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The Thorny Path to Windward

Year after year, cruisers like ourselves sail south from the East Coast of the U.S. and make our way toward the Caribbean. We brave the swells, storms, currents and Trade Winds planning our every move around weather windows. The North Coast of the Dominican Republic is by far the roughest leg of the journey and many often sail right past it jumping off from Turks and Caicos and arriving in Puerto Rico.

We decided to take what old salts like to call the “Thorny Path to Windward” fighting the cape effects and coastal acceleration sailing dead into the wind as we make our way East. We followed Van Sant’s guide, or what he likes to call the “Thornless Path to Windward,” all the way across the North Coast of the DR and we are forever grateful for his wealth of knowledge. Most helpful was his suggested itinerary for departure and arrival times at various points along the coast. With a few minor tweaks on the departure times, Van Sant’s itinerary saved us from getting beat up on the near 300nm journey from Luperón to Puerto Rico.


Ready to say good bye to Luperón, Peter and I went into town one last time to get our despacho before the Navy building closed at 5pm. The DR is very strict about being cleared in and out of each port of call, inspecting yachts in transit for any illegal stowaways. We made sure to ask the officials to document that our next stop would be the next major port of call, Samana. It’s okay to stop along the way for weather and resting, but any officials we might have encountered would need to see that we were properly cleared out of Luperón and our next destination is recorded as still within the country. If we had declared that our next stop would be Puerto Rico, but we had stopped again along the DR coast, we would have been checked out of the country already and in a heap of trouble with the local authorities. If we don’t stop at Samana, it’s no big deal. Puerto Rico doesn’t care to see the despacho at all.

The Navy officials were willing to process our paperwork at 4:30pm since we told them we were leaving within the hour. If we were not going to leave right away, they wanted us to wait until the next day and come back to get our despacho then. Conveniently, the officer was not able to get ahold of anyone that could come out to inspect our boat since everyone had gone home already. He processed our despacho, shook our hands and sent us on our merry way.

Peter and I had no intention of leaving at 6:00 in the evening, knowing the Trade Winds were surely still piping outside the harbor with less than friendly seas pummeling across the entrance. Didn’t they know who Bruce Van Sant was? He lives in Luperón for crying out loud!! Hadn’t they dealt with thousands of other cruisers following Mr. Van Sant’s recommendation to leave at 4am? Apparently not.

Around 2:00 am I untied the lines and made my way out to the bow with a spot light. Peter carefully motored through the mooring field navigating around the mud shoals as I shined the light on approaching boats and vacant mooring balls. The twinkling of anchor lights in the harbor pierced the thick darkness of the night blending in with the stars up above. The flat calm waters quickly disappeared as we followed our tracks back out through the channel. The waves grew bigger and bigger.

Just then, in the darkness behind us, I saw a light. It was a small boat with several men in it and they were headed right for us. Their outboard motor was at full speed and they were going over the waves almost vertically. Not a single one of them spoke English. They were screaming at us and telling us to turn around. It was 2am in the darkest of nights with huge waves coming straight toward us and we happened to be in the narrowest part of the channel. With a cliff to our starboard and a dangerous shoal to our port, they insisted that we turn around that instant, not even a little bit further.

I quickly scrambled down below and grabbed our despacho and held it with two hands out the side of our cockpit trying to show the men that we had clearance to leave that day. They were very suspicious and tried to board our boat. I waved the despacho at them again, reaching my arms as far as they could go without falling out of the boat. I was trying to block their entrance to board us while showing them we had valid documentation. Thank God I had it in a clear plastic sleeve (like the kind we used to use for book reports in elementary school). The waves were slamming up against the boat spraying saltwater everywhere. They took it from my hands to examine it closer. The men were on radios trying to reach someone. Peter was busy trying to navigate the boat so he couldn’t pay attention to what they were saying. The dogs were barking, the wind was howling, the waves were crashing against the cliffs and we were relying solely on our chartplotter and radar. It was quite possibly the scariest moment we’ve had so far.

