Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sister Creek 29 Dec Pine Island East 30 Dec Fort Matanzas 31 Dec 2014

Coming out of Jacksonville Landing on the St Johns River put us right back into the commercial river way and the land of barges and industrial traffic. I hadn't seen this since the river system last year 

Back in the barge traffic

We snuck off the St Johns River at Sisters Creek and enjoyed a quiet night on a free dock. We caught up with and shared dock tales with the S/V Cat Manana that was at El Milagro Marina in Isla Mujeres, and crossed with the mass exodus the same time we did. It was an interesting evening listening to the knowledge of the couple that had been cruising for 20 years along with the excitement of a young couple that just bought their first sailboat and were learning the ins and outs, dos and don’ts, engine failure and heart palpitations that we all experience. 

Sisters Creek

Pine Island East

The next day we headed for pine island east an anchorage that would put us in a good distance from St Augustine where we had reservations on a mooring ball for New Years Eve. It turned into a dull, dank, wet day on the ICW, but we spotted our first dolphins of the season and dolphins can always cheer me up. That night on the hook at Pine Island East the weather stayed nasty and wasn't supposed to change until the 1st Jan so we decided not to waste a day at a mooring in bad weather and headed off to Fort Matanzas for a quiet New Years just the two of us 

 Don't look for me, I am inside sewing or at least thats my excuse to stay warm 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Jacksonville Landing

Jacksonville City Landing was a wonderful long over due stop, we enjoyed a beautiful Christmas tree, live music and a cold margarita. How soon we forgot the scrubbing and scrapping. The sunset was stunning and people watching perfect 

Marc Took Me For A Great Run, Up One Bridge Down The Next 

 Our View From The Bank Of America Dinner 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Foggy, Foggy Morning, Late Morning, Early Afternoon Sorta

After a fantastic sleep on the hook, I jumped out of bed at 06:30 to take a morning sunrise (07:33) picture, but the fog has rolled in and though I can see the sun trying to pop thru it seems to be getting thicker and thicker. The fog finally lifted and we could pull anchor at 11:37. Off to the free city docks in Jacksonville City.





After The Fog There Is A Rainbow Who Knew? 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Off The Hard Woo Who Only Six Miles But Who's Counting

Yesterday was a pretty great day for us, as we moved away from the Green Cove Springs Marina wall. Oh, so we only went six.eight miles, but sunshine and excitement was the trend for the day. One of the first questions boaters in a boat yard ask is “where are you going,” and the second question is always “when are you leaving?” Our 42 days on the hard made for repetitive responses, so we started coming up with, or copying inventive answers such as, we are right where we belong today, or we will leave on the first or the second, the first chance I get, or the second the boat is we got to say, today :) 

As with spending time in any boat yard we were happy to renew relationships with friends made last year on the loop and Cuba and make new friends that we hope to catch up again with. We are learning that the world is big, but the sailing community is small, everybody knows everybody or someone who knows someone you know. 

So now as I sit in the first anchorage of the season with the chaos of prep and repair over,   enjoying the sunset I feel like this years boating season has finally started. 

My Captain, Oh Captain

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Being On The Hard Is Hard But... 2014

1984 was a good year, the first Apple Mac went on sale, Sonny released its first commercial CD players, Ghost Busters was in the theatre, Phil Collins was on the radio and in 84 DevOcean was built in France.

I tried to research some history on DevOcean and the Beneteau for this blog and really all I fell upon were beautiful yachts, with beautiful, people dressed in white, sipping champagne or leisurely doing yoga on the spacious fore deck. Trust me I haven't worn white for the past month, I will save the champagne for new years and if crumpling yourself in semi erotic poses to twist a screw in an impossible space is yoga then I am solid on that front.

We are doing what seems to be the yearly converging of the cruising community in working yards, living on the hard. Boaters gather to sand, wax, paint, repair, renew, rebuild, remodel their boats to keep them safe and seaworthy. It aint sexy, it aint pretty, and it aint fun, Its necessary.

In my limited experience, boat yards are dirty places, with many tired people scrambling for parts on questionable internet, sleeping in the same space they work in from sun up to sun down all trying to get there boats back in the water so they can go sailing. 

In my summer fantasy of returning to DevOcean I thought I would return to her gleaming in the boat yard, do a little “pretty," socialise and leave. Reality bit my butt. 

