Adventures With Dad & Stacy

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When Dad and Stacy came to visit last December they had a blast learning to use the hookah dive system, playing with the underwater metal detector that they brought for us, fishing and hunting for lobster. They had a pretty cool vacation in the Caribbean if you ask me 😉

Take a look at some of the underwater fun we had…

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We’re currently in Carriacou, making our way down to Mt. Hartman Bay in Grenada this week. We’ll be catching up on publishing a LOT of photos over the next two months… stay tuned for more!!

Time To Head South

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Well boys and girls, the time has come for us to begin our journey South again. Where has the time gone?! We are two months into “H” season and before August is upon us we want to get down to the Windward Islands where statistically fewer named storms travel through.

If a ‘big one’ comes, we can race down to Trinidad with a few hundred other cruisers who will be watching the weather with us several times a day. The forecast for this H season is very light so we’re not too worried, though we are always cautious.

A favorable weather window has opened beginning this Friday 6.17.15. We’ll leave cozy Christmas Cove and sail up to Virgin Gorda, then point toward Guadeloupe and beyond!

Last year we made this journey at the end of June. You may recall how our first time through the OH-MY-GOD-A (Anegada) Passage went, but if you’re new to our blog, be sure to take a few minutes and read it here —> http://wp.me/p41bpr-IO

We definitely hope for a less eventful and more restful passage this time around.

If all goes to plan, our buddy-boat Necesse will be traveling with us. Eben will be returning this Thursday from a wild and crazy sailing adventure off the coast of Tanzania so he may want to wait until the next weather window before they follow in our wake. Either way, we look forward to many new adventures down island with them!

Only another week or two and we’ll be back at our FAVORITE place in the Caribbean, The Tobago Cays!

The Honest Kitchen: A better pet food

During a massive uproar about the class-action lawsuit against Purina/Beneful a few months back, our good friends on S/V Mirador had just lost their little dog Vanilla to complications that were potentially linked to feeding her Beneful, while devastatingly unaware of the concerns. The cruising lifestyle combined with being down in the islands makes quality pet food hard to find and even harder to afford. In a panic, I began researching the issue knowing we were (at the time) feeding our dogs the same thing. Beneful had seemed like the best option of dry dog food in stock on all the islands we had visited, and yet remained within a reasonable-to-high price range.

I’ve shared my home with dogs nearly all my life, though I never understood or even questioned the true importance of “quality dog food” until now. A few online discussions caught my attention and Peter and I both began spending countless hours researching safe dog foods and countless more hours finding out which ones were actually attainable in the US Virgin Islands.

Reviews and Recommendations:

We began noticing some trends in all the reviews. Grain-Free seemed to be the key in avoiding some common illnesses caused by many dry dog foods on the market. Overwhelmingly, I kept coming back to The Honest Kitchen. Though they do offer grain-free and gluten-free options, it’s not that important to select a grain-free formula from THK unless your pet has allergy issues. If selecting a regular dry food kibble on the other hand, your best bet for avoiding illness is choosing a grain-free formula.

Every review I found had only positive things to say about THK. Within hours of posting about our experience with Beneful, blog followers @wavetothewind (who contacted us on Twitter and even wrote a post about the food >>here<<) as well as S/V Irie on Facebook both gave us strong recommendations to give The Honest Kitchen a try.

Just recently, Reviews.com did an interesting study about the quality of ingredients in dog food. After reviewing all 2,219 formulas, they ended up with 119 dog food formulas — manufactured by 25 brands — that they confidently recommend.

The Honest Kitchen is one of those 25 brands.

Surprisingly, some of the brands many of my friends use back home didn’t make the cut because of ingredients:

  • Cesar
  • Chicken Soup
  • Eukanuba
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet
  • Hill’s Science Diet
  • Iams Veterinary Formula
  • Nutro
  • Nutro Ultra
  • Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets
  • Royal Canin
  • Nutro Natural

Dog Food Advisor states The Honest Kitchen Grain Free Dehydrated Food is “enthusiastically recommended as a superior dog food.”

The Honest Kitchen: Zeal made the shortlist of 22 Best Dry Dog Foods at PetFoodRatings.org

More about THK:

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If you visit The Honest Kitchen’s website, you’ll quickly learn they provide all natural human grade dog food and cat food products using dehydrated whole foods. Everything is produced in the USA from non-GMO produce, hormone-free meats and some organic, fair trade ingredients – all carefully sourced from around the world (and NEVER contain any ingredients from China).

