View from the pool deck.
Leaving St. Augustine

16 Things I've Learned During Our First Month of Cruising


In no particular order:

1. Don't wear socks in the bunk while sleeping off watch. If you need to get up to assist on a boat heeled over, those socks will cause you to skate down to the leeward side of the boat bouncing off the mast and dinette, creating numerous bruises. Just sleep barefoot or in boat shoes and socks.

2. The easy way to make egg salad sandwiches. I learned this after I dropped the egg carton, cracking 6 eggs.  Simply make fully cooked "lake eggs" (that's dropped eggs or poached eggs to most of you). No need to peel hard cooked eggs. Just drain them well, let them cool a bit and mash 'em up. I cannot believe it took me umpty-ump years to think of this. Tastes just the same. EW never knew these eggs weren't hard boiled until I told him. This is a great galley tip.  You are very welcome.

3. Get a kitchen timer.  Someone else will have the watch and phone while you are making bread. EW said the bread was "pre-toasted". It did work for toast, but was a bit crunchy for sandwiches. I cut the last of it up into cracker-sized squares and toasted them in garlic and olive oil. That was excellent with home-made tappenade. But get a kitchen timer, anyway.

4. I have little will power against teeny tiny Tootsie Rolls.  I have twice purchased a bag a few days prior to departure and have eaten more than half of each bag before lifting the anchor. Purchasing more is not an option. 

5. Yes! You do lose weight under way on a boat. Both EW and I have lost over 10 pounds. We are not always eating wisely (see #4 above), but we are practicing portion control and it takes a lot of small, constant movement (involuntary isometric exercise) to keep upright on a boat at sea. 

6. Night watches are 98% boring. I may have to get a Kindle or Nook.  When we're going down the coast and have cell reception I Tweet and post short blogs. Sometimes we do puzzles or read with a flashlight. That, of course messes up our night vision. Night watches are supposed to be boring. the alternative usually means there's something wrong, such as running out of fuel or being in a gale. (Been there, done that.)

7. I suck at menu planning. Also at keeping a record of our meals. We may starve in the Bahamas. EW better catch some fish -- so far he hasn't tried. We also aren't eating 5 - 9 fruits and veggie servings a day. Thank goodness Dr. W. at Great Island suggested that we bring along a bunch of V-8. He said that does count for vegetable servings.

8.So far sea sickness isn't a big issue. My mal de mer occurs only during the first 24 hours of a passage or in storms around Cape May and I just get queasy. It is worse when I'm working below -- cooking, cleaning, navigating, brushing my teeth.  A quick trip to shore or a protected harbor for a few hours takes me back to hour zero. This may be one of the reasons I've lost weight.

9.Our fairly new VHF radio receiver can recieve from a long distance. It's disconcerting to be sailing down the North Carolina coast and hear the Coast Guard in Rhode Island on Channel 16. This is one of the things that makes it seem like we are in a small world - or perhaps we just haven't traveled as far as we think we have. 

10. We need boat cards ASAP. I've designed them. Have to print them. Am having a software glitch - actually I've it's definitely a user glitch that I need to resolve.

11. The majority of marinas we've visited do not understand the power of the web. So far they keep listing their street address and offering Google maps. None have displayed thier GPS coordinates. Many marinas don't have active websites. Many of those who have websites don't put a phone number or which radio channel they monitor on their home page. In a world of smart phones and wireless connections this is just dumb -- and annoying.

12. What we are doing is nothing compared to the folks who have gone before. I am in awe of the folks who set sail and followed their dreams 20, 30, 40 and 50 years ago. We've read many of their books. They did not have the technology we have; they had many fewer resources and boats with many fewer conveniences. They plotted their course with the stars and never expected to be rescued by any Coast Guard. I am not their equal and never will be, and I salute them and thank them for the courage they had to pursue their dreams. The things they learned and the industry it produce have allowed us to achieve the opportunity to pursue our dreams.

