Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Top 10 Tuesdays: Ten Useful Products for the Boat Baby

Isla and her best boat-baby pal, Ellia
Turns out having a baby on a boat is not that different from having a baby on land.  Okay, maybe it's a little different, but the fact of the matter is that the products I find useful for a baby on a boat are also useful for the landlubbing baby.  Some of these items I already mentioned in my earlier Boat Baby post, but they are worth repeating.  Here are my Top Ten Products for our one year old boat baby:
  1. Sunscreen - A boat baby is a baby that gets a lot of sun, no matter what. Isla is slathered in SPF 50 every day, twice a day and STILL has a tan. 
  2. Sun Hats - Isla is almost always in a wide-brimmed hat to protect her face from the sun. We have a bunch but I am a huge fan of this style Flap Happy hat.  Note: if the hat doesn't tie - don't bother.  Rare is the child that won't pull an unattached hat off their head.
  3. Rash Guards/Swim Diapers - While adorable swim suits are so cute and tempting, I have learned that a rash guard and a swim diaper is so much easier (not to mention offers more sun protection AND saves a diaper). I'm a big fan of the Imse Vimse brand swim diaper.
  4. Travel Snack Bowls - I'm not sure if it's universal, but our baby loves her snacks and since she is constantly on the move and burning up calories, I feed them to her. Grapes, blueberries, veggies or cheese are always with us when we go on an outing.  Good snack bowls with screw top or very tight fitting lids are great to throw in a bag and go.  I like these ones , cheap and easy.
  5. Infant Safety Tether and Harness - I wrote about this before in my earlier boat baby post, but it's worth mentioning again.  These are great for underway, especially for a child who likes to climb as much as Isla (did I mention she doesn't stop moving?).  This one from West Marine is great.
  6. Bumbo Seat with Tray - This has totally been the sleeper hit of our baby kit.  I brought this with us on a whim and, wow, we use it more than anything.  It is so much easier (and nicer!) to eat outside in the cockpit and the Bumbo Seat makes it possible for us.  It has also come in handy underway.  I only wish they came in bigger sizes for bigger kids.  It's going to be a sad day when she outgrows this!
  7. Life jacket - Again, we'd consider this essential for a boat baby.  Isla is always in her lifejacket when we are in the dinghy or on deck underway (which she almost never is unless it's super flat).  Test some out because not all are created equal and some are more uncomfortable than others.  Isla happily wears this one (I do wish it was a more visible color than blue - but hey, she wears it and that is the most important thing). We also have this one but Isla protests when we put her in it.
  8. Beach Blanket -  These days, we're on the beach every day and Isla loves it.  A fast drying, easy-packing beach blanket is super useful.  We use my sarong blanket these days and it's perfect!
  9. Sunglasses - We've been told by many cruisers how important eye protection is, especially at sea where we are constantly dealing with glare from the water.  For a growing baby with sensitive eyes, this is even more important.  In an attempt to avoid cataract surgery at age ten, we use Baby Banz because, like I mentioned above, rare is the child who will leave something on their face unless it's attached.  Your child will probably hate wearing them at first and pull them off at every chance they get.  Stick with it and keep putting them on.  Just last week Isla turned a corner and now she'll wear hers with zero fuss (finally!!)
  10. Easy-rinse, Waterproof Bibs - Babies who insist on feeding themselves (aka Isla) are suuuuper messy.  Why anyone would use cotton bibs when these superbibs are out there I don't know.  These are so great and easy to clean.  Rinse quick, hang to dry, repeat.
I know there are other boat and land mamas out there reading, what products have you found to be super easy and convenient for the boat or travel?  Share in the comments so we can all learn!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Types of Cruisers: The Stereotypes

It's a common misconception that cruisers are all similar and members of one big, happy family.  We're all living on boats, sharing similar dreams and experiences, so we must be alike right?  Wrong.  While we are often lumped together under the umbrella title of "cruiser", we are also vastly different.  Below are some very broad descriptions of "types" of cruisers we have come across during our travels, and a few of the differences between them.  I'm sure I missed a bunch, but these are the ones that came off the top of my head.

Before someone lashes out at me for this, please remember these are generalizations (yes, stereotypes) and this is all in good fun.  Just. For. Fun.  Laugh with me, will you?