After Peter got the boat turned around he attempted to idle in the tiny area the current had pushed us towards. Anyone that has a Whitby knows these boats DO NOT turn or back up, especially in tight places, and with 3-4′ waves pummeling the beam. What seemed like 20 minutes later, they let go of the side of our boat and in a confusion of broken Spanish, they finally told us it was okay. “Adios?” I screamed. “Si, Si, Adios!” they chuckled back.

Were they absolutely insane??? That was the worst possible moment to approach and tell us to turn around. Peter’s excellent Captain skills got us out of that mess safely, but it sure was scary.

We arrived in Sosua around 7am on May 2nd after taking advantage of the calmer night lee winds. After 8am is when the winds really pick up and we took Van Sant’s advice and made sure we were securely anchored before then. We dropped the hook inside a reef with waves breaking just 200′ from the boat. That may seem like a good distance but when 8′ waves are breaking on either side of you, it’s kind of unnerving. There weren’t any options for staying out further due to a significant dropoff past the reef. Van Sant had also said to not travel or anchor here in a North swell but in order to make an amazingly calm 3-day window for crossing The Mona Passage, we had to traverse the DR coast on a schedule.

Music blared from the beach all day and vacationers zipped around on a huge inflatable banana towed by a little fishing boat. Paddleboarders were surfing the shore breaks and kids were swimming in the shallows. We tried to get a little rest during the day in preparation for the next departure later that night.

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We rounded Cabo Macoris in the middle of the night and made short tacks inside the lee of Cabo Frances Viejo stopping off at Rio San Juan the morning of May 3rd. This part of our journey was pretty uneventful, motorsailing all night and sleeping all day.

The swell wasn’t as bad in the old fishing village of Rio San Juan but we still left our mizzen sail up while were anchored behind several old fishing boats. Having the mizzen sail up keeps us pointed into the wind and significantly reduces the amount of rocking back and forth from the relentless North swell funneling in to the anchorages on the North Coast.

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We left Rio San Juan around 9pm that night knowing we would be fighting the Equatorial Current around Cabo Frances Viejo and wanted to clear the cape well before 8am the next morning. We kept with our current schedule of planning the next arrival for 8 or 9 am before the winds picked up.

The shores of Bahia Escocesa led us to what Van Sant calls Puerto Escondido, tucked inside a gorgeous hillside of mountains and cliffs. This would be our last stop before crossing The Mona Passage the following day.

Passagemaking: Turks and Caicos to the DR

After a rough passage from the Bahamas, the auto-pilot did a beautiful job bringing us through the last leg from the Crooked Islands to the shores of Turks and Caicos. We arrived at the Southwest Reef just off West Caicos in the early morning hours of April 23rd. The water was crystal clear and everything seemed so still. We could see the bottom perfectly in 60′ depths.


With no other boats in sight, we guided the Mary Christine in towards a recommended anchorage on our charts. We decided to fly the Q(quarantine) flag instead of checking in to customs and immigration since we were only stopping for a few hours to rest our weary eyes before continuing on to the Dominican Republic.

While it might have been nice to explore Turks and Caicos, their procedures for clearing in and out were less than desirable. From what we understand, an ‘up to 7 day’ visit (including stopping for fuel) will cost you $50 for inward clearance and another $50 for outward clearance. Weekends are $65 each way. If staying more than 7 days, a cruising permit must be obtained for $300 (good for 90 days). Spearguns and Hawaiian slings are also illegal and must be brought in to Customs when you clear.

The requirements for bringing the dogs to shore in T&C was out of the question. The blood Titer test is mandatory, along with a USDA approved International Health Certificate. Both of our dogs are rabies-free, totally current on their vaccines and flea/tick/parasite medications, and have a clean bill of health and regular International Health Certificate. T&C had quite a laundry list of requirements for pet importation permits. (Future post in the works with all the details of what we have learned taking our dogs to each of the different countries). Revolution isn’t even good enough to cover their flea/tick/parasite prevention requirements! If we were to send out for the Titer test with USDA approval it would cost us upward of $800 for two dogs. Since we don’t plan on staying in any of the Caribbean countries very long, we opted to not jump through these ridiculous hoops. The dogs are just fine staying on the boat until the next time we reach shore. This country won’t be getting our money!