They make dog food, cat food, treats and supplements with multiple options for grain free, gluten free and various life stages.

A rare approval by the FDA was given to THK certifying that their food is in fact human grade which means it is technically fit for human consumption. Standard pet food is made with ‘feed-grade’ ingredients by ‘feed-grade’ production methods and is unfit for human consumption. I was appalled to learn that ‘feed-grade ingredients’ can include by-products, chemicals, fillers and parts from ‘4D’ meats (animals which are dying, diseased, disabled or deceased)! We would never eat something like that so why should our pets have to?

Strict regulations are demanded of their suppliers and quality control testing is in place to ensure all THK products are safe.

So, why is it dehydrated?

THK explains all the benefits of dehydrating in comparison to processing kibble, canned, raw and homemade foods >>here<<. The actual process is described >>here<<.

We learned just how intricately connected pet food choices are to digestion issues, urinary tract and kidney issues, skin and coat problems, ear infections, body weight, energy levels and the overall health and longevity of our pets.

While the pricing for this food may seem steep, keep in mind a 10-lb box of THK dehydrated food is equivalent to a 40-lb bag of dry kibble food. We did the math and the numbers are very comparable, if not cheaper than other pet food products that have passed the same scrutinizing reviews shown above. To help ease the cost, there are several loyalty programs that give you free products based on the volume you purchase on a regular basis.

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Sustainability:

It has become increasingly important for companies and individuals to ‘go green’ and reduce our carbon footprint on our planet. THK is no exception. They have succeeded in many ways to do their part to reduce their pawprint!

They pride themselves on green production, green ingredients, green business and even green packaging that is 100% biodegradable and BPA-free.

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The ultimate pet food for living on a boat:

Not only do we believe The Honest Kitchen provides a better pet food than all the rest, it happens to only come in a convenient, space-saving size, perfect for living on a boat!

I’ve written before about how we store dog food in our tiny floating home, but we’re still limited on just how much we can store at one time. Now that we are committed to only feeding our dogs high quality food, we stock up with enough food to sustain Betsy and Gunner when we know we will be traveling.  For example, when we travel South to Grenada for Hurricane Season (July through November), there is absolutely ZERO quality pet foods available in the rest of the Caribbean. The Honest Kitchen food is long-life, shelf-stabile for up to 12 months at room temperature so stocking up for long periods of time won’t compromise the quality of the food. Storing SIX 10-lb boxes of THK food sure is easier than storing SIX 40-lb bags of dry kibble 🙂

Try it out FOR FREE!

I’m incredibly excited to share with you that I was accepted into the Ambassador Program for The Honest Kitchen!

As an Ambassador, I am able to provide a personalized link which will automatically apply a promo code to your online cart for a FREE sample pack (within the U.S.). Only a small shipping charge of $1 applies. All sample packs will also include an $8-off coupon for a future purchase!

1. Click through to my personalized link: http://bit.ly/1TnVAz0

2. You’ll see a pop-up message telling you the code has been successfully applied. Select the option from the drop-down menu that is best for your pet(s). The DOG pack contains two grain-free options, good for dogs of any age. Definitely try these if your pup has allergies or other sensitivities. The CAT pack contains one of each of the two cat foods available, both of which are grain-free.

3. After adding one of the sample packs to your cart, the promo will be automatically applied (if you use this special link). The cost of the sample pack will be zero and shipping will only be $1(within the US). All sample packs will include an $8-off coupon for future purchases! If you’d like to add additional sample packs to your order, a small fee will apply. Please let me know if you do not receive a confirmation email and I will send you a coupon code for the free sample instead.

Using this link gives you a no-strings-attached, risk-free opportunity to try THK, and using this link will also award my account with points which I can redeem for dog food for Betsy and Gunner! As a result, hopefully you’ll come to see the value in this awesome company and decide to make the switch for your own furry children as well as educating others about THK in the future.

Don’t forget to check the individual product page online to find out ‘how much to feed’ of each formula!

Though I don’t receive points for any future purchases made, I strongly endorse THK and hope you’ll continue to order from them when your sample is gone, as well as helping educate as many people as possible about the importance of healthy pet food. Please share this article with anyone else that may be interested!!

