Celebrating ONE YEAR aboard Mary Christine

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Today marks ONE WHOLE YEAR living aboard Mary Christine!

From San Diego to Grenada and 3,000 nautical miles at sea, we’ve had some amazing adventures in our first year. We’re grateful for the opportunity we’ve been given to experience such a beautiful way to travel and we look forward to many more years to come!

For those new to our site, visit our first post to catch up on all the awesome memories we’ve made so far 🙂

We’ve just arrived back into the land of WIFI after an amazing week in the Tobago Cays! Stay tuned for some more great pictures.

The Liebster Award 2014

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“Tomorrow. I really want to write this tomorrow.” That’s what I kept telling myself after we got our first Liebster Award nomination from a super fun family we’ve been following at Diving Into Cruising. What the heck is a Liebster Award, you say? Well, it’s basically a Pay It Forward type of chain letter for bloggers all over the world. It’s been going around for years and gets passed on from one blog to another.

It’s more than just a “good luck” email chain letter, though, that you would forward on to the first 10 email addresses that pop into your head. The Liebster Award represents something more endearing. It’s recognition for fellow bloggers out there that genuinely deserve a mention. There are so many great blogs with amazing stories but it’s nice to share the love with blogs that are new, less known, or that haven’t received a nomination yet.  The rules have morphed over the years away from things like 11 questions for 11 nominees and only nominating blogs with less than 200 followers. We prefer to soften the edges a bit and take a more generalized rule set where we simply accept the award by writing a new blog post linking back to the blog that nominated us, publish our answers to their questions, nominate a handful of our favorite blogs that haven’t been nominated yet, and ask them some questions – either copied from others or created special for our new nominees.

We were honored to get a second nomination a few weeks later from our friends over at Cream Puff. This is getting serious now… I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer! “Two nominations have already been made and I still haven’t made the time to squeeze in this sweet little post.” Then, Genevieve from one of our favorite blogs, It’s A Necessity, finally got around to accepting her award (I’m not the only procrastinator!!) and gave us our third nomination. While punching out the answers to our questions, I happened to be chatting over email with our friend Jan from Commuter Cruiser. If you’ve been following our blog from the beginning, you know that Jan and David hold a special place in our hearts and we will be forever grateful for all that they taught us in our first four months aboard SV Mary Christine. We received our fourth and final nomination from Commuter Cruiser so now it’s time to show our appreciation and share the love. We’ve now got 40 questions on the table so we’ll do the best we can to answer them all 😉

Questions from Diving Into Cruising – Dieter, Britton and Brady… and the same set of questions from Commuter Cruiser – Jan and David:

1. Introduce us to your crew.  Who are they and what role do they play in your operation?

Our crew includes Peter (the Captain), Jody (the first mate) and our two large furry four-legged children, Betsy and Gunner (in charge of guarding us and the boat).

2. What sort of boat do you have and would you recommend it for other adventurers hoping to live aboard? What do you like least about your choice?

We have a ketch rigged 1980 Whitby 42 monohull. She’s a good solid cruising boat that can take us across oceans. She’s slow, but solid, and is tougher than we are. We would definitely recommend a Whitby to any new liveaboard cruiser.

The part we like the least about this boat is the ventilation. In the tropics, it sometimes rains every hour. We run around like we’re doing a Chinese Fire Drill to shut all the hatches, ports and isinglass. There are so many different openings that are needed for ventilation, yet none of them can remain open while its raining without getting a ton of water inside the boat. When the rain stops, we have to go around and open them all back up before we pass out in this sweatbox.

3. Where are you now and what are your sailing plans, if you have any, for the future?

We’re in Grenada waiting out the rest of Hurricane Season. Tomorrow we head to the Tobago Cays for a little exploring, then we’ll come back to Grenada until the end of October. Then, we’ll make our way back through the Eastern Caribbean as far North as BVI. From there, we’ll head back South to see the ABC’s then to Panama for some big waves and big fish.

4. How do you support your lifestyle while sailing and cruising? 

We worked hard to pay off old debt, sold almost everything we had on land, and sailed away with a good savings. We’ll need to find work along the way to help keep us afloat, but for now we’re living as frugally as we can while still having a good time as we visit so many amazing countries.

5. What’s the best experience you’ve had while living aboard? 

We’ve had so many!! It’s hard to pick just one. If you haven’t been following our adventures from the beginning, you can find our first post HERE.

6. Name the most challenging experience you have had while living aboard and what did you do to overcome it?

The most challenging experience we have had was cutting the dock lines, taking a leap of faith and sailing away from safe harbor when we left Burnt Store Marina and made our way to the Bahamas. The list of projects is never-ending and there was always something left that we felt was keeping us from finally leaving. The push that we needed was having our good friends Josh and Leah fly in to set sail with us. They worked hard to help us get ready and with their motivation, we found the courage to GO FOR IT, despite our lack of experience. It has since proven to be one of the most memorable experiences we’ve had because it has allowed us to explore so many amazing places along this great journey.