With no further ado, I bring you: TYPES OF CRUISERS 

The Dial-a-Cruiser:  This is the most common type of cruiser we've seen in our travels.  They are usually of retirement age and have a pretty well appointed vessel in the 40-44 foot range.  Some sold all their land-based assets to live aboard indefinitely but most have some sort of home ashore.  Their uniform is decidedly "boaty".  They wear Teva sandals, Columbia SPF fishing shirts, big brimmed North Face sun hats, dry-fit khaki shorts and every now and then you will see a line of zinc over their noses.  They like to travel with the herd and are generally a fun loving and happy bunch.  They love pot lucks, their boat dogs and jam sessions on the beach.

The Salty Sea Dog:  This is usually the old man in the anchorage who has sailed thousands and thousands of miles, usually alone.  He is incredibly wise, perhaps a tiny-bit sketchy and has captivating stories from all over the world. His skin is perma-tanned and leathery and he typically has a beard.  His boat might not look pretty, but is rugged and tough.  A respectable dinner for this fellow is a cold can of beans washed down with a warm beer.  He can fix anything, knows boats like the back of his hand and has not looked in a mirror since 1982.  He has lived through at least one hurricane.

The Minimalist:  These cruisers scoff at anything and everything that will make their lives more comfortable at sea (more to fix, right?).  A windlass?  Psh.  We've got muscle power!! A watermaker?  Ugh. We wash and clean in the ocean!  They absolutely do NOT have refrigeration and rarely, if ever, turn on their engines.  Their boats are spartan and strong.  They could care less about things like interior cushions or making their boats pretty. They probably know celestial navigation and have never seen a chart-plotter.  They are on very tight budgets, somehow manage to live off a few quarts of fresh water a day and are typically very good at eating from the sea.  We all wish we could be a little more like them, but then we remember how much work that would take.

The Sailing Athlete:  This cruiser can be spotted a mile away by all the gear they have aboard.  Kayaks, SUPs, and surfboards take up every space on deck.  They are fit, tan and love to be on and in the water.  Sailing, for them, is merely a means to get to the next surf/kite board/windsurf spot and checking weather is more about finding primo conditions for their activity than passage making.  Don't be fooled though!! They are often excellent sailors and will absolutely sail around the world in search of the 'ultimate wave'.

The By-the-Book Cruiser:  This cruiser is new to cruising and has read every single book, blog, and article on the subject.  They will quote Nigel Calder, the Pardey's, Beth Leonard and every other "big dog" frequently. They will spout out theoretical information at an alarming rate and act like they know everything despite having sailed very little (we've all gotta start somewhere, right?).  They love sailboat shows, are members of all the sailing associations and own every sailing gimmick and gadget there is. These cruisers are typically sailing production boats.

The Hardcore Cruiser:  These cruisers are HARD CORE.  They're similar to the minimalist but have more expertise.  One or both usually carry a captain's license and they've traveled many miles at sea.  They know things like celestial navigation, navigate with a hand bearing compass, and sail in extreme latitudes in extreme conditions.  They not only know every storm tactic in the book but have put them to the test.  They are very skilled sailors, incredibly knowledgeable, and are often very "green".  They go to the bathroom in buckets, don't need running water and despise plastic.  Their boats are always "blue water" cruisers (usually classic looking) and, for some reason, they are usually vegan.

The Awkward Single-hander:  These guys (because - sorry ladies - they are usually men) have a story, but you don't really know it.  They tend to keep to themselves and, if they don't, conversation can be a little awkward since they are so used to being on their own.  They have very small, spartan boats and can almost always be found tinkering with them.  They are one with the sea and you might catch them doing tai-chi on the bow at dawn.  Their clothes are sun-bleached and tattered and they usually have a rowing dinghy.  When you meet them "drug runner" might cross your mind.  They're probably not, but you never know.

The Jack-of-all-Trades:  This is the helpful cruiser in the anchorage who can do it all.  Sail repair?  Check!  Swap out zincs? You got it!  Re-charge a refrigerator?  Sure thing!  Fix an outboard motor?  No problemo!  They can do it all.  They are super handy, thrifty, very smart and teeter on the edge of "hoarder" because they keep so many spares "just in case".  These folks are usually some of the most popular in the anchorage and are usually of the "learn by doing" variety.  They often find the best, cheapest alternatives to the "expensive" marine brand things and, if you pick their brains, usually have all sorts of neat tips and tricks.