12. If I had to go all the way south in the ICW (Intra Costal Waterway) I'd go stark raving mad.  We can hear the radio traffic when we're running near the coastline. "Easy Pass" "Port to Port, Captain" and other phrases are heard over and over again. We went six miles up the ICW in the Norfolk area. No rest while underway and no auto pilot.

On the other hand ...

13. My feeling about the ICW may be sour grapes.  As we were motoring south toward Cape Hatteras. listening to the radio traffic was like listening to a party to which one was not invited. I hate missing anything. (Those who know me will realize that this is not a revelation.)

14. The longest 10 minutes on a three hour watch are the last 10 before I wake up EW. The second longest are the 10 it takes him to get ready to relieve me. In good weather and on open ocean, three hour watches work very well for us. We have formal watch for 18 hours a day:

3 - 6 PM Barb

6 - 9 PM EW

9 - Midnight Barb

12 - 3 AM EW

3 - 6 AM Barb

6 - 9 AM EW

During those watches, the person off watch sleeps (or tries to), no boat projects and little cooking are done.  Between 9 AM and 3 PM one of us is on watch and the other is napping, cooking, cleaning or doing a boat project. We can read and do other things while on watch.  During storms, (or during the only storm we've had, we keep 24 hour watches. When we are entering an unfamiliar harbor, we are both awake and alert. This watch system allows us to get 6 - 8 hours of sleep each day. 

15. You have to fear Cape Fear. And probably a lot of other capes. I intend to find out why. In the meantime, I'm going to give each Cape we encounter a lot of respect.

16.  Nothing is perfect. But this lifestyle is 99.9% perfect for me. That works.



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Alex Nislick

Barb, I would suggest you get an iPad as there is both a Nook and Kindle app for it. Also I have the Audible app which I download audio books. There are also apps with free books on them. Also a great sailing app is called buoy finder. Which will show you the weather at the nearest or next weather buoy, and has a bottom to give you the nearest NOAA marine weather forecast. PS I am sending this message from my iPad. Fair winds Alex N.


Thanks, Alex. That is definitely something we'll look into!


Connie Durrell

You'll be able to write your own book and not have to read others by the way it looks! You are learning a lot and that can be very helpful to others!!!

Love ya,

Mike Laurence

Glad to hear all is well, if not boring... On my trip from FL to ME, (mast was too tall for ICW) I had the 3-7 watch and I loved it! Sunrises and Sunsets! We had a "Marina Guide" for the short portion we were not offshore and I thought it contained LAT/LON...? Of course, that was way back when there was a Playboy Club in Atlantic City! Please say HI to your Captain for me!
Stay safe,
Mike L.

Tim Metcalf


I'm the guy who commented on seeing you and EW anchored in Hampton while I waited to start the Caribbean 1500. You may be interested to learn that we got about 700nm south and east (south of Hatteras and across the Gulf Stream) when all of our navigation electronics and our autopilot stopped working. We decided to hand steer to Bermuda, about 300nm away. I'll be going back to Bermuda in mid-December to help get the boat, now repaired, to St. Thomas.

With regards your "16 things," I have a few observations:

1) Great tip. Everyone forgets that the boat tips.
2) Thanks!
6) I vote for a Kindle. Remember that you will still need a (preferably red) headlamp to read it, as Amazon's "e-ink" is not back lit. Still, if you shut off the network access, the Kindle's battery life is excellent.

It sounds like you guys are doing great. Keep up the good work!



I agree with Tim on the Kindle. I have Kindle on my android phone, but the battery life is nothing compared with the Kindle. Also, I think it would be better to use the red light with kindle than the backlit ipad or other device, as far as night vision is concerned.

I am Sue, by the way. My hubby and I are preparing a 56 ft. steel Roberts ketch to move aboard this month, then take to Alaska in January.

Here is our blog:

I love reading other blogs!

And, thanks for the 16 tips!

The comments to this entry are closed.