7. Is living aboard and sailing an alternative way of life for you, an escape from the system, or is it just a temporary adventure?

It’s definitely not temporary for us. A new and better way of life is more accurate. There’s a lot of benefits to living in the US, but there’s a lot of things we wanted to get away from as well. There’s still rules in these little islands, but far less than back on land.

8. Any big mistakes you have learned from that others may learn from too?

We haven’t made any big mistakes yet… knock on wood! We’ve avoided many potential disasters thanks to all the advice and help we’ve received from fellow cruisers and new friends we’ve met along the way. Little thing’s we’ve learned are to slow down and never be in a hurry, always check the weather, and to trust our gut.

9. What advice would you give to youngsters just finding their place in the world?  College, skill/trade, world travel on the graces of good luck?

Find your passion!!! Do whatever you need to do to find what makes you happy. Follow your dreams and don’t look back. Anything is possible, no matter how difficult it may seem, just have a little faith that it will all work out. If you’re not sure what your passion is yet, go to college, learn something new, and start networking. Talk to as many people as you can and find out what their passion is and why. Ask a lot of questions. We found that there are a lot of people who are happy to help you find your passion.

10. What motivates you to blog and what tips can you offer fellow bloggers?

It comes down to the fact that we really want to inspire others to follow their dreams and do whatever it takes. We are young – younger than most that are traveling the world by sailboat. Out of the ordinary? Sure. Crazy? Maybe. But do we regret it? NEVER! This is a truly amazing experience and more rewarding than we could have ever imagined. We’re following our dreams and sharing our adventures in hopes that even just a few people will be inspired enough to do whatever it takes to follow their dreams as well. We write from the heart and hope you feel like you’re right here with us every day.

Questions from Cream Puff – Mark and Cindy:

1. Meet the crew. Who are you? Each share something about the other (not on the blog)

Jody: She is the Sargent in Arms, making sure everything is in order and running smoothly. She’s tougher than epoxy and holds us all together.

Peter: His adventurous spirit keeps us moving forward and reminding us why we’re here, even in the difficult moments.

Betsy: The unconditional love this little dog has for everyone she meets is enough to melt icebergs. The world would be a much better place if everyone had a dog like her.

Gunner: This crotchety old dog teaches us patience and helps us practice love for those that make our life challenging. He’s been a good friend and has had a good life.

2. What advice would you give to a wannabe traveler just starting out?

Don’t give up! There will be some discouraging moments, but just remember that you’re doing something most people will either never have the opportunity to do or never have the courage to do. Be grateful for the opportunity you’ve been given, and enjoy every moment!

3. Can you roll your tongue or wiggle the end?

Yes, we both can!

4. What is your favorite restaurant in the whole world?

Love Boat Sushi back in San Diego. That was our favorite place to go on dates when we first met. Really, any good sushi restaurant will do the trick.

5. If you sail as a couple, who is really, and I mean really, the captain?

Ohhh shoot. Since you put it that way… well then it’s Peter. Yes, I said it. PETER IS THE CAPTAIN. As much as I would like to think we’re equally capable of handling this boat alone, there are still a few things I’m not comfortable doing. I’m learning that it’s not so bad letting someone else be in charge and it’s really not that important to have a say in every single decision we make. This is definitely worthy of a blog post all on its own though.

6. What are your favorite meals to cook while sailing?

Cook? While sailing?? Ha!  We prefer to cook at anchor, but on longer passages, a few meals must be made under way. We did enjoy barbecuing while crossing the Mona Passage though 🙂

Our staples at anchor are grilled steak, homemade spaghetti, fresh grilled fish, grilled lobster, English muffins with sausage and cheese, and French Toast!

7. Who’s idea was it to buy a boat and how did they convince the other person?

Peter always knew he would buy a boat one day and travel the world. He told me about it when we were camping in the Eastern Sierras only a few months after we met. From that moment on, I KNEW I was going to go with him. It was the best idea I had ever heard. So when our relationship got stronger and all right pieces fell into place, we both knew it was what we had to do.

8. Where is your dream destination?

We both really want to make it to the South Pacific someday. I’ve been to Tahiti before, and Peter has been to Indonesia. We would both love to experience island life in that part of the world with our boat.

9. Why did you pick sailing as a form of transportation or hobby (over an RV/camper for instance)?

We both love the water and wanted the freedom to travel to all places tropical – Where The Coconuts Grow 🙂 If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to read our page on “What’s up with the coconuts.”

10. Would you please describe your best sailing day ever? (or a link to it)

Hands down, our Maiden Voyage! This is when we first realized our dreams were really coming true. Thank you Commuter Cruiser for all your support that day!

