A Change Of Scenery

Lately all of us have been feeling like we were long overdue for a change of scenery. So we did a thing…

A few days ago we moved to the dock at Sapphire Beach Marina here on St Thomas!!

The slip we wanted finally opened up and we made the move as soon as Peter had another day off. As much as I despise dock life and would much rather be at anchor, it’s really the best option for us right now. There just aren’t very many good options for being a liveaboard permanently based in USVI. Ideally, we would love to be in an anchorage that has good protection from waves and open ocean swell, water clean enough to swim in, and easy access to shore, but that really doesn’t exist on St Thomas. Plus, Brig is at the point where he really needs to run off some energy every day and meet some other kids his age, so dock life is the next best thing.

Peter is currently signing on long term for a really awesome job opportunity (more on that to come!) which means we are ready to plant some roots again. Some days I can’t stop thinking about how much I loved our mooring in Sopers Hole on Tortola, but then I remind myself that it’s not even close to being how it was before. There’s nothing there for us right now. Our new life after Hurricane Irma is here… on a different boat, just an island hop away. I absolutely love living in the islands and eventually I hope to love it here as much as I loved our home in BVI.

Sapphire has a pool and a really nice beach. There’s a beach bar/restaurant, coffee shop, smoothies, and ice cream. It’s close to the safari taxi route and there’s even a taxi stand by the restaurant. Parking is free, but you have to pay for showers. There’s self service laundry on site. Water is cheap at only .10cents a gallon reverse osmosis. The slip rental cost is pretty pricey but we don’t have many options to choose from. We get a decent breeze on deck but it’s coming from our starboard side so it can get pretty toasty down below. In the evenings it’s imperative that we get screens in all the hatches and zip up the cockpit or the no-see-ums and mosquitos can get pretty vicious. Our electric bug zapper racquet gets used once or twice a night even with the screens in. I think the part I like the most about our new home is that we don’t get ferry wakes anymore!! Those Tortola ferry captains lay on the throttle and when we were out in Christmas Cove we got some catastrophic wakes every now and then. Nothing like red hook gets – but still.

I think this will be a good thing for us. At least we are still able to live Where The Coconuts Grow

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Cloth Diapers On A Boat (and a review of 8 brands!)

Just before Brig was born is when I first heard about modern cloth diapers in a post on BabyCenter. I had no idea cloth diapering was so much more advanced than it used to be. I thought disposable diapers are just what you are supposed to do now, just because that’s all I really saw people doing. Little did I know there is a MUCH better option!

My only experience with cloth diapering before Brig was many moons ago. I vaguely remember (nearly 20 years ago) some of my little brothers and sisters having white cotton rags wrapped around them and fastened with giant safety pins, then covered with a plastic cover that my mom called “rubber pants”.  She had a diaper service that would collect the dirties and drop off a fresh batch of clean ones.  I don’t remember knowing anyone that actually washed their own diapers.

That one little post I read during my pregnancy sent me down a ginormous rabbit hole. I was totally overwhelmed with Google searches for modern cloth diapers but I also got really excited to try them out! Its seriously unreal how many different types and parts and materials there are.

Something to keep in mind before I go any further… We live on a boat. Every purchase we make gets a little more thought and research put into it before we buy anything. Our storage is limited. Our water is limited. Our power is limited. Our ability to do laundry is limited. Our access to buying supplies is limited. Knowing all that I was even more intrigued in this whole cloth diapering thing.

At the time we were living in Tortola, British Virgin Islands (pre-Hurricane Irma) where you felt like you won the lottery if a store actually had any product you wanted to buy. I literally felt like a hoarder and we learned to stock up on certain brands of supplies that we liked because you never knew if the store would carry it again anytime soon, or ever again for that matter. I was kind of nervous about what we were going to do about diapers. I had been watching the shelves and it was rare that you ever saw all sizes of diapers in stock at any given time. Plus everything is super expensive there and I had even heard of mamas getting all their diapers in the US Virgin Islands instead.

Something I had learned in my research was that disposable diapers can take FIVE HUNDRED YEARS PER DIAPER to break down!! I also knew that BVI burns their trash at the local incinerator. That isn’t something I wanted to contribute to either – burning all the bad materials that are used to make a disposable diaper. But people do it all the time. I’ve read that one child can go through a whopping average of 5,000-7,000 diapers before they are potty trained which can potentially cost between $2,500 and $5,000 – yikes!

All that said, I decided cloth diapering was going to be way cheaper, way better for the environment, and no more chemicals on baby’s skin. Plus, they are SUPER cute!! Now I just had to find the best solution for conserving water since I knew I’d be hand washing Brig’s diapers with a bucket and plunger on our boat, then hanging them to dry in the sun. There are a million articles out there describing all the different parts, lingo and options so I won’t go into ClothDiapering101 here. Basically I came to the conclusion that Covers with wipeable insides plus a trim natural fiber insert would be the best way to go. These can also sometimes be described as an AI2 (All In 2) system since there are two parts, but basically its just a Cover. (BTW this is a long overdue post – one I planned to write a when Brig was still tiny – but sooooo many things have happened in the last year. The good news is that it’s also allowed me to really see how well our cloth diapers hold up over time.) Now for a look at all the different kinds I’ve tried so far and what I like and what I don’t like about them.


Buttons Diapers
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Ahh Buttons. They are by far the best all-around Cover that I’ve tried.  There’s parts I like and parts I wish were a little different. Lets take a look at the OS (One-Size)…

PROS:
Available in OS – I can’t afford to buy a whole new stash every time my baby grows into the next size up so One-Size is essential for us.
Wipeable Inside – A true waterproof Cover with a wipeable inside that allows me to reuse the cover if its not totally soaked or contaminated with poop. Essential for conserving water with less washes needed. Dries fast.
Durability – Buttons are made with a very durable double-layer PUL that is WAY less likely to soak through to the outside touch than other brands, even if totally soaked, The quality of materials used by Buttons is unmatched in all the brands I’ve tried.
Rise Snaps – The rise snaps are spaced well to grow with my baby and not leave leg gaps.
Hip Snaps – These do have hip snaps – a second inside snap on the same row as the primary waist snaps, which I find really helpful to keep the edges tucked in properly.
Insert Snaps – A really awesome AI2 feature allowing you to snap inserts into place and they don’t ever get bunched up!
Colors – Most of the diaper companies have some good prints and colors but Buttons has the most gorgeous solids! Sea Breeze is my very favorite solid color out of my whole stash!!
Frequent New Releases – Buttons is great about putting out new solid colors and new prints frequently. It makes it fun to check back and see if there’s a new must-have diaper!
Range of Products – Buttons also carries a full line of diapering supplies. They have newborn sizes, SUPER sizes, trainers, snap-in inserts, cloth wipes, wet bags, liners, dryer balls, cloth safe diaper cream, feminine pads and more.
Small Business – As a small family-owned company, I love supporting what they do. Their passion and dedication show through in their products.
Price – Not bad considering the high quality and durability! Totally worth the price in my opinion.

CONS:
Fit – The One-Size 9-35lbs style cover runs slightly tight for my guy around his legs but now they have a SUPER style available which fits a bigger weight range 12-40lb and also now has two rows of waist snaps instead of just one.  It took me awhile to get use to the way the OS fits him but eventually I decided I really really like our Buttons OS Covers. I’ve since tried the SUPER on our toddler but I’m still not crazy about the fit of the SUPER. Its HUGE even on the smallest rise. The SUPER has a lot more room to allow more absorbency for nighttime though so I put a Geffen Prefold in for nighttime and it works perfectly. The regular OS doesn’t have quite enough room for nighttime.
No Flat Front – These have a lower front with elastic and one row of waist snaps. I really prefer a flat front panel with no tummy elastic and two rows of waist snaps like Flip and Lalabye Baby. Its not a deal breaker at all, its just personal preference.
Double Gussets – While most people like double gussets, I don’t think the outer gusset ever does anything for us. Its so off set that it doesn’t catch anything. The inside gusset is the only one that actually makes a seal around his legs. The double gussets are sewn tighter in that area and usually just make it harder to get messy poops off anyway. Personally I like a single gusset.
Sized Inserts – I’m not a fan of sized inserts for the same reason I prefer OS diapers.  I can’t afford to get a whole new stash each time my baby gets to the next size up. Small inserts just aren’t big enough for older babies so you definitely need more absorbency later.
No Insert Flaps – I really wish these OS Covers had front and back flaps to help hold the inserts in place! I find they do help prevent leaks from flooded diapers or really messy poops. Personal preference. The SUPER has them now which is nice.
Prints – None of the prints are a must-have for me personally (except for Swell which is out of stock) but many parents absolutely do love their designs.