Shipping Info:

At this time, shipping is only offered to US addresses only. For orders to AK/HI/PR/USVI: A shipping charge between $2.50 and $5.00 will apply for the sample packs. The price of the sample is still free with the code for new customers though the shipping fee is required to these locations. For sample packs or product purchase orders to AK HI and PR, transactions can be made online. Orders for USVI must be placed over the phone by calling the Customer Service line at 619-544-0018.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. If you’ve tried THK before, leave a comment and tell us about your experience!

(All photos published with permission, compliments of The Honest Kitchen, available at www.thehonestkitchen.com)

Dad Comes To Visit

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In December, Dad and Stacy finally came down to visit us! Although they had never seen the boat in person, they were so excited to take a vacation and come visit us that they booked a whole three weeks!

Stacy was able to use timeshare credits for a smokin’ deal at The Elysian Hotel which is directly across from where our boat was in Christmas Cove. They spent the first three days of their trip with a view from shore. Palm trees, a sandy beach, good food, and iguanas! What more could you ask for?

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They spent a bit of time exploring on land after making friends with our favorite taxi driver, Yisrael, who moonlights as a jumbie dancer at Iggie’s.

Eventually it came time for them to move aboard and join us in Christmas Cove.

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We spent a day or two enjoying the clear blue water and took them on some snorkeling expeditions. Check out this tiny little fish that lives inside a hole in the coral… can you see him?

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Peter and I shared the beauty and peacefulness of the evenings with Dad and Stacy. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but photos still just don’t do this lifestyle justice. You’ve got to see it in person to really take it all in.

It was just the beginning of their trip but they had already seen so many beautiful moments. I can only hope this helps them understand a bit more about why I’m down here in the Caribbean instead of back in rainy Seattle where they came from.

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We sailed away from Christmas Cove toward the South side of St. John.

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“Sure doesn’t look like the daily commute you’re used to, does it Dad?”

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In the quiet little anchorage we settled in, we spotted deer swimming across the bay! They scattered up over the rocky shore and up into the hillside.

We spent the next couple of days enjoying the solitude of the South side and Dad was quick to pick up the nearest power tool to help Peter with a few urgent boat projects. Together they reengineered the brackets for our two new 155-watt Kyocera solar panels which would replace the two 80-watt panels that were on either side of our lifelines. The 80’s got moved up to the bow and rewired in series to add a little boost to our solar array, though they aren’t as efficient as they used to be.

The reason for the urgency to add more solar panels is because our two 105-watt Aurinco panels had both just failed. They are still both under warranty but the manufacturer is refusing to honor the 2-year 100% warranty and it has turned into a huge mess. We depend on solar power to run our systems on a daily basis and to have our two strongest panels both simultaneously fail after less than a years time, we couldn’t waste any time in replacing them with panels we could trust. It got to a point where we couldn’t run our 12-volt watermaker without having the generator on. Disappointing to say the least. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on all the details of this nasty mess and why we strongly discourage anyone from purchasing semi-flexible Aurinco Solar Panels.

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We took plenty of time to play around in the water and show Dad and Stacy how we like to spend our afternoons 🙂

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Gunner and Betsy got to go to shore and run around!

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Gunner usually needs a little convincing before he will swim around.

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And of course, Peter and Dad went fishing every chance they could 🙂 I don’t think I’ve met anyone that loves to fish more than these two.

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Stay tuned for more adventures from when Dad and Stacy visited back in December!

We’re currently back in Christmas Cove where I am working at Pizza Pi. We are preparing to head back down island to Grenada in just a few weeks. My oh my how the time flies…

Denali: More Than Just A Viral Video

This morning I woke up to make coffee, then sat down to check my messages on the computer. I kept seeing this video called ‘Denali’ appear in my feed. Normally I don’t stream videos because of the bandwidth it takes to watch them, however I had a feeling this would be worth the data. It’s about this surfer/photographer, Ben Moon, who (together with a director and cinematographer) made a gorgeous video dedicated to his dog, Denali. (The article on littlethings.com gives a little more perspective and background on the video, as well as why it is is narrated by the point of view of Denali. Check it out HERE.)