Questions from It’s A Necessity – Eben, Genevieve, Arias and Ellia:

1. Describe yourself in 5 words. No more, no less.

Peter:  Leader, hunter, provider, strong, funny

Jody: Organized, genuine, helpful, creative, inquisitive

2. What do you blog about? What do you NOT blog about?

We blog about the adventures we’ve had so far, what it’s like to live on a boat, how hard it is and how rewarding it is. We DON’T write about things that are TMI and we try to not share the bad moments. We want to keep it real and not sugar coat anything, but we also know that most people who read our blog are reading to hear about the cool and exciting things, not the Debbie-downer moments when nothing is going right. Sometimes we share the hard moments but we try to keep a positive focus.

3. You have $10 US to spend, what is the first thing you buy?

Something cold. Like Ice cream, a smoothie, or a cold pop!

4. What is the worst travel spot you have been to?

No where has really been terrible. We’ve disliked some places and we’d steer away from others but we haven’t been anywhere so horrible that we wouldn’t return if we had to. The nice thing about living on a boat is that we can pick up the anchor and go somewhere else at any time.

5. What is your favorite saying/slang/term you have picked up through your travels?

Peter’s favorite sayings are not appropriate for this blog 🙂

6. If you were invited to a dress up party what costume would you wear?

A beach bum. We love being able to wear shorts/bikinis and flipflops everywhere we go!

7. What is your favorite drink (alcoholic or not)?

Fresh blended every morning in our galley – A Banana/Mango/Guava smoothie!!

8. How much wine is too much?

Peter hates it when anyone whines 😉

9. What are you afraid of?

Us dragging anchor or someone in front of us dragging anchor, damaging our boat or someone else’s. Stay tuned for our scary “nightmare come true” experience in St. Kitts. We’ll just tell you now, it involves a FERRY!

10. If you could have one wish granted, what would you ask for?

 To be able to cruise around the world on a sailboat for as long as we want!

OUR NOMINEES:

To keep the Liebster Love alive, we would like to nominate a handful of our favorite blogs in hopes that they will carry the torch. We took great care to select blogs that haven’t already been nominated yet, but if we’re behind the times, feel free to disregard this nomination. Our intention is to share the love and let our readers know about some other awesome blogs out there that they might not have seen before. Oh, and we REALLY want to hear what kind of answers you come up with 🙂

Sailing Terrapin

Take To The Sea

Stories From A Boat

Something Wagging This Way Comes

Masts and Mastiffs

Couch Sailors

Sailing Dee

Wright Away Sails Away

Sail Far Live Free

The Coconut Mama

Fearful Adventurer

This American Girl

More Hands On Deck

Sailing, Simplicity and the Pursuit of Happiness

NEW QUESTIONS FOR OUR NOMINEES:

1. Why did you start a blog?

2. Why do you still blog?

3. Who do you know that SHOULD have a blog, but doesn’t?

4. What is the first blog you can remember reading and how did you find it?

5. What are three things you are grateful for today?

6. Do you actually read other blog posts, or just look for the pretty pictures?

7. What advice would you give to your past self, 10 years ago?

8. What or who inspires you to follow your dreams?

9. On your boat, who is really, and I mean really, the captain? (Figuratively or metaphorically, if you don’t have a boat)

10. Where would you live if you had an unlimited amount of money?

In case you’re interested in reading a few more fun questions and answers, here are some other blogs that have already accepted the Liebster Award:

Homeschool Ahoy

Windtraveler

Sailing Totem

The Life Nomadik

Diving Into Cruising

This Rat Sailed

Catchin Rays

Cream Puff

MJ Sailing

Vacilando

Astrolabe

It’s A Necessity

The Red Thread

The Spray Logs

Little Cunning Plan

Cynical Sailor

Mid Life Cruising

Cygnus III

Things We Did Today

Banyan

Noel & Jackie’s Journeys

D&G Sail

Sail Away Girl

Wandering Star

Love and Rum

Storyville

We also look forward to seeing the responses from all the other blogs out there that have been nominated but haven’t yet published their answers 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Cruising BVI: Spelunking at The Bight

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The Bight was our next stop after leaving Tortola. An anchorage that’s also home to the famous Willy T’s floating bar. Peter and I skipped the bar scene shenanigans but took the opportunity to visit the three caves located just a quick paddle to the West.

Only accessed by water, it proved to be another fun adventure that we were lucky to experience. Norman Island is said to have inspired the writing found in Treasure Island with tales of pirates, hidden bays and shipwrecks.

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By taking the paddle boards, we got a little exercise on the way over to the caves and we didn’t have to bother with dropping the dinghy. We only planned on staying one night at Norman Island before continuing our island hop East so we preferred to leave the dinghy and motor secured on deck.

Our Tower iSUP’s also allowed us to explore these caves without having to SWIM into the dark unknown. Peter is practically a fish and has no fear so it didn’t matter much to him if we were snorkeling or paddling. If you’re like me, swimming at night or in water too murky to see around you is a sure-fire way to get the heebie-jeebies! There’s just something unnerving about DARK water. Even worse, dark water in a dark cave! I was shocked at just how dark it really got when we got way in there.