OVERALL:
I reach for my Buttons OS Covers first since they are the most leak resistant brand I currently have. I wish I had more. I did try their hemp inserts, which I really liked but we quickly outgrew the Size One inserts we had. Instead of stocking up on the bigger size I tried a different brand next that was a little more trim. The Buttons cloth wipes look amazing though and I’d love to try them too – now that I discovered that I love cloth wipes just as much as the diapers themselves! Overall, I highly recommend Buttons OS Covers!


Lalabye Baby
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Lalabye Baby is my very favorite fit, but it’s a love-hate thing.

PROS:
Fit – Amazing!!!!!!!!!! I seriously can’t find another diaper that fits as well as this one. Everything about it fits perfectly. I think the fact that it has two rows of waist snaps, a high fitting front panel and no tummy elastic (flat front) are the biggest reasons but also just the cut of their fabric fits my little guy perfect. It appears to be the most comfortable on him all around. Great for daytime use.  I can’t seem to fit enough absorbency in for nighttime because they are more trim fitting but thats okay. 
Available in OS
 – I can’t afford to buy a whole new stash every time my baby grows into the next size up so One-Size is essential for us.
Wipeable Inside – A true waterproof Cover with a wipeable inside that allows me to reuse the Cover if its not totally soaked or contaminated with poop. Essential for conserving water with less washes needed. Dries fast. This brand also seems to retain the least amount of soap during washes making it the easiest to rinse off using the least amount of water. 
Single Gussets –
While most people like double gussets, I don’t think the outer gusset ever does anything for us. A single gusset is easier to rinse poop out of. Personally I like a single gusset best.
Insert Flaps – I find they do help prevent leaks from flooded diapers or really messy poops. Personal preference. Lalabye has a perfect size and cut of front and back flaps. Love them!
Rise Snaps – The rise snaps are spaced well to grow with my baby and as long as I tuck the rise up it will not leave leg gaps.
Hip Snaps – These do have hip snaps – a second inside snap on the same row as the primary waist snaps, which I find really helpful to keep the edges tucked in properly.
Insert Snaps – A great AI2 feature allowing you to snap inserts into place and they don’t ever get bunched up!
Frequent New Releases – Lalabye Baby is great about putting out new solid colors and new prints frequently. It makes it fun to check back and see if there’s a new must-have diaper.
Range of Products – Lalabye Baby also carries newborn sizes, wetbags and inserts. I have quite a few of the bamboo inserts which I still use as my backups if all my Geffen inserts are dirty or drying. Good absorbency!
Prints – Lalabye Baby has my all-time favorite prints: ‘Tortuga Bay’ and ‘I Love You A Latte’!!! If I could fill my whole stash with just these two prints I would 🙂

CONS:
Durability – Here’s the frustration I have with this brand. My Lalabye Covers lasted only 6 months to a year before they all started leaking through the single-layer TPU. Now as soon as the insert is wet, so is the outside of the diaper. This makes wet pee spots wherever Brig sits, as soon as he pees in it. If I’m going to run errands or be away from home I have to reach for one of my other brands that are a little more reliable for keeping his shorts (and me) dry. I’m practically in tears over it! I love the way our Lalabye’s look on him and fit him but they just haven’t held up as long as I had hoped. I’ve read in several cloth diaper groups that this is a common issue with this brand and I had hopes it wouldn’t happen to us too, but it did  The majority of my stash is Lalabye Baby so if we ever have another little one then I’ll have to make a decision about what brand to get more of. (Note: I have only used their Covers but I’ve heard it happens with all of their products).
Price – On the expensive end, especially for not being very durable and not being produced in the US.
Colors – Covers were a new addition to the Lalabye Baby products so there are less solid colors available in Covers.  Not every new release had a cover either, but most do.

OVERALL:
I SO wish these Covers lasted longer. I would use them exclusively if I could trust that this wouldn’t happen again.  My Lalabyes have been mostly handwashed and always line dried so the utmost care has been taken. I’ve followed their published care recommendations to the T. I recently spoke with the company about this issue and they are convinced I am a “unique case” and that anyone else that has also experienced this must have not followed proper care instructions. They claim that because these are made with an eco-friendly heat bonded TPU instead of the more common chemically bonded PUL that these diapers are just “not a good fit for the environment I live in” and that they’re sorry this brand didn’t work out for me. I’m devastated but there’s nothing I can do.  As for the bamboo inserts, they work great and wash great, I just prefer our Geffen hemp inserts as my first pick because they are much thinner, less material to wash, and easier to rinse the soap out of.


Best Bottom Diapers
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Best Bottom Diapers are a very similar fit to Buttons and also a family-owned company – from the same creator that brought us Nicki’s Diapers! They’ve got tons of styles, prints and colors available. I’ve tried the Heavy Wetter, Bigger, and Cotton Cover styles, all of which I can personally recommend.

PROS:
Available in OS – I can’t afford to buy a whole new stash every time my baby grows into the next size up so One-Size is essential for us.
Fit – The One-Size style Cover runs tight for my guy around his legs just like Buttons, but now Best Bottom has a BIGGER one-size-fits-most style available which fits a bigger weight range 10-45lb. More room to grow and a much more comfortable fit. I’ve heard the Cotton ones run even smaller. The Bigger Cotton is totally perfect for us though!
Wipeable Inside
 – A true waterproof Cover with a wipeable inside that allows me to reuse the Cover if its not totally soaked or contaminated with poop. Essential for conserving water with less washes needed. Dries fast.
Durability – Best Bottom Diapers are holding up very well for us. No issues with leaks or any breakdown in the material after a year of use!
Rise Snaps – The rise snaps are spaced well enough to grow with my baby and not leave leg gaps.
Hip Snaps – These do have hip snaps – a second inside snap on the same row as the primary waist snaps, which I find really helpful to keep the edges tucked in properly.
Insert Snaps – A really awesome AI2 feature allowing you to snap inserts into place and they don’t ever get bunched up!
Colors & Prints – Tons of colors and prints to choose from!
Range of Products – Best Bottom comes in snap or hook and loop, OS, Bigger, Heavy Wetter, swim diapers, training pants, extender tabs, hook and loop replacement kits and they also have various sizes and materials of snap-in inserts making them a true AI2.
Small Business – As a small family-owned company, I love supporting what they do. Their passion and dedication show through in their products.
Made in the USA – All products locally manufactured. Thank you Best Bottom!
Price – Totally reasonable for the quality.

CONS:
Double Gussets – While most people like double gussets, I don’t think the outer gusset ever does anything for us. Its so off set that it doesn’t catch anything. The inside gusset is the only one that actually makes a seal around his legs. The double gussets are sewn tighter in that area and usually just make it harder to get messy poops off anyway. Personally I like a single gusset.
Sized Inserts – I’m not a fan of sized inserts for the same reason I prefer OS diapers.  I can’t afford to get a whole new stash each time my baby gets to the next size up. Small inserts just aren’t big enough for older babies. Best Bottom prefers sized inserts though so if that’s your thing, I actually do really like the width and effectiveness of their snap-in (AI2) inserts.
No Insert Flaps – I really wish these Covers had front and back flaps to help hold the inserts in place! I find that flaps do help prevent leaks from flooded diapers or really messy poops. Personal preference.
No Flat Front – These have a lower front with elastic and one row of waist snaps. I really prefer a flat front panel with no tummy elastic and two rows of waist snaps like Flip and Lalabye Baby. Its not a deal breaker at all, its just personal preference.

OVERALL:
Best Bottom makes a great diaper. Its not my favorite fitting diaper but I still reach for my Bigger Cotton Cover all the time. Definitely a safe bet if I were to stock up on any one brand!!


Charlie Banana
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I had heard so many good things about Charlie Banana diapers that it was the very first brand I wanted to try. Most people raved about them. A few people I talked to were put off by the special elastic system they use but I decided to try them out anyway. Please note: Charlie Banana is the only brand I tried that is NOT a Cover.  Its still an AI2 system (technically a “pocket” diaper where you stuff or lay in your insert for absorbency) but it does not have a wipeable interior – instead it has a very soft microfleece interior material.

