Sunday, February 1, 2015

How we survive the first year of our full-time live aboard


Our last picture in Macau
Across the world, how far we moved
It's not easy! If you think that we wear nautical cloths like in the fashion magazines, having drinks on the beach or sun bathing the whole day... you are wrong!

We have much more to do and to fix on our sailboat! Even we purchase it following the advertisement that “Ready to sail”, but it's never! This is the short list of what we had to take care in the first year living aboard.

Fixing and replacement
Servicing the water maker
Auto pilot control box
2 jibs
Refrigerator control box
Wind generator
3 cabin fans
2 complete toilets
6 LED cabin light
Moving in
Checking all batteries
When it rain, we need many buckets!
Purchases
Solar panel and regulator
Secondhand West Marine dinghy
Secondhand AB dinghy
Secondhand main sail
Propane stove
25 liter propane tank
Kitchenette, toiletries, beddings
5 hp outboard engine
Chart plotter
 2 cabin mattresses
6 portable water Jerri cans
Fenders
Safety net
Oil filters
Diesel filters
Diesel oil
Water filters
Water filtering system
Windvane
Fishing rods
New stove
Liferaft inspection
Secondhand dinghy, new for us
Even we finished our savings to continue our sailing around the world trip, we are not planning to quit. What we have experienced from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, The United States Virgins Islands, The British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, Dominica and St. Lucia in the first year of our trip can't be replaced, it had been a remarkable experience.
St. Thomas to St. Maarten passage, acrobatic jump
Freshest fish we get, Mahi-Mahi
Breathtaking day-end view
Now let's see our answers for the same question on our first year trip.

Where is your favorite place until now?
NaE: In term of provisioning I like St. Maarten because the food has more variety. I can find most of my Asian ingredients and in the same time there are many good places to eat. However, each island has its own characteristics and lots differences. Even if they are just few miles away they are all different! 
João: I would like to say St. Maarten but the hassle to clear in for non European passport of my wife, made me disappointed with the “European islands”. For peace of mind I would choose USVI and St Thomas.
Met new and old friends in St. Maarten
Visiting St. Martin
The reason why I miss St. Maarten
What is the most difficult thing in this trip?
NaE: The most difficult is to start to do it but now we move flowing like water! However, our finances are the main problem because we support our trip with our own budget but in the same time we have no permanent income. But this first year teach me to spend money wisely! And I'm proud of it...
João: Being always worried with financial problems and with the money until the end of the month. Our short income from the articles I write is not enough for the expenses we face monthly, however, we try to manage. Lets hope that from now on we don't have any more major problems to solve... or hope to find some other kind of financial support...
One of our self-sustainability onboard 
Any bad sailing experience? 
NaE: The Mona passage was the worst experience I had. What happened was we didn't have auto pilot nor radar to see the weather. Suddenly in the middle of the dark night the clouds covered us and we had no way to sail to and I only can try to find the stars to navigate a way out of it. And I prayed.
João: Probably the Mona was also the worst until now... when we arrived in Mayuguez, Puerto Rico, I couldn't feel my arms and I was so numb I couldn't even talk straight. However, bad  weather apart, the failed crossing from USVI to Grenada due to bad planning, going too much offshore, and lack of wind to push us in the right direction, made what suppose to be 4 days into 8 for half way, forcing us to head to Dominica and use the last jerrycan of diesel praying to reach land with it because we were sailing into the wind.
Bad weather happens sometimes
Unexpected weather 
How do you manage sailing with a baby and dog?
NaE: They are both easy. Time to eat, they eat and time to sleep they also sleep. It's more difficult while we are on land and walk both of them because Maria Dee wants to go right but Noel want to go left... can you imagine.
João: Usually I take care of the boat sailing and NaE cares for the baby and food. At night she goes down with the baby to sleep with me staying the whole night on duty. In the morning she takes over after breakfast and I go to rest for some time with Maria. The dog keeps me company during the night sailing! 

Baby and dog shower on deck
What is the best experience?
NaE: Many times we save our marriage and we support each other. Life with no money and many problems to sort out is not easy. We fight like any other couple, shout and cry but then we say sorry and solve the problems together. Moreover, we spend time seeing our daughter growing, teaching her day by day and seeing her improvements in ability, mental and physical together. 
João: Seeing is baby growing day by day is probably the best gift a father can have. Spending time with my wife and daughter, even if we have to struggle and stop having many of the things we took for granted when we had jobs, is surely the best of this experience.
First photo of 2015, watching the New Year fireworks in St. Lucia
What you do when you have free time on board?
NaE: I don't have much free time left. Cooking and cleaning with baby take almost the whole day but if I have nothing to do, I have a nap.
João: I usually have many things going on at the same time. Maintenance of the boat is a ongoing process, most of the times unseen, but have to be done and is done mostly when the baby sleeps because when she's awake, she's the priority! In the precious moments of nothing to do, if my wife is awake, we try to spend some time together just talking or enjoying the view. If she's also resting or doing something, I just research the weather or other information that we may need online. Reading, when possible, and mostly only before sleeping. 

Is sailing expensive?
NaE: If we have nothing to fix, probably we could save more money. Water, gasoline, diesel all count! We never stay in marinas so we save a lot on that. If just for food, drink and groceries I think it can be manageable. One thing I learn is we can't compare the price from island to island or to the place where we came from. First, because we don't have the same income. What I thought before was cheap now it become expensive because I have no salary. But we change the point of view that we have on the amount of money in our pocket, can we afford to pay this item or this meal instead.  
João: Sailing it self its not expensive. The wind is free! But to maintain a boat and have it ready to sail is expensive even if you buy a new boat! If its affordable compared with life on land, I think it is if you willing to change the way you spend your money. Before we use to buy two mobile phones every year, at least. Now, we dont use mobile so we dont buy any!
Buying local products is one way to save some penny
What do you miss while sailing?
NaE: Absolutely friends and family. Even I met many nice and interesting people, I still miss my old days with my friends and family. I wish they could join us in the journey. And also Chinese food! I would say that Chinese food outside China is not the same. I don't say they are not authentic but the taste was adjusted for the locals. Why don't I miss Thai food? When I miss it, I cook what I feel like eating!
João: Missing the tastes of home is normal and we try to fill that with cooking what we miss eating. We bake bread, we grill, we make cakes, we cook whatever we want and know. If we don't know we research or invent! But also miss the old places and the convenience of having everything at hand and a bank account full of money to buy whatever we want!
Birthday cake made on our s/v Dee
Opening the gifts from our parents
X-Mas gifts Maria Dee got from her grandparents
What you want to tell your friends and family?
NaE: We are safe and healthy. Our family is happy. Don't worry about us and I miss you all. 
João: To the family, be assure we are ok and safe. We don't take any risk and we try, to the best of our abilities, to avoid problems. To our friends, why don't you pack and come to spend some days with us instead of going always to the same places on holidays! 
First Thai friend who visit us on s/v Dee in St. Lucia
Dear friends, this beach is waiting for you....photo at Simpson Bay, St. Maarten

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