Due to the cracked port lights she was damper than expected. We easily and quickly dried her out with ventilation (quite simply, open hatches). We took all of the cushions out and left them in the sun to dry out thoroughly, washed all of the covers etc. Bleach, vinegar, vinegar bleach, It didn't take long to completely dry her out. Our major problem was the unexpected cracked port lights, replacing them and finding Chicago screws. Ok, not finding the screws but getting the screws. I could write a whole other blog on that and the bad service from but that just wouldn’t be nice. Suffice it to say we still have not received an order placed almost a month ago. Thus one of the main reason for still sitting.
Side One Of Two
So we turned to replacing the famous Beneteau sagging head liner in the bow berth and salon with a crisp clean white pcv board. In my head easy peasy right? Why don’t I listen to my inner Marc?  After much scrubbing, scrapping and sanding the bow berth is beginning to look beautiful, the salon brighter. My new and most fantastic gift Marc gave me was two new port holes, one above the stove and one parallel on the starboard wall for cross ventilation. Love my new port holes.  

My View Last Night From My New Port Hole Cooking Dinner

So where are we at? Marc is finicky with the engine and it is being finickity back at him. I have resorted to provisioning and staying out of his way. If we don’t launch by friday which we must do with a working engine we will not be able to launch until the New Year. Being in Jacksonville is no hardship but we would much prefer being in the water. As always boating people are, gracious, helpful, so as much as being on the hard is hard, life is good. 

Old Saggy

Pictures To Follow If I Ever Get To The Pretty Part
Many chores have come from normal wear and tear sadly some from the abuse of others  While at dinner on a mooring ball in Key West last year we were hit and the anchor rollers ripped almost completely off.  So Marc replaced them from the sailors exchange in St Agustin. I wonder what the other boat looked like? 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I love Alexander Fleming for the discovery of penicillin, blue cheese is my favourite cheese, but mould on a boat is not so good!

I love Alexander Fleming for the discovery of penicillin, blue cheese is my favourite cheese, but mould on a boat is not so good!

We have been happily back two days now, and wow did we ever come back to a lot of work. In Little Current when we winterised DevOcean we would tuck her in for a cold winter, then when spring came shake off the snow, thaw her out, fill the cupboards and move back in.  Coming back to DevOcean in Florida was just not the same, we had never summerised a boat in a warm climate so we were extra diligent, we cleaned her, removed most food stuff, bagged clothes and linens and buttoned up hatches. 

We have been pretty lucky that DevOcean has always been a fairly dry boat, right now “dry” wouldn’t be a way I would describe her.  Somehow, we are not sure how, our port and starboard  windows cracked in exactly the same spot,along with the cracks the seals around the windows broke also. Maybe a good jolt, what do you think? Other than having a big job to replace the windows nothing has been completely ruined but their has been a lot of elbow grease. Thankfully the cabins are dry, but the salon didn’t escape unscathed.  The bilge was full of lets call it guck, cushions wet, lockers dark and damp, dampness and salt air corroded anything that it could. Thank goodness we caught everything so quick. I love Madame Curry for the discovery of penicillin, blue cheese is my favourite cheese but mould on a boat is not so good!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Road Trip

The push has been on for the past two days to get to Jacksonville Florida, and our floating home DevOcean. We had to be in Ontario for 153 to stay legal with OHIP, so on day 154 Marc and I looked like a bad Ikea commercial, “Start the car, start the car.” The drive, though cloudy has been pleasant other than my captains constant spelling corrections, while I completed crosswords and to my dismay his correctness. Last year the trip from Manitoulin Ontario to Mobile Alabama took us about two months, we enjoyed sight seeing, visiting locals, and exploring.  This trip down took us about 36 hours. I missed wandering around and would have loved to have spent some time as we drove through Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, but the pull of the boat and sunshine won out. 

Caveat: I cheated and copied this picture as my Captain better known as the pee break Nazi would not stop for pictures. 

