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Here is something different today. The following review was submitted to us by Dave and Jenny, the guests we had sailing with us for a week at the beginning of August. As everyone knows, we had a few challenges putting that trip all together. Rebecca and I feel extremely fortunate to have had such a cool couple join us. And for the record, we LOVE making new friends!

The four of us at a street party in Carriacou.


We were lucky enough to be the first group to “cash in” on Mike and Rebecca’s Real Sailing Adventure. I have long followed their journey and lived vicariously through them while planning for the day when I could break free as they did and sail off into the sunset.

My wife and I were in the midst of planning a trip for our 20th Anniversary when Mike announced that they would offer a week on their new boat in exchange for helping them acquire it. We talked it over and then reached out to Mike and told them we were in.

Our Anniversary was the first week of August and I hated that this caused additional pressure and urgency for Mike and Rebecca to find their next boat and get it back to Grenada in time. We nervously followed their Facebook feed as they searched for boats, searched for surveyors, bought one way tickets, battled dinghy engines and more as our arrival date approached. They worked feverishly right up until we arrived at the boat that Friday afternoon. They had barely done a shakedown cruise and here they were opening their new home up to complete strangers for a week. And people back at home thought we were crazy?

Our trip truly was a “Real Sailing Adventure” as advertised. We had beautiful and crappy weather. We had boat issues and glorious passages. We had danger and excitement, downtime and action. We had an amazing time.

The Good:

It’s impossible to express every good thing that we experienced that week but I will highlight a few.

-Sailing! Of course. Sailing has got to be one of the most ancient forms of transportation known to man. I hope I never stop appreciating how cool it is to travel from one place to the other while burning very little fuel or energy.

-The people. Mike and Rebecca are amazing but if you have read their blog you already know that. We also met other cruisers that are friendly and full of life. And the people of Grenada are always happy and friendly. It is hard to be unhappy around such amazingly positive people.

-The scenery. We anchored at 4 different islands in 6 days. Each one with their own unique landscape. We saw beautiful water, beautiful trees, and a beautiful blue sky.

-Boat issues. I list this under the “Good” section because it’s real. We got to see first hand the issues that boaters have on a daily basis. Engine oil leak, bilge alarm going off due to a leak in the rudder post, broken windless due to a wiring issue, undersized anchor not holding firm. I knew going into this that you needed to be able to troubleshoot and fix things on your own. This trip confirmed that.

Repairing a bit of a wiring mixup.

The Bad:

At the risk of sounding negative, I think it’s only fair to point out some of the things that would bug most people about living on a sailboat. None of these are surprising, but until you really experience them you can’t appreciate their full effect on you. It really is like camping on the ocean.

-Heat. It gets hot in Oregon at times. Even hotter than Grenada if you look at the temperature. But the humidity caused me to drip with sweat if I wasn’t directly in a breeze. I made the mistake of trying to put sunblock on below deck thinking I would be out of the sun, and therefore would have dry skin to apply the sunblock to.  Nope. Standing out in the direct sun with a breeze was much cooler. At night we had to close the hatch if a rain cloud passed by and I would instantly start sweating.

-Bathing. “Relax and take a bath in the deep blue Caribbean Sea…” I can see a travel brochure making this sound more exotic than it really is. It IS cool that I did bathe in the Caribbean, and I can’t wait to do it again. But I will do it differently next time.  A bar of soap doesn’t foam up in salt water. At least not the one we used. So you are basically just rubbing it on you but not really getting clean. And it is a little difficult to hang on to the swim deck while the wind and current try and push you away as you try to wash your junk. Keep your trunks on because that barracuda thats been hanging out under the keel has sharp teeth. I will say that the shampoo does foam up nicely and I managed to maintain my Salon Quality hair the whole trip. That’s just how I roll. The alternative is to shower on deck (I’ll probably do that next time) or shower in the head. Each has their pros and cons. Privacy in the head, but then you add moisture in the boat. Washing on deck provides less privacy and the boat is moving so it’s hard to maintain your balance.