The heat was almost unbearable with zero breeze. We managed to find a little relief inside the cabin with ice packs on our necks and a few popsicles to cool our bellies. Our air conditioning requires the generator to be running and the generator is temporarily out of service. We will be doing some repairs once we reach the DR. Despite the heat, we soon fell fast asleep anchored safely just behind the reef in a welcoming patch of sand.


Later that afternoon the beauty of the turquoise blue reefs called us out to play. Peter inflated one of our Tower Paddle Boards for us to ride tandem out to the shallows not too far from the boat. Beyond that reef was open ocean and we could feel the colder water spilling in to mix with the 82-degree bathwater. We put on our fins and masks and towed the iSUP behind us taking a quick peek at the beautiful underwater world that neighbored us.

I felt much safer hanging onto the edge of the board after we both saw a reef shark lurking nearby. There was no real danger but it was nice to know I could pop up on that board anytime if we saw anything larger checking us out. The lingering trauma of our bull shark encounter still gives me the heebie jeebies!

We also saw several big snapper, a curious barracuda, a few lobster, pretty coral and a hundred different colors of little reef fish swimming all around us. There were blues and purples and yellows, oranges, reds and greens. Some were translucent and iridescent while others were bright and neon. Fish swam in and out of every nook and cranny of the coral.


As the evening hours set in, we left West Caicos following our tracks around the reef in the dark. The only lights were our own. This next passage had us headed for the Dominican Republic.

The Equatorial Current did a number on us, pushing a good 3 knots all night. The sun rose and another gorgeous day was upon us.


Within minutes of the lures hitting the water, Peter was hooking up left and right.

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Our biggest Mahi Mahi yet…


They kept coming. As soon as we fileted up one fish and cleaned up the bloody decks… “FISH ON!” Eventually we had to put the rods away. You can only clean so many fish in one day while underway!! The best part? Fresh sushi for lunch!!


When Mahi Mahi die, they change color as they bleed out. Their scales turn to an icy blue, then back to yellowish-green.


This poor guy got DOUBLE hooked on both of our trolling lines. Peter and I were each reeling in a line and by the time we discovered it was the same fish, a shark came up and whacked him!! It was pretty cool to see. This fish was destined to be somebody’s lunch that day :)


When the boys had their fill of fish for the day they cuddled up for a nice afternoon sail.


Our course was plotted for Luperon but as the current held strong, our ETA slowly pushed out from 6:00am to 11:00am. Thanks to recommendations from Bruce Van Sant’s A Gentleman’s Guide to Passages South, we adjusted our course a bit further west to a little bay called Ensenada. We could have pushed on for Luperon if we didn’t mind getting beat up. It was imperative we get anchored before the night lees die and the tradewinds pick up after 8am. The sunrise and glimpse of the mountains of the DR were breathtaking. Peter and I both had an overwhelming feeling of awe and gratitude for making it as far as we had.


Ensenada is absolutely magical. One of our favorite anchorages, hands down! As we coasted in to the sleepy little anchorage, a hundred white butterflies engulfed our boat. The color of the water was spectacular. Clear and clean and the prettiest shades of turquoise we had seen in a long time. Birds were chirping and the sun was shining. We began wondering why it took us so long to get through the Bahamas!

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Ensenada is a secluded harbor on the north coast in between the official ports of entry of Manzanillo and Luperon. Punta Rocia is the name of the village and the local Coast Guard came out to greet us. They informed us we could not stay long because they didn’t have the ability to clear us in. We were allowed to rest for a few hours and leave as soon as the winds let up. They asked us to leave by 6pm but we stayed on for a few more hours after they were off duty. They didn’t seem to care that in order for us to arrive at Luperon in safe daylight hours, after sunup but before 8:00am, we had to wait to leave Punta Rocia at 9:00pm or later. In any event, the coastguardsmen of this remote village were very laid back and polite nonetheless.

