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Picture yourself here? Then read this before packing your bags

I met Jody and Peter from s/v Mary Christine when we undertook the PADI Open Water Dive training together a few months back at Dive Grenada. Not only were they very supportive dive buddies but a few weeks later they also encouraged me to try out their SUP (stand-up paddle board) and I loved it. I was so chuffed I could do it that I wrote about it in a previous post.

Open Water Course participants
Peter and Jody are the cool dudes in the sunnies.

Anyway, Jody writes a mean blog called “Where The Coconuts Grow” and recently did a post about what guests should expect when visiting their yachty mates. As is Jody’s nature, she is happy for other cruisers to share her comments. I’ve modified her list to suit our boat so, before you pack your bags, please read the following and hopefully there’ll be no surprises!

Mal and I have changed our lifestyle considerably as it takes quite a bit of getting used to living on a boat. Some of the following may give you an insight as to how.

What to keep in mind when planning your visit:

Clothing:  We are in the tropics. It’s HOT! For the ladies, bring a couple of pairs of bathers/bikinis, cover-ups, sundresses, tank tops and shorts. No long pants! Maybe a light wrap or cardigan for the evenings if you tend to get a bit chilly. For the guys: bring a couple pairs of bathers, t-shirts and shorts. Perhaps a nice shirt if we go to dinner ashore. Don’t forget to bring enough undies for your trip as we may not get an opportunity to do laundry! The photo below gives you a good idea of what cruisers wear ashore.

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Typical yachtie clothing and shoes in The Caribbean.

Dirty Laundry: We do have a small washing machine on board but it takes alot of water and power to run it. Most places we visit have a laundromat service if you really need one, but down here in the islands it’s not uncommon to wear the same clothes a few days in a row. Same goes for beach and bath towels; we hang them up outside to dry and reuse them again the next day.  We have plenty so you don’t need to bring one unless you have a favourite!

Shoes: We don’t wear shoes on board, even when visiting other boats. We use thongs/flip-flops for going ashore or perhaps some other slip-ons for “going out”. If you like walking/hiking, bring a pair of walking shoes too.

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Hiking/walking shoes
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Crocs can be useful too!

PJs: There is normally a gentle Caribbean breeze in the evening but sometimes the wind dies down so bring something light to sleep in.

Bedding: We provide QS sheets and pillow slips. We can also provide a blanket but we seriously doubt you’ll need it.

Luggage: It is preferable for you to bring soft luggage as this can be folded and packed away thereby maximising space in your room.

Hair styling: Leave your curling iron, hair dryer and straightener at home. We swim in the ocean at least once a day and no-one cares what your hair looks like out here!

Makeup: Forget it! From someone who used to wear makeup every day, I now only use a little kohl pencil and lipstick when going out and my skin has never looked this good! As Jody says, mascara and saltwater just don’t mix!

Gorgeous nails! Unfortunately, dark nail polish, including red, leaves little streaks of colour over our white fibreglass which isn’t easy to remove. I know they look divine but please use a light colour or why not choose a French pedicure?

Clean Feet: Just like you might remove your shoes before entering your home, we leave ours in the dinghy. This prevents sand, dirt and black scuffs from getting over the decks and inside the boat. If our feet are dirty or sandy, we rinse them off with fresh water at the back of the boat. We do everything possible not to bring sand or saltwater inside as it is corrosive, retains moisture and could make everything feel wet.

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Showering: You have shower facilities in your head (bathroom) but you can also shower off the back of the boat! We rinse off with fresh water after every swim but sometimes, at the end of the day, we  jump in the water, lather up on the sugar scoop (steps), jump in again and then do a final rinse with fresh water. Very refreshing!

Fresh Water: We have our own watermaker on the boat which converts salt water into fresh water at the rate of 40 gallons/hour. To do this we run the generator which requires a fair amount of power. Water is always precious but particularly so on a boat. Please be water conscious and use it wisely.

Electricity: Our power comes from the sun and our in-board 6.5kw diesel generator. We normally run this once a day in the evening.

Techo stuff: The boat generator is 110 volt which will be OK for most chargers, even Australian. If you need to plug something in like a mobile, camera, etc. we may need to run our generator or inverter which takes power. This doesn’t run 24/7 so you may not be able to charge your device exactly when you want. Any device that charges using a USB connection will be fine.

Internet: Connection to the internet varies greatly depending on the country we are visiting. We have a long range booster and try to pick up WiFi but if that’s not possible, we have to go ashore to get connection. Happily, we normally time this with happy hour!