PROS:
Available in OS – I can’t afford to buy a whole new stash every time my baby grows into the next size up so One-Size is essential for us.
Fit – Incredibly soft and comfortable fit. They never pinch or leave marks or restrict his movement at all. The cut is perfect and looks adorable on him. My favorite part about the fit is that there is no elastic on his tummy! A flat front with two rows of waist snaps seems to work best for us. This is definitely a tie for our favorite fit between Lalabye Baby and Charlie Banana.
Durability – Top quality. No issues with leaks or any breakdown in the material after a year of use.
Adjustable Elastic System – Charlie Banana has it’s own special bra-strap-like adjustable leg elastic making for a perfect and customizable fit ALL the time. There are never any leg gaps, even if one little chunky sausage leg is a little bigger than the other! Its kind of tedious to adjust them if you have a whole stash of Charlie Banana diapers but they really don’t need to be adjusted very often. While it may seem like a pain in the butt to some, it’s a trade off I’m more than willing to take for peace of mind that we will always have a perfect fit.
Colors & Prints – Tons of colors and prints to choose from! I prefer their solids but there are lots of choices.
Single Gussets – While most people like double gussets, I don’t think the outer gusset ever does anything for us. A single gusset is easier to rinse poop out of. Personally I like a single gusset best.
Hip Snaps – These do have hip snaps – a second inside snap on the same row as the primary waist snaps, which I find really helpful to keep the edges tucked in properly.
Range of Products – There are WAY too many different products for me to even list here! Check out their website for all the products they offer. Its truly a complete one-stop shop. I’ve tried out their awesome swim diapers, disposable liners, and their super soft organic cotton wipes. The wipes are a double layer with one side cotton and one side fleece. They seemed like overkill at first but I REALLY love them for just a nice gentle wipe or wash cloth, and for the extra messy poops. I wasn’t really a fan of the disposable liners – they seemed to bunch up too easily for us.
Small Business – As a small family-owned company, I love supporting what they do. Their passion and dedication show through in their products. Their customer service is amazing too 🙂
Price – Totally reasonable for the quality.

CONS:
No Covers Available – My only real complaint is that they don’t come in Covers ;( I prefer covers to save space  – a major thing to consider if you are like me and handwash in a 5-gallon bucket. Covers use less water to wash too so while I absolutely love our Charlie Banana diapers, I save them as my backups for when it’s super rainy for days on end and I run out of our regular Covers and inserts. If I had a real washing machine and didn’t need to be so careful with my water consumption then I would totally choose these more often.
Sized Inserts – I’m not a fan of sized inserts for the same reason I prefer OS diapers.  I can’t afford to get a whole new stash each time my baby gets to the next size up. I’ve tried the small inserts and they work as a backup but they really aren’t enough absorbency for older babies. Charlie Banana has both hemp and microfiber inserts. I tried the microfiber but I have since switched to exclusively using hemp because its so much easier to rinse the soap out of natural fibers than it is microfiber. Less water usage on a boat…

OVERALL:
I love love love our Charlie Banana diapers. I love how they fit and I would love them even more if we were in a house instead of living on a boat. If they ever came in Covers I think this would be my ultimate favorite brand for sure!


Thirsties
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Thirsties is a well known brand that everyone loves.  There are tons of different types of diapers that they offer so there is sure to be something for everyone. The type I tried was the Duo-Wrap – their most popular Cover. Lets take a look:

PROS:
Wipeable Inside
 – The Duo-Wrap is a true waterproof Cover with a wipeable inside that allows me to reuse the Cover if its not totally soaked or contaminated with poop. Essential for conserving water with less washes needed. Dries fast.
Durability – Thirsties diapers are high quality and I’ve never had an issue with leaks or breakdown of material.
Rise Snaps – The rise snaps are spaced well enough to grow with my baby and not leave leg gaps.
Hip Snaps – These do have hip snaps – a second inside snap on the same row as the primary waist snaps, which I find really helpful to keep the edges tucked in properly.
Colors & Prints – Tons of colors and prints to choose from.
Frequent New Releases – Thirsties is always putting out new solid colors and new prints. It makes it fun to check back and see if there’s a new must-have diaper!
Range of Products – Thirsties really has it all. They come in both hook and loop as well as snap closures. They have OS, newborn, fitteds, AIO, pocket, swim diapers, trainers, basic covers, a deluxe cover called the Duo Wrap, AI2 inserts and a really nice hemp prefold. They also have all the good accessories like wetbags, pail liners, cloth wipes and cloth safe diaper cream.
Made in the USA – All products locally manufactured in Colorado!
Price – Totally reasonable for the quality.

CONS:
Double Gussets – While most people like double gussets, I don’t think the outer gusset ever does anything for us. Its so off set that it doesn’t catch anything. The inside gusset is the only one that actually makes a seal around his legs. The double gussets are sewn tighter in that area and usually just make it harder to get messy poops off anyway. Personally I like a single gusset.
Not Available in OS – I can’t afford to get a whole new stash each time my baby gets to the next size up. While Thirsties does offer OS diapers, they are only OS in the AIO, not in the Duo-Wraps or plain Covers.
Fit – I’m not a fan of sized diapers to begin with but there is a pretty significant difference between the size one and the size two.  We outgrew the size one quickly and the size two is still huge even at 18 months old.  I don’t have any issues with leaks but its just not my favorite fit.
Insert Flaps – I really wish these Covers had front and back flaps to help hold the inserts in place! I find that flaps do help prevent leaks from flooded diapers or really messy poops. Personal preference.
No Flat Front – These have a lower front with elastic and one row of waist snaps. I really prefer a flat front panel with no tummy elastic and two rows of waist snaps like Flip and Lalabye Baby. Its not a deal breaker at all, its just personal preference.

OVERALL:
Thirsties has a great reputation and has lots of great products. I reach for our Thirsties cover as often as our Best Bottom cover. Their hemp products are fantastic and I Iike them almost as much as our Geffen hemp inserts and prefolds. I only have size one stuff from Thirsties though so I’ll have to wait until we have another baby to get to use any of it again.


Cotton Babies – Flip
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Flip Diaper Covers are part of the Cotton Babies family. Flips are a for sure staple for us when it comes to nighttime diapering.

PROS:
Fit – Flip covers have a very generous and wide fit allowing you to use more absorbency. This reason alone is why we exclusively use prefolds with Flip Covers for our nighttime solution. Since we use the ultra trim Geffen inserts during the day, Flip covers aren’t the best option to hold them in place but they still work just fine if all my other covers are dirty. I just shorten up the rise to account for the missing prefold and they fit great! My very favorite part about Flip is that they have a flat front panel with two rows of waist snaps and no tummy elastic!! This design works the best for us 🙂 
Available in OS –
I can’t afford to buy a whole new stash every time my baby grows into the next size up so One-Size is essential for us.
Wipeable Inside
 – The Flip cover is a true waterproof Cover with a wipeable PUL inside that allows me to reuse the Cover if its not totally soaked or contaminated with poop. Essential for conserving water with less washes needed. Dries fast.
Rise Snaps – The rise snaps are spaced well enough to grow with my baby and not leave leg gaps.
Hip Snaps – These do have hip snaps – a second inside snap on the same row as the primary waist snaps, which I find really helpful to keep the edges tucked in properly.
Single Gussets – While most people like double gussets, I don’t think the outer gusset ever does anything for us. A single gusset is easier to rinse poop out of. Personally I like a single gusset best.
Colors & Prints – Tons of colors and prints to choose from.
Insert Flaps – Front and back flaps help hold the inserts in place. I find that flaps do help prevent leaks from flooded diapers or really messy poops. Personal preference.
Price – Very affordable! This is my favorite brand for the budget minded.

CONS:
Durability – I’m kinda bummed the leg elastic seems less robust and doesn’t hold up very well but it’s not the end of the world for the price you can get them for. At 18 months old we moved up to the tightest rise to take up some of the leg elastic slack. Some people replace their elastics easily but others may not want to hassle with that and just replace the whole cover instead. We’ve ad no issues with leaks at all though so I’m totally impressed with the single layer PUL material.

OVERALL:
I think Flip diapers are really really awesome.  Despite the crappy leg elastic, I still love our Flip diapers better than our other Covers for nighttime. If I had to start over from scratch with a whole new stash on a budget of only one brand, Flip diapers would be the way to go. Even for daytime. They are simple, reliable and really really easy to wash.


Bambino Mio
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Mostly a UK brand, Bambino Mio also has a USA/Canada site which is awesome because so many people love their products! They basically come in two types – the Miosolo All In One and the Miosoft All in Two. Of course I chose to try the Miosoft AI2 which is a cover with choice of insert.

PROS:
Fit – We only tried the Size One Miosoft Cover but it fit perfectly. I couldn’t afford to get any more once Brig grew out of them but I so wish he could still wear them. If we could afford to buy more diapers we would definitely like some bigger Bambino Mio Covers in our stash. We never had any leaks, blowouts or issues.  Plus they were a generous enough fit to allow for a bulky stuff like a prefold. Awesome fit. 
Wipeable Inside
 – Miosoft AI2 is a true waterproof Cover with a wipeable inside that allows me to reuse the Cover if its not totally soaked or contaminated with poop. Essential for conserving water with less washes needed. Dries fast.
Insert Flaps – Front flaps help hold the inserts in place. I find that flaps do help prevent leaks from flooded diapers or really messy poops. Personal preference.
Price – Very affordable! Great for the budget minded.
Durability – Excellent quality. There is no breakdown in the material which means it’s totally reliable for leaks, and the elastic is holding up perfectly.