We enjoyed a refreshing swim and explored the surrounding coral. Betsy and Gunner were happy to be standing still at anchor again. On her first patrol, Betsy discovered a stowaway… another flying fish landed on our decks while underway. We saved this little fishy for bait.


A nice afternoon nap was just what we needed after our long journey. HELLO DOMINICAN REPUBLIC!!

A SAILING Experience: Bahamas to Turks and Caicos

Monday morning 4.21 we pulled anchor at 8am in George Town after making breakfast, coffee and getting through our morning routine with the dogs. SV Krow was about 20 minutes ahead of us. We navigated out of the harbor south from San Dollar Beach and watched anxiously as Krow’s mast flung wildly back and forth like a metronome as they made their way into Exuma Sound. If the waves were rocking a 50′ Valiant that much, we would surely be experiencing more action than that very soon.

Previously satisfied with the way everything was stowed below deck, I did one more sweep of the entire boat to triple check that nothing would go flying. The dogs were happy and looking around. Peter put us on course to the northern tip of Long Island.

2-3′ seas and 10-12 knots carried us away into Exuma Sound on a beam reach with all sails up. The motor was off and all was great.


Rounding the northern tip of Long Island got a bit scary. The winds picked up to 15-20 knots with gusts of up to 25. The seas quickly grew to a relentless army of 5′ waves with the next charging at us right after the last as we traveled downwind. Another reminder that “when it’s time to reef, it’s too late”…

Sailing in conditions like this is new to us and we had a heck of a time getting the boat back under control and getting the sails down. 5′ following seas in 20 knots was just too much for us to keep any sails out that day so we turned the engine on, pointed straight into the pummeling waves to get the main and mizzen tied down. Peter had to bring them both down by himself since there was no way our autopilot was going to let me get away from the helm. It took every ounce of concentration I had to keep us dead center into the waves. As each one crashed over the bow my knuckles grew whiter and whiter. Peter was out on deck doing a fantastic job tying up the sails despite the stormy conditions. The whole ordeal took us about half an hour.

We were finally ready to fall off the wind and make a 180-degree turn to port. Mary Christine flung around like a ragdoll as we got back on course. The smallest slip of the hand or over-correction of the wheel would push us back broadside to the waves as she yearned to point dead into the wind. Every second had to be anticipated. All afternoon we held our compass heading and steered by our peripheral vision watching the rolling waves sweep under our stern gushing toward the bow.

Of course it wouldn’t be a passage if our fishing lines weren’t out. The zinging of the reel quickly changed our mood from high anxiety to bubbling with excitement. We landed our first Mahi Mahi while aboard the Mary Christine. It as about 20 lbs, not too bad! Somehow the fear fo the 5′ waves slowly disappeared as I helped Peter filet the fish on deck. The autopilot held well enough now that the winds had died down a bit. This fish would give us 5 meals each with plenty left for the dogs.


That night as the sun went down, we pulled further and further away from Long Island towards the Crooked Islands. The swell grew and the waves rose from 5′ to 8-10′. Eyeballing the steering was no longer an option as darkness engulfed the boat. I couldn’t see the waves sweep underneath us anymore which meant we had to rely strictly on our instruments and feeling the waves. At 5′ it was hard to “feel” our way downwind. Luckily, our course happened to be dead on downwind all night long.

We slept in shifts, sometimes two hours and sometimes three. We held our shift until we couldn’t stay awake anymore. Staring at a chartplotter in the dark is a little like driving on a lonely county road at night. Boredom sets in and it becomes hard to see with tired eyes.

As the sun came up the next morning the seas were much calmer. The gentle rolling of the ocean surface rocked us slowly. The weather was perfect with moderate winds and sunshine on our shoulders. All three sails went up and we made great time. We were just far enough away from our buddy boat SV Krow to not be able to see anyone or anything all around us. The overwhelming feeling of peace and serenity set in. The wind filled our sails and the sun kissed our faces. Mary Christine glided through the waves effortlessly and silently. All that could be heard was the cool ocean spray refracting off the bow. The water was a rich blue, so crisp and powerful.