The Young and the Restless:  Often the smallest in the anchorage, these cruisers quit their summer jobs slinging burgers, bought a boat from Craigslist for super cheap, convinced a friend or two to hop on board and set out to sea.  They hardly check weather, rely on other cruisers for information and live off very little money.  Their boats are not well equipped but they don't really care, because they're having the time of their lives.  No matter what, there is always plenty of rum aboard.  They get in with the local populous by frequenting their bars, smoking their pot and - in general - having a total blast.  They aren't in it for the long haul, but they're out for a short time and a heck of an adventure.

The Dreamer Gone Awry:  These are the cruisers who had the dream, made it happen, and then discovered they actually don't really like living on a boat or cruising at all.  If they are a couple, they are often at each others' throats and they usually look and sound a little forlorn.  They complain a lot about local food, local people and "island time".  They are usually not handy and are always trying (unsuccessfully) to fix something that is broken which further adds to their discontent.  They don't sail much, if at all, and they usually hunker down somewhere while their boat grows roots before they finally decide to throw in the towel and head back to land.

The Wealthy Yachtsman:  Yes, they do exist - but they are few and far between in the cruising community.  These folks usually come from a powerful background (doctor, lawyer  CEO, entrepreneur) and have impeccable boats with all the bells and whistles, usually in the 45-50 foot range.  Some are retired but most still have a business or endeavor that they still keep tabs on thanks to the internet.  Despite what many people might think, these folks are super generous, very humble and usually pretty happy to be here.  They also usually have a LOT of very good alcohol on board. (It should be noted that this type is different from the mega-yacht set).

The Naked European:  The name says it all.  They are usually French and have crossed at least one ocean.  These folks are usually very good sailors, and - because they have been at it so long (and are European) - they have shed all inhibition and have no problem showering completely naked off the back of their boat in plain view.  The really hard core will also poop off the back of their boat in a crowded anchorage (true story) after their morning coffee.  Their boats are almost always aluminum or steel and when they are not naked, they are wearing a speedo and smoking a cigarette.

The Family Afloat:  These folks are very easy to spot and more common than you think.  Their two or three tow-headed kids are perfectly tan and can be heard screeching and playing on the boat all day long.  They swing from the halyards, jump off the boom, and sail their little dinghies around the anchorage like pros.  They have no fear and an innate sense of adventure. The children are well spoken, imaginative and free (thanks to homeschooling) and the parents are young-at-heart, fit and intelligent.  You will look at them and wonder how they do it, but they are happy and making it work.  The families are super tight and work like a well oiled machine.  These cruisers make parenting look effortless and, well, these families are the ones that inspired us!

The Loner Cruiser:  These cruisers want to be on their own.  They prefer secluded anchorages, turn their noses up at things like "buddy boating" (herd mentality=bad decisions) and abhor pot-lucks and any other type of cruiser-y gathering.  They intentionally avoid crowded harbors, hardly ever stay at marinas and avoid like the plague any place that might be deemed "touristy".  They can sometimes be perceived as cruising snobs because they keep to themselves but the real story is that they are just not into group gatherings.  They are in this for the adventure, not the party. Culture and nature are biggies with these guys.

The Working Cruiser:  This cruiser is working as they go.  They might be a shipwright, a delivery captain, run an internet business, or charter - whatever it is, they are making money.  They usually have decent, well equipped boats (because they can afford them), and will indulge in meals ashore and happy hours more than the others because they actually have a reliable income, unlike most others who are living off of savings.  The down side for these cruisers is that they actually have responsibilities that pull them away from their own cruising agendas from time to time and, as such, they take weekly or monthly breaks from cruising in order to refill the kitty.

The Happy to Be Here Cruiser:  These are the ones that most of us can identify with.  These folks are just so stinking happy to live this life.  Every place has something to offer, there is always something new to be learned and every day brings a new adventure.  The sights and sounds take their breath away and they revel in the simple delights of a life at sea.   Even when things aren't going their way, these cruisers understand that a bad day on the water sure beats sitting in traffic. This cruiser doesn't know how long they'll be at it but, doggone it, they are enjoying every step of the way!

Where do you fit in?  Any types that I missed?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Horse of a Different Color...