After checking boarder regulations we found out that the meat we canned may have been prohibited from entering the states, so we strategically packed it in our weighted down beast of a car and had  countless conversations on the merits of telling the truth to the boarder guard when declaring versus little white omissions, Marc of course demanded I tell the truth. When we did get to the guard the poor guy never even asked what we had with us, but was extremely concerned that we may stay in the US past six months. No chance of that when grand baby Olive lives in Northern Ontario. Whew, we now have beef for the Bahamas. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

I know this isn’t sexy or funny, but just this once read to the end

Ok, I’m going to be that person, the dreaded friend that finds a cause and drives you crazy about it, and yes I want you to go crazy and get on the band wagon with me. I have spent my entire time home waffling back and forth about what I was going to do, how I was going to do this. Ok, ok what is “this”?  I want you to be conscious of the plastics you are using. Now, please don’t stop reading, I know this isn’t sexy or funny, but just this once read to the end and maybe you will think the next time you buy or use something plastic. Please…just this once all the way. 
When we were away this year traveling in the US water system, Cuba and Mexico we had the opportunity to explore areas that were not part of the normal tourist destinations. I love to take pictures and I love to blog, so often I would go to snap shots leaving out the bad and ugly. One day it hit me, most of the ugly is plastic, not metal, not paper, but plastic. Bags, there were plastic bags everywhere, water bottles, pop lids, drinking straws, you name it we saw it. At first my reaction was one of being superior, lamenting in my mind about how we reduce, reuse, and recycle at home, how could these people be so disrespectful of the environment. Sadly, in the beginning I wrote the littering off to the economy and lack of awareness, how small minded and prejudice of me. I am embarrassed. Then the more I traveled, there more I learned, the more I realised that we are just as responsible as everyone else, we use vast amounts of plastic everyday, in every way in our lives and it is our responsibility to help alleviate the problem of plastic pollution. 

Plastic is found everywhere these days and I mean everywhere. Did you know that you might even be chewing on plastic in the form of gum? Plastic is in many of our hygiene products, think toothpaste and face scrubs (micro-pellets used as abrasive). We package with plastic, sip on it, wrap with it, eat with it, the list goes on and on. While plastics are touted as recycled, the reality is that they are “down cycled” I learned that a plastic milk carton can never be recycled into another carton, it can only be made into a lower-quality item like plastic lumber, which can’t be recycled.We need to become aware of every plastic item we use and take a moment to think of how we can find an alternative solution.
How big is our plastic problem? Of the 30 million tons of plastic waste generated in the US in 2009, only 7% was recovered for recycling. This plastic waste ends up in landfills, beaches, rivers and oceans and contributes to such devastating problems as the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, a swirling vortex of garbage the size of a continent where plastic outnumbers plankton. Plus, most plastic is made from oil. Oil and water just don’t mix. Now I’m no scientist but the idea of a trash vortex swirling in the North Pacific Ocean grosses me out. The patch is made up of among other things, high concentrations of  plastics trapped by currents. A similar patch of floating plastic debris is found in the Atlantic Ocean. 

So, while we were home this summer I tried, sometime successfully and often not so successfully to reduce my use of plastics, alas, the important thing was I tried. Wow was it hard. I vowed to always bring my own grocery bags to the store, not use plastic produce bags, sometimes to the ire of the cashier and fleeting moments of embarrassment at holding up grocery lines. If I forgot my bags, I searched for boxes that were not always available, and often borrowed from my always organised shopping partner Susie. BTW why do they rip down boxes? Why do they sell plastic reusable bags, why not cloth?  

I cringed when I found out I had to give up my favourite face wash because it was full of micro pellets along the plastic bottle it is packaged in, for good old soap. Body washes have gone to the wayside also. I changed from liquid laundry soap, my touted saviour of whiteness, for powder because of the box only to my dismay to find a plastic measuring cup inside, what’s with that? I’m sure that my letter of complaint will gather a response. 

I have “mostly” quiet successfully given up the use of plastic wrap in the kitchen. Wax paper is enjoying a comeback for me, I have been reusing glass bottles, use mason jars (though I did buy the reusable plastic lids) I have been reusing old plastic again and again when it’s not being reheated. I will take any tricks you have to help me. 

Marc was embarrassed when I pulled out my own silverware in a restaurant the other day, but as he said, he got over it. Drinking a fountain pop with no straw sucked, pun intended. There is no more buying in water bottles, I am trying to enforce only using my own mug at Timmies. Small steps. It takes a lot of time and energy in the beginning, but I think we are getting ahold of this and can only get better at reducing our plastic use daily.