The coast of West Caicos grew closer. Our friends on SV Krow took the northern cut to Provo. We anchored in solitude tucked inside the Southwest Reefs. The exhaustion of the completed passage wore on and we were fast asleep for a few hours of rest before continuing on to the Dominican Republic later that evening.

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There is something so incredibly enchanting about being on a boat in the middle of an ocean. It was just Peter and I out there, free from all the troubles and worries back on land, free from rules and free from the standards of society as we know it. There is so much more out there to discover and experience. The world is a beautiful place and what better time in our lives to feel the joy that sailing off into the sunset brings us!! Dreams really do come true!!


Long lost photos from our journey to the Exumas

If you’re like me, it’s easy to lose pictures when you are using more than one camera. Some get transferred to the laptop and some don’t until much later. Our journey from Spanish Wells down to the Exumas was a couple of months back but I just now found the rest of our pictures from the beautiful sail across the Fleeming Channel.

The original post can be found ‘here‘ showing the pictures and story we posted around the time of the actual voyage. We kept a keen eye out for coral heads. As the sky turned gray with overcast the coral heads were a bit tricky to see until we were practically going over them. It was a beautiful and peaceful day sail and the stillness of this hop down to The Exumas was exactly what we had hoped for.

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Keeping Our Dogs Safe At Sea: Outward Hound Life Jackets


Outfitting the boat with safety equipment was at the top of our priority list before sailing away from the marina last fall. Preparing for the safety of our dogs, Betsy and Gunner, was just as important as our own safety. Peter and I spent a good amount of time researching the best kind of dog life jackets to have for the kind of conditions we would be traveling in and soon found there were many factors to consider.


As with our own life jackets, bright colors and reflective material can greatly increase the visibility of our pups if they were to fall overboard. It’s much easier to spot colors like yellow, orange and pink than it is blue or black or green when floating at the water’s surface. Out at sea in the deep dark-colored water is where we are most concerned with having life jackets on. Every bit of visual aide can increase our chances of recovering a lost pup when all odds are against us.


Our voyage began in the hot Florida sun with relentless rays that bake everything in sight. Traveling where the coconuts grow will only lead us into hotter tropical climates from here on out where Peter and I will be wearing next-to-nothing with a little bit of swim suit and board short material to cover up. In the event that Betsy and Gunner would need to wear a life jacket, we needed to consider how breathable their life jackets would be to keep them comfortable.

I remember wearing a Scooby Doo zip-up life jacket on the docks in the San Juan Islands every weekend when I was a kid. The thick and bulky material gave me some extra padding as I would hang my head over the side of the dock to poke at sea anemones and scoop up little jelly fish, crabs and other sea critters with my net. It was the most uncomfortable and awkward piece of equipment but wearing it was non-negotiable and it kept me safe as I played near the icy water. On a cloudy day the life vest kept me warm and acted as a second winter jacket. When the sun came out that life jacket insulated my little body so well I was practically sweating.

Our sweet puppies can’t tell us when they are uncomfortable or too hot. Its our responsibility to make sure we select a life jacket that is best suited for hotter climates but that will still keep them safe. Many of the canine life jackets we found were all slightly different in regards to fabric selection and there were trade offs to consider as well. While the most breathable life jackets were appealing, they lacked in buoyancy and functionality.


Range of Motion:

Everyone knows Betsy Jo is an active dog. She bounces all around the boat and has free-reign pretty much anywhere she wants to go. When we are tied up to a dock she helps herself on and off the boat. When she is on deck, she patrols from bow to stern climbing over any obstacles in her way. On night passages or major crossings she curls up in a ball in the cockpit making herself comfortable while trying to not get seasick.

We wanted a life jacket that would allow the dogs to move around just as they normally do without any loss in range of motion. Harnesses can be tricky due to the placement of the straps that hold them on. If there isn’t sufficient chafe protection, straps can cut into their skin and create raw sore spots in the blink of an eye. We wanted neoprene to be the primary fabric supporting their weight for comfort but also for durability in the harsh conditions of the salt water and tropical rays of the sun.

