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Sunsets and Sand

Saturday 2.15.14 We laid low through the stormy weather and got a little laundry and blog posting done.

Sunday 2.16.14 We woke up and prepared the boat to leave. The fuel dock was an interesting experience. The stern line had to be extra long to reach the dock. There was a small fishing boat that pulled up next to us single handed and his stern swept into us and bumped our hull because he didn’t have control of the boat. No damage was done, thank goodness.

After leaving Great Harbour, we headed North up and around the Cay and back east and south down the other side. We stopped just across from the cove at Lover’s Beach.

All four of us took the dogs to shore at a beautiful white sandy beach and Leah and I were in shell heaven! There were so many unique shells there.IMG_4834


The dogs were happy to run on the beach and get some new smells. Gunner decided he was going to eat a bunch of sand. Crazy dog.



The sunset was spectacular. Our little slice of heaven. 





That night Gunner got real sick and threw up several times. His dinner that night was fish and rice so it really smelled bad as it went through the grate in the cockpit. I spent the whole night, literally until 6:30am, cleaning up puke over and over again. It wasn’t exactly calm water either which made it worse. Peter tried to stay awake with me but his gag reflex kept him at a safe distance away.

Monday 2.17.14, totally sleep deprived, I went back to shell city to find a few more treasures and let the dogs go potty on land again. Gunner must have learned his lesson because he didn’t even try to eat anymore sand.


We saw some sort of reef shark checking out the boat. It wouldn’t come quite close enough to figure out what kind it was.


We enjoyed the morning with turquoise all around us.


Pretty Pretty Bahamas…

Bath time!


It’s bath time once a month for our pups. I’m sure this will be happening much more frequently once they are swimming everyday in the salt water :) It just takes a little patience and a little love.


Both dogs got a good brushing from their daddy and Gunner gets a treat so he’ll be good for the deshedding process. Its amazing how much they shed and this is not good when you’re a liveaboard. If you’re not careful, the dog hair will fall into the bilge and could clog up the pump. Although oblivious to it, we don’t want the boat to start smelling like ‘DOG’ :)


We try to pick a sunny and warm day so they dry quicker after bath time. As long as Gunner has a treat or toy to chew on he entertains himself while Betsy gets groomed.




Every once in a while Gunner looks back to make sure the hose isn’t coming his way again…



Then back to the bone :)


Betsy is pretty tolerant of the whole process. She knows that when she’s all clean she gets to snuggle under the covers with her daddy! Spoiled girl.



Both puppies get their nails trimmed and ears cleaned after their bath and Betsy gets real excited when we tell her she has “pretty nails” :)

Next bath time will be on the aft deck at anchor, place warm where the coconuts grow…

When your iPhone goes overboard… Waterproof. Mudproof. LIFEPROOF.

So… we live on a boat. And we have iPhones. It was only a matter of time before we got one of them REALLY wet.

A lot of people get protective cases for their phones, tablets, ipads and other electronics to protect them from scratches and from shattering if dropped on the concrete. Earlier in the year, while planning for our epic adventures, our friends Josh and Leah suggested we invest in the LifeProof iPhone cases. They had just purchased two of them before their travels to Costa Rica to keep their iPhones waterproof while playing on the beautiful beaches. I was a little skeptical on how necessary it was to have a waterproof case since they retail for something like $80!! I mean, do you really need to have your phone with you when you’re at the beach? How often are we really in the water?

It had never occurred to me that I could just buy a rugged case and then be able to take pictures and video no matter where we go!! If we had waterproof cases we wouldn’t have to worry about sand getting in the buttons or worry about salt water ruining the screen. Even dropping it on the rocks wouldn’t bust the phone. We decided it would be a pretty important investment if we wanted to be able to have the iPhone camera and GPS apps handy no matter what kind of crazy places we might end up in.

Two LifeProof cases arrived soon after that :) The volume quality is slightly diminished when on a call but the slight sound sacrifice is SO worth it… even though family members might get tired of telling us they can’t understand what we are saying… (sorry Bean!)

LifeProof claims to be water proof, dirt proof, shock proof and snow proof – even to military specs!! Boy did we get a chance to test out how well it keeps out water! Last night Peter was stepping up from the dock onto the boat and as he ducked into the cockpit he heard something hit the deck and plop into the water. His hands went straight to his pocket and, sure enough, his phone was GONE. Just as fast as the phone must have sunk to the bottom of the marina, so did Peter’s stomach. It’s such a sickening feeling when you know something really bad just happened.

It didn’t just fall in the water… it fell in the really icky brown salt water with 6″ visibility. Our slip is at least 11′ deep according to our sonar transducer on the boat and the bottom is a foot thick with mud. Our neighbor Cyndy reminded us that the reason it’s so stinky is probably because there’s more manatee poop on the bottom than there is mud!! There’s a LOT of manatees here and its a frequent occurence to see a big fat turd going out with the tide after floating up from underneath a manatee. We’re not kidding folks, it’s not from the boaters either.