I found a great list of ways to reduce plastic use and have attached it here. Please just one thing, do one thing. Love your crazy friend Linda 

  1. Check your gum! Yup! Gum was originally made from tree sap a natural rubber, but when scientists created synthetic rubber, they began to replace the natural rubber in most gum. You could be chewing on plastic. While it is possible to recycle your gum yuck, it may be best to skip it and its plastic packaging. Whew, this ones was an easy one, done.
  2. Check out your tooth paste
  3. And the micro beads in your face scrubs
  4. At the grocery store:
    1. Bring your own cloth bags to the grocery store (or any store)! Three great things to say, “Thanks, but no thanks, no bags needed," “paper not plastic,” or  “do you have any boxes?”
    2. Purchase fresh fruits and vegetables not bagged or wrapped in plastic, also skip the produce bag. Buy or make some reusable produce bags, however, avoid buying those bags made from nylon or polyester because they're also made from plastic. 
    3. Buy bread from bakeries that are packaged in paper bags.
    4. Buy laundry detergent in boxes, not liquid in plastic containers. Cardboard can be more easily recycled and made into more products than plastic.It also won’t sit for year upon year in landfills. 
    5. Buy eggs in reusable paper containers not styrofoam. 
    6. Get your cheese and sliced meats from the deli and place it in your own container (glass or a plastic one that you already have, don't waste what you already have)! Or get it wrapped in paper.
    7. Buy food like rice, pasta, beans, nuts, cereal and granola in bulk and bring your own containers, or paper bags saving both money and unnecessary packaging. Stores have various methods for deducting the container weight so simply check with customer service before filling your container. Also, many cotton bags have their weights printed on their tags so they can simply be deducted at the checkout. 
    8. Reuse containers; You can buy a variety of prepared foods in glass jars instead of plastic ones, including spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, salsa and applesauce, just to name a few. Instead of throwing these away or recycling them, reuse the jars to store food or take them with you when you’re buying bulk foods.
    9. Buy tortilla chips packaged in paper bags.
    10. Buy bulk coffee packaged in paper or in cans, or bring your own bags. STOP USING DISPOSABLE SINGLE SERVING THROW AWAYS!
    11. Buy milk in paper cartons. Canada has a real problem here.
    12. Don't buy convenience foods packages in plastic
    13. Don't buy beverages bottles in plastic. Glass is great.
    14. Skip the frozen food section; Frozen foods offer both convenience and plenty of plastic packaging — even those eco-friendly packaged items made from cardboard are actually coated in a thin layer of plastic. While giving up frozen food can be difficult, there are benefits besides the obvious environmental ones: You'll be eating fewer processed foods and avoiding the chemicals in their plastic packaging.