In order to keep the life jacket properly in place, it is important to follow the recommended sizing charts for each brand of life jacket. Where Gunner might need a size Large for one brand, he is an Extra Large in others. Adjustable straps will help make the best fit, but the overall proportion of the life jacket is just as important.




Without getting too technical, there is a difference in the level of buoyancy each brand of life jacket has. Most are made for typical day usage in lakes or coastal areas. Unlike PFDs (personal flotation devices) available for people , there aren’t many dog life jackets that are suitable for off-shore emergency use.

We make it a rule to put life jackets on Betsy and Gunner while under way for any open-ocean sailing or during night passages. They always travel with us in the cockpit instead of staying down below to reduce the chances of seasickness. We don’t let them out of the cockpit while under way unless we are on a long passage, in which case we put our own inflatable PFDs on with tethers attached and escort the dogs to the aft deck to do their business. Rolly seas can be dangerous if we or the dogs were to lose our balance and go overboard, especially in the dark.

We’ll leave it up to the scientists to calculate just how much flotation a life jacket can provide. Ruff Wear has a great post about how much buoyancy is recommended for dog life jackets. For us, it comes down to having as much buoyancy as possible so that if one of our dogs were to go overboard while under way, they would be able to float comfortably if/when they got too tired of doggy paddling, even in stormy conditions. We pray it will never happen in an emergency situation out at sea, but safety precautions like these help keep our furry children safe.

Another feature we liked was the front float for keeping their heads above water if swimming for long periods of time. Betsy is a practically a fish and is an excellent swimmer but if she were ever floating out at sea in need of rescue, keeping her head above water is critical when exhaustion and dehydration might set in. Gunner’s older joints and muscles aren’t as strong as Betsy so he needs as many safety features as possible.



Handles and Straps:

Both of our dogs wear a special hip-lift harness on daily basis while under way for added safety even on the calmest of days or shortest of trips. They have two handles each for easy lifting if they were to fall off of a dock or for lifting them into and out of the dinghy. We leave the harnesses on all day and remove them only when they are sleeping so it’s not uncommon for us to leave their regular harnesses on underneath the life jackets.

Just like with their regular harnesses, it was imperative that the life jackets have good placement of the lifting straps to provide proper support either by hand or by boat hook. I didn’t like the ones that had a strap going under their neck or the ones that wouldn’t evenly support their weight. Gunner is 75 lbs and Betsy weighs in at 50 lbs. Some people argue that by grabbing the rear handle it could force the dog’s head underwater so one handle between their shoulder blades is better. It would be easy to scoop up a smaller dog one-handed if they were to fall over board, but it’s not so easy with large dogs. It’s our personal preference that two handles is a must-have feature for us.

The first four months we lived on the boat was at a marina where the tide would fluctuate greatly. Sometimes the dogs had to jump up from the dock 3 feet or higher and sometimes it would be a jump down. Being able to hold on to them as they jumped onto the boat gave an incredible amount of piece of mind. It was also good practice for handling the dogs while out at sea when the boat is rolling all over the place.






Dog life jackets can range from $20 to $100 depending on size and brand. When it comes to safety, $100 is a small price to pay for piece of mind. Of course we would prefer to go with the most economical choice, but this is the least important criteria to us. It pays to shop around and do the homework to know if a certain product is a rip-off, but for the different products we found available, the prices all seemed relative. Finding the best option for offshore application was our top priority.


