution)
  • Behind curtains (up at the top where condensation can form – see picture below as this is what mold can look like when you remove curtains)
  • Inside ventilation systems

boat mold removal

boat mold removal

If you’re proactive and fix leaks instantly in addition to keeping a routine of either drying the moisture or circulating the air in AND keeping a clean boat, you’ll drastically reduce your incidents of mold and mildew.

But what do you do when you find mold or mildew?

Boat mold removal in general…

With any mold and mildew solution always spot test the afflicted area first to ensure you don’t damage it with the solution you’ve decided to use. Some cleaning solutions may work well on one surface yet destroy another. Bleach is an example of a solution you’ll want to be careful with.

Bleach might work very well in a fridge, countertop or with your white sheets, but it could ruin your headlining’s, soft furnishings and wood.

If you’re unsure as to whether the solution will damage a surface do a small little patch that’s preferably hidden.

The 15 Top boat mold removal techniques

1. Use store bought cleaning solutions dedicated to mold and mildew removal – use as per directions on the bottle. Be careful when using chemicals on a boat. Make sure the boat is very well ventilated and children and pets are not around. Or, better yet, use a natural and less expensive mold and mildew killer… (read on)

2. 3% Hydrogen peroxide solution (diluted to one part hydrogen and three parts water) – Hydrogen peroxide is anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial. Talk about killing three birds with one stone! Apply generously with a damp cloth or spray bottle and leave to soak for a while. Wash off with a light soapy water and a soft-bristled brush if necessary. Caution: Hydrogen peroxide can act like a bleach on delicate surfaces.

3. Diluted vinegar – use three parts white vinegar and two parts water. For very bad cases of mold/mildew you can use undiluted vinegar. Add to a spray bottle or use a sponge to cover surfaces. Let it sit for a while to allow the vinegar to kill the mold. Wash with warm water and then consider lightly spraying the surface again to prevent more growth. Leave to dry.

4. Baking soda – In addition to killing mold, baking soda absorbs moisture and keeps mold away. Add ¼ tablespoon of baking soda to a spray bottle full of water and shake. Spray the surface and then use a sponge or soft brush to remove the mold. Rinse the surface with water and then spray again and let the surface dry.

5. Tea Tree oil – this natural essential oil is a powerful natural mold killer; it’s a fungicide. To use this essential oil to kill existing mold and mildew, add ten drops of tea tree oil to one cup of water in a glass spray bottle. Oils don’t react well to plastic therefore a glass spray bottle is preferred. Shake and then spray the mixture onto hard surfaces where mold and mildew are apparent. Let the solution do it’s magic. Use a sponge or soft brush to remove the mold. Spray with the solution and let dry. With repeated use this all-natural cleaner will kill the mold/mildew and help to prevent future growth. Remember to always shake the mixture before you spray as oil and water separate.

6. Grapefruit seed extract essential oil also works well. Follow the same instructions as noted with Tea Tree Oil.

7. Diluted bleach – Dilute it with three parts water. Use a spray bottle to spray, wipe the mold off and then wash with water.

8. Borax – add a half-cup to one cup of borax to a gallon of water. Spray or wipe on the surface and wipe away the mold. Spray solution again on the surface and let dry.

And here are some instructions for specific areas around the boat…

9. Boat mold removal on the deck

While actively using your boat always spray off salt water after a journey. Make sure to spray down the deck, fittings, rigging, sails, mast, hull and anywhere else that salt water may have touched.

If your boat has a teak deck, consider treating it with Borocal at least once a season for mold prevention. Boracol is a chemical that can be used on wood for the management of mold, fungal growth, mildew, slime, dry rot and insect attack.

To get step-by-step instructions and a video on how to use Boracol on a teak deck read Teak Deck Maintenance Using Boracol.

Side note: when laying your boat up for a while it’s common practice to hose the deck down with saltwater. The saltwater will keep the deck damp helping the teak to stay moist.

10. Mold removal boat canvas items

Regularly wash away salt and dirt with fresh water. Consider using a specialty canvas mold cleaner, scrubbing gently with a soft brush if necessary. Rinse with fresh water thoroughly. Remember to retreat canvas with water and stain resistance periodically.

With small canvas items like winch covers a solution of equal parts of rubbing alcohol and water can work well. For larger items, consider a borax solution.

11. Boat mold removal on internal wood

On our wood and headlining’s I always use vinegar and water. It’s easy, vinegar is very inexpensive, there’s no chemicals and it works! The smell of vinegar is annoying for an hour or two but it doesn’t take long for it to disappear. Between cleaning with vinegar I use a wood polish to add life back into the wood.

