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Month: December 2013

Shopping for new jewelry??


That’s right. Some shiny new jewelry for Betsy and Gunner!!

Okay, well they’re really just ID tags but Betsy SURE was excited to have a new pretty jewel for her pretty collar :)

I’m not sure if Gunner ever had a tag with his name on it. (Bad mommy!!) He had licensing tags and he used to have a tag for his chip number, but those have all been lost long ago. He actually doesn’t even have a collar anymore. He was getting all clean and handsome while his daddy was brushing him on the dock a few weeks ago and they decided to take his collar off to get a good brushing on his neck. When he was all done Peter put the choke back on him to get him back on the boat. We use a prong collar for attaching his leash since he still has a problem with lunging out at anything that moves. It doesn’t hurt him, but helps us have a small amount of control if he decides to yank the leash out of our hands. Some time between then and later that evening we noticed his waterproof collar was nowhere to be found. No doubt, it ended up in the water and settled down in the murky sand beneath our boat never to be seen again.

Back home we could have gone into the local pet store and printed up a super quick and easy ID tag for the pups, but now that we live on a boat everything is a bit more complicated.  Every purchase we make, everything we bring on the boat has to be thought out in advance to make sure it meets certain criteria:

  1. Material: How long will it survive in the salt, the hot Caribbean sun, and the humidity
  2. Function: How many purposes will it serve? Its ideal if everything we own has at least 3 purposes (this saves on cost and space)
  3. Size: How big is it? Do we have a place to securely stow it while under way?
  4. Cost: Can we get it cheaper somewhere else without too much hassle? Are there discounts in bulk?

We knew we had to have ALL STAINLESS STEEL for our pet ID tags, and not just a crappy kind, but we had to make sure it was marine grade stainless steel to hold up to the salt water that we’ll be (literally) swimming in daily.

Function here is obvious. If our adventurous pups get separated from us for whatever crazy reason, we want them to have some sort of ID on them to increase the chances of being returned to us. This is a MUST HAVE before we leave the dock.

Size? Well, no brainer, they are teeny tiny and stay on the dogs at all times.

Cost? This one is kind of tricky. We could have gone for a cheapo kind for less than $3 a piece. Marine grade stainless steel is going to cost a bit more of course.

A common problem for companies that make pet ID tags is that most of them don’t let you use that many characters per line. This was a challenge for us because our boat name is 15 characters without spaces or ‘/’ marks. Betsy has her chip tag and she also used to wear a very pretty heart ID tag but we decided we needed some critical information on their new tag that Betsy’s old one didn’t have. We wanted to make sure to put our boat name on the tags so that if they were to get away from us while cruising, whoever found them would know they belong to S/V (sailing vessel) Mary Christine. We also wanted to use a Google Voice phone number that we would have access to via wifi. If something happened to one of the dogs I’m sure we would do everything we could to get within reach of wifi in hopes that someone is trying to contact us. We also wanted an email address on the tags since it’s a pretty universal method of communication no matter what country we are in. Although some places we visit may not have internet, most of them will and this is really our best shot at being reached while cruising. We put our hailing port on there as well so if someone sees our boat, maybe they will only remember the San Diego part instead of the Mary Christine part. The more info the better. Both dogs are chipped and we’ll update that info too but we’re not sure that the places we’ll be visiting will have the scanning capabilities for the chips.

After a lot of reasearch we decided to order from Boomerang Pet Tags. Free shipping, no tax, international orders welcome, discount bulk pricing… but most important feature was the non-magnetic stainless steel they use with engraved lettering instead of stamped. We got two of the bone shaped SS tags for a little less than $10 each and they are totally worth it. They are made of the right material and they got all of our lettering on there!


A trip to St.Petersburg


We are back safe and sound after a weekend trip 2 hours north to Saint Petersburg for the boat show. It was a last-minute decision to make the journey north, but we’re glad we went. The puppies got to go with us, of course, and they got to lounge around the hotel while Peter and I were at the boat show both Saturday and Sunday. This show was much smaller than the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show and we got out of St. Pete with significantly less damage. There were just a few items we wanted to check out – solar panels, lazy jacks, anchors, and spear guns. We’re already pretty set as far as equipment and upgrades but its worth checking out the deals at a boat show if you get a chance. There were also some great seminars and special events going on that we were excited to see.