3. At work, out and about
  1. Carry your own reusable steel or ceramic beverage container. 
  2. Don't get to-go coffee or hot drinks. Your drink lid and cup will live on for over 100 years! The lids and lining are plastic. Bring your own or ask for a ceramic, reusable cup. Reusable bottles and cups Bottled water produces 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year, and these bottles require 47 millions gallons of oil to produce, according to Food and Water Watch. By simply refilling a reusable bottle, you’ll prevent some of these plastic bottles from ending up in landfills and oceans — but don’t stop there. Bring a reusable cup to coffee shops and ask the barista to fill it up, and keep a mug at your desk instead of using plastic, paper or Styrofoam cups. The average American office worker uses about 500 disposable cups a year so you’ll be preventing a lot of unnecessary waste.
  3. When ordering drinks, say "no straw please!” One of the easiest ways to keep plastic out of the landfill is to refuse plastic straws. Simply inform your waiter or waitress that you don't need one, and make sure to specify this when ordering at a drive-thru. Purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass straw. 
  4. Use real silverware instead of plastic. I threw some in our glove box and  my purse!
  5. Use a reusable cloth bag or old fashioned steel lunch box to carry your lunch to work. Instead of packing snacks and sandwiches in bags, put them in reusable containers you have at home, or try lunch accessories like. You can also opt for fresh fruit instead of single-serving fruit cups, and buy items like yogurt and pudding in bulk and simply put a portion in a reusable dish for lunch.
4. Around the house
  1. Clean with baking soda and vinegar instead of cleaners packaged in plastic There's no need for multiple plastic bottles of tile cleaner, toilet cleaner and window cleaner if you have a few basics on hand like baking soda and vinegar.
  2. Package your leftovers in containers like corning ware or store foods in glass containers. Reuse bottles that you purchased something in like pasta sauce, jams.
  3. Do not use air fresheners. Light a candle or incense instead
  4. Buy bar soap, not liquid body wash
  5. Line small trash bins in your house with paper bags
  6. Compost your trash, reduce your use of plastic trash bags
  7. Use cloth rags for clean up around the house, no paper towels – reduces your trash and need for trash bags. When we were growing up my mother never used paper towel and she was a clean freak. I can do this. 
  8. Don't use plastic baggies. If you need to keep things like half an onion (happens to us all the time)! Use aluminium or waxy paper.
  9. Use cloth napkins. They feel nice and reduce your waste and use of plastic trash bags. We did this on the boat long before we thought of it as environmental. It kept trash down, they felt nice and it was fun. We used colourful bandanas 
  10. Don't use plastic cutting boards. Use wood or glass
  11. Use baby bottles made of glass. 
  12. Use stainless steel sippy cups for kids.
  13. Buy cloth diapers. Many great varieties available and better for your baby. We fill a super bowl size hole every day with disposal diapers that will leach toxins into the environment for centuries to come.Use cloth diapersAccording to the EPA, 7.6 billion pounds of disposable diapers are discarded in the U.S. each year. Plus, it takes about 80,000 pounds of plastic and more than 200,000 trees a year to manufacture disposable diapers for American babies alone. By simply switching to cloth diapers, you'll not only reduce your baby's carbon footprint, you'll also save money.
  14. Buy CDs packaged in cardboard sleeves or buy your music online.
  15. Use junk mail and other paper to stuff into big packages to ship instead of bubble wrap or air filled plastic.
  16. Use rechargeable batteries to reduce buying batteries packaged in plastic.

What"s Under Your Boat?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sell, Rent, Store, A Year Later And Where Our Decisions Have Taken Us

So, many times I have read the questions on the sailing blogs, Facebook groups, and cruising forums that ask, should I sell everything and move on board? Or, rent our house to transition? What about my things? The years and years of accumulation? What do I do with aunt Gladys silver bowl? Jacob’s grade one art work? Grandma’s marble top dresser that I have lugged around for years and been keeping out of obligation, not because I liked the piece? There is a lot of preparation and stress that went into making these decisions, but mostly for me, they were emotional decisions. So, a year later, I want to look back to where our decisions have taken us. 

Getting organised: Or what we did first in a nut shell.  We sold the house, sold the business, sold the contents, mostly, stored minimal treasures, we whittled our belongings down to the necessities. The plan was to cruise for five years with sporadic visits. What happened was I got homesick, ok, that's another story, and if you knew me, you probably wouldn’t have believed it, but I did. I wanted to come home and see my kids and granddaughter. Now, because of other unexpected factors, we have been home for five months.

We are now, yeah! Preparing to leave again, so one year later, three countries, one fantastic cruising season, one trip home, this is what I’ve learnt. 