CONS:
Not Available in OS – I can’t afford to buy a whole new stash every time my baby grows into the next size up so One-Size is essential for us. Currently, Bambino Mio only offers sized Covers (Miosoft) although their All In One (Miosolo) does come in One-Size.  
Only Available in Hook and Loop:
The Miosoft Cover only comes in hook and loop (velcro) but I prefer snaps. However… the placement of the hook and loop is WAY better than all the other hook and loop brands I tried because the scratchy side NEVER touched Brig’s skin! That was my main reason for preferring snaps in the first place was that most other hook and loop covers would always fold into his skin causing nasty red scratches. Ouch. If you’re in the hook and loop camp, I absolutely recommend Bambino Mio 100%. Really great design.
Double Gussets – While most people like double gussets, I don’t think the outer gusset ever does anything for us. Its so off set that it doesn’t catch anything. The inside gusset is the only one that actually makes a seal around his legs. The double gussets are sewn tighter in that area and usually just make it harder to get messy poops off anyway. Personally I like a single gusset.

OVERALL:
I SO love our Bambino Mio Covers! I just wish we also had some in the Size Two so we could still use them right now. My Size Ones will just have to wait for if we ever have another baby. Even though they aren’t snaps, I still love love love the fit. I even tried their OS prefold which is a traditional cotton prefold. It’s a lot thicker than my Geffen jersey hemp prefolds but it’s an affordable simple diapering solution that fits nicely into their Covers.


Nicki’s Diapers
:

Nicki’s is a actually a one-stop-shop reseller that hosts a ton of different cloth diapering brands on their website but they also have their own line of diapers too. I tried a Cover from Nicki’s and it’s pretty awesome for a budget friendly Cover.

PROS:
Fit – The rise snaps are in a weird location and the fabric on the sides of my baby’s thighs is a little too tall for us which kind of restricts his movement sometimes. Other than that it’s got a flat front with two rows of waist snaps which I like, and holds our inserts in well. It’s not my favorite fit but it’s not bad either. We are on the smallest rise right now though so this might be a good nighttime option for younger babies. 
Available in OS –
 I can’t afford to buy a whole new stash every time my baby grows into the next size up so One-Size is essential for us.
Wipeable Inside
 – Nicki’s Cover is a true waterproof Cover with a wipeable inside that allows me to reuse the Cover if its not totally soaked or contaminated with poop. Essential for conserving water with less washes needed. Dries fast.
Single Gussets – While most people like double gussets, I don’t think the outer gusset ever does anything for us. A single gusset is easier to rinse poop out of. Personally I like a single gusset best.
Insert Flaps – Front and back flaps help hold the inserts in place. I find that flaps do help prevent leaks from flooded diapers or really messy poops. Personal preference.
Price – Very affordable! Great for the budget minded.
Durability – Seems to be holding up surprisingly well! There is no breakdown in the material which means it’s totally reliable for leaks, and the elastic is holding up better than my other budget brand.
Range of Products – An amazing range of different products here. If you cant find what you want in Nicki’s Brand products, they have anything else you could ever want on their website from a ton of other brands 🙂

CONS:
Rise Snaps – The rise is really strange!! The rise snaps are way too close to the waist snaps and it makes it a little tricky to snap sometimes. Not a deal breaker but strange. Maybe the one I got is just different than how they are supposed to be.
No Hip Snaps – These do not have hip snaps – a second inside snap on the same row as the primary waist snaps, which I find really helpful to keep the edges tucked in properly. My busy boy often gets this cover all bunched up when playing and the edges poke out the top because they aren’t secured inside with a hip snap.

OVERALL:
A solid inexpensive option and a completely different fit than their sister brand, Best Bottom Diapers. They have an AWESOME 15-day try-wash-love or return policy and their own non-profit buy-one-give-one program where they give one Nicki’s Brand diaper to a child in need for ever Nicki’s Brand diaper purchased. Pretty cool. Overall, I definitely recommend giving Nicki’s a try. They’ve got a ton of different products for whatever your preferences are.

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Stay tuned for more details on why I switched exclusively to Geffen Hemp inserts as well as a breakdown on How We Wash Diapers On A Boat 😉

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IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING… We are PROUD to share these awesome products and services with our readers. There are so many different solutions out there for everything we could possibly need, but these are the solutions that work for us.

This post may contain information about a product sponsorship. We gladly accept discounts or samples when a company feels generous enough to support our cause. In return we support the manufacturer or local service by sharing their links and writing about our experience with them. We only seek out sponsorship and affiliate programs from products and services we actually WANT to use and likewise only accept offers for products or services that we WILL use. We are not paid for any reviews we write or feedback we provide. We simply like to spread the word and share great experiences we have had that could also bring joy to others.

 

The post Cloth Diapers On A Boat (and a review of 8 brands!) appeared first on Where The Coconuts Grow.

The Best of Intentions

As much as I want to write a new blog post every day, it just never happens. I have such high hopes for my time management. I dream about the times when I used to be able to sit down with my laptop and get lost in my thoughts.  The truth is that Brig gets busier with each passing day and there’s always something more pressing that needs to get done. To be fair, we have literally been on the move for more than a year.  Ever since Hurricane Irma hit, we’ve been traveling and bouncing around from house to house by plane, by car, and by boat almost nonstop.  Unexpected events pop up at every turn. As if a 17 month old baby wasn’t enough to keep me from blogging!

We finally got back to our boat about a month ago after spending some more time in the states for my grandmother’s memorial and to allow us to be out of the Caribbean during Hurricane Season. We began sailing North to get back to St Thomas but weather has kept us longer than planned. We’re still currently stuck in St Kitts for just a couple more days. On Monday we hope we can make the final 24 hour push to get back home and FINALLY get settled. It feels like its been SUCH a long time coming.  We can finally find a routine and nave a little normalcy in our lives.  I think I need it more than anyone.  Brig has been such a trooper through it all and I’m so proud of him.

Peter will go back to work full time for Paradise Yacht Management in St Thomas managing the maintenance on their fleet of charter catamarans.  It’s a great company and Peter really enjoys working with those guys so he’s excited to get back too.  I will be staying home with Brig and I HOPE to get some projects of my own finally taken care of.  There are SO many sewing projects on my list and I have tons of blog content I want to finally get posted. Brig is in the process of transitioning from two naps down to one so I hope I can finally get a solid chunk of time to myself during the day.  Am I just dreaming again? Maybe. We shall see.

I know there are many of you that only visit the website and blog but don’t “do” social media. Please remember to check out our Instagram and Facebook pages even if you don’t have accounts there.  You can still see our public photos. I post updates about our adventures on those sites WAY more often than I post here right now so head on over to get your dose of coconuts 🙂

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When you don’t get to say goodbye

It’s been two weeks since she’s been gone. It doesn’t feel real and it’s taken me this long to find any words at all. There’s already been so many times I’ve thought about calling her and then my heart breaks all over again when I realize she won’t ever pick up the phone again. I always had to call twice because she could never get to the phone in time. She was busy in the garden or taking the dogs out or just waking up. She never called me because she said she didn’t want to bother us if I was trying to get Brig to sleep. 

I just don’t understand why she had to leave us so suddenly and without saying goodbye! There are so many things I wanted to tell her. Like how much I appreciate everything she did for me over the years, and how thoughtful she was, and how glad I am that she could meet my husband and my baby, and how sorry I am for not showing my appreciation nearly enough. I pushed her away so many times. She always had an opinion or advice to give especially when I didn’t ask for it. I think that bothered me because of how she also taught me to always think for myself and have my own opinions. But I know she only did it because she cared about me. When you’re growing up though, you don’t realize that your parents have feelings too. She protected my feelings. I never knew I had to protect hers too. 

It’s just not real. I still feel like she’s just over the mountains at her house, doing what grandmothers do. She was supposed to live forever. She was supposed to hold all of my babies. She was supposed to see my babies grow up. I was going to help her do so many things at her house. “When I come back next time…” I’d always say. I did what I could to help her with computer stuff over the phone but it was always too hard to explain. I always had her make a list of things we were going to do together when I came to visit next time. 

Did she know? Did she know that she would be leaving us so soon? Why didn’t she tell me how bad it was! Why didn’t she tell me to come there sooner! It’s times like these that living out of state or out of the country for that matter is so hard. I’ve been so far away from my family for so many years that you forget that the years are numbered. Time passes by. I know she was proud of me though, for going out into the world and not being afraid of taking chances and living a life of adventure. I know there are more things she was supposed to teach me. She taught me so much already though. I just wish I had let her into my adult life more. I wish I had shared a little more with her. 