On the way home, the wind had picked up considerably and the current coming around the point made it quite challenging to remain standing. We had been forewarned about the current there but chose to take the challenge anyway. Paddling back around the point to The Bight is only recommended at slack tide, or be prepared for a serious workout!

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Stay tuned for more adventures from BVI! We’re currently in Grenada waiting out the rest of Hurricane Season 🙂 Leave us a comment, we’d love to hear from you!

Cruising BVI: Surprises at Sopers Hole

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Soper’s Hole is a quaint little Marina tucked inside the West End of Tortola. It is also a regular ferry stop between USVI and BVI. We brought Mom and Bean to the ferry dock where they caught a ride back to the airport on St. Thomas during the first week of June.

It was a sad day filled with many tears. I didn’t want them to leave, and they didn’t want to go home. We are all grateful, however, that we had the opportunity to spend so much time together in paradise and it will be a trip remembered forever.

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We pulled into the marina shortly after the ferry left to make some minor repairs, fill up our water and fuel tanks, and get a little rest. It amazes me more and more how lucky we are to be living this lifestyle. There’s nowhere we need to be at any particular time. We can stay up late watching movies on the laptop and sleep in as long as we want. There is always work to be done, but its on our schedule.

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One morning Peter noticed a younger guy arriving at shore in his dinghy with a surfboard. He asked where he had just come from and we learned that just around the point is a surf spot called Apple Bay. It just so happened to be 3-5′ that day so Peter quickly grabbed the foam board off the deck and we hopped in our dinghy to go check it out.

Nothing spectacular, but Peter sure had fun checking out the local point break. He’s been itching for some big waves ever since we left San Diego. The conditions haven’t been right to break out one of his SIX epoxy boards in any of the places we’ve been so far. We’re hoping to find some good surf in Tobago or maybe even Barbados in the next few months!

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Our next surprise was finding out that our slip was right next to some of the coolest guys we’ve met on our whole trip!

Tied up next to us was Indigo, a 61′ Fishing Charter boat owned and operated by Ocean Surfari out of USVI. The charter business is top notch and the crew members were incredibly friendly. Despite their busy preparations, we made fast friends with the crew talking about all-things-fishing into the late hours of the evening.

After all chores were done several days later, we had checked out of the Marina and prepared the boat for leaving. We had only intended on staying in Soper’s Hole for about a week but when we tried to leave, Peter discovered a major problem. We turned on the engine and Peter did a quick inspection in the engine room only to discover that our muffler had a significant leak. This was very discouraging since we thought our exhaust hose woes were behind us.

Realizing we were stuck, we let the Marina office know we would be there for at least a few more days. We picked up more shower tokens and a new WIFI password.

The Co-Founder of Ocean Surfari, Curt Richardson, happened to be visiting BVI with his family at the same time we were visiting Soper’s Hole Marina. His two sons, JC and Josh, arrived to stay aboard Indigo for a week and invited us out fishing with them several times. What a magnificent boat! Such a different feel to be out on the water on a boat like that after so many months of sailing around on our little boat that can only go 6 knots. Josh and JC are some of the kindest, most genuine, respectful, generous and fun people we have ever met. Despite the fact that we were stuck at the marina, we made some incredible memories that week!

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Josh even hooked a 300lb shark on one of the fishing trips!

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The enormous engines on Indigo made it easy for them to buzz over to the USVI to go lobster hunting. The guys returned with a monster catch…

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We spent hours watching the bait fish swim by the bright Indigo-colored lights. Dozens of huge tarpon would circle around pushing the bait back and forth under the docks.

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Mr. Richardson is also the Founder and Chairman of Otterbox. JC and Josh introduced us to one of their newest products – The Preserver. When Otterbox bought out Lifeproof, the technology was combined to create an unbelievably waterproof design.  After sharing our Lifeproof success story and subsequent failures, we were thrilled to be able to sample these new cases that were so generously donated to our cause! The new Preserver case has allowed us to take some pretty great underwater pictures with our last remaining iPhone. We are looking forward to putting more Otterbox products to the test as we continue our adventures in the harsh marine environment.

During our stay in Soper’s Hole we took several trips over to St. John to experience some of the exceptional snorkeling on the North Coast. Watermelon Cay was one of our favorite spots and proved to be a great place to take some underwater photos with our new Otterbox iPhone cases!

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Tarpon lurking in the distance…

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After a bit of research, a new muffler was on order from Parts and Power on Tortola. When it arrived, Peter had to saw off the old exhaust hose to get the old muffler out. The old hose was completely disintegrated from the inside out. Apparently this is what 35 year old exhaust hose looks like… YUK!

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Within an hour, we were back up and running good as new. We prepared the boat for leaving the dock and set off for Peter Island just in time for Fathers Day 🙂

Stay tuned for more adventures in the BVI’s! We are currently enjoying Island Time in Grenada while we wait out the rest of Hurricane Season. Leave us a comment, we would love to hear from you!!