Determined to find a way to save the phone we had to do some quick thinking. What do we do? Grab our two boat hooks, the net and some duct tape of course!! It was 11:00 at night, dark and the clock was ticking to figure out how to find it before it was sucked into the mud. We knew he had the LifeProof case on, but we weren’t totally sure if he closed the latch on the bottom where you plug in the power cord. If it was closed, there was hope for his phone yet! If not, it was toast. Mark is the local diver that cleans the bottoms of most of the boats here in the marina and Peter and I both knew he would say, “It’s GONE man!” Not even Mark would dive for it in this mud.


I scrambled to grab the camera while Peter started making a couple sweeps with the jury rigged net. I just knew this was going to be our next blog post, hehehe :)


With just a foot between the boat and the dock there was at least a focused area for Peter to search. It just had to be down there somewhere. He saw where it went in but we weren’t sure if it went straight down, or if it had bounced out a little from the boat underneath the dock.


We were actually lucky that all that manatee poo and mud was down there or else the net might have just pushed the phone around on a hard bottom surface. The mud allowed Peter to stab the net down a few inches into the mud and then pull it sideways a couple of inches. He would lift the net up and over one inch, then stab it back down to sift through some more. It was so thick that he couldn’t just drag it all the way across the bottom.


After a few minutes of this he was ready to give up. He was thinking of how much of a pain it was going to be to file an insurance claim with the cell company and get a replacement. He would have to pay a $200 deductible for the replacement, then go through the hassle of reinstating the last backup he did. Who knows how long ago that was :S Of course, all of his photos and personal settings would be gone. Not the end of the world, but for our generation its heart wrenching when something happens to your smartphone!!

I just KNEW he was going to get it eventually. I begged, “Keep looking! Keep looking! Just a little longer…” Peter was doubtful, but took another “stab” at it. As the net came up to the surface it was a little heavier than before.


Can you believe it???? With NO visibility, we got it!!!!!!! But HOLY CRAP that was some stinky mud that came up with it. It smelled like a port-a-potty! Yuk!!


Now for the test. He pressed the home button… and it was still on!!!!!!!!!


I tried to get a shot of just how long our contraption was but it was as long as the whole finger pier of the dock. By this time I was over the photos and just snagged a quick shot on my iPhone but it was still hard to see.


LifeProof only guarantees their cases for water immersion up to 2 meters for 1 hour. That’s about 6.5 feet. Peter’s phone was at 11 feet for about 20 minutes and it passed the test with flying colors. There was just a TINY bit of water on one edge of the phone when we opened the case but not enough to make any impact at all. The case got a thorough bath and we placed the case and the phone near our AirDryer 1000 dehumidifier for about an hour to make sure they got totally dry.

If our LifeProof cases can withstand the saltwater and mud at 11′ deep then it should do just fine for taking underwater pics of all the sea life when we get to that crystal clear water in the Bahamas ;) I’m feeling a little more confident now in just how “lifeproof” our cases are and can’t wait to test it out again in a more desirable setting :)


Peter is one lucky guy ;)


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


What’s that SMELL??


Our marina is beautiful, but there is no denying that the water here in western Florida is just an icky shade of murky brown. There is a ridiculous amount of sea life and barnacles and when you combine that with the warmth you get a frequent need to inspect and clean everything that is exposed to the water. We left our dinghy in the water for just two days and it had a healthy coating of algae started on the bottom!

When sea life is left stagnant (for example in the plumbing lines to the heads before we arrived at the boat in late September) it can create an awful stink. We thought we did a pretty thorough job cleaning out the lines but the stink just never quite left all the way. Remembering the seastainers hadn’t been cleaned in a long time, they quickly became our prime suspects.

First step, close the thruhulls!! This was a no brainer but could have easily been forgotten as neither of us have much experience with maintenance on a boat. We were kind of prepared and had a huge wad of paper towels underneath each strainer before unscrewing the wingnuts on the strainer but neither of us were prepared for how gross the inside of it was going to smell.

Sure enough, they were totally gross!! After cleaning up the overflowing seawater mess in the bilge, we pulled the first strainer out and it was coated black. This one was for the main engine intake. We pulled out the second one, which filters water for the generator, air conditioning and aft head, and it wasn’t as black but it smelled 10 times worse!! We used a small hand pump from Wal-Mart to suck out the rest of the nasty stinky seawater from the glass cylinder and got it outside in a hurry.


Upon closer inspection on the dock, our two seastrainers had tiny little clusters of shells and barnacles growing inside them. Maybe a common occurrence for seasoned cruisers but it sure was fascinating to us!! A little scrubbing with a metal brush and some pressurized hose water did the trick. All shiny and new again! Well, not really new, they are starting to get holes in them so next time we clean them we will put in new ones. But for today, it’s good enough :)

Another first for us in learning how to keep our Mary Christine in ship-shape!!