She was one of the strongest women I’ve ever known. She was a protector. She never let me know if anything was wrong. Sometimes it felt like I was living in a bubble because she never wanted me to worry about anything. Was it an illusion or was it just Love? One thing I do know is that she loved me very much. She raised me from when I was just a baby and I had a good life growing up. 

There are SO many memories. Like how she taught me how to make oatmeal cookies, and the best pie crust, and how to wrap presents, and how to make believe. I remember the places we used to live. I remember going on the boat in the summertime up to the San Juan Islands and playing on the docks poking at sea anemones on the pilings and catching crabs with my net. I remember going off to school and the lunches she would pack for me. All of the visits from the Tooth Fairy and Easter baskets and Christmas stockings from Santa. The Halloween costumes she made for me. Birthday presents and ‘just because i love you’ surprises. I remember her letting me get black jelly beans every time we went to the grocery store.  The crafts she would make with me. Watching Disney movies. Taking her snorkeling in BVI for the first time, and taking her hiking to the top of Saddle Rock so she could check it off her bucket list. And then there is so much I don’t remember. So many memories I took for granted. I thought she would ALWAYS be there. She wasn’t just a mom or a grandma. She was Bean. She was different. 

I don’t know why Cancer affects so many people. It happened so fast. So suddenly. No one knew what was going to happen or how soon she was going to be taken from us. 

It’s not fair. I’m only 35 and the two people that raised me are both gone. I’m lucky to still be so close with both my mom and my dad but it’s different, it’s just not the same. I lived with my grandparents growing up and now they are both gone. I’m angry and sad and numb and in disbelief all at the same time. 

Now i’ve got a beautiful family of my own – a wonderful husband and a sweet sweet little boy. I know my grandparents were so proud of me. I just wish they could see. I wish they could see they did such a good job and that i’m so thankful for everything they taught me.

This past year has had so many life altering events for me. The birth of my baby, losing our home in Hurricane Irma, the passing of my Grandmother, and so many other monumental things in between. Some days I don’t know how to find the strength to get me through. Some days I forget that there are so many other people in this world that have much greater struggles.  On the other hand some days I can’t be believe how blessed I am. Life is a funny thing. Everyone has a story. “Everyone you meet is afraid of something, has loved something and has lost something” so before you judge anyone, remember they have feelings too. Hug your loved ones tight. Tell them you love them all the time. Don’t take one second for granted. 

Rest In Peace, Bean. I love you. 

You are home now, free of pain and back in the arms of the love of your life. 

 

Jeanne Frostad 

“Bean”

4.4.44 – 7.16.18

Forever, your little one.

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Sailing South and other thoughts

Here we are smack in the middle of July and well into the Atlantic Hurricane season – a time of year where we should’ve already been heading South. Peter and I discussed our options months ago and we both agreed that moving South to Grenada in June was the best thing for us this year. We’ve already spent two Hurricane seasons down there and we absolutely love it. It may sound like a simple plan to pick up anchor and set sail but things haven’t exactly unfolded the way we had hoped.

We knew we bought a project boat. We knew she needed some TLC to bring her back to the condition we knew she was once in. What we didn’t know was just how many other unforeseen repairs and upgrades would be needed along the way. The money we got back from our insurance claim on our last boat helped us to buy this one and get back on our feet but the cost of additional repairs has far exceeded what we had left over. Because of this, Peter has been working pretty much full time here in St Thomas in order to pay for the extra parts we needed and for our weekly groceries. I thought BVI was expensive but honestly I don’t see the food here on St Thomas being much cheaper at all. With a paycheck-to-paycheck budget and with Peter gone all day at work it’s been very difficult to get everything done to the boat that we want or need to do.

We thought we were finally ready to go. With three days left in the month of June we left our favorite spot in Christmas Cove and pointed off toward Grenada. The weather window was promising and our friends Rob and Deb from Cosmos Mariner were buddy-boating down with us. About two hours into the passage South when the seas started building, Peter noticed a significant amount of saltwater pouring into the vberth. How much you ask? Like a gallon a minute. It was pouring in from the dorad boxes and about four other places every time the bow sliced through the waves. The seastate wasn’t terrible but we also weren’t used to a boat that buried the bow so much. Our Whitby didn’t sail to wind this way. This boat was made to slice through in such a different way. Peter also never had these issues on the passage from Antigua to the VI because it was all downwind. We had done a small shakedown but nothing offshore in this direction. Brig was getting frustrated with having to stay strapped to me in our Lillebaby carrier and Peter determined there was no temporary fix he could do while under way that would keep that much water out of our forward cabin for the next 2 and a half days. At that moment he decided it was better for us and for the boat to turn back, make some repairs and wait for the next weather window. *sigh*

No big deal except for now our insurance wouldn’t cover us after July 1 in a named storm if we stayed “inside the box” instead of getting down to the lower latitudes. I immediately got a rider for our policy allowing us to be covered for another month in USVI – another unexpected added expense – and Peter began making repairs. He serviced the frozen dorad scoops so they could be removed and the covers installed closing them off. He recaulked our forward hatch at the base and along the top of the glass. He recaulked the windlass controls. He recaulked the staysail connection to the deck. He pulled up and rebed our two forward cleats, both of which ended up badly needing new bolts. And lastly he pulled up, serviced and rebed the windlass!! That was a NIGHTMARE job but really needed to be done. All I can say is thank goodness my brother Brandon is still here because he’s helped Peter every step of the way, to make this boat safe for all of us, as quickly as possible.

Our weather window is finally here. This time Peter doesn’t want Brig and I to go. Instead, he insists that we fly down to Grenada and wait for him there. It should only take him 2.5-3 days and then he won’t have to worry about us if the waves are miserable. My brother is still here with us and will do the passage too. Our friend Mike from Three Sheets Sailing is also going to go along so Peter can actually get a little sleep and take real shifts. My brother will be able to help a little but he’s never done anything like this before so entrusting him with the responsibility of being on watch when he doesn’t know anything about navigation or sailing isn’t really fair to him. I fly out in two days with Brig. It will be a very long day with one ferry and four connecting flights to hop down island but the good news is we will get to spend the weekend with our friends from the Sunkissed Soeters!! Brig will have so much fun with Darcy and Luuck’s boys, Stormer and Rio and it’ll be good for me too.

I get it… I understand Peter just wants to keep us safe. It’s a new-to-us boat and he wants to gain a little faith in our boat first before taking his baby out to sea in it. I also know it would be very difficult to entertain a one-year-old on a passage to wind. The first attempt a few weeks ago was challenging and that was just a couple of hours worth. Going below to use the head and to change Brig’s diaper just one time was very tiring. But part of me also feels like i’m failing at “cruising with kids” if I can’t even do a little 3 day passage with my baby. SO many other families take their babies on passages longer than this all the time so why can’t I? I know I shouldn’t feel that way and that I’m not failing and that we just need to do what is right for our family. But it’s hard to not think it. Oh well. It doesn’t even matter anymore. It’s another extra expense for the plane ticket but it’s just money right? Peter will just work a little more.

By Monday we should be all settled back on our boat together as a family in a Grenada. I can’t wait. ❤️

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7 Reasons To Love Turkish Towels

As I began packing my bags to head back to the islands and move onto our new home I started thinking of all my favorite basic necessities I once had on our old boat before the Hurricane. We really learned a lot over the last four years living aboard about what we truly needed and what we didn’t. There isn’t much space on a sailboat so every single item must be carefully chosen based on it’s value.

A little secret I learned from my good friends Genevieve and Brittany was that Turkish Towels are WAY better than regular towels! Not all brands are created equal though. I first tried out some cheapies from Amazon but they were too thin and wore out within the first year of Caribbean sun and daily use. I began my search for a better brand and the next ones I tried were from a non-profit organization called Education And More. They aim to reduce poverty in Guatemala by providing educational opportunities and supporting local Fair Trade artisans to create ethically made hand-crafted products. They sell several different types of products but I was specifically looking for Turkish Towels.

I’ve been using them for quite awhile now and I can honestly say they are still truly wonderful! Here’s why:

100% cotton

Call me crazy but nothing is better than wrapping yourself in 100% cotton, Natural fibers just feel so much softer than synthetic fabrics. It’s personal preference I guess, but if you are able to tell the difference, most people will choose 100% cotton every time.

Compact

These towels are easy to store, they take up very little space and they are super easy to stuff into a beach bag, backpack or purse. Our new boat is lacking in the storage department so the fact that I don’t need a full size linen closet to store our towels in is a huge plus. If we used regular terry towels they would literally be sitting in a pile up in our cockpit because they wouldn’t fit anywhere else.

Lightweight

Probably the best thing about Turkish Towels are how lightweight they are.  They are easier to wash than big heavy terry towels and they dry so much faster. We are in and out of the water all day long down here in the Caribbean and that means our towels are always wet. We hang them on the line to dry and the sun bakes them to a warm perfection in no time at all so they are always ready for the next swim. A regular terrycloth towel would take hours to fully dry. Granted, you get a better absorbency from terrycloth towels but because these are made of pure cotton they are more than sufficient for drying off.