I hit play and waited for the video to load. Sure enough, within the first two minutes my eyes were welling up. With tears streaming down my face, I clicked to share this post with you.
It’s more than just a viral video that will make you cry too. It’s more than incredible photography and cinematography. It’s more than a love story between a man and his dog.
This is a video that hits home for me with impeccable timing. Take a few moments to watch the video and come back to read why I shared this.

Though Gunner was 12 when we first brought him to the boat, we knew the day would come, eventually, when he would need to say goodbye. Over the last few months it’s become apparent to Peter and I that Gunner’s days are numbered. 

He’s been my sweet boy since the summer of my senior year in high school. He went off to college with me and guarded our home when I went off to work. He’s been on many adventures with me and I never considered even for a second that he was too old or too big to come with us when we made the decision to move onto a sailboat and sail away.

I’m not gonna lie… It’s not easy having a 75 lb Weimaraner on a sailboat, let alone a senior dog who is having trouble with his hips and his bowels. He can still hold his bladder well but he’s quickly losing the ability to know when he needs to go #2. We’re keeping him on a tight routine for trips outside to go potty on deck and it’s still mostly manageable but we know the situation isn’t going to get any better. Accidents happen when we’re least prepared, like when we are sleeping, or when we are trying to anchor, or even when guests are coming to visit.

I’ve been struggling how to write about this for awhile now. How do you know when it’s time? How do you know how much pain they are in? HOW DO YOU KNOW?!!?

I’ve never been through this with an old dog before. I’ve never been the one to have to make the decision. I can only pray that Gunner will make it for me and let me know, as Denali did for Ben Moon.

Until then, we show him as much love as we can each and every day.

Feels Like Home in the USVI

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After our 3 and a half-day passage North from Grenada to the US Virgin Islands, we spent a few days relaxing in Christmas Cove before sailing off again for more adventures.

Peter and I had both heard that St. Thomas wasn’t going to be terribly exciting to see, though there were a couple places we shouldn’t miss. Honeymoon Bay off Water Island was one of those places. It’s an idyllic little cove with umbrellas and bright colored chairs strewn across the palm tree lined beach. We also heard there is a movie night held on Mondays where they project against canvas tied up between the palm trees. Though we never made it to shore, the view from the anchorage was perfect.

After a couple nights, the swell direction changed and it wasn’t just ferry wakes rocking us ragged. The constant swell wrapping around the point was enough for us to move.

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We couldn’t leave, however, without taking a long dinghy ride out to some snorkeling spots to hunt for lobster. Much of the US Virgin Islands are protected either by National Park or Marine Preserve where there are restrictions on fishing and lobstering. It’s tricky to find places that aren’t protected, though there are a few. Leave it to the Lobbie Whisperer to find them…

We set up our hookah dive compressor, The Air Line, and jumped in.

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Just under the surface we saw a little nurse shark. They’re fun to see because in the day they are usually resting. I’d much rather see one of these little guys than a bull shark or huge Caribbean reef shark!

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Within minutes, Peter spotted a hole with four or five lobsters poking their antennae out, almost as if to say, “Pick me! Pick me!”

For those of you wondering what Peter is holding, it’s a snare. In the USVI you are not allowed to spear lobster with a gun or a pole spear, you can only catch them by hand or with a snare. This ensures that if you pull out a female with eggs or one that is too small, you can safely let it go. With a spear, you often don’t find out there are eggs until its too late.

Hunting lobster is truly an art and Peter has mastered it beautifully.

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Another successful hunt followed by a gorgeous sunset.

“I think I could get used to this life,”

Of all the islands we’ve visited, the USVI feels most like home. I think we’ll stay for awhile.

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What place feels like home to YOU?

Remembering Mary Christine

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May 25, 2015 marked three years since the ruthless disease of Breast Cancer stole Christine away from us.

Mary Christine Pieschel   10/11/1954 ~ 05/25/2012

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She would have loved to be on this adventure with us, and it is especially in her honor Peter and I are out here now while we are still young. We know she is watching over us and she continues to inspire us every day to keep doing what makes us happy.

She fought as long as she could and wore the biggest smile you had ever seen until the very end. She touched many lives and will forever be remembered for the amazing woman, mother, sister, aunt, daughter and friend that she was.

After hearing countless memories remembered and retold by loved ones, there is no doubt in my mind that Peter gets his adventurous spirit from his mother, Christine, and his father, Pete. They were both taken from this world far too soon yet both live on through their only son as he follows his dreams and his heart. They would both be so very proud.

