Saturday, May 16, 2015


Now that we can’t just grab the hose and fill up our water tanks like we used to on the dock, we have to be very conservative with our water usage.  Water is a precious commodity when you live on a boat.  We have devised a few systems to help us make our water supply last. 

5 x 5 gallon water jerry cans on deck

We have a 2 bucket system for our dishes on the aft deck.  
Bucket #1 is full of salt water, and can be changed as many times as we want.  Dishes are put in there to soak.  Then we wash them with soap and a sponge, and rinse off the excess soap.  

Bucket #1 - Sea water.  For soaking and washing.

Bucket #2 has about 2 inches of fresh water and a splash of bleach for the final sanitizing rinse.  We make our own bleach using pool shock.  Liquid bleach can expire and lose it's sanitizing abilities quickly.  We can make just the amounts we need on demand using the powder shock, and it won't degrade quickly.  One bottle of shock can make tons of bleach! 

Bucket #2 - Fresh water with bleach.  For final sanitizing rinse.
If it's not too windy, the dishes can dry on deck.

We wash our metal pots and pans and silverware fresh water so they don't rust, but we use minimal amounts by wiping them out with a rag before the food crusts onto them prior to washing them.

Showers are done differently, too.  We have a mesh tote bag on deck with our shampoo, conditioner, and loofah.  

Our outdoor shower caddy
We hang it over the back of the boat by the swim ladder when it’s shower time.  We shampoo and rinse in the ocean, and then follow that up with conditioner and rinse in the water.  We climb aboard to soap up with the loofah, and then jump back in to rinse.  The final stage is a few seconds of fresh water using the shower attachment on the back deck to rinse off the salt water.  It’s surprising how clean you can feel after an ocean shower like this, and how much water you can save!

We have a watermaker that can make 1.5 gallons of water an hour.  We're still waiting on a few parts so Skeeter can install it, but they should be here soon.  

Our PUR Powersurvivor 40E watermaker

We probably only use about 3 gallons of water per day between the three of us (Skeeter, Amy & Momo), so this watermaker should sustain us very well.  That way we don't have to go to a dock or shore for water or lug heavy jerry cans back and forth.  This will be much more convenient for us, and we won't have to spend money on fresh water.  Also, we will know that the water we make is safe to drink, whereas in some ports you could potentially get sick from the water you buy.

How many gallons of water per day do you use?  What are some of your tricks for conserving water?

Thursday, May 14, 2015


We motored slowly over to Christmas Cove in the evening (this time in forward gear), since we couldn’t tolerate another sleepless night in Secret Harbour.  

We anchored for the first time with our new 65 lb MANTUS anchor and all chain rode on the outer edge of the anchorage in sea grass.  I dived down to make sure the anchor set properly.  Once again we woke up quite a few times in the night with the paranoia of dragging anchor.  It ended up holding quite well, and so far we are very pleased with our MANTUS. 

Our Mantus anchor

A mooring became available in the morning when another boat left, so we raised our anchor and motored over to tie up to the mooring.  I dove down to check its integrity and swam a safety line down for extra security just in case. 
Skeeter worked on fine tuning our alignment again after installing the new propeller.  He also wired in the GPS and AIS.  When we are near a land based AIS station you can see our location on!

I spent a whole day online and on the phone trying to find new (actually used, but new to us…and in very good condition) sails.  I had previously thought I could use my newly acquired sewing skills to patch up the tear we found in the mizzen sail, but the closer we looked the more tears, holes, and weak spots we found.  It was kind of like swiss cheese.  The main sail was also in pretty poor condition, and we just didn’t feel comfortable having a major sail catastrophe while mid ocean.  

Just the thought of trying to take the sails down for repair while exposed to wind and waves was daunting, because I imagined the wind catching the sails and tearing them to shreds and maybe tossing one of us overboard.  Not to mention, how the hell was I going to find the space to sew a gigantic sail on our small cluttered deck?  It would be a disaster!  

After much searching I found used sails through Bacon Sails in Annapolis that were the proper type and weight of sailcloth, as well as the right dimensions for our masts and booms.  They said they could change out the hardware for us to match our rigging, too.  

Our Isomat mast requires 15/16" flat slides,
which is an uncommon size hardware

It ended up being very affordable, and they said they could have them to us in two weeks.  I’m excited to get them and have good sails!