Gorgeous colors

These towels come in the most gorgeous colors! Their soft hues look so inviting.  Every time I take mine to the beach I always get lots of ooohs and ahhhhhs asking where I got them. I got a soft brown (which I love) but all of the colors would look so nice!!

Versatility

These towels come in full size or hand towel size and can be used virtually anywhere. We take them to the beach, we use them as our bath towels, our dish towels, our hand towels in the bathroom, as a blanket, a diaper changing mat, and as a sunshade! You could use them as an upholstery cover or even as dog bed 😉

durability

What I love the most is that they last. The women that make these must put a LOT of love into them because the quality is fantastic!  They are slightly heavier and maybe not as soft as some other Turkish Towels but they are made to last. The sun and the wind have not worn them too thin like the first cheapie brand I tried, and they continue to get a little softer with each wash. Also, with a little heavier weight (relatively speaking – since they are still super lightweight) it makes Education and More towels a perfect choice for a beach towel because you can sit on it on the sand without all the sand going right through it. Most importantly the sand shakes off easily.

fair trade

Lastly, with each purchase you are helping others. Education and More is a non-profit organization that offers a Buy One, Give One, Help One program where “for every fouta towel that you buy from The Fair Line, we will give one to a Women’s Crisis Center here in the United States.  Additionally, each fouta sold provides a Guatemalan Woman a fair wage for her artistry, which in turn helps her provide for herself and her family.” It makes me happy to be able to support such a good cause and share these amazing towels with you.

 

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING… We are PROUD to share these awesome products and services with our readers. There are so many different solutions out there for everything we could possibly need, but these are the solutions that work for us.

This post may contain information about a product sponsorship. We gladly accept discounts or samples when a company feels generous enough to support our cause. In return we support the manufacturer or local service by sharing their links and writing about our experience with them. We only seek out sponsorship and affiliate programs from products and services we actually WANT to use and likewise only accept offers for products or services that we WILL use. We are not paid for any reviews we write or feedback we provide. We simply like to spread the word and share great experiences we have had that could also bring joy to others.

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Settling In

Brig, Betsy, my brother Brandon and I are settling in after arriving safe and sound in St Thomas a little more than two weeks ago. Peter had just arrived with our new boat from Antigua and everything was still in full on project mode. Day by day we’ve chipped away at the list and its just now starting to feel like home.

Every new boat comes with a few hiccups – a few surprises we couldn’t have anticipated. As soon as I got there the refrigerator and freezer keel coolers stopped working.  Peter only had the boat in the water for about a week at that point so many of the systems were being put to the test for the first time.  The good news is that Reefco, the local marine refrigeration company, was able to diagnose and supply the parts we needed. The bad news is how much the parts and labor cost us 🙁 We began to work on getting on the schedule to haul the boat out to do the repairs.

We were on the dock at Crown Bay Marina for the first few days after arriving back in the islands, then moved to a nearby mooring that our friends Jesse and Stacey on SV Smitty helped us arrange.  When we tried to leave, our alternator and oil alarm were both giving us issues. Eventually we got it resolved enough just to get us up to Christmas Cove a short sail away but as we approached the mooring field that afternoon, our troubles continued.  The engine wouldn’t start! We calmly thought about what could be wrong and continued to try starting it a few more times. Suddenly it turned over… Our engine started and we anchored toward the back of the pack. We could have come in under sail but it’s always nicer to be able to back down on your anchor. A ton of boats were there already in anticipation for a regatta so there weren’t many spots to choose from. After we got settled Peter determined it was pure luck that we got the engine started just then and that it would NOT be starting again.

We had to wait almost a week to get Offshore Marine out with a replacement Electronic Control Unit, so not only did we have no way to start the engine, we still had no refrigeration. Our plans for hauling out to fix the keel coolers would have to wait until we had an engine to get us into the haulout slip. I’ve got towing on our new insurance but it wasn’t worth the hassle of filing a claim.  We resorted to eating soup, mac n cheese and pb&j.

Eventually we got it all fixed. We sailed back out to Christmas Cove now and we can finally relax! There will always be boat projects but we hope the major stuff is all done now.  Peter’s birthday was March 30 and luckily we got to spend it in paradise.

We’re all adjusting pretty well. Brandon is getting used to boat life. Betsy is so happy to be able to lay in the sun all afternoon again, and Brig is busy as ever. At 9 months he can walk around the whole inside of the boat using the walls for stability, he loves eating goldfish and he’s learning to like swimming at the beach! Peter and I are just happy to be back to where we belong <3

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Our New Home

Almost exactly 6 months after Hurricane Irma flipped our world upside down, we finally have a new home!

She’s a beautiful 1981 Stevens 47, bigger than our last boat with three staterooms instead of just two. You may recognize the Stevens/Hylas 47 design as it’s the same kind that our friends on Totem have sailed around the world over the last 10 years. A true bluewater boat perfect for anywhere our next adventures take us. We will do a renaming ceremony soon to keep the same name we had before, Mary Christine. It’s only fitting as our last boat was named after Peter’s mom, and she will continue to keep us safe. Our order from DIY Lettering is in the mail now!

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You’d think that buying a boat would be so much fun. It definitely was fun to search online for awhile, until we’d seen literally every boat on the market and still weren’t sure if we’d found the right one. We weren’t just looking for fun. We needed a home. We could sit around searching every day for something else to get listed, but instead we made a shortlist of five possibilities that fit our criteria and then started booking plane flights to get us closer to the East Coast.

The last blog update was when we were visiting friends in Georgia over New Years. From there we drove to go see a boat for sale in Alabama that ended up having some undisclosed issues we couldn’t look past. Then we flew to Florida where we got to spend a lot more time with family and friends.

We saw another two boats in Florida, one of which Peter really liked. I really did NOT like it but it was affordable and it would get us back on a boat, in our very own home, right away. We already had flights booked to go look at a boat in Antigua and one in Grenada, both of which were our top two choices after months of scouring YachtWorld, so we continued on our way.

The stop in Antigua was brief, just two days, but we got to catch up with our friends Rob and Deb from Cosmos Mariner. That’s where we first saw what is now our new home 😉 We took a good look at the boat and I actually liked it more in person than on paper. At that point it was a definite possibility but we had one more stop to make to know for sure.

We flew to Grenada and stayed with our friend Steve on Lunacy, a Whitby 42 just like our old boat. It felt really good to be back in a familiar place on a boat that almost felt like home, but kind of strange at the same time. We were still homeless. I loved the boat for sale in Grenada but there were yet again some previously undisclosed concerns that we didn’t learn about until we saw the boat in person.  So, we made an offer on the Stevens, but it was rejected. Based on the work it needed we just couldn’t justify or afford to go any higher. With that, we flew back to Florida to regroup.

After a lot of soul searching and settling, I agreed to make an offer on the boat in Florida that Peter liked. Long story short the seller wanted more than we were willing to offer and the deal eventually fell through.

With our heads hanging low once again, I remembered there had been a tentative offer on the Stevens after ours. Just for kicks I emailed the broker asking if the boat was still pending or if it fell through. Turns out it was still available. The guy that came to see her just didn’t want to take on as many projects as it needed. With some serious number crunching, we made another offer and we were absolutely thrilled it was accepted!

I booked a ticket for me and Brig to go back to Washington State and pack up our things. It’s unreal the kind of stuff you can accumulate in such a very short period of time while living on land. Most of it is for Brig but there are a lot of things I needed to buy to replace the rest of what we couldn’t recover. Peter got a one way ticket back to Antigua and began preparing our new home.

It will be 5 weeks apart by the time we see Peter again… we fly out on TOMORROW!! I’m so excited I can hardly stand it. Far too much time apart over the last six months. Our baby is almost walking on his own and he turns 9 months old the day we leave. It’s all a blur.

Just how am I going to manage carrying all of our luggage, baby and dog by myself on two airplane rides? My brother, Brandon, is coming with me! There’s no way I could manage alone with both Brig AND Betsy. It’s an overnight flight out of Seattle so we fly into St Thomas on Wednesday afternoon where Peter will be waiting for us.

He hired our friend Rob to help him get the long list of repairs done faster and to help him deliver it from Antigua to USVI.  They both worked so hard to make it all come together. The first photo above is them leaving Jolly Harbour Saturday morning. Waiting for that next phone call was almost as bad as waiting for the call after Irma. I knew he would be fine but of course I was still worried. They made it safe and sound after a great passage!

