When Scott and I first decided to retire and travel on our boat, we started doing research. We read blogs and books, watched YouTube videos and talked to friends who had done it, were doing it and who planned to do it. One of the blogs we followed was Newly Salted and the companion site, Interview with a Cruiser. Now, as cruisers, we get to answer the questions.
We are Scott and Martha aboard SV Island Time, a 35-foot catamaran made by Island Packet. Yes, we know, you were not aware Island Packet made catamarans. They built 41 of them from 1993-1995. The boat has two staterooms, two heads and a saloon/galley combo. We started living aboard in November 2016, sailed from Shell Point (just south of Tallahassee) to the Tampa/St. Petersburg area for boat work that took seven weeks. At the end of January, we headed to Key West and the Dry Tortugas. We then traveled north through the Florida Keys and through the Intracoastal Waterway from Miami to Port Everglades. We spent two months in the Abacos, Bahamas. Now, we are in Palm Beach.
What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising? We read a lot of blogs and books and watched a lot of YouTube videos before we set out on this journey. We went to boat shows and sat through seminars about living aboard, crossing the Gulf Stream, installing solar panels, outfitting the galley and more. We thought we were fairly well prepared. We underestimated how much we would miss daily contact with family and friends. It makes phone calls and visits really special.
As you started cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult? When we first started this trip, we had two 13 year-old dogs on board. Sadly, one just passed away. We were concerned about their transition to the boat and our need to take them ashore multiple times per day. Both dogs figured out the little green carpet trick. We don’t miss TV or the constant news cycle.
What mistakes did you make as you started cruising? We underestimated how much time (and money) we would spend with the boat in the boat yard. We predicted a two to three week stay for getting the bottom painted, to service the engines and to complete some other tasks. It took seven weeks. Luckily, we were not living aboard as we had family nearby. At the end of the seven weeks, we were eager to get moving.
What do you find the most exciting about your cruising life? We both enjoy exploring new places and like walking, riding bicycles and finding the occasional Uber ride. Meeting new people who share our lifestyle is also rewarding. We enjoy sunrises, sunsets and really dark night skies so we can see the stars. Anchoring in a new harbor is always exciting
What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you? Even though our boat is a catamaran, our storage options are still limited. We move things around all the time to find things that are stored on board. We still have too much stuff. We love having a 12 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer. We don’t like emptying it to find that needed item in the bottom basket.
What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn’t find to be true? A lot of people told us that rum would be plentiful and inexpensive in the Bahamas. They didn’t speak to the quality of that rum. We found good rum to be expensive, as was all alcohol, especially beer.
What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate? Avoid schedules. Our crossing of the Gulf of Mexico included high seas and high winds. We were on a schedule. Not. Ever. Again. Weather is the first thing we look at before planning to move the boat. We always hesitate to make plans with friends about where we’ll be and when they should meet us. We can’t guarantee that we’ll be there. We also want to take our time and explore each anchorage.
Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting out? We are still debating if we want to install a water maker. However, we did purchase a small generator so we can use the air conditioning sometimes when we are not at a dock.
What piece(s) of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why? We brought too many clothes that we don’t have the space to store or the need to wear. We try to stick with wicking/quick dry clothing because laundry can be expensive. So far, we’ve used laundry facilities on shore but we are prepared for the five-gallon bucket method when the time comes.
What are your plans now? If they do not include cruising, tell us why. We plan to cruise for three to five years. We plan to travel up the ICW to Savannah and Charleston for summer 2017 and then head south through the Exumas and into the Caribbean for winter 2018.
What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I’ve asked you and how would that you answer it? What broke and how did you fix it? Our autopilot quit working on the way back to Key West from the Dry Tortugas. We ordered new parts and Scott installed them. We needed a hole drilled in a thick piece of brass while we were in Hollywood. Scott called many machine shops to ask for help and didn’t find anyone who could assist. Our friend Jerry came to the rescue. He knew someone with a drill press, made the arrangements and then came to pick Scott up, drive him there and return him to the boat. Whew!
Bonus Question: Some friends have asked “What do you do all day?” Well, we live here, so it depends. We don’t go to work so alarm clocks are not part of our day. If the boat is underway, we are both on deck actively steering, sailing or motoring the boat, watching for boat traffic, tending lines and more. If we are anchored near a town or city, then we are ashore exploring, provisioning, doing laundry and buying parts for boat repairs and maintenance. We cook most meals on the boat but Scott is constantly looking for a good pizza. If wifi is available, we are checking weather, reading email, reading the news and watching more sailing videos on YouTube. We read books — paper and digital.