  1. I wished that I had, had the opportunity to seriously cruise for a period of time, before all our decisions became a fait d’accoplis. Not because I wouldn’t have gone, I definitely would, it is just that the experience of previous cruising would have made me plan better, or differently and I would have known what to expect. We weren’t ignorant to sailing, we were ignorant to cruising, big difference. 
  2. I would still sell my house, a good financial decision for us, but I missed a place to call home and I wish we had planned a for space to come home to. Family and friends are wonderful, but life goes on for both them and you. You don’t want to be hanging around like stinky fish and after living alone on the boat with just hubby I relished my privacy, long lazy morning coffee, uninterrupted afternoons of wine and books. All I have to say is that I am very thankful to good friends that were kind enough and generous enough to rent us a fully furnished private space for us to call ours. We did end up buying some property while we were home, to build a small summer cottage. Which leads me to my next insight
  3. I don’t miss work, but I miss the money. I would have stored more and prepared for a return had I known. Many things I kept, I now know that they were just things, but some things I got rid of I wish I had kept, like a car. If you stay home for any extended time, rentals are crazy, we come from Manitoulin Island, Northern Ontario and a car for a few months was a necessity. Also, we found that replacing household items is expensive and because we are not working buying huge amounts of stuff that previously we had accumulated over years seems out of this world. Squabbling over a $10 rake, versus a $12 rake would have seemed ludicrous a year ago.  
  4. I love and miss my kids and enjoyed all our time together, but I did learn that after the initial first weeks of “boy I missed you and gee mom, I missed your apple pie," they are adults and didn't need me 24/7.  Hell, I think they are happy to see me go, so they can go back to doing their own thing without my watchful eye, but with one caveat 
  5. Communication: before we left Bell Canada rattled my chain, I know I am company bashing, but after spending my whole adult life, giving them my money I am done, so we left with no cell phone coverage. We purchased a track phone to use in the US, but, we couldn’t phone cell phone long distance and our kids are in Canada with cell phones so that didn’t work so well. There was limited communication in Cuba, Mexico no problems. We actually got used to no phones and liked that we didn’t have a phone bill. The internet is easy accessible so we had Skype, magic jack, Facebook,  all was good from our end. The bottom line for others was that if there was an emergency, we were hard to reach quickly, also, sometimes the kids just have to talk to you, not a day from now or on a grainy screen. We need to do better about having a phone for emergencies. Sometimes a mom just has to be a mom and be there to listen. 

Honestly, I don’t know what is right for you, your family, your money situation, your adventure. I can only reflect on how it’s working out for us.  The most important thing I learnt is that even though we didn’t do everything perfect, we can go back and correct the choices we made to enhance our cruising lifestyle and still have the freedom to go home comfortably. That's another thing, after coming home for an extended period has only made me want to be back on the water and cruising even more.  November 12, DevOcean here I come. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Blue View on Communications

Where do I start on communication!  That's the real question.  Before we started cruising last year we had a million questions and very little answers.  Linda will vouch I spent countless hours searching, surfing and digging for communication answers.  Our main goal was, how can we keep in touch with family members and be safe. Needless to say there are as many answers or opinions out there as there are sailors.  Well guess what! I'm going to add one more.   

By the time we were ready to leave the North Channel in August 2013 we still had no answers as to what would be the best communication system for us. So our decision was to start cruising with a cell phone and our VHF radio. Some people may say it was irresponsible but remember we were leaving from the North Channel of Lake Huron to Lake Michigan traveling via the river system to Mobile Alabama followed by coastal sailing. The weather can get very nasty but we would have good communication via VHF and cell phone in the US.

So let's see what's out there for communication:
1) VHF Radio: maximum range is about 25 NM. Initial cost is minimal, approximately $200.00 and is must for any vessel.  I would not be without one.
2) SSB short for Single Side Band Radio: range is unlimited, but the cost is high,
averaging $3000.00 or more for a new system and you need a licence.
3) SSB receiver: range is several hundred miles and the cost is approximately  $300.00 
4) Satellite Phone: anywhere depending on the provider. Again high cost and often people only use it sparingly and for emergency. The cost can be anywhere from $500 to $1500 for the phone and then so much per minute depending on the plan purchased.
5) Cell phone: the phone and usage costs varies considerably from $20 to hundreds depending on the cell service provider and plan. Cell phones are great, but when traveling outside your home provider area the roaming charges can be very expensive.  You can purchase an unlocked phone which will work with any provider when you buy a pay as you go SIM card in each country or area you're traveling in. I can't give you the cost of plans in various counties as cost are unlimited. 
6) Internet, you can use it to call home with programs or apps such via Skype, Magic Jack or FaceTime.  Often we had service readily available in most areas or marinas. Often, you can get internet for free at the marina you are docked at or for a fee about $5 to $20 for the day. A lot of bars or restaurants will have free internet for their customers.  
7) Internet booster antenna: will cost a couple hundred dollars and will often capture the internet from businesses or other sources while at anchor. ( Once I managed to get an unlocked internet almost a NM away). 
8) Spot tracking device: will provide accurate location and tracking via satellite anywhere and is capable of sending short pre-program text. Cost is a couple hundred dollars for the device plus a fee anywhere from $50.00 to $300 membership per year.
9) InReach tracking and communication device: will provide accurate location and tracking via satellite anywhere and is capable of sending detailed text and Facebook massaging. Again cost is about $300 for the device plus a fee anywhere from $20 to $70 per month membership. InReach can also provide a Satellite  phone with an unlimited plan for approximately $1800.00 a year

I'm nowhere near an electronic genius.  I'm only a sailor trying to make sense of what would work for us.  I'm sure I missed some systems out there and my pricing may be off a little as you can add or change plans.