-Sea Sickness. I didn’t feed the fish. I didn’t really come close. But I did have a hard time doing anything other than tilting my head back and closing my eyes for a couple of the passages. It got better the more we sailed and I didn’t take any medication. I wanted to see how my body would do on its own. I give myself a C-. I think with more time at sea I will get better. If we were in a storm or rough seas I would have hurled big time. That one issue makes me nervous about my ability to do this long term.

-Danger. Rebecca almost got hit by 6 boats. Yes. SIX. We made the mistake of anchoring right in the path of an upcoming race and Rebecca had just dove in to check on the anchor boats started criss-crossing right on top of her. They all missed and everything ended up fine. But it was scary for a few seconds there. Being in the water in an anchorage made me nervous. I couldn’t help but wonder if someone was going to come zipping through on a dinghy and not see me.

We learned that with our small dinghy, it was dryer and faster to go to shore in shifts.

The Ugly:

Only one thing fits in this category and this was really the only real surprise I had the entire trip.

-Droppin the Deuce. Mike informed us on the first day that the ONLY thing allowed in the toilet is human waste. No paper. The paper goes in the trash. I was very nervous upon hearing this. Even though I felt like I knew Mike and Rebecca really well, I had just barely met them in person. You want me to put my used TP in the trash? And then bring it with us in the dinghy when we go to shore? My fears were short lived as my colon decided to go on strike upon hearing this information.

At anchor in Petite Martinique. This shot was taken when
the four of us hiked all the way around the island.

Its now been a month since we left for this trip. My wife and I can’t stop thinking about it. It was everything we had hoped it would be and more. Grenada is beautiful. Sailing is amazing. The locals and the cruising community are fun loving and accepting. Mike and Rebecca really are top notch people. They are kind and caring, hard working, welcoming, adventurous, accommodating, helpful and much more. But the one word I would use to best describe them would be INSPIRING…

I’m so glad they decided to publicly share their crazy adventure on their blog so that we can all live vicariously through them. Even more, I’m glad they made the offer that allowed me to get one step closer to my own crazy adventure. I’m still a few years away, but if you want to follow along you can find me at www.pronetowander.com

Thank you Mike & Rebecca.  You have no idea the impact you have made on us.

28 Comments

  1. Hard to believe we’ve been home for a month already. Thank you both for a sneak peek into your lives and onto our next adventure. It’s going to take some time but now we’ve had a taste and we want more. Thanks so much Mike and Rebecca

  2. What a great read! Great to hear it from the other side…after awhile you just sort of accept some things as normal. A pool noodle is a great aide for those saltwater showers. I have a patented technique!

  3. There are no plumbers at sea. You only have to disassemble, unclog, and reassemble the head and hoses one time to not demand this procedure. I ran charters for (9) years and my phrase was: “If it doesn’t go through your body it doesn’t go into the head”. That includes toilet paper.

    A boat is a mystical environment and nobody can be shy about body functions of toilet use and bathing. We all understand the noises and come to full attention when we don’t recognize them. If you are shy, you need to book on a cruise ship.

  4. Enjoyed this blog and was excited to hear how wonderful and successful the first charter was.
    I also suffer from sea sickness; not fun and I always feed the fish, but I’ve learned that Meclizine started a few days before getting on the boat and ginger help a bit. I also think knowing it’s probably going to happen, feeding the fish, and knowing that it won’t last forever gets me through.

  5. The toilet paper thing. I think it’s a bit overkill to not put tp in the bowl. The trick here is to learn to use as little as possible. Hard to imagine, I know for many, but just two (2) squares at a time, as many times as needed of course, will always let the paper pass through that trusty “joker” valve. Just my years aboard, experience and opinion.

    • After more than three years of living on board full time with two adults and two teenagers I think most people really overestimate the fragility of the marine head. Even a cheap Jabsco Twist & Lock is a fairly simple and robust piece of equipment. There aren’t that many moving parts in the process to jam up and they are pretty easy to rebuild. I’ve never had to disassemble the plumbing from jamming.

      We use what is need for the task at hand, we’ve never had a blockage through normal use.

      Except when one of my kids was about eight and dropped a whole roll in the toilet and was too embarrassed to tell us and tried to flush it. And even THAT I was able to clear by letting it sit long enough to break down and pumping it through. Yes, I managed to pump an entire roll through the head, including the core – that might have been special marine/RV paper but it is way more than any human will use in one sitting.