We inflated our Tower I-SUPs (Inflatable Stand-up Paddleboards) and have been getting in some fun and exercise paddle boarding around the cove.  

Skeeter on his Inflatable Paddleboard

The swimming and snorkeling are really nice here too.  Lots of green sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, and tons of reef fish.  

Our friends Brittnie, Mike, and Amarna on S/V Argo are moored right next to us, so we’ve had some fun times hanging out with them, too.  A couple of dinners together, swimming, and paddle boarding.  We hope to sail together down island too, if our plans end up lining up. 

Our friends, S/V Argo

There are now three Whitby 42’s in Christmas Cove: Salt Whistle, Mary Christine, and Lunacy.  We had dinner aboard S/V Mary Christine with owners Jody & Peter, and Steve from Lunacy.  It was great to meet them and talk about Whitbys and cruising the Caribbean.  That was the first Whitby we’d been on other than our own, and it was very interesting to see the similarities and differences.  Their boat is no doubt nicer than ours (yes, I admit to having boat envy), but it was good to get some ideas.  The previous owners of S/V Mary Christine were woodworkers by trade, so the wood work on that boat is impeccable.  They were also liveaboard cruisers who took excellent care of the boat.  

S/V Mary Christine, another Whitby 42

The previous owner of Salt Whistle hadn’t lived aboard, and had seemingly neglected it for the 10 years previous to us purchasing it.  Ours was a project boat when we bought it, while theirs was already nice and good to go.  So I shouldn’t compare, but it’s difficult not to be jealous.  

S/V Salt Whistle in Christmas Cove

We heard the nicest thing today.  The captain of a charter sailboat who must have known S/V Salt Whistle previously was motoring by, leaving Christmas cove.  He waved and said, "Nice job with the boat.  She's lookin' good!"  It really made us feel good that our hard work showed.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Secret Harbour

We were lucky to be able to borrow a mooring belonging to the dive shop, since S/V Jester, a charter sailboat, was in the boat yard for some maintenance and repairs.  It was quite rolly in there, but still a much needed improvement from Compass Point Marina.  There was abundant fresh air, beautiful views, and it was finally enjoyable to be outside. 

Open hatches for a fresh breeze

We were able to keep the boat wide open, with fresh air blowing through.  No air conditioner needed!  It got cool enough at night that we put on pants and hoodies!   We had our dinner outside in the cockpit, and enjoyed looking at the stars.

We both had a TERRIBLE night’s sleep, due to the rolling.  Also, we were on high alert, paranoid about every sound we heard, imagining our boat breaking free of the mooring and crashing into the rocks.  Skeeter did dive down to check the mooring right after we tied up, but never the less we were still paranoid.  We both got up numerous times to walk around outside and check on everything.  Plus, the boat was rolling side to side so much that things were falling and slamming.  You’d be surprised how many different sounds you hear when you don’t have the white noise of an air conditioner and your boat is bobbing around in the water and blowing around in the wind.

The next morning we were exhausted, but still so happy to be out of the marina.  I installed a hook on the head (bathroom) door so it wouldn't slam open and closed.  

The hook I installed to prevent door from slamming open & shut

I borrowed a tank from the dive shop to scrape the two years’ worth of scum from the hull, and covered myself with a long wetsuit and double hoods to protect myself from the stingy hydroids I’d scrape loose and the tiny pincers of the shrimp who’s under the hull ecosystem I was about to destroy.  I didn't want a repeat of the time I got a full body rash from hydroids after swimming through saragassum sea weed!

I learned my lesson last time!
It took me about an hour and a half to scrape the entire hull, which was actually much less than I had imagined.  Our bottom paint was doing its job, preventing excessive growth.  That was great news!  And I had minimal stings.

Our water-maker, compliments of Captain Ryan from S/V Sandy Shores
The next couple of days Skeeter tested our water-maker (couldn’t try it out in the nasty marina water!) and changed over our propeller.  He struggled for hours trying to remove the propeller with a gear puller.  Bruce at the Independent Boat Yard Machine Shop was kind enough to lend Skeeter his prop puller, the right tool for removing a propeller.  With the right tool it came right off.  

