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.
Previously on SailingBritican.com…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.
Charleston Harbor Marina
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.
Some of our awesome liveaboard friends
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
Fixing our back ladder
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 ☺
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)
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?!
Pour water into the lower base unit ensuring that it does not go above the steam hole.
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.
Screw on the top of the coffee maker.
Put the unit on the stovetop at high heat.
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.
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.
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.
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 Amazon.com)
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 Amazon.com):
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 Amazon.com):
Or if you have any questions about the book, please email me at Kim@SailingBritican.com
IMPORTANT: please note that the book consists of previous blog entries, all edited to read as in book format, found throughout this website.
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.
Here’s our old and new starter motor. Little did we know that our old starter wasn’t the 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.
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)
This is my view while I write this article – looking out to the Atlantic from Charleston, SC, USA
Live aboard sailing – 8 ways to avoid failure
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Prepare for hard work. Realize that being a live aboard cruiser is hard work.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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!
Click the picture if you like the t-shirt Simon is wearing. We sell it in our store 🙂
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…
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!)
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.