It's not every day you get to watch a sea plane land, motor through a crowded anchorage, and then back up to a beach bar in between a bunch of dinghies and skiffs.  But that is exactly what happened two days in a row this week here in Georgetown.  The whole thing caused quite a scene.  Every person on the beach literally stopped what they were doing, brought out their cameras and smartphones and started snapping pics.  The pilot was obviously skilled and knew precisely what his wingspan was, but even still - it was pretty wild to see an airplane essentially park in a crowded lot on the beach.  I was hoping the person inside was Johnny Depp or Jimmy Buffett, but no such luck.  Just "normal" uber rich people.  Ho hum.  Apparently these folks are the owners of a private island down here and are currently building a resort.  It's a pretty extravagant way to arrive at a little beach bar though, wouldn't you say?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Where to Next? Out and Down I-65

"Where to next?" is a common question I field these days.  We've gotten pretty cozy here in the Bahamas but the fact of the matter is we need to head south.  It's getting late in the season (hurricane season technically begins June 1st) and we need to make some serious tracks if we want to be back in Grenada by July... so the short answer to that question is: we're going "out and down".

In order to cover as much water as quickly as possible, we hatched a plan to move our boat from Georgetown, Bahamas directly to Tortola, British Virgin Islands in one fell swoop - offshore.  We've sailed the famed "thorny path" to windward two years ago but this time around, we simply do not have the luxury of time to casually island hop all the way to the leewards.  So... we're going to skip a bunch of islands in the middle (see photo) to make up for lost time.

What this means is an approximately eight day, off-shore, non-stop passage.  Not the longest voyage for a cruising boat by any means, but the longest for us by far.  This trip will also be unique because we are starting further south and much later in the season than most boats, so there isn't a whole lot of information out there about the route we're taking (most travel this passage starting from somewhere on the East Coast and typically do it between December and January).  Neither of these factors are huge deals - they just mean we'll have a different set of winds and challenges than our predecessors.

In a perfect world, this passage would consist of two very long tacks: one out to the North East (to avoid sailing directly into the prevailing easterlies), and a turn South down "I 65" (65ºW is historically where the southerly trade winds kick in).  Of course, this is not a perfect world so it most likely won't work like that, but here's hoping.  There's one thing we know for sure: the entire trip will be a beat to windward, against the trade winds and into the prevailing current.  For most cruisers, this is pretty much the most unpleasant point of sail that exists, into wind and waves.  Then again, we could get lucky, have bengin conditions and enjoy a nice, uneventful motor-sail the whole way.  We don't know.  We're prepping for the worst and hoping for the best.  Lucky for us we have a boat that carries 200 gallons of diesel, because we're probably going to need it.

After much discussion with delivery captains and professional sailors who have sailed this passage countless times before, it has been decided that Isla and I will sit this one out.  Eight days at sea in good conditions is a lot for most people...eight days at sea in what could be a very rough and uncomfortable conditions is, in our opinion, too much for a toddling baby.  We want her to love sailing, after all.  So - while it pains me to say it - her and I will skip this voyage and reconnect with our boat in Tortola.  (Side note: If anyone out there has a place for Isla and I to stay on Tortola, let us know!)

So where does this leave Scott? Well, there was no way I was going sleep at all with him single-handing 800 nautical miles to windward (though I'm certain he could've), so I put out a "call to arms" on our Facebook Page looking for willing and able unpaid delivery crew.  The response was awesome.  We got a flood of sailing resumes and offers to join from some great folks.  After careful consideration, we selected two (very cool) fellow sailors who will join Scott in sailing Asante to the BVI's.  They fly in to Georgetown May 9th.  The hope is to make landfall in Tortola between the 20-23rd, where Isla and I will greet them at the dock with a blender full of painkillers. Mmmmmm...painkillers....

From there, we'll resume as "normal" and island hop down the Windwards and Leewards until we reach Grenada.  We have a lot of prep work to do before this passage, so we're going to be very busy the next couple of weeks.  As usual, we'll keep you posted!

PS.  Happy Birthday to me! How amazing is my hubby for surprising me yesterday?  So awesome.  Best birthday present EVER!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Happy (Early) Birthday Brittany!!!

Since I (Scott) will be “at sea” on Brittany’s actual Birthday (this Sat, the 27th), I thought I’d go ahead and surprise her with an early Happy Birthday post today…

Sometimes people say, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” If you ever hear someone say that, keep that person close because they have the special ability to truly understand the power of living in each and every moment. My wife Brittany is exactly that person... which is precisely why I chose to spend the rest of my life with her. Well, tomorrow is her birthday and since we can’t be together, I put together a little compilation for her highlighting some of the many special moments we’ve had over the past year… many at which she spoke that exact phrase… “It doesn’t get any better than this!”

Happy Birthday Brittany!  I love you!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bahamian Sloop Sailing

Got some action shots of the regatta yesterday.  I honestly don't think you could have ordered a more perfect day for sailing.  Steady breeze, flat seas, blue skies, and an abundance of sunshine.  It was one of those days where I had to pinch myself more than usual - it was that beautiful.  I am so in love with the Bahamas; the water, the people...I honestly wonder if it gets much better than this?  It's like life in technicolor down here.

Getting these great pictures, however, nearly came at a price.  As I was snapping away with our dinghy bobbing at idle, we were nearly run down by a chase boat.  There have been lots of warnings for cruisers to be extra vigilant when in our dinghies or swimming this week because the Bahamian chase boats are not always looking where they are going (and are often under the influence) and it wasn't until I jumped up to a standing position and began frantically waving my hands over my head screaming "Hey!! Hey!! Look where you are going!!" that they finally saw us and veered off the collision course.  My adrenaline was pumping for a solid hour afterwards.  Pretty scary.

Anyway, everything worked out and we managed to get some halfway decent photos despite being in a dinghy bouncing up and down.  Can you say "sail area"?  How magnificent are these boats?  And the water?  I mean, come ON!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

When Your Ship Comes In...

It's Family Island Regatta week down here in Georgetown and the town is abuzz with activity.  We have never experienced the regatta first hand, but from what I hear, it's a BIG deal in these parts and promises "traditional Bahamian sloop racing at it's finest".  The regatta draws a huge crowd and the population of this small town allegedly doubles this week, going from five to ten thousand people.  Bahamians come in from all the neighboring islands to cheer on their respective boats, captains and their crews.  It's like Mardi Gras meets Key West Race Week and it's (apparently) a week long party that entices spectators from around the world.

When we arrived the other day, a container ship had just come in with a veritable boat load of cargo.  We watched as they launched the wooden sloops, one by one.  Each one was brightly colored, uniquely named and they hailed from just about every island in the Exumas.  While the boats were off-loaded, street vendors worked at setting up a long row of colorful food stalls (similar in style to Potter's Cay) to make sure all the participants and spectators remain adequately hydrated and fed throughout the week. The excitement was palpable, and we have been promised by locals that this is not a week to be missed down here. We'll let you know...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

When Does a House (or Boat) Become a "Home"?

We are back on the boat.  It was another total mind bender of a travel day complete with a seven hour layover in Ft. Lauderdale, but I'll spare you the details since I already complained about our flight to Chicago.  I will say thank God my mom was with me this time, just having two extra arms to help wrangle Isla was a huge, colossal help.


We are back on the boat and, wow, it suddenly hit me that this is home.  Sure, we've been living aboard for the better part of six months but coming back this time it really felt like "home".  Seeing our beautiful boat as we approached in the water taxi, going down her companionway to see everything just how I left it, stowing our new goodies away...it all felt so right.  Isla was visibly excited to be back in her element as well; her smiles and zealous crawling up and onto everything while beaming at me with a "look momma, we're back" face made that clear.  I was a little concerned she'd feel trapped by the confines of our boat since she clearly enjoyed walking in the wide open spaces of my parent's house, but nope - she jumped right back into life aboard without a hitch.  I let out a big, sigh of relief as I put away the last of our things and reveled in the comforts of being home.

I wondered: when does the transition happen? When does the place you live suddenly feel like "home"?

While many landlubbers who are used to the creature comforts of terra firma cannot possibly imagine how a (relatively) small sail boat could ever feel like a home, for most of us who live aboard it's just the opposite.  We become incredibly attached to our vessels, and it happens pretty quickly.  We trust them with our lives and, over time, make them our own.  While a boat might not have the nicest linens, cushions and decor of a land home - this lifestyle is rich in other ways:  new faces, exotic places, interesting cuisines and the daily challenges of a nomadic lifestyle.  Cruising is full of moments that make "creating memories" easy.  High highs, low lows, storms and calms...we navigate ourselves and our boats through them all.  Sure, this feeling of "home" is helped tremendously by the fact that we put our own our blood, sweat and tears into our boat.  And of course our little personal touches throughout help with that "homey" feeling - but the emotion is tied largely to the experiences and not things.

This transition, however, was not instant.  There were so many times we questioned our decision; I often wondered if we'd love this boat like we loved our first, and - being a little more seasoned this time around - we were much more critical and skeptical about everything.  We'd make comparisons between this boat and our last, and - unlike our last boat - the love affair was not instant, but grew over time.  Even now, I have returned to a boat with a few leaky portholes and a new colony of cockroaches (despite two rounds of bug bombs while I was away) which is no fun.  A few months ago, I might have cursed this boat for these things.  But now it's par for the course.  She's not perfect, but she's home.  And we love her, flaws and all.

I'm not exactly sure when it happened, this metamorphosis to unconditional love, but it's a nice place to be.  Home.

HUGE thank you to our good friends on s/v Necess for making sure our boat was in ship shape while we were away.  

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Back to the Bahamas, Baby

Heading back to the Bahamas today.  We're very much looking forward to soaking up some sunshine and digging our toes into the sand again for a bit.  Thankfully, for this almost twelve hour trip (we have a five hour layover in Ft. Lauderdale) I have my mom with me, so hopefully it's a little easier than the flight here.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

You Are What You Eat...and That Includes Your Sunscreen

We live in a very toxic world.  Everywhere we go, every single day we are inhaling, digesting, and absorbing dangerous chemicals into our bodies.  To be honest, I'm actually pretty ignorant when it comes to stuff like this.  While there is a part of me wants to learn more about the poisonous compounds that line tin cans and the hazardous pesticides that keep my food looking pretty, there's another part of me that thinks filling my head with all that information would make me completely neurotic and want to live in a bubble.  So I find a balance between ignorant bliss and over-educated paranoia (okay, I lean a bit more toward ignorant bliss).

Lately, I've gotten a lot of emails and questions about what sort of sunscreen and baby products I use for Isla, mostly from mother's who want to find the safest and least toxic brands for their babies.  There's something about motherhood that makes us suddenly care about stuff like this.  We want to keep our babies pure.  To keep their little bodies as healthy as we possibly can.  Sure, I use disposable diapers and yes, I use non-organic products on Isla, but regardless of these choices, I always think twice about what goes on and in her little body.  So why don't we do the same for ourselves?

Skin Deep (we have no affiliation) is an incredible project and site where you can check the toxicity of a wide array of cosmetic products from shampoo to sunscreen, and everything in between (yes men's products too).  They give you a "score" of 1-10 (ten being most toxic) and then break down ingredient concerns (again with a score of 1-10) into these categories: overall hazard, cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, allergies and immunology toxicity and user restrictions.  It's a lot of info.

The skin is the body's largest organ and it's actually pretty scary how mindlessly most of us slather products on it like it's no big deal.  Did you know that the American government doesn’t require health studies or pre-market testing of the chemicals in personal care products, even though just about everyone is exposed to them?  Some of the ingredients that are in our everyday lotions and potions are incredibly toxic.  Check it out.  What you learn you are unknowingly ingesting might surprise you.  Turns out, we're a whole lot more than what we eat these days...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Leave a Sailor, Return a Pack Mule

When you live on a voyaging sailboat, it's widely known that when you travel home you return a pack mule.  No matter where your boat ends up, odds are that place won't be as well equipped with goods and services as your home is... and even on the off chance that it is well equipped, it's usually at a cost.  Then there's the simple fact that we all have beloved products/goodies that can only be acquired from home sweet home.  Whether it be a clothing item from your favorite local store, that to-die-for Trader Joe's snack food, or a new heat exchanger cap for your particular engine - there will be things from home that you'll want or need that you simply cannot get abroad.  So... what am I bringing back to the boat with me this time?  Here's the bulk of it:
  1. Spare engine parts.  A long time ago I got a great tip from a blog follower about Trans Atlantic Diesels.  They carry spares for many engines and generators and even have "onboard cruise kits" for Perkins engines.  This trip, I'm bringing back: an injector, a salt water pump, a fresh water pump, top and bottom gasket sets, spare engine zincs, seakamp heat exchanger caps, and o-rings.  Much of this is overkill, but we feel better having these spares on board - especially since Scott will be doing an eight day offshore passage soon (more on this later).
  2. Scone Mix.  I love this mix.  Love love LOVE it.  Yes, I could make scones from scratch - but honestly, these are so easy, I just can't give them up.  I've written about them before, and these are always on our "get from home" list.  Always.
  3. Flip flops.  We love Haviana flip flops.  They are cheap, don't absorb water, and never smell.  Unfortunately, we recently lost both pairs of ours when our dinghy was flooded by waves crashing onto the beach (my bad), sending our beloved flippies out to sea.  So naturally, I ordered us some more.
  4. Sunscreen.  We have a broad spectrum of sunscreens on our boat (pun intended) and are always in search of one we really like (no, we have not found it).  Despite the fact that applying it to ourselves and (particularly) our baby is a huge pain in the butt, we do it every day.  When you live on a boat in the tropics, you can never have too much of it.  But it's definitely a love/hate relationship.  If you want to invent something and make a million dollars, invent a sunscreen pill that you can ingest and be protected for twelve hours.  I would invest in that for SURE.
  5. Bikinis.  I'm a huge fan of Victoria's Secret bikinis.  When you live in the tropics and frequent the beach, it's nice to have more than one bikini on rotation.  With these new ones, I now have (cough, cough) ten.
  6. Wet ones.  Babies are messy.  Babies that are walking, toddling, feeding themselves and regularly picking up cigarette butts are really messy.  I carry a travel pack of wet wipes with us wherever we go for the occasional wipe down.  I'm no germaphobe, but you know your child needs a little cleaning when a local Bahamian kid tells you, "You're baby is soooo dirty...she needs to clean her hands!" (true story).
  7. Super-absorbant towels.  I learned about these MSR packtowls from a fellow boat mamma and got a couple for Isla.  They are small, super absorbant and dry extremely quickly.  I think they'll be great for the beach.
  8. Books.  I was gifted a couple more books to review on the blog (I am so behind on reading and have lots of great books to share in coming weeks, including this one!).  I also got a pocket sky atlas for Scott, and a book on how to teach your infant to swim.
  9. Kitchen utensils.  I am cooking more, so naturally I need more accouterments.  I ordered a hand mixer and potato masher to compliment my culinary tool kit.  I also ordered a small eight-inch cooking pan (not pictured).
  10. Scrubr Dish Cloths.  I have sang  The Boat Galley praise numerous times on this blog.  My friend, Carolyn, has never steered me wrong and when she suggests something, I listen.  She loves these scrubbing dishcloths, so I decided to get a couple.  They are (allegedly) quick drying, excellent at removing tough grime from dishes, and are odor-free.  I'm looking very forward to trying these out.
  11. Rescue Tape. Rescue tape is a silicone based fusing tape that will create an airtight, watertight seal in seconds.  We've never had to use this so cannot speak from experience, but I think this is good to have on hand in case we spring a leak.
  12. Water Weld.  This is another product we hope never to use, but might come in handy in a pickle.  It can plug holes above and below the water line.
  13. Zip Care.  Metal zippers get gnarly in salt water.  Zip Care will hopefully prevent the ceasing. 
  14. Diaper Rash Creme. Salt water and baby butts don't mix.  Always good to have some good diaper creme on hand to protect that little tush.
  15. Clothes.  Scott, Isla and I are getting some new threads as well.  For me: Old Navy jean shorts and a few more Lululemon pieces.  For Scott:  a couple more pairs of cargo shorts and a dry-fit button down.  For Isla: a few outfits in the 12-18 month range (not pictured)
Phew. It didn't seem like that much in the photo...

I will also be bringing back a few items for our friends.  If you travel home, you can bet your bottom dollar that other boats might need and/or want a few things as well.  It might be a simple favor like mailing a small package, or perhaps they'll need you to pick up a critical part needed to fix their engine, but it's always nice to offer. You'll never know when you need someone to do the same for you.  The boating community is all about karma and if you can help, you should.

So while some might liken me to a pack mule - others might consider me more like Santa Claus.

Either way, travelling back to the boat without goodies is no way to go.  If you're going home, pack an extra bag and fill it up!
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