Sailing Florida Charters had an awesome program going on that Peter and I didn’t want to miss! They were offering FREE 45 minute sailing cruises with paid boat show admission. All we had to do was show up, get on the boat and enjoy a nice little jaunt out on a Catalina 445. We’d choose to get out on the water any chance we get. While we can always take our own boat out anytime we want (weather permitting) its nice to be able to hop on someone else’s boat for a relaxing cruise. There wasn’t much wind and we only motorsailed but it was still fun to play with the sails on a 2010 Catalina! Our view of the boat show was much better from the water :)





We didn’t take too many photos this weekend, we were too busy looking for things we had to have! We did end up purchasing some additional 100 watt solar panels and controllers to supplement the two 80 watt panels we have on the boat now. A post about those will follow as soon as they are shipped to us :) They are really good quality and the efficiency is probably double the ones that came with the boat. Hopefully we will have more than enough juice to power the new radar and freezer we are installing ;)

There were a ton of great seminars at the show too. We really wanted to see Chris Parker in action talking about the weather. We ended up getting one of his books and talked with him about the customized forecasting service he provides. There was a lot of great info he went over but we’re going to need to read his book a few more times to really get a handle on it. Weather is no joke and we need to make sure we can read the weather and how to watch for weather windows before making a passage. Peter is practically an expert already but I have a lot to learn!!

Another seminar we went to was Bob Bitchin’s “How to keep a starboard attitude while cruising.” Wow, this guy is a trip!! He really knows what it means to be Livin the Dream. And, his wife’s name is pretty “bitchin” too – Jody with a Y!! A little bio on him from the boat show program: Since the early 60’s, adventure has been a way of life for Bob Bitchin. He worked as a traveling companion and bodyguard for famous motorcycle daredevil, Evil Knievel. Then in the early 70’s he started sailing and for over thirty years he lived aboard sailboats and cruised most of the Pacific and Central America.  In 1996 he created Latitudes & Attitudes Magazine. Currently Bob and his wife Jody are creating a new title, Cruising Outpost, which will launch this winter.  www.cruisingoutpost.com . Bob has written seven books: Letters from the Lost Soul, The Sailing Life, Brotherhood of Outlaws, BIKER, Emerald Bay, King Harbor, and Starboard Attitude which was released in June of 2011. – See more at: http://www.showmanagement.com/st_petersburg-boat-show/event/seminars/418#sthash.VMZwJGA5.dpuf

Last but most certainly not least, we got to meet Kim and Jereme from S/V LAHO (lahowind.com)!! We chatted with them for a while about our boats and cruising plans. We definitely have a lot in common. They will be setting sail around the same time, from almost the same starting point, with about the same experience, going in the same direction, without time restrictions, and even with the same furry four-legged kind of crew!! We hope to meet Oliver soon and hopefully Betsy and Gunner will have a new cruising buddy :)

The drive back home to our cozy boat was beautiful as well. Its always fun to see new places and experience a bit more of Florida before heading to the Bahamas.



Talking Trash

turtle pollution
A turtle severely deformed from a piece of plastic that was wrapped around its shell when it was small

Its becoming common knowledge worldwide that trash is a big problem. When we were little, our elementary schools were just starting recycling programs to teach kids about the importance of REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE. Today, more and more business are making a conscious effort to “go green” and make environmentally friendly business decisions. There are industries entirely devoted to sustainable practices to reduce the human impact on our planet.

Once we leave the dock we are going to have to make some serious changes to the way we deal with our trash. There is no garbage man that will cruise up to the side of our boat to collect our trash once a week. There is no back yard to compost our garbage. There is no recycling center to give us a refund on cans and plastic bottles and take them away for us. Many of the islands we will be visiting will have less than ideal dumping areas and some won’t have any at all. So what do we do with it all? Just dump it overboard? No way!! We’ll be storing the items that cannot be dissolved until we get get to a proper disposal area. Check out how long it takes for these items to dissolve in the ocean:

  • Paper bus ticket: 2-4 weeks
  • Cotton cloth: 1-5 months
  • Rope: 3-14 months
  • Woolen cloth: 1 year
  • Painted wood: 13 years
  • Tin can: 13 years
  • Aluminum can: 200-500 years
  • Plastic bottle: 450 years