      TP breaks down pretty quickly in water, if you use enough water to keep it from getting packed up tight it will go through the valves pretty easily. I think the only way you can really block one with TP is taking a handful and wetting it and wadding it up into a tight ball first. That tight ball of paper may block things.

      The expensive marine/RV TP you buy at marine stores is a looser weave of paper that is supposed to break down more quickly. And very hard to find (and much more expensive when you can) outside the U.S. We always bought lighter thinner paper like Scot’s rather than the heavier quilted kinds and have had zero problems with it, we stopped using the specialty paper long before we moved on board three years ago. In places like Fiji…you buy what you can, most of the world doesn’t have the industrial strength Charmin style triple ply quilted weaves anyway.

      Now buildup and scaling, that IS a problem and can cause blockage or other issues. You need to keep up on your weekly vinegar treatments or you will learn how to field strip and rebuild a head.

      • Seems like you have been lucky. I have had to disassemble heads multiple times.

        On our boat, nothing goes in the head that hasn’t passed through your body. It’s a simple rule, and easy to follow.

    • You and I understand that concept. Bring people on board that are not boating people and I can bet you will be fixing a head at an unwelcome time.
      ps: When you have charter guest you’ll need to do this with a smile on your face. 😉

    • Well, if you think that wiping your butt with 2 squares of toilet paper is preferable to using as much as you want and then depositing it into a covered trash can, go for it. The logic is lost on me though.

      And for the record, NO ONE will do that. Two will become 4, and then 10, and then a whole wad, and then… CLOG. You know it!

  6. Living outside the box, experiencing the unknown, it brings fear, a lot of questions and second guessing decisions. Just as Mike and Rebecca’s openness on their blog have helped myself and others, your story has helped as well. Thank you, all the best to you.

  7. Thanks so much to Dave and Jenny for sharing their review. Holly and I wanted so badly to make this our 25th Anniversary trip, but it just wasn’t in the cards for us at this time: however, thanks to this review I know it would have been just as awesome as we fully expected it would be! It’s great to live in the country, where you aren’t affronted by silly inconveniences or living a more simple lifestyle! One thing I’ve always said I would miss if we had to live in a more simple era with few luxuries…a nightly hot shower! It always leaves me feeling clean and refreshed and it may be the one thing I might truly miss…my Hollywood shower!

  8. Stick to your guns about that TP in the head toilet. Makes for a less cranky crew.

    D

  9. Our first few years at the cottage we had an old septic field that was ‘questionable’ at best. I got used to using 2 squares at a time, and often using RV paper to delay the inevitable. I never had a problem.

    But bring over some friends who wanted to stay the weekend, and blamo, we had non stop issues. All it takes is some training. It amazed me how many people start the job by wrapping it 5 times around there whole hand!

    I finally broke down and replaced the septic field and now still try to be a minimalist. We’re on a small island in the middle of the lake and there is no ‘honey truck’.

  10. Cruising is definitely not a BVI charter.

  11. Mike, in many countries such as Russia the plumbing is just old and cranky, In the old Nikita Khrushchev 5 story buildings you don’t flush toilet paper down the toilets there either. Any one who has gone through the change in western culture poop station etiquette knows that a little dab on toilet paper doesn’t leave a big odor lingering in the air.

    Now if you want a real experience in how sensitive western people are go to a Moscow train station restroom in the morning. No doors, no toilet seats, stalls are maybe three-3.5 feet tall and you squat over a hole. Noise rich culture and maybe 30 people taking care of business in plain site. Try not to slip and God only knows what to do with your coat. Smile.

    Also, in high Sierra trekking, many people believe strongly in “leave no trace”…you wipe your butt with grass, stones, twigs…I kid you not. So, I giggle when I hear people get out of their comfort zone when you ask them to place it in a covered can.

    Seen the video on youtube where the girl drops her pants and hangs her tush over the leeward rail to dump? He He…

    • I am aware that TP is not flushed in many places. It’s all what you’re used to. And yes, I did see that video (Hold Fast if I am not mistaken)… direct deposit. 🙂

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