Waterproof iPods: Extreme Toys For Extreme Adventures

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The most extreme adventures are often hosted by the most extreme conditions. In our case, the majority of those adventures involve water – whether on the beach, underwater, on the water, or in the snow. Electronics are ever-evolving and continuously growing tougher but most of our devices still require waterproof cases and the utmost care to prevent damage from the environment. Now that we live on a boat we are also learning that pretty much everything we own must be ‘marine-grade’ to withstand the harsh salty air and salt water.

We live in a generation where electronic devices like computers, radios and phones are much more than just toys. They are communication devices that help us increase efficiency. Just like some athletes like to stay ‘in the zone’ with portable music players, we like to bring our tunes with us when we go to the beach, paddleboard, surf, snorkel and go spearfishing. Unfortunately, regular MP3 players or iPods don’t hold up for these kind of activities.

Before we set sail almost a year ago, AudioFlood introduced us to a product we didn’t even know existed: A waterproof iPod! They promptly shipped us two of these handy devices and we’ve spent the last 6 months putting them to the test.

Keep reading to see the pro’s and con’s we’ve experienced with this device as well as seeing proof in the pictures of Peter rocking out while enjoying some underwater activities in our travels through the Caribbean. Music puts us in a meditative state and keeps us in the zone. It’s amazing how music can increase his attention, especially while hunting lobster 🙂

AudioFlood uses a unique waterproofing process that fills the entire inside of a genuine Apple iPod Shuffle with a continuous layer of soft yet highly corrosion resistant sealant. Also, unlike other waterproofing processes, AudioFlood never exposes their devices to temperatures above room temperature to prevent damage to the battery. For more information about the waterproofing process or to learn where to buy one, please visit AudioFlood’s website.

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PROS:

-Great for those that are supposed to wear earplugs in the water

-Depth rated for over 250 feet (although we believe it is not safe to use earplugs while diving to depths where you need to clear your ears)

-Impervious to salt water or pool chlorine

-The ear piece is soft rubber so it doesn’t irritate our ears

-The buttons on the iPod are not inhibited by the waterproofing process like a waterproof case does to the buttons on a phone

-Several available colors for personalization

-Fast syncing

-In the gym, these earphones won’t slip out like Apple’s do after getting sweaty

-Comes with a USB charging cable for easy use with a 12volt adaptor

-Great sound quality (as expected by Apple products) and unaffected by waterproofing

-Amazing technology that would be helpful for all electronics in harsh marine environments

-The technology protects from the inside-out so it doesn’t break down or fail as easily as a waterproof case

-Using an iPod is less cumbersome than carrying a smartphone or radio on Extreme Adventures

-Can be used for solo activities like surfing, diving, swimming, paddleboarding and snowboarding where most other electronics cannot be used

-Provides a function to play music that can be relaxing, meditative, focusing or mood enhancing

-Includes a short cord to prevent tangling

-Incredibly durable

CONS:

-For guys not wearing a shirt, the iPod must be clipped to a hat instead and the earbuds are then upside down and easily fall out

-Loss of hearing: the ear pieces are airtight and inhibit any nearby sounds (This can be dangerous if you need to be able to hear things like a continuously running water pump, alarms, horns, nearby boats approaching while underwater, or any other audible danger)

-The devices are only sold in 2 gb sizes, which really doesn’t allow for much song storage

-Not recommended for fishing due to loss of sound (can’t hear birds working, boils reels zinging or engine of the boat)

-Water did get into the hollow part of the ear piece and it was difficult to blow out

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**DISCLAIMER: Extreme care must be taken if using products like this under water. Please consult a professional before using this product while diving or freediving. Where The Coconuts Grow does not guarantee similar results to the experiences we have shared here and makes no claim on the safety of using this product during any type of activity. We shall not be held liable for any damage incurred while using this product.

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.

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.

Can’t get enough of Jost Van Dyke

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After departing the gorgeous Guana Island, our hearts drew us back to White Bay on Jost Van Dyke. With just a few days left of Mom and Bean’s vacation, we all agreed it would be best spent on Jost.

We picked up the last available mooring ball in front of Ivan’s and just us girls swam to shore. To access the beach on the other side of the bay we headed toward the rocks and followed the trail over the hill.

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Undoubtedly a trail traveled by many, these steps must hold countless memories. We climbed up the beachy colored steps and discovered a beautiful view of the bay down below. Our little home looked happy way down there, as happy as we were to be in this paradise. JVD2-16

At the bottom of the stairs on the other side, Mom tells us this is where we leave our flip-flops. “We wont need them anymore,” she says. Everyone leaves their shoes here and retrieves them on the way home at the end of the day.

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We mosey-ed our way past all the new little beach bars and snack shacks lining the water’s edge. Well suited for the charter industry, this is the place to be to kick back and enjoy the islands.