There are several reviews and brand comparisons floating around on the web naming some of the major brands. Here are a few of our own opinions of what’s on the market today:

Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat

  • Pros: Durable, adjustable, XXS through XL sizing, excellent buoyancy
  • Cons: Poor breathability, bulky, only one handle, expensive $80, doesn’t completely wrap under the belly

Kyjen Outward Hound Life Jacket

  • Pros: Durable, excellent visibility, sufficient buoyancy, excellent handle and strap placement, affordable $20-42, excellent range of motion, front float, XXS through XL sizing
  • Cons: Not the most breathable but any more ventilation would only reduce the buoyancy

Paws Aboard Doggy Life Jacket

  • Pros: Affordable $18-35, reflective trim, two straps, comfortable, XXS through XL sizing
  • Cons: One handle, thick, poor breathability

Kurgo Surf n Turf Coat

  • Pros: Durable, reflective trim, XS through XL sizing, removable floatation liner, extra insert for warmth available, two handles
  • Cons: Too hot for the tropics, expensive $57, doesn’t completely wrap under the belly where the second handle is, doesn’t stay in place, average buoyancy

MTI Adventurewear UnderDog Canine Life Jacket

  • Pros: Excellent breathability, medium pricing $40, available at West Marine, excellent range of motion, front float
  • Cons: Limited buoyancy, poor topside visibility for open ocean use, poor durability (many had stitching coming apart brand new on the shelf in the store (some debate that having floatation on the under side of a dog is better for keeping them afloat but we were concerned with tipping easier in cases of exhaustion floating at sea. Excellent lightweight and breathable design for coastal or lake use, but not ideal for offshore application.

EZY Dog Life Jacket

  • Pros: XXXS (under 15lbs) through XL sizing, excellent visibility, adjustable neoprene straps, durable
  • Cons: Expensive $40-62, lacking full belly support, one handle

Critter’s Inflatable Pet Life Vest

  • Pros: Suburb breathability, buoyancy and range of motion, automatic CO2 inflation when submerged in water, front float for head support, adjustable size S, M and L (from 6-200lbs)
  • Cons: Expensive $70, Automatic inflation could accidentally be triggered in damp or flooded wet lockers, support straps have no chafe protection

As with any research, we could have spent days reading the pros and cons of all the different types of dog life jackets. Instead, we narrowed the list down to one or two that would actually provide the safety features we want in offshore tropical conditions.

Kyjen’s Outward Hound Life Jacket was our top pick based on all criteria. Back in November 2013, Kyjen Inc. generously sponsored our adventures by providing us with two of their Outward Hound life jackets to keep Betsy and Gunner safe. Kyjen is a top-of-the-line manufacturer of a wide range of products just for dogs. If you haven’t seen their brand before, be sure to check out all the fun and ingenious products they have available.

Before we left the dock for good back in February 2014, we made sure to fit the new life jackets for size and have the straps properly adjusted. Betsy and Gunner didn’t mind wearing them at all and seemed quite comfortable lounging around as usual.  Our first overnight passage from Burnt Store Marina to Marathon was the first real piece of mind we had when the Outward Hound life jackets went on. We knew our dogs were safe. We were equally as relieved to put the life jackets on Betsy and Gunner while crossing the Gulf Stream from Florida to the Bahamas. Although the dogs haven’t gone overboard with the life jackets on yet, we are confident they would keep our pups safe in an emergency situation.

Stay tuned for more pictures when we test them out for an afternoon swim!!



**If you’re in the market for a life jacket for your furry friend, please consider using one of our Amazon Affiliate product links above. Just access Amazon by clicking through from our website first and any subsequent products you search for during that same internet session will help us out when you complete your purchase. It’s no additional cost to you and puts a small percentage in our cruising kitty to help us buy more dog food for our furry children.

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING… We are PROUD to share these awesome products and services with our readers. There are so many different solutions out there for everything we could possibly need, but these are the solutions that work for us.

This post may contain information about a product sponsorship. We gladly accept discounts or samples when a company feels generous enough to support our cause. In return we support the manufacturer or local service by sharing their links and writing about our experience with them. We only seek out sponsorship and affiliate programs from products and services we actually WANT to use and likewise only accept offers for products or services that we WILL use. We are not paid for any reviews we write or feedback we provide. We simply like to spread the word and share great experiences we have had that could also bring joy to others.


Thanks for following our adventures as we travel in search of surf, sun, sand and serenity WHERE THE COCONUTS GROW!!