My point is "The sky is the limit" or should I say "Your bank account is the limit". 

I have nothing against all these systems and wish I could afford allot of them, but we are retired and on a budget.  When we sold everything and left Ontario I really liked the fact that we didn't have any monthly bills or bills period.  

OK you're probably saying, get to the point.  Well here it is, after a year of cruising in the US, Cuba and Mexico this is what I found.

We tried the US Pay as you go cellphone for a few months,  It worked ok, the plan was unlimited long distance calls to USA and Canada but, and there's always a but, It didn't included calling Canadian cell phones.  I don't know of anybody out there that is not using a cellphone, so that didn't workout too well for us.  

In Cuba communication of any kind was pretty well non existent.  You could not use any foreign cell phones.  The internet is controlled by the government and you must use their computers.  The cost is $6.00 CND for one hour. It is extremely slow and frustrating.  Phone calls cost $10.00 CND for 10 minutes. So no big conversations.  The call was, we are here, all is good and we will try to send an email if we can.  

Mexico was totally opposite to Cuba.  Cell, internet, public phones were all readily available. At a reasonable cost of course.

After using a few devices and talking to other cruisers. Here's what we are using and worked for us.

We found that while traveling a good VHF was a must to stay in touch with other vessels, listening to weather and calling the Cost Guard if needed.  On some days we even managed to listen the weather forecast from Florida in Cuba. 

Our biggest issue was trying to get the weather if no internet was available.  So we purchased an SSB receiver.  You don't need a licence, the cost is minimal, all you have to do is hoist the antenna to hear other vessels, cruiser's nets and weather forecasts.  
Last but not least, the internet.  We stayed in communication with family and friends via Skype, FaceTime, Magic Jack, or posting on Facebook and our Blog.  To help reception we purchased a WIFI boosting antenna. Once set up with a wireless router on board all our devices could be used.  We often chatted on the internet while we sat at the dock or anchor.
Remember our goal was to stay in communication without blowing our retirement budget.  We found we didn't need to stay in contact at all times.  It was very liberating not to be attached to a cell phone or texting. It was a little harder for our family and friends but they understood and got used to it.  We are finding our only shortcoming if an at home emergencies arises, family would struggle to have immediate communication.

Of course in case of an emergency while coastal cruising our vessel is equipped with a registered EPIRB device. 

Hope this post helps you in your cruising.

Blue View Signing Out.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Land Lubbers With A Sailing Addiction

I can remember being banded to my room after some bout of my bad behaviour, lying on the bed and daydreaming about running away to a cabin that I built deep in the woods where no one was ever going to be able to find me. As I got older my dreams never changed, there was always a cabin, of course those dreams evolved to include a husband maybe a kid or three and now my dreams include grandchildren, friends and family I can’t live without. 

So, drum roll while we are home, we have bought a plot of land on West Bay, Manitoulin Island, North Channel, Lake Huron, Ontario. I feel totally blessed. I sat on the shore looking across to the LaCloche Mountains and cried, not some silent, respectful teary moment, I had a full-out, blow out completely grateful, God loving waterfall of emotion. I am home. 

Our View Of The Cup & Saucer Trail

So Excited, So Much To Do
Legally, We Asumed The Property 13 August 2014 But We Have Been Squatters For About Two Weeks 

Really This Is Wrong, Marc Is Doing The Work With The Chain Saw, I'm Just Holding It For Him

A little Piece Cleared

The First Person We Wanted To Share With

Grandpapa Is A Slave Driver Clearing Rocks Already

Grandmama's & Olives First Project

Grandpapa & His Princess

Ashlee Is Just As Excited As Us

My Men

Mom Love

Wouldn't Want To Share This With Anyone Else

Without Friends To Share With, You Just Have Nothing

Miss Susie

Mr Mike 

Thank Goodness For Thoughtful Friends And Impromptu Celebrations