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A trip to JVD would be incomplete without visiting the famous Soggy Dollar Bar where the patrons swim in and hang their soggy dollars up to dry behind the bar when it’s time to pay.

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Even Bean tried a Painkiller while floating around in the cool blue water!

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After visiting the gift shop and enjoying the afternoon, we headed back over the hill. What a fun day!

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Stay tuned to see our next adventure in the BVI’s!!  We’re currently relaxing in Grenada for the rest of Hurricane Season taking care of boat projects and enjoying Island Time 🙂 Leave us a comment, we’d love to hear from you!!

BVI’s Best Kept Secret: Guana Island

May 29th we sailed East toward Guana Island.  Mom enjoyed another gorgeous morning on the bow as we let the wind carry us forward through the spectacular British Virgin Islands.

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Guana Island is an 850-acre private island. Cottages and Villas can be rented for an all-inclusive $5,000 – $15,000 per WEEK, or the whole island can be rented at an average rate of $30,000 per night. Yes, per NIGHT!! A maximum of 36 guests are allowed at any one time to maintain that private-island feel.

Of it’s seven beaches, White Bay Beach is on the leeward side of the island and is even equipped with private mooring balls at a rate of $30 per night. That’s pretty standard for anywhere in the BVI so why not spend it in front of an exclusive private island? We were told by one of the staff members that the island is private, but the ocean floor and the sand on the beach are technically public. We were welcome to play on the south end of the beach as long as we stayed clear of the resort facilities.

The beach was gorgeous and the water was clear. Several large tarpon swam around the boat and there were some small coral patches near the beach suitable for beginner snorkelers. Not many charter boats come here so we had the place all to ourselves. It was incredible!

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Monkey Point lies to the south with day-moorings which are supposedly maintained by the Virgin Islands National Park staff. It’s a popular spot for charter boats to snorkel during the day, though overnight mooring is not allowed. We took a dinghy ride to Monkey Point from our mooring in White Bay and we were less than impressed with the snorkeling there after what we had already seen at Muskmelon Bay to the North.

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Our recommendation: Skip the popular “Monkey Point” and head straight for Muskmelon Bay! The rocky cliffs surrounding the bay give these moorings a truly majestic feel. The stillness echoed around us. Depths of 60-80′ give off a rich blue brilliance to the ever-so-clean waters in what we believe to be the “Best Kept Secret of BVI.” Moorings here also cost $30 per night, however the islands staff sometime doesn’t come to collect. If you’re lucky, you might get the 2-for-1 deal!

The coral formations in Muskmelon Bay made for some of the most magnificent snorkeling we have ever seen. Like underwater highways, the millions of small bait fish swam past us in and out of the coral mazes. Each crevice seemed never ending as they looped around and up and down. The coral heads are on average 8-10′ tall and full of life. Hundreds of different species of reef fish thrive here.

A return trip with an underwater camera is a MUST, though the true magic of this place will forever be engrained in our memories. Especially magical for Bean, it was her very first time snorkeling! What a lucky woman to be introduced to the underwater world in Muskmelon Bay, BVI…

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Stay tuned for more adventure in the BVI! We are currently enjoying the rest of Hurricane Season in Mt. Hartman Bay, Grenada.  Please leave us a comment if you enjoyed these photos!

A quiet anchorage and a slice of heaven

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May 27th we sailed over to a little anchorage between Little Jost Van Dyke and Sandy Spit. It’s a popular spot for charter boats but not many stay over night. We had the place all to ourselves in the morning and evening hours…

We snorkeled near the reefs in the crystal clear water spending the day in paradise. It was only a short walk around the whole island. The cool Caribbean Breeze felt so refreshing after our swim.

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Yes, this place is real. Our little slice of heaven. Would you like to go?

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Peter decided we should go on a romantic walk down the beach. And what did we find?

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A coconut of course! Another sign we are exactly where we are supposed to be 🙂

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Fragments of coral were scattered all over this tiny little island. Picture perfect and very secluded. It’s a magical feeling when you have an island all to yourself!

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I think the best part of Bean’s trip was getting to cuddle with Gunner again 🙂

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Next stop? Cane Garden Bay, Tortola!

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Stay tuned for more pictures during our stay in BVI!

We are currently working on boat projects and blog posts in Grenada for the remainder of Hurricane Season. If you’re in the Secret Harbor neighborhood, come say HI 🙂

I Wish I Was There Tonight… On Jost Van Dyke

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In the evening hours of May 24th, Peter, my Mom and I sat in the cockpit watching the planes come in over St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. We had anchored in Brewer’s Bay, just a short distance from the airport near Charlotte Amalie. The next afternoon my Grandmother was scheduled to arrive to spend a little over a week with us on Mary Christine.

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By this time, Mom was beside herself with excitement to finally be back in the Virgin Islands. Her last visit was in 2006 when she left her heart and a piece of her soul on Jost Van Dyke. Jeanne, my Grandmother and Mom’s Mom, had never traveled this far before and was thrilled to earn her very first passport stamp!  With three generations aboard, it would surely be a trip to remember.