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Perfect combination: free wifi with happy hour!

Odds and sods:

Sea Legs:  It may take a day or two to get your sea legs. Some people take to the ocean naturally and some have difficulty with the rocking of the boat. Please bring seasickness medication if you know you will need it. Being sleepy is much better than being sick. In an emergency, we do have some on board. After awhile it will feel more strange to be on land than on the boat!

Strange Noises: You’ll hear noises you’re not used to hearing. Don’t worry. It took us ages to work out all the little and not so little noises. We can now identify when something doesn’t quite sound right so let us do the worrying for you!

The Galley: Feel free to help yourself to anything we have in the galley or pantry but please ask for help to get it out. Everything is stored away to maximise what little space we have so it all fits together in an organised chaos type of method!

Snorkelling: If you’ve been following our blog or our Facebook updates, you might have gathered we love to snorkel! We have plenty of goggles and snorkles on Kool Kat and a couple of extra sets of flippers: a really big pair and a small pair. If we have the same size feet we can always take it in turns!

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A Blue Tang on Deep Bay Wreck, Antigua.
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The very striking Yellowtail Damselfish (Intermediate) and Smallmouth Grunts (yellow and silver) at Anse d’Arlets, Martinique.
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School of Big Eye Scads at Anse d’Arlets, Martinique.

We hope this helps you make up your mind to visit us in The Caribbean. It might seem like a lot of detail, but we want you to be prepared.

Looking forward to your visit, Sue and Mal xx

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A first big year or a big year of firsts!

I was reading our friends Alex and Dave’s Sailing Banyan blog, which neatly summarised their second season* of sailing in The Caribbean and it got me thinking about our adventure living on Kool Kat since February this year.  It struck me that, so far, it has far exceeded both our expectations and that it has been a big year of FIRSTS. I knew Mal had a pretty good idea of what it would be like but I was worried I might get bored whilst we were waiting for the hurricane season to pass. I mean, really, what is there to do when you can’t go sailing very far, you don’t know many people and it’s so damned hot? Well, you use the time productively doing boat maintenance, swimming, fixing the broken bits, swimming, making friends, more swimming, sailing to close islands and back, still more swimming, and doing lots of stuff for the FIRST time!

This week we stored two inflatable SUPs (Stand Up Paddleboards) for friends Jody and Peter from S/V Mary Christine whilst their boat was on the hard. They were happy as they didn’t have to deflate and pack them away and we got to try them out for the FIRST time. Mal, being a past wind-surfer, took to it like a duck to water and I surprised Mal; I did OK. Jody and Peter gave excellent instructions: step 1, sit on the board;

Step 1step 2, get into a kneeling position;

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step 3, stand up and place the oar front and centre, like a tripod;

IMG_5387 (640x427) IMG_5389 (640x427) IMG_5391 (640x427)step 4, paddle and then smile at the camera.

IMG_5392 (640x427) IMG_5393 (640x427) IMG_5394 (640x427) IMG_5396 (640x427)Their instructions worked, with some minor hiccups, and we now want two. Thank goodness for the warm Caribbean water 😉 Thanks to Jody and Peter for the loan – I know we got the good end of the deal!

The following are pictures of some other FIRSTS this year for Team Kool Kat. Not all were planned or expected!

FIRST Halloween:

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Guy from Scream and some Aussie Joker

FIRST International Regatta:

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2014 Carriacou Regatta on S/V Banyan

FIRST scuba experience:

Open Water Course participants FIRST broken bone (for Sue):

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Broken ring finger

FIRST Hash:

Woohoo, we've finishedFIRST Granddaughter’s (Sue) FIRST birthday:

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My little cutie, Autumn.

FIRST anchor dragging!

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We’ve now joined the Rocna Club with this big mumma, 40kgs.

FIRST Aussie visitors:

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Jo & Bob – we hope you come back soon!

FIRST

  • up-close experience with turtles: swimming with green and hawksbills and stroking a gigantic leatherback whilst she laid her eggs – absolutely gob-smacking for us.
  • living on a boat AND living 24/7 in each other’s pockets: a challenge but we wouldn’t change it for the world.

That’s all the FIRSTS we could think of although I know we’ll remember a few more after the post is published! What have been your memorable FIRSTS this year? We hope they were good and we’d love to hear about them so drop us a line.

Love, Sue & Mal xx

*The Caribbean sailing season is roughly from November to June.
Note:  Thanks to friends who have taken some of these photos and, in particular, thanks to Jo Almond for the sunset image.