Still wondering what happened to our old boat? The insurance claim was processed and paid relatively easily, it just took a little longer than it should have. We bought the boat back from the insurance company as part of the settlement and months ago Peter went back to BVI to get her all cleaned up. It was a monumental effort but worth it in the end. He was able to salvage and clean some of our personal belongings but some of it was either destroyed by the rats, water damage and mold, or impact from during the storm.

The most serendipitous part is how we met the guy that bought her. YEP, we sold her!!! At first we thought we would just clean her up and live aboard at our mooring ball until we could find our forever boat instead of buying a replacement that doesn’t really suit our needs. Then, Peter met Trent. His boat sunk in Irma and he just needed a place to live so he could continue working in St. John. There was still some serious damage that needed to be repaired, and the boat will never be as seaworthy as it was before, but it was doable. The thing is, Peter wouldn’t have felt comfortable selling her to anyone at all, but Trent does fiberglass, teak and finishwork by trade! And he has done many boat refits before. If there is anyone that could make this boat beautiful again it’s him.

Trent and his brother Tracy made fast work of getting the mizzenmast detached and basic systems functioning, then they delivered her down to Coral Bay St. John where she will get a little R&R 😉 She’s in good hands and for that I’m thankful.

It’s Monday now and by Wednesday afternoon we will finally all be back where we belong: on a boat down where the coconuts grow 🌴

So what’s next?

We will be heading to St. John USVI where Peter hopes to find some work. The repairs our new boat needed didn’t leave us with much savings but we now have an amazing fully functional home.

This year we are choosing to be south of 12 degrees 40 minutes (Grenada) for Hurricane Season like we did the first two years. It was much easier to get insurance for “outside the box” and it’s statistically better odds for staying out of the path of another hurricane. We are required to be down there from July 1 – November 1 so we’ll probably start heading south in May or June. Until then you can find us in the Virgin Islands!

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Anchored

*** SPOILER ALERT: Jump to the bottom of this post to find out what happened to our Mantus Anchor in 240+ mph winds during Hurricane Irma!! ***

 

Without a doubt, our most important piece of equipment that we rely on to keep our boat safe is our anchor. When we first started cruising four years ago, it was a hot topic in our home for quite awhile. There were lots of other cruisers discussing what kind of anchor they trust and why.  We did our research and eventually Peter and I decided that the Mantus and Rocna anchors had the best design on the market. Both having a relatively new-school design, not many of the old salts were really talking much about them yet. Rocna was a hot name but we had some first hand experience of several Rocna’s dragging near us – one time where Peter had to jump on board and help rescue a boat when their Rocna didn’t hold.

After talking extensively with Mantus Marine, watching videos of their product in action, and reviewing all the info they had on their website, we were sold.  Our previous anchor was a 45lb Delta and we upgraded to a galvanized 65lb Mantus – a decision that made us feel way safer knowing we were moving up to not only a storm anchor rated for greater than 50 knots, but an anchor that could be trusted in all kinds of seabeds.

The anchor itself came in three pieces that got bolted together. The installation was a little messy with all the special bolt grease but it was fairly easy.

Swapping out the old anchor for the new anchor was the hardest part about it since we needed three people. I drove the boat, Peter was on the bow operating the windlass and our friend Mike was in our dinghy ready to guide in the very muddy old anchor and chain and then feed Peter up the new chain through the bow roller. The new anchor fit perfectly and we admired it for a little while before lowering it into some seriously thick mangrove mud.

Literally within two days of installing our new Mantus, a nasty 45 knot squall came through our anchorage. Of course it held like a charm but I couldn’t believe how much better sleep we both got that night knowing we were totally secure.

***

You must know that this all happened two years ago. Yes, you read that right, two years ago. It’s taken me that long to actually write about it. Shortly after Mantus shipped our new anchor to us down in Grenada, our sweet boy Gunner took a turn for the worse. We knew the end was near but it was around this time that things were getting especially difficult to care for him. Simultaneously, we literally ran out of money and were making plans to sail back up to the Virgin Islands and begin working for Aristocat Charters. The relaxed life we had known for the past two years was starting to turn upside down.

Before we made our journey North, we stopped at the Tobago Cays in the Grenadines one last time and got some REALLY cool underwater video of Peter repeatedly lifted our new Mantus Anchor out of its holding while I then gently backed down on the engine and he recorded how quickly it reset itself in both sand and turtle grass. The water was so clear and the footage turned out amazing. I was SO excited to post it!!

I went to transfer the footage from the Go-Pro to my laptop and after the import was complete the program was set to automatically delete the files from the device. (I know, stupid, right?) For some awful reason, the files were not actually imported, and yet they got deleted anyway. I spent countless hours researching how to recover them since I also had video on there from Gunner’s very last beach day ever in Carriacou 🙁 I was unsuccessful and totally crushed. Since then we immediately started working in BVI with few days off which meant our boat did not leave our mooring ball for almost all of the last two years. Needless to say that didn’t give me any opportunities to replace our amazing video proof of just how much we love that Mantus anchor.

You really do have to see it to believe it. Peter was blown away the first time he saw it in action. Anytime the water visibility is even remotely clear enough to see our anchor, he ALWAYS dives it to make sure it’s dug in really well. If he’s not sure, he will either dive down and manually dig it in by hand, or he’ll signal for me to back down on the engine a little more until it grabs. A good anchor bite is one thing Peter does NOT take lightly.

With our previous Delta we frequently had to make adjustments before getting a good bite but with the new Mantus it was completely buried on the first try – every time. After watching the Mantus dig in from just the weight of our boat alone, Peter knew we made the right decision.

Even though we weren’t able to use our own anchor very much, Scott decided to put their 65lb Mantus onto their daysail catamaran, Aristocat, at the same time we began running that boat! We now literally have two years of experience with a Mantus from anchoring between one to three times EVERY SINGLE DAY on a much larger vessel.

Even in high winds and coral rubble, if you can get a good bite, that sucker isn’t going to budge. Someday when we start cruising again I will be 100% confident that a Mantus anchor will keep our little family safe.

***

On a side note, Mantus has some really cool accessories that also help to get the most out of our anchoring experience. We installed their Chain Hook for use on our snubber to prevent it from slipping off the chain and it works great!

We also tried out the Anchor Mate that prevents the anchor from swinging around while it’s stored up on the bow roller. This was something especially exciting for us because of the damage that our Delta had already done in some rough weather. It was easy to install and fits perfectly. We did measure to make sure both this piece and the anchor itself would fit onto our very old existing setup and we even had Mantus review some photos of the area around our windlass just to make sure. Now it doesn’t clank around or slam against the hull. Our anchor fits nice and snug when it’s not in use. I can’t even begin to express how impressed we are with their customer service.

All in all, Mantus Marine is an amazing company with the highest quality marine products and it’s run by amazing people that truly understand what their customers want. Highly recommended!! If you’re in the market for any anchoring equipment, do yourself a favor and reach out to Mantus Marine.

 

**HURRICANE IRMA UPDATE**

Okay, so everything above was written BEFORE the largest Hurricane on record in the Atlantic basin took a direct hit over BVI and our boat. I never got around to publishing the above post.

Fast forward to the days just before our boat saw winds of 240+ mph, I’ve got to tell you what happened to our Mantus…

Our Hurricane plan was approved by our insurance company as a written description of the preparation Peter would take to secure our vessel along with a visual diagram of where she would be inside a very protected corner of Manuel Reef Marina, Sea Cows Bay, Tortola BVI. It was a known hurricane hole and one of the best chances we had to protect our boat. Peter had tied up Mary Christine the best he possibly could with all the lines he could get his hands on, spidering them off to the concrete dock, surrounding boats, and had a total of three anchors set to hold her away from the dock. She sat parallel on the concrete wall separated by wood boards, tires and fenders. The “dock” where we were tied up was actually more of the edge of the parking lot for Gene’s Restaurant where we could literally drive our car up to our boat.

Since this wasn’t a typical anchoring scenario, Peter used a dinghy to distribute the anchors around the boat while it was tied to the dock. He set a Danforth style anchor off the port stern and another Danforth anchor from the starboard stern. He then placed the Mantus off the starboard bow. Now, when there is an approaching hurricane, all the boats inside this area have to wait until tropical storm force winds are present to pull their anchors tight because all of the local ferries drive through this channel at the very last minute and they have no regard for anyone’s anchor chains or rode that will ultimately be crossing the channel.  They simply drive right over them, destroying hours of prep work by all the other boats already tied up. It’s awful, but it’s just the way it is here. Sure enough, many of the boats you see in the photo below on the mangrove island had their stern anchors ripped out after tropical storm force winds arrived when all the ferries drove in.  What I’m getting at is that Peter had to literally stay at our boat until the final hour before he could pull our anchors tight and get to a safe place during the worst of the storm.  I can’t even begin to describe to you what kind of sickening feeling this created, both for me watching the news from afar, and for Peter having to live through this nightmare.