My 31st birthday was May 26th and what better way to celebrate than to spend it on Jost Van Dyke with family?!! After picking up Bean at the airport, we immediately set sail for an overnight stop in Hawksnest Bay, St. John. (I couldn’t say Jeanne when I was little and now everyone calls her Bean. The name has stuck through all these years!) The morning of my birthday we sailed north to Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke.  It was a gorgeous sail with perfect winds. The Virgin Islands are truly spectactular – unlike anything we’ve seen on our journey so far. The way the islands are nestled together, it makes for some pretty perfect cruising grounds.

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With little room to anchor, we picked up a mooring ball toward the back of the mooring field. All four of us could hear Kenny Chesney singing a little song called Somewhere In The Sun inside our heads,

“Oh I wish I was there tonight on Jost Van Dyke
Sipping on some Foxy’s Firewater rum
Or kickin’ back with Ivan
With all my friends down in the islands
Wouldn’t take much for me to up and run
To another life somewhere in the sun”

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We made dinner reservations at Foxy’s for later that night. Luckily, it was a Monday and fairly quiet. Foxy’s can definitely get rowdy!

Dinner was outstanding and the ambiance was perfect. Just a quiet night with a little Caribbean Breeze… My kind of birthday!! 🙂

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Tuesday 5.27 we took a short dinghy ride over to White Bay, BVI. Mom was absolutely GLOWING!!! Happiness was spilling out of her like I’ve never seen before. The second she got in the water, it was as if she was HOME. I felt like she was welcoming us to the place where she belongs… Can you feel it too?

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Kickin’ back with Ivan…

Enjoy these photos of Ivan’s White Bay Campground and Stress Free Bar before it was torn down this summer. This famous beach bar is currently being rebuilt due to foundation damage from a rain storm 10 years ago! Rumor has it, Ivan’s will be back up and running this November, just in time for our return to JVD!! While most of the memories will be put back up, we’re sure Ivan will need lots of help with new decorations of seashells, t-shirts and autographs from all his visitors.

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What’s your favorite spot in the Virgin Islands???

Stay tuned for lots more photos of the time we spent in BVI! We are currently relaxing down in Grenada for the remainder of Hurricane Season. If you’re near Mt. Hartman Bay/Secret Harbor, come say hi!!!

Best SUP For A Liveaboard Sailboat

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Where The Coconuts Grow is sponsored by TOWER PADDLE BOARDS – A local San Diego company with a worldwide online store. We are proud to partner with this SUP manufacturer that you may have seen on ABC’s Shark Tank. They are based out of our hometown in sunny Southern California and we are happy to show some San Diego LOVE!

With a growing popularity among the cruising community, we saw pictures of the Tower iSUPs on several other blogs during the months we spent outfitting our boat. It wasn’t until the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show in 2013 that we became interested in actually buying one. After seeing the boards up close and personal, we decided we needed not one, but TWO 9’10” Adventurer iSUPs! It’s a good thing because we use them all the time now that we’re out cruising around. Click here to read about our first adventure on the paddleboards in the Bahamas.

Now that we’ve had some time to play around with our iSUPs, we’d like to share our experiences with you about the PROS and CONS of buying an Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board (iSUP) while living on a sailboat. Check out our Tower Paddle Board review:

PROS

– Rigidity

There were two blocks placed underneath each end of an Adventurer 9’10″ inflatable SUP at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show. Amazed at the rigidity, I called Peter over to test it out.  It’s designed to hold up to 300lbs when properly inflated and Peter had no trouble keeping his balance while trying to bounce up and down on the center of the board. In the water, the rigidity proves to be just as reliable as long as it’s inflated properly.

– Inflatable

The best part about buying an inflatable SUP is that they roll up nicely. While aware of the long passages we had planned, it was impractical to purchase more gear that would need to be strapped on deck so the fact that these iSUPs can be deflated and stowed neatly in our forward cabin while under way was a major selling point for us. If we are at anchor for awhile, we leave the boards inflated and stowed on deck. On short day sails, the boards are fine on deck, but when we are passagemaking, the boards are deflated and stowed in our forward cabin.

– Size

Tower offers various sizes of inflatable SUPs and several other options for their fiberglass boards. Even at 6′ tall Peter felt comfortable with the 9’10” board instead of the larger 14′ inflatable board. The 9’10” Adventurer iSUP is just small enough for me to carry on shore and to lift up and over the lifelines while deploying or bringing it back on board our boat. It’s also big enough to remain stable on the water while carrying a bunch of gear.

