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!

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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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Tiny House Magazine: tiny house BIG COCONUTS

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Ever wonder what it’s like to live in a Tiny Floating Home? Be sure to check out Issue 19 in Tiny House Magazine! Our second article for THM “tiny house BIG COCONUTS”  was just published and is available now in PDF format or from the iTunes store.

We are thrilled to be a part of this awesome community. If you’re new to Tiny House Living, be sure to take a look at the magazine and blog to read about some Big Ideas in these Tiny Houses.

Our first article, “Home Is Where The Anchor Drops” can be found HERE.

Read more about us and follow our adventures at www.wherethecoconutsgrow.com

For all the updates, “LIKE” our page on Facebook!

The Spanish Virgins: Paradise in Culebrita

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Mom was SO excited to go for her first sail! We left Salinas on May 18th around 8:30 at night. It was beautiful and still inside the harbor. As we motored out, we saw not one but TWO flares go off, just East of us outside the harbor. Couldn’t be fireworks. They were most definitely flares. Peter immediately got on the radio announcing what we saw and the US Coast Guard responded right away. They asked that we call them from our Sat Phone to give them all the details. They asked what our course was, the approximate location of the flares, the seconds between the shots, the angle and speed of the flares and any other information we could give them. It was really quite reassuring how totally “On It” the Coast Guard was. I mean, you always wonder if you really needed help, would anyone hear you?

Within what seemed like minutes, a helicopter was flying above us with a spotlight. We never did find out if they found whoever had shot off the flares but hopefully everyone was okay.

The seas along the Southern Coast of Puerto Rico were nasty. The night lees we found in the DR were long gone and the Trade Winds were creating something fierce on the surface of the seas. The waves had the shortest period we had encountered yet, bashing against our hull as we motored hard to wind. Uncomfortable was a mild way to put it. After just a short while, Mom wasn’t feeling too well, giving her a terrible first impression of her journey.

Mom stayed up with me for my watches and we slept when Peter took watch. 15 hours later we arrived at Puerto Real, Vieques, around 11:30 am. We decided to take it easy that day and stay overnight. The next day, we left Puerto Real and took a short trip over to Ensenada Honda (or The Turtles). The day after that (May 21st), the weather looked good and we decided to take a three-hour sail and detour up to Culebrita instead of heading straight to the USVI.

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As we rounded the point into the anchorage on Culebrita, we saw a gorgeous white sand beach and clear blue water. This place looked like PARADISE compared to the anchorages we had been staying in ever since the Bahamas. There were about 4 boats on mooring balls near the beach. We decided to anchor in a sandy patch a little further back.

Peter took off on a paddle board to go say hi to our friends on Rainbow, just across the anchorage. Last time we saw Rainbow was back in La Parguera so it was nice to see a familiar boat. We spend a fantastic three days here in this magical little place. If we ever come back this way, we will definitely schedule in some extra time to come back here. One of our favorite places for sure.

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Lobster Season on Culebrita happens to be YEAR ROUND! The anchorage here is also on the North Coast of the island which is supposedly not affected by Ciguatera, notoriously found on the South side of Vieques and Culebra. Within the first 15 minutes of snorkeling around the reef nearest our boat, Peter spotted a monster lobster down about 20′. He used his snare to catch him and quickly swam towards a sandy patch away from the reef. If the lobster were to get loose, it’s best to take it where there is no where to hide. By handling lobster over the reef, they can easily wiggle away and crawl into a hole faster than we can swim back down.

We stayed on Culebrita for three nights. Every night we were there we had fresh grilled lobster. Peter dove hard for them for many hours and always towards the end of the day he would come up with some of the biggest lobster we’ve ever seen. Although leery of the larger fish, he hooked a few mutton snapper off the back of the boat each night as well. The larger ones have a higher chance of containing Ciguatera so Peter let those ones get away.

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Gunner and Betsy had SOOOO much fun swimming at the beach! Betsy would spend the whole day in the water if she could. Gunner goes back to the dinghy when he’s tired and barks at us to lift him back in 🙂

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Gunner wasn’t too sure about our dinghy anchor…

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Gunner was very excited to find a coconut up on the beach. He kicked it around a few times but eventually figured out he couldn’t eat it. I think he likes to be where the coconuts grow just as much as we do!

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Friday was the start of Memorial Day Weekend. All the Puerto-Rican power boats cruised in, one after another, after another, after another!! We were amazed at how many there were. 60+ at least. Other cruisers had told us about the “Puerto-Rican Navy,” and that this is a regular occurrence on the weekends but we didn’t understand until we saw it ourselves. The music got louder, the wake got larger, and the bikini bottoms got smaller. It kind of ruined the whole place. Being anchored next to a bunch of rowdy naked people partying all night long is not our idea of paradise so we got out of there as fast as we could.

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It was a short sail over to St. Thomas, USVI, on the 24th of May. We arrived just in time to pick up my grandmother (Mom’s mom) who everyone knows as “Bean” the very next day.  We’ve had some pretty amazing timing on this adventure and this is just another example of how everything happens for a reason, at exactly the right time!