The Mantus was our best anchor and to get a really good bite he actually tied the rode to the frame of our SUV and set it with the car!!

We knew Irma was going to be big, but no one could have known just how intense or destructive she would be. The first hit from Irma’s eyewall completely stripped the bolts out from inside the cleats on our boat, ripping the cleats and the winches completely off of the port side.

There was nothing left holding her to the dock so she went drifting out into the area between the dock and the small mangrove island inside Sea Cows Bay. The mizzenmast snapped in half along with several stanchions and the whole bow roller was ripped off. She must have taken some heavy blows because the hull to deck joint had a sizeable crack. The most amazing part is that when Peter finally got back down to check on her several days after the hurricane, the only thing holding her in place alongside the other boats on the mangrove island was that Mantus Anchor! Its almost funny because everyone told us no anchors would hold in this mangrove mud during a hurricane. They all said we’d never get a good bite.

Here’s the kicker.  When our friend Trent dove underwater after the hurricane to try to dislodge the Mantus anchor, he followed the chain with his hands and stuck his whole arm into the mud as far as he could, up to his shoulder, and HE STILL COULDN’T EVEN FEEL THE ROLLBAR!!! I remember reading comments from several people when we first researched the Mantus anchor years ago where they were skeptical of the design and how the roll bar was bolted onto the fluke. Clearly this is not an issue.

Peter and Trent had tried to drive the boat back and forth over the top of it and even had a dinghy wake them a few times in an attempt to wiggle the anchor loose but all it did was begin to grind the windlass motor and skip links of the chain on the gypsy. Nothing they could’ve done was going to dislodge it.  In summary, our 65lb galvanized Mantus Anchor performed flawlessly in excess of 240 mph winds during the strongest hurricane on record in the Atlantic Basin! I’m confident that this is the only reason our boat is still floating to this day.

So what kind of primary anchor will we choose on our next boat? You better believe we will have a Mantus Marine anchor keeping our family safe.

 

 

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING… We are PROUD to share these awesome products and services with our readers. There are so many different solutions out there for everything we could possibly need, but these are the solutions that work for us.

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A New Year, A New Beginning

Sunday night we rang in the New Year with high hopes for 2018. We are at a point in our lives where the only way to go is forward and we couldn’t be more ready.

I apologize for the recent silence here yet again. Whenever I go silent on the blog it is definitely not because I don’t have anything to write about. Usually I have so much to share that I don’t even know where to begin. (Not to mention how hard it is to find time to write when your baby doesn’t take very good naps!)

The time passes by and the days go on and I feel like there are no words for what is going through my head. This past year has given us some extreme highs and some extreme lows and the shock that comes with each of those moments has been more than overwhelming.

June 13th 2017 was the birth of our first child.

September 6th 2017 ripped our lives apart as Hurricane Irma destroyed our home, our jobs and many of our belongings.

December 16, 2017 marked our first wonderful year of marriage.

We’ve been so fortunate to be able to stay with family and friends during the past four months while we sort everything out and try to figure out where to go from here. It’s been a blessing to be able to let everyone back in the states meet Brig, even under these unfortunate circumstances. A blessing in disguise indeed.

So what have we been up to?? Well…

For the first two weeks after Irma, Peter was still stuck on Tortola. I was going out of my mind with worry and could barely take care of myself while trying to coordinate things for him from afar. Time stood still for me and it felt like we were in a vacuum. I’m so thankful my mom was able to help so much with Brig because I was a total mess.

We finally got Peter out of there and it took awhile to let it all sink in that we had no home to go back to. At 34, I had officially moved back in with with my parents bringing with me my husband, my 3 month old baby, and my dog. I never thought in a million years that I would ever have to move back home. I SO wasn’t prepared for that. I had a family, success and a good life, and it had just never crossed my mind that it could all be flipped upside down in the blink of an eye. The eye of Irma to be exact.

Within a few short weeks we ended up buying a Chevy Tahoe off Craigslist and took off on a road trip for a wedding – and to see Peter’s family (and some friends) – down in Arizona and sunny California. It was a good distraction from the hurricane craziness but it was three more weeks that we weren’t really able to focus on a plan for our future. We headed back up Washington to regroup and come up with a plan.

Luckily our boat was insured. Two years ago I spent a significant amount of time researching the intimidating world of marine insurance and I couldn’t be more relieved that we ended up with some really good coverage. Although insurance is one of those things you hope you never need. we absolutely did end up needing every insurable penny.

A few days after the Hurricane, I got word from Peter that the damage was beyond what he could repair himself and I filed our insurance claim for a total loss. They sent a surveyor out who ended up totaling the boat with exterior damage alone. Damage to the mizzenmast and cracks in the fiberglass were enough to max out the value we had insured so we signed the paperwork and began waiting for the payout.

(our boat shown below still floating, lower left)

During the last four months we’ve talked about a lot of options for what we want to do next. It’s what everyone wants to know. Will we get another boat or will we move back to land? The only thing we can be sure of is that we DEFINITELY want to get another boat and get back down to Where The Coconuts Grow. The islands are where our hearts belong and even though the islands we called home are no where near what they used to be like, it’s where we both want to be.

(It didn’t take long for the hills to start turning green again!)

The next priority was to get Peter back down to our boat and try to salvage any equipment and belongings he could. BVI is slightly more functional (and green) than it was when he left the last time so it wasn’t a totally impossible mission to send him back. The longer we waited the more mold damage there would be so upon returning to Washington after our road trip, we bought him a plane ticket back down to the Virgin Islands. This time, he had a solid plan for what to do with the rest of our belongings, and our boat! More on this later 😉

Two weeks turned into three and Peter still wasn’t back yet. I was basically waiting for more local intel before we could make anymore plans so the waiting game continued. Part of me was hoping he’d return with some super exciting news about a business opportunity in the islands. A few possibilities popped up but nothing in the works yet. Then, I got a call with news that Peter’s step-dad’s father had passed away. Peter flew back up to Washington right away and the three of us made an impromptu flight down to LA and San Diego for a week to be able to attend the memorial service.

Peter had already spent Thanksgiving alone, in the islands and away from us, and Christmas was just around the corner. We got busy again with family so our ideas about the future stalled out again. Brig’s first Christmas was one we will never forget though. It snowed on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, altering our plans yet again. We were literally snowed in because the roads got dangerously icy up at my Dad’s house on Camano Island. We ended up having a slumber party with 10 adults, 1 baby and 3 dogs AND we all had matching Christmas jammies!! So much fun and so in line with how much our plans have been changing.

Time felt like it was standing still yet it was flying by so fast my head is spinning! We have been so busy visiting family and friends all over the place that it’s really kept our minds off of how Irma changed our lives forever.

Our travels don’t end there. Believe it or not, we are now in Georgia! We are visiting our good friends Jack and Nikki and family for the New Year and we’ve been working really hard to finally come up with a plan for the future.

There are a couple of boats we really want to go look at now that our insurance claim is finally settled and we can actually move forward if we find the right one.  There’s one boat I really love, but part of me thinks the one we will end up buying hasn’t even presented itself yet.

From the very start of all of this, all I wanted to do was go home – and I couldn’t. I got on that plane in St Thomas just two days before the hurricane hit thinking I was leaving just in case… and that I’d be back in two weeks. I left with a backpack, a diaper bag and my baby and four months later I still can’t go home.

One thing I know for sure is how grateful we are for all the love and support from ALL OF YOU. As soon as we arrived in the states back in September we started receiving messages of encouragement, emails, cards, baby clothes and toys, clothes for me and Peter, treats and toys for Betsy, food, shelter, gift cards and paypal donations to help get us back on our feet. It’s amazing how much “stuff” you need for just the basic necessities. For those of you that helped us out when we needed it most, you know who you are and we can’t thank you enough. We hope to be able to pay it forward some day in a way as equally profound as was done for us.

I know that many of you also donated to various relief funds and organizations that are helping the people of the islands directly as they also struggle to recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Our friends Jen and Mike friends from Three Sheets spent countless hours coordinating relief efforts on the ground between St Croix and Tortola. Our friends Brittany and Scott from Windtraveler and Aristocat Charters raised nearly $170k on their fundraiser in coordination with many other organizations at the same time. You can see how those funds were utilized in the updates published on the site here: BVI Immediate Relief. Scott personally distributed supplies on Tortola to families that needed help and the amount of work they both did to help the locals is immeasurable. If you contributed to these efforts or others, even the smallest amount helped in such a huge way.

For now we are taking things one day at a time. We are so thankful for everyone that has taken us in and opened their homes to us. Our family is safe and that’s always all that really matters. ❤️

Stay tuned as we book even more travel plans within the next few days and get one step closer to finding our new home!

 

 

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