Source: Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association (HELMEPA)

How about glass? I’ve read it can take something like an estimated few million years!! But who knows…

We LOVE the ocean and are choosing to change to a lifestyle that is 99% based on ocean life.  We will be sailing, fishing, surfing, beach combing, paddleboarding, and swimming ALL THE TIME. If we can make even a small difference and help protect the ocean environment then we will. We don’t want to see any wildlife like the poor turtle with the deformed shell, or dolphins caught in nets, or other sea creatures washed up on the beach that have died from being trapped in or eating trash. We can only hope that if we respect the sea, it will take care of us in return and help us to continue living this amazing adventure.

We’ve heard of tips like crushing, cutting and reusing our garbage while at sea but we still aren’t sure what the best way is to deal with our trash. God forbid we attract bugs because of failing to rinse something out or put it in a sealed container. Our main trash can in the galley is a plastic can with a lid and foot pedal and lined with a plastic bag. We plan on bringing some big heavy-duty garbage sacks to store other trash that can’t stay inside, but we aren’t sure what to do with it yet. Some cruisers put it in the dinghy when hanging off davits, but we don’t have davits. We will surely dispose of all trash we can on shore when provisioning, but as new cruisers I’m sure we will end up with more trash than we’d like until we get the hang of it ;)

Please let us know what you do with your trash when you know you’ll be gone cruising for a long time! All suggestions are welcome :)


Now for the technical stuff…

Our survey noted that our garbage discharge placard was not up to snuff.  It was one of the (get this – only three!!) mandatory fixes we must do to be in regulation. How awesome were our previous owners!? They took such good care of this boat, it was amazing how it all came together and how we found the perfect boat at the right time. The other two mandatory survey items to resolve were an inoperable navigation light (easy peasy) and an improperly affixed Hull ID Number. Theres a much longer story to why the HIN is wrong, but with some super determined detective skills I got it all figured out. Maybe we’ll post about that another day :) If you have ANY questions about the National Vessel Documentation Center and registering your vessel with the Coast Guard just ask us!! It really is a simple process and if you like to take the DIY route it’s totally possible – even when you don’t have the vessel history. I’m happy to help if anyone needs it.

The Waste Management Plan regulations are ridiculously confusing to say the least.  It would be simple if there weren’t updates, but there are all these amendments and new requirements and new language and a bunch of other mumbo jumbo that’s really tough to sift through. I spent all day trying to find which verbiage is the most current and what we need to do for our boat. If you’re interested in the requirements then keep reading :) Don’t forget to leave us a comment and let us know of any good tips for trash management while at sea!



The U.S. Coast Guard published an Interim Rule on February 28, 2013 to implement the revised MARPOL Annex V garbage regulations. The amendments to Annex V entered into force both internationally and domestically on January 1, 2013. The Interim Rule revises 33 C.F.R. Part 151 to reflect U.S. requirements under Annex V and can be found at www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-02-28/pdf/2013-04616.pdf. In addition, the Coast Guard issued a policy letter, Interim Guidance for Revised MARPOL Annex V Implementation (CG-CVC Policy Letter 13-01), to aid U.S. and foreign flag oceangoing vessels in ensuring compliance with the revised Annex V interim guidance to these new amendments.

As a 42′ recreational vessel we are not required to perform record keeping of garbage discharge, but we are required to have a Waste Management Plan IN WRITING, and display a placard (minimum 8″x5″ according to the interim revisions).

A great sample WM Plan can be found here.

This is the Sample Placard for Waste Discharge we will be using as suggested within the USCG Letter in the link above targeting crew and shipboard operations on vessels of more than 7.9 meters (26 feet) in length overall:




The MARPOL Convention and U.S. law prohibit the discharge of most garbage from ships. Only the following garbage types are allowed to be discharged and under the specified conditions.

Outside Special Areas designated under MARPOL Annex V:

  •         Comminuted or ground food wastes (capable of passing through a screen with openings no larger than 25 millimeters (1 inch)) may be discharged not less than 3 nautical miles from the nearest land.
  •         Other food wastes may be discharged not less than 12 nautical miles from the nearest land.
  •         Cargo residues classified as not harmful to the marine environment may be discharged not less than 12 nautical miles from the nearest land.
  •         Cleaning agents or additives in cargo hold, deck and external surfaces washing water may be discharged only if they are not harmful to the marine environment.
  •         With the exception of discharging cleaning agents in washing water, the ship must be en route and as far as practicable from the nearest land.