12. Mold removal in the galley fridge/freezer

Bleach the inside of the freezer and or use a store bought spray that has both bleach and a mold inhibitor.

What many people fail to remember is that mold and mildew has a terrible habit of growing in a fridge/freezer drainpipe. Make sure to run a solution through the pipes to clear out any mold that has formed. A super chlorination mixture can also be used. Use a cork to plug the drainpipe, if not there already, pour the mixture down the pipe and let it sit for a while. After an hour or so, put a 1 gallon or 2 liter plastic jug at the end of the drain pipe and pull the plug. You might then want to run some fresh solution through one last time.

13. Boat mold removal in closets

Ultimately, if you are able to do so, keep your closets open so air can circulate. If you’re not using the boat, remove any bedding, towels or fabric items as these tend to collect moisture.

If you are on the boat, however, you can purchase chemical dehumidifiers to put in closets prone to moisture. The following DampRid product can be used for larger areas but there are also smaller products good for closets. Aside from Amazon, these dehumidifiers can be found at large hardware/lumber stores.

DampRid - boat mold removal
DampRid - boat mold removal

DamRid chemical dehumidifier – Click Image to view product on Amazon

14. Boat mold removal in items kept in storage

Every autumn I take my summer clothes and put them in a vacuum bag. Once they’re in the bag I put them in the bilge and pray that the vacuum seal keeps and the moister and mold stays out. From time to time I’ve had the unfortunate situation where some of my clothes were ruined beyond repair.

So…what I do now is use smaller vacuum bags so that if one bag goes it’s not a total disaster. And in each bag I add a 30gram ‘Dry & Dry’ Silica Gel Desiccant sachet (see below – I order these from Amazon).

Silica - boat mold removal
Silica - boat mold removal

Silica Gel Desiccant – Click Image to view product on Amazon

Anything else about mold and mildew – Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Is it worthwhile to run a dehumidifier while living on the boat during cooler seasons?

My experience is that running a dehumidifier while living on the boat (with the boat closed up) doesn’t work very well. Entering and exiting the boat allows moisture in. Additionally, living bodies add to the moisture in the air. Even with our dehumidifier running non-stop we discovered condensation within the boat.

As with everything to do with boats, every situation is different. When one potential solution doesn’t work, try another one.

What we’ve found that works best, when living on the boat, is to air out the boat as much as possible. If we’re going to go out for the day we open as many windows as possible. We also have fans going to move the air around. When we’re cooking or boiling water, we always make sure to open a window. Finally, if I ever see condensation on the windows and/or frames around the windows I wipe it off immediately.

Question: Do insurance policies cover mold and mildew damage?

Usually not! Mold and mildew damage is prolific. Boat owners often put their boat on the hard for a season, return to the boat and it’s filled with fungus. It’s a terrible, terrible tragedy that happens all the time. Considering the high rate of mold/mildew issues, and the extensive cost of fixing them, insurance companies just won’t cover the damages.

Question: What can I do when laying the boat up for the season in addition to things mentioned above?

  • Remove all bedding, clothing, towels and other items that can attract moisture
  • Reduce the amount of contents in closets and lockers
  • Turn up beds to reduce the area under the bed for damp
  • Don’t put anything on the beds as moisture can form under an item
  • Open all closets – perhaps tie them open so they can’t slam closed if the boat is disturbed (remember that your goal is to have air circulate throughout the whole boat and that includes closets!)
  • If you’re going to have your boat shrink wrapped consider:
    • Running a dehumidifier
    • Using specialized solar powered vents designed especially for shrink-wrap
    • Placing chemical dehumidifiers around the boat
  • Avoid putting anything on top of beds, sofas and soft furnishings. The area between items can attract moisture.
  • Look around the boat and consider how you can ensure moisture is being dried out and/or air is moving all around the boat. Lift some floorboards up so the bilge is getting fresh are too!

What have I missed?

Please leave any comments below on your top boat mold removal techniques.

Would you like even more valuable ‘how-to’ information?

If you like the straight-to-the-point easy-to-use information that I provide, consider purchasing one or all of my sailing/sailboat guides. My aim is to make it easier to get out sailing. The industry is full of disingenuous marine sales people eager to take money from newbies…salty sea dogs make ‘youngsters’ (aged 20 to 70) feel awkward because they don’t know a particular sailing term…and sailing books are full of complicated equations, charts and explanations.

I make things simple. I help readers to avoid being conned, feeling awkward and/or wasting time! And…I write about ways for you to make it easier to get out sailing. Enough said – check out my sailing guides now.