Skeeter with the old propeller
Putting the new one on was more of a challenge than expected.  It was slightly bigger than the old one, so he ended up having to remove the flexible coupling on the shaft to make it fit.  Luckily that is an optional part that doesn’t void our warranty.  Then he had to realign the engine again. 

While Skeeter was doing all of that I was busy waxing the deck and sewing a helm cover to protect our gauges and electronics from sun, salt, and thieves.  It was a real challenge trying to work with a gigantic roll of fabric on-board with very limited space, especially with the boat rocking and rolling. 

Our helm station without the cover

Momo chillin' outside
Mid project I had a panic attack because I heard Momo jingle and went to check on him and couldn’t find him anywhere.  I looked around every nook and cranny on the boat three times and called out his name over and over before banging on the hull to call Skeeter up from underwater while he was changing the prop.  I was in full on panic and ready to cry saying, “He’s not on-board, he’s not on-board!” over and over.  I had him swim around the boat to check the water for Momo.  Skeeter climbed aboard and I jumped in the dinghy to search the surrounding water when Skeeter yelled out to me, “I found him…little bastard!”  Momo managed to cram himself into a tiny hole in the cockpit that I didn’t even realize existed until then.  How the heck did he squeeze into that hole???  We were so relieved to have found him.  Little bastard, I wish he would learn to answer when I call out for him!  A meow or something!  Is that too much to ask?  I guess so... He is a cat, after all. 

After a lot of frustration and an appropriate amount of swearing, I completed the sewing project successfully.  I’m member of a Facebook group called Sewing on Boats (S.O.B. for short)…I can now see why they call it that!  Sewing on a moving sailboat is no easy task!  I’m sure it didn’t help that we had not been sleeping very well in the unpleasant conditions in Secret Harbour.  Maybe that’s why we were the only liveaboard boat in the harbor!

Monday, May 4, 2015


We finally moved off the dock and out of Compass Point Marina!  What a relief!  The good thing about that marina was that it was a safe place to be for hurricane season, tucked into the mangroves.  And it provided us with a land base for easily going back and forth to get supplies and boat parts.  But we were more than ready to get out!  

At Compass Point, people just push their derelict boats into the mangroves

Rats & roaches love to play on this work platform

The view of Compass Point Marina from the top of our mast
Other than those benefits, that marina was expensive and nasty.  A couple of cleats and a few pieces of wood to tie up to cost about the same as a month's rent.  And there weren't even facilities there such as restrooms, showers, or laundry.  The water there was the most polluted of all US waters, and it was hot and muggy with no breeze.  It was loaded with mosquitoes and sand flies.  At around 5pm every day (bug-o-clock) we’d rush inside and close up the boat to avoid getting eaten alive.  We HAD to run the air conditioner in our cabin to avoid suffocating.  We got a couple undesirable 6 legged creatures on board (roaches!), and a boat down the dock from us got a four-legged creature on their boat (a rat)!  There were also lots of creepy two legged critters (alcoholic burnouts) in the vicinity.

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Mangrove Lagoon to Secret Harbour
Salt Whistle departing Compass Point Marina
Underway from Benner Bay to Secret Harbour
Although this move was less than a mile in distance, it felt like a different world.  We moved from stinky swamp land to island paradise.  Our new temporary home was Secret Harbour, right in front of Aqua Action Dive Center (our former employer and our good friends).  We tried to secure everything so it wouldn't fall or slide around, but inevitably we learned that some things needed to be secured better.  It’s a real challenge…imagine your home was tossed 20 degrees from side to side and everything that would fall or slide! 

Happy to have arrived safely to Secret Harbour
Now we can keep the boat open and let the breeze blow through
Skeeter and Momo, happy to get to spend an evening outside
Our friend Jake from S/V Pura Vida followed us in our dinghy just in case, since this was the first time our boat actually moved since Skeeter installed our new engine.  It was the first time in a year and a half that S/V Salt Whistle was moving under her own power.  The old engine used to move counterclockwise when running forward, and the new engine moves clockwise when running forward….so we had to run the engine in reverse until we could get to clean water so Skeeter could change the propeller.  He switched the transmission cables so when you move the throttle at the helm station forward we'd go forward, but the engine was actually running in reverse.  So we had to drive it slow and easy so we wouldn't hurt the transmission.  It was rougher than we had anticipated, but we still made it over successfully with no problems!  

How the Caribbean should be