– Accessories

Tower offers a ton of accessories designed specifically to fit their boards. We have attached a Safari Pak to one of our boards for carrying our snorkel and fishing gear. The other board has plenty of room left for Betsy to ride along for an afternoon paddle. All the essentials are available like a pump, adjustable paddle, leashes, extra D-ring hooks, spare fins, fin bolts and traction pads. If you think you’re good enough to not need a leash, at the very least attach some sort of line to the board to be able to secure it to something while not in use but still in the water. We have leashes on both boards but we really only use them to secure the boards to the side of our boat or when visiting friends 🙂

Boards can be purchased individually or in packages that include the pump and an adjustable paddle. While we purchased the board only, not the package, we still recommend getting the package if you want to be ready to paddle right out of the box. Our inflatable dinghy pump had the same attachment fitting as Tower’s so we thought we didn’t need to spend the extra money on a second pump. Now we wish we had bought Tower’s pump made especially for their boards because our pump lets out too much air as it is being disconnected.

We ended up purchasing paddles with fiberglass handles from another company during a Cyber Monday sale but Tower now offers very nice fiberglass paddles (and other materials) on their site for those interested in upgrading their paddle.

– Convenience

Our favorite part about having two iSUPs on board is that they are so much easier to deploy than our dinghy. We can easily drop a paddle board in the water to go visit a neighboring boat in an anchorage, or take a walk on the beach, or check out a snorkel spot that is farther away than we want to swim. Peter has even taken one of the boards to check us in at Customs and Immigration after a long passage instead going to the hassle of dropping our dinghy and motor.

– Exercise

Stand Up Paddle Boarding is a fantastic way to get in shape. It uses core muscles for balance, upper body as well as leg strength. Access to land may not always be available but in a calm anchorage we can always paddle around for a little exercise. On a windy or choppy day it adds an extra level of challenge to stay standing. For the more adventurous types, some people enjoy SUP yoga and surfing!!

-Price

A Tower inflatable SUP costs several hundred dollars less than a regular board, and often much less than competitor inflatable boards. Tower frequently offers online sale pricing so be sure to check back often! **

-Shipping

Domestic orders over $250 or that include a paddle board qualify for free shipping! Shipping is fast and their customer service is exceptional. Shipping is also available worldwide for a fee.

CONS

– Fins

Two of the fins remain fixed. The larger center fin on our board must be removed in order to roll the iSUP back up into a nice space-saving bundle because the inflator valve is located at the head of the board. This has since been redesigned and the new Tower boards have the inflator valve at the foot of the board making it easy to start rolling from the head and leave the fin attached. Our boards came with fin screws to attach the center fin which eventually began to rust after just a few months in salt water, even after rinsing with fresh water after every use. The head on the bolt has very shallow grooves making it extremely difficult to tighten or loosen the bolt. The bolt is also easily dropped and may bounce off the deck going overboard – OOPS! Tower also took note of this design flaw and has since replaced the fin screws with plastic fasteners attached with a loop. Problem solved!

– Lack of D-Rings

The board only comes with one D-ring on each end. Additional D-rings or a Safari Pak must be purchased if  you want to attach a bungee cord to the front of the board for carrying gear. They are cheap to buy more but take note before making your purchase to avoid the hassle of ordering twice.

– Discoloration

The glue that binds the PVC seems together begins to turn yellow after just a short while of sun exposure.  This isn’t a Tower-exclusive issue though… any glue used on PVC, such as our dinghy, will become discolored with UV exposure. It’s only a cosmetic flaw but it sure was nice when the board was sparkling white 🙂 After two years in the sun, its hardly noticeable anymore, though it does happen.

– Handle

The webbing installed as a handle in the center of our boards has since disintegrated with UV damage and completely ripped off both boards. Again, Tower took note of this issue and has engineered way better handles out of more durable material for all their new boards. Lucky for everyone else!

After factoring in all of the Pros and Cons, we think the Tower Adventurer iSUP is the best SUP for a living on a sailboat!

**If you or anyone you know is interested in purchasing products from Tower Paddle Boards, PLEASE consider using one of our affiliate links above. Just like many other bloggers, we are part of Tower’s Affiliate Program which tracks where their sales are referred from. Simply access Tower Paddle Boards by clicking through from the links above first. Any subsequent products you search for on Tower’s website during that same internet session will help us out when you complete your purchase. It’s no additional cost to you and it will add a very nice chunk of commission into our cruising fund keeping us afloat for just a little longer. We truly appreciate your support!

Take a look at some of the amazing adventures we’ve had so far:

We go fishing…

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We take Betsy for ‘doggie paddle’ sessions…

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We play bumper boards seeing who can stay on their board the longest…

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We explore caves…

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We paddle to secluded beaches…

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We race…

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We paddle to the best snorkeling spots…

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And we cool off…

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A special thanks to Mom for capturing some great photos of us playing on our Tower Paddle Boards!!

If you’re interested in further reading, our friend Carolyn has a couple great articles about SUP Paddle Maintenance and how to introduce your dog to SUPing!

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.

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.

**If you’re in the market for any of our favorite products, please consider using one of our Tower or Amazon Affiliate links!