Life is short, enjoy the time you have to the very fullest and do whatever it is that makes you happy.

Below is a very special photo that Peter had never seen until just a few months ago. Shown from left to right are the most influential people that helped raise him to be the man he is today: Lucile (Peter’s aunt and Christine’s twin sister), Christine (mother), Pete (father), and Wiley (Pete’s best friend and Godfather/step-father to Peter).

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Christine passed away with her longtime partner Dave by her side. He meant the world to her and has always been an amazing father-figure to Peter.

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WE LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU!!!

Christine’s twin sister Lucile has been participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-day walk in San Diego (60 miles in three days) for the last four years and has rallied a team of over 100 people walking in honor of Christine. She walks because she told her sister she would never stop…

Tiny House Recap: March and April

ragdoll-13Have you been following my weekly posts on TinyHouseBlog.com? In case you’ve missed any, here’s a recap of the posts that were published in March and April:

Tiny Floating Homes: Winterlude –> CLICK HERE

Tiny Floating Homes: Terrapin –> CLICK HERE

Safety At Sea: Inside a Ditch Bag and Med Kit –> CLICK HERE

Tiny Floating Homes: Salty –> CLICK HERE

Keeping Cool in the Caribbean –> CLICK HERE

Tiny Floating Homes: Rag Doll –> CLICK HERE

If there’s any Tiny House Topics you’d like to hear more about, leave a comment and let me know!

Goodbye Grenada, Hello Virgin Islands

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I know, I know, I’m terribly behind in sharing with you all what we’ve been up to the last six months. I’ve been a bit more active on Facebook but it’s time I catch up here on the blog. Lets step back in time a bit…

It was the end of November when we decided to pack up and leave our cozy little anchorage as we waved ‘Goodbye Grenada’. Our friend Steve on Lunacy was aiming for the same weather window we were to head North before the Christmas Winds arrived, though he took off a few days before us (pictured above). He knew it would be a little rough but preferred to have enough wind to sail the entire way and not have to motor as long as he could help it. We, on the other hand, preferred to wait for slightly calmer waters.

Instead of island hopping up the chain, we plotted a course straight to USVI from Grenada. The first day offshore was a bit uncomfortable, but we had been through worse. Eventually the wind and waves subsided and we motor-sailed the rest of the way in the light and variable winds. Could we have handled the rougher conditions that Steve experienced and used less fuel? Sure. Did we want to put the stress on our boat and on ourselves? No. Because we have dogs on board, rough conditions make it very challenging to take the dogs potty on deck and to simply make sure they’re safe. Gunner is getting older and we agreed it would be better for all of us if we took it easy.

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I’d say Gunner was comfortable, wouldn’t you? 🙂

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It was just us and the ocean. All alone. We were maybe 100nm away at most from any land though it felt as if we were in the middle of nowhere. After living in Grenada for a solid 4 months it was really strange to be on a passage again. Only this time, we felt at home. It was a new experience in the sense that it was our longest offshore passage to date, though we knew what to expect and we were prepared in a way that we hadn’t been before. A little bit of experience goes a long way.

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I had made a few ziplocks full of popcorn to snack on and the dogs sure were happy to share. It’s been Gunner’s favorite treat since he was a puppy so he was pretty excited when Peter kept tossing him some as we leisurely cruised along.

We saw gorgeous sunsets and sunrises, each with new palettes of colors painting the entire sky.

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We saw The Green Flash and even captured it on camera a few times… Can you see it? Look close.

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Before we knew it, three and a half days had passed by and we were sailing into the US Virgin Islands. We passed by St. Croix and headed for Great St. James Island. Little did we know, Christmas Cove would be our home for the next six months.

We are currently STILL sitting in Christmas Cove and preparing to had back down island for Hurricane Season. Stay tuned for photos of all the friends and family that came down to visit and kept us busy during the last six months!

Tiny House Blog: A Life Less Ordinary

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Our friends Wes and Elizabeth were a bit hesitant at first to stay in our tiny floating home but once they arrived it didn’t take long for them to see why we’re so happy living this life less ordinary.

“They shared how the most surprising part of their visit was learning how easy it is to live simply.”

Click the link to read my latest post originally published on Tiny House Blog –>> A Life Less Ordinary

Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts!