Cruising 101

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In between all the social activities that Georgetown has to offer, we try to carve out time each day for Cruising 101.  Between yoga, volleyball, play dates and other social activities, we seem to be pretty busy.  However, our goal for February is to make sure we learn everything we need to know about the boat and cruising.  My parents leave at the end of the month and we need to make sure we can fully operate the boat safely and are prepared for the island to island sailing we will be doing.  In March, we will leave the protected, comfortable and community atmosphere of Georgetown to start exploring the Bahamian Out Islands.  I sailed as a kid on the Great Lakes with my family and spent two years cruising down to the Bahamas when I was a teenager.  Paul does not have a sailing background, although this last year, he has been working hard to learn.  We both have a lot to learn.  My parents are loaning us their boat, which is a pretty huge responsibility and trust they have put in us.  I think we are all a little bit nervous about that.  There was the time last week where Paul almost dropped one of the solar panels – well actually he did drop it, but managed to catch it before it hit the deck.  I’m sure that was hard for my Dad to watch, but he just grinned and bared it.  We will make mistakes on the boat; things will break.  Everyone has a slightly different way and style of doing things on boats and we will develop our own style and preferences.  We have had lots of time to relax and unwind so far, but the goal for February is to LEARN.

A boat has so many systems on it and you truly have to be a jack of all trades to keep them all up and running.  This boat, “About Time” is an older boat and my parents have customized most systems.  We have been living aboard now for the past two weeks and a lot of time has gone into learning about all aspects of the boat.  Most of the boat maintenance jobs have fallen to Paul and luckily being an engineer, comes in pretty handy.  Electricity is crucial – we need to keep track of amps used vs. amps generated and total battery voltage.  Solar panels need to be adjusted throughout the day, the generator needs to be run when batteries are low (depending on wind levels and sun, this could be every other day or 2 times/wk).  We fill jerry jugs of water in town and fill the tanks of the boat, as well as refill drinking water jugs.  Gas for the dingy and generator also need to be bought in town, mixed with oil and filled. The head (boat word for toilet) is a manual pump head that requires lots of finesse to use.  Solar lights need to be recharged out on deck every day.  Showering is done via sun shower in the cockpit and that has to be setup when needed.  Even just learning where to go to provision, do laundry, top up our data cell package (to hotspot for internet) takes time to learn.

Storage is limited on the boat, so we have had to learn where everything goes.  The stove operates on propane and we have had to learn how to change those tanks. There are still many things that we need to learn about the boat.  My Dad has a planned Engine afternoon, which he thinks we both should hear.  I am not mechanical in the least, so I am not looking forward to that.  We have to learn how to take the head (toilet) apart and my Mom has kindly offered to teach Paul (not I, of course) how to do that.  We need to learn how to stow the dingy and outboard when we are island hopping. I’m sure there will still be other things to learn about the boat and will result in little emails or calls to my parents even after they have left.

Then there is learning and making sure we are comfortable with the actual sailing part.  We have gone out into the harbor and sailed a few times.  We have reviewed how to reef the main sail.  We have practiced anchoring a few
times.  Anchoring may sound simple, but it requires picking an optimal spot (between all the other boats), lots of
communication between the anchorer (Paul) and the person driving the boat (me), knowing how much chain to put out, how to operate the windlass (electronic machine that pulls the anchor up), how to use a snubber (to relieve pressure on the anchor), how to back down and check the anchor (dive on it) and of course it also means talking about what to do if our anchor drags.  We have practiced picking up a mooring.  We have reviewed how to read charts, navigate (Chart plotters have made this much easier now, although it is still important to understand how to do it without), how to visually read the colour of the water (sand, reefs, grass), how to navigate cuts, the importance of knowing the tide tables.  We have reviewed safety procedures: what to do in a MOB (man overboard) situation, how to use the EPIRB, flares, SSB (single side band radio).  Sailors live and die by the weather and we have gotten into the habit of checking the many sources of weather information constantly.  We receive Bahamian weather forecast emails from Chris Parker, the marine weather guru, daily.  We constantly track wind speed using apps like Windfinder.  Practice may not make perfect, but it will make us much more comfortable and so we want to practice anchoring, navigating, sailing as much as possible in the next two weeks.

So although our pictures may indicate that all we do is R&R, there is a lot more going on.  It is mid-term time in Cruising 101, so I will leave it at that.

At the top of monument


A hike to Monument


Play-dough play time


Some i-time


Oceanside Beach


Cool Mr Gavin




Mom & Ella working on the lifeline netting – kidproofing


About Time


Slip and slide on volleyball beach




Gavin in charge of the water


Sunset in Georgetown


Mastering the rope swing


Mexican Train dominoes


Kids Valentines Day on Volleyball Beach


Ella mastering the swing




Volleyball Beach


Chat & Chill Sign


Conch Hut at Volleyball Beach


Our little monkey


Our little sweetheart


Paul playing volleyball


Showers in the cockpit – Ella wants to make sure you all know she hates them

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