Inside Special Areas designated under MARPOL Annex V:

  •         More stringent discharge requirements apply for the discharges of food wastes and cargo residues; and
  •         Consult Annex V and the shipboard garbage management plan for details.

For all areas of the sea, ships carrying specialized cargos such as live animals or solid bulk cargoes should consult Annex V and the associated Guidelines for the implementation of Annex V.

Discharge of any type of garbage must be entered in the Garbage Record Book.

Violation of these requirements may result in penalties.

Special Areas:

The special areas are the Mediterranean Sea area, the Baltic Sea area, the Black Sea area, the Red Sea area, the Gulfs area, the North Sea area, the Antarctic area, and the Wider Caribbean region, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. These are areas which have particular problems because of heavy maritime traffic or low water exchange caused by the land-locked nature of the sea concerned.

The Wider Caribbean region means the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea proper, including the bays and seas therein and that portion of the Atlantic Ocean within the boundary constituted by the 30° N parallel from Florida eastward to 77°30′ W meridian, thence a rhumb line to the intersection of 20° N parallel and 59° W meridian, thence a rhumb line to the intersection of 7°20′ N parallel and 50° W meridian, thence a rhumb line drawn southwesterly to the eastern boundary of French Guiana.

In Summary, the only permitted discharges in Special Areas are:

  • Food Waste comminuted or ground  permitted ≥12 nm, en route
  • Cargo residues contained in wash water permitted ≥12 nm, en route
  • Cleaning agents and additives contained in cargo hold wash water permitted ≥12 nm, en route
  • Cleaning agents and additives in deck and external surfaces wash water permitted


Giving Thanks

IMG_3451We are so lucky to be here, on our very own boat, really doing this, just going for it, living the dream!! Just in time for Thanksgiving, we are thankful for a lot of things but most of all that we are able to be here living this amazing lifestyle.

Holidays are a little different when you live on a boat but our first thanksgiving as liveaboards was nothing short of traditional. The number one must have item was a homemade pumpkin pie!! It’s absolutely against everything I was raised with to use a store-bought pie crust so in our tiny little galley I set out to whip one up. It’s so easy to make and totally worth the effort of mixing it and rolling out the dough. There is a secret family recipe I use that makes the crust extra yummy. Anyone who wants to try it is welcome aboard :)

We thought about cooking up a full spread on the boat for just Peter and I but that would have taken days in just one smallish 15″x15″ oven. We didn’t plan early enough and all of our neighbors were going elsewhere to celebrate with their families. The Harbormaster of Burnt Store Marina invited us over to her house, yet something else to be thankful for. Peggy and her husband Don had several other cruising friends over and we heard lots of great salty stories from some wonderful people who have “been-there-done-that”. We had a huge traditional meal with turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, fruit salad, cole slaw, stuffing, deviled eggs, olives and biscuits. Of course we brought the fresh-baked pumpkin pie and someone else brought a banana pudding dish. Delish!!!

The last few days have been really chilly here, dropping to an astonishing low of 40 degrees at night. Our days have been calling for sweatshirts and pants, oh my!! We’ve been snuggling up and keeping it cozy in our humble aboa-t. The day after Thanksgiving I caught the boys snuggled up together so cute. Gunner loves morning time with his daddy after waking up, going outside and then eating breakfast. Peter and the kids go back to bed and read for a while. Its Gunner’s favorite time of the day. IMG_3449For the cold nights we’ve been making yummy hot comfort food. Our favorite on the boat so far is pasta shells with homemade meat sauce. It had the perfect amount of spice and kept us warm and toasty.
IMG_3394Dinner up in the cockpit is SOO cozy!! Especially when its raining. We have our LED lights plugged in and a dehumidifier to add a little warmth and dry it out. A couple of blankets and a hot meal make this a real fun place to be when its cold and stormy. We leave the kids downstairs so its kind of like a date night too :)IMG_3404We hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving with friends, family and loved ones. Happy Holidays and thanks for following our blog!!!