Keeping Cool in the Caribbean

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Peter and I spend the majority of our days at anchor. We sail from one place to another and settle in after finding an anchorage that is relatively protected from the wind and waves. When the wind dies down, our tiny floating home heats up like an oven in the hot Caribbean sun.

There are no big trees to park under or hillsides to hide behind. We are always positioned away from land surrounded by a glistening, reflective surface.

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We use the stove to heat water in the morning for coffee, and wait until the sun goes down to use the oven or stove for cooking dinner.

We have several 12-volt fans throughout the boat and run them to keep air circulating in the tiny odd-shaped spaces like where our bed is.

Most of the time there is a steady breeze to keep us cool. Hatches remain open to let the cool Caribbean breeze blow through our home. It rains for just a few minutes almost every night and we wake up to close everything, then reopen the hatches when the rain stops.

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To beat the heat during the day we stay in the shade of our cockpit or out of the sun inside the boat. The sun’s rays are strong where we travel (between 12 and 18-degrees North) and we are careful to wear hats and sunscreen often.

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We do have air conditioning on the boat but in order to run it, we need to be plugged in to shore power at a dock or the generator needs to be on. It’s a luxury to use every once in awhile but usually more of a hassle than it’s worth.

In interest of saving energy and fuel, we often opt for the easiest way to stay cool. We’re in the water ALL THE TIME!

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We snorkel almost every day exploring reefs, looking for treasure, swimming with turtles and identifying different kinds of coral and fish.

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Peter loves freediving, lobster hunting and spearfishing. I can’t hold my breath as long as him, but he’s practically a fish anyway. He grew up surfing and diving in San Diego, California and he’s almost more comfortable in the water than out.

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Life on a sailboat makes it easy to enjoy water sports like surfing, paddleboarding, kiteboarding, and wakeboarding.

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We love going on adventures involving water like The Baths in Virgin Gorda and the 27 Waterfalls in The Dominican Republic.

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My tiny floating home carries me to new tropical adventures every day. Keeping cool isn’t always easy but we sure have fun trying!

(All photos published with permission, courtesy of www.wherethecoconutsgrow.com)

By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]

Tiny Floating Homes: Terrapin

The Nance family is living aboard a 45′ sailboat. Their tiny floating home, Terrapin, is the perfect size for this family of four. Phil, Aimee and their two daughters, Jessica and Emma, have been out cruising for a total of 46 days after sailing south from their hometown of San Diego, California.

They are currently stopped in Puerto Vallarta. Though their adventures have only just begun, they have experienced some amazing experiences so far.

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Why Sail Away?

Aimee explains it best…

“After a few years of Phil and I commuting over 1.5 hours each way in opposite directions and having to pay a nanny to raise our girls, we knew we were ‘doing it wrong’. We never had quality time with our girls. Dinner with all of us present almost never happened and we missed having quality family time. We had considered a couple different ideas like moving to Europe for Phil’s postdoc or buying an RV and traveling the U.S. Neither of these ideas were perfect for us. Then one day while getting ready for work, Phil somewhat jokingly said we should sell everything, buy a boat and set sail. He showed me a few blogs of other families that had decided to do the same thing and within 3 days I agreed to his idea. In less than 2 years we sold our home and 90% of our possessions, bought a boat and set sail!

We chose the cruising lifestyle because of the ability to have quality family time while giving our girls an incredible experience at the same time. So far we’ve gotten more than we could have asked for. In the short period of time we’ve been sailing, we’ve seen things that some people only read about in books. Just recently we saw a huge pod of grey whales, a pod of dolphins and Phil swam with a mom and baby Humpback whale (and got videos)! We’ve had family night swims in phosphorescents which amazed all of us. Every day we wake up to new adventures.” Continue reading

Tiny Floating Homes: WINTERLUDE

When Peter and I first moved aboard our 42′ sailboat back in October of 2013, we met another cruising couple that shall forever remain very near and dear to us. David and Jan were staying in the same marina where we bought our boat. They live aboard their 1985 Passport 37, Winterlude, spending half the year on land and half the year on the water which leads to the idea behind the name of their website: CommuterCruiser.com

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Jan has written countless how-to articles and invaluable informational posts about the cruising lifestyle. We had been reading her posts long before we met them and gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about boat life from Commuter Cruiser. If you’re at all curious about the ins and outs of living on a boat, I highly recommend searching around the Commuter Cruiser website!

We had hardly any sailing experience before we bought Mary Christine so David and Jan kindly took us under their wing and showed us the basics. They went with us for a very memorable Maiden Voyage and helped us build the confidence we needed. Many boat owners end up staying at the dock for years before sailing off into the sunset but we knew we wanted to get out there as soon as possible. To this day, David and Jan are a huge part of the inspiration we needed to take a leap of faith and follow our dreams.

Continue reading

Tiny Floating Homes: PIZZA PI

Get ready to see the hottest tiny house around! Literally. Here’s PIZZA PI…

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Sasha and Tara Bouis have turned their tiny floating home into a FOOD BOAT serving fresh baked pizza served on delicious made-from-scratch slow-fermentation New York style crust. Each pizza is made to order with fresh local ingredients. They offer a gluten-free menu and they have even partnered with a local ice-creamery, Scoops and Brew, to serve the best ice cream in the islands!

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Pizza and ice cream, on a sailboat, in the Caribbean. Does it get any better than that?

THE CREW

Capt. Sasha began his journey in Manhattan. He graduated from MIT and spent years working on Wall Street. His passion for the sea grew so strong, he decided to leave it all behind and become a sailboat captain. The chilly waters near his home town sent him in search of a warmer climate, landing him in the beautiful Virgin Islands where he met Tara in 2007.

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Chef Tara graduated from IU in 2005 and taught Elementary Special Education in Indiana while spending the summers teaching SCUBA in the Caribbean. She met Sasha and knew her heart belonged in the islands with him. After taking a leap of faith, Tara is now an award-winning yacht chef and an expert at biting off more than she can chew. Tara designed the entire layout before renovating Pi and then built it herself! The result? The most amazing floating home ever!

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THE BOAT

Pi is a 37 ft. G.L. Watson design built in 1996 in Sheffield, England.  The entire boat is built with a whopping quarter-inch thick aluminum plate. She’s a sturdy motorsailor equipped with a vintage Perkins 4.236 engine and sails to carry her wherever the wind blows.

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THE GALLEY

To keep up with the water demand for washing dishes, Sasha and Tara fitted a DIY water maker that produces up to 40-gallons per hour.

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The galley boasts commercial equipment such as the Baker’s Pride P44S-BL (Brick Lined) oven measuring 26″w x 28″h x 28″d. There are two separately controlled baking chambers and each chamber has two 21″ decks. This allows for cranking out 4 pizzas every 15 minutes! Sasha designed a hood ventilation system to direct the heat up and out keeping the galley nice and cool.

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They also installed an industrial 20-quart Hobart mixer and a mechanical hanging basket scale for dough-making. The hanging scale is much better than a regular mechanical scale on a boat because the measurements aren’t affected by the rocking motion caused by waves.

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To support the electrical demands of all these appliances, Pi is outfitted with (2) 130 watt Kyocera solar panels, a 12kw Northern Lights Generator and a hefty battery bank.

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THE LIVING SPACE

Sasha and Tara spent two years building Pi into everything they dreamed she could be. They turned her into a fully operational vessel as well as a very cozy tiny floating home. They lived aboard after all the basic necessities were finished during the construction process, right up until Pizza Pi was officially open for business. Due to Health Department requirements, they can’t actually LIVE on the boat anymore but they maintain the functionality that makes this the most awesome tiny floating home around!

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If you’re interested in seeing how Pi was transformed from a bare aluminum shell to a smokin’ hot pizza joint in the Virgin Islands, check out Sasha and Tara’s blog as they catalogued the whole process.

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PIZZA PI VI is located in the beautiful Christmas Cove, Great St. James Island near the East end of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. Christmas Cove has FREE mooring balls, amazing snorkeling and some of the best sunsets of all the Virgin Islands.

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Taking a trip to USVI soon? Visit www.pizza-pi.com for more information or check them out here:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pizzapivi
Twitter: @pizzapivi
Instagram: pizzapivi

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Hail PIZZA PI on VHF Channel 16 to place your order. You can also call or email it in too. Just tell them what you want and swing by in your dinghy to pick it up 15 minutes later. Pizza Pi prefers credit cards but happily accepts cash. If you visit often, you can ask for a Captain’s Card.

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Pizza Pi will even deliver! (Within Christmas Cove that is.)

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By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]

 

 

Water Water Everywhere

Water Water Everywhere

If you travel the way I do, water is everywhere. It plays a very important role in every moment of my life.

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Water surrounds my floating home. It dictates the materials my home is built with. It cools the engine that propels my home. It cleans my body, my clothes and my dishes. It quenches my thirst. It’s home to the fish that I eat. It cools me off. It’s my playground.

According to one of my favorite websites and podcasts, howstuffworks.com, “Oceans are huge. About 70 percent of the planet is covered in ocean, and the average depth of the ocean is several thousand feet (about 1,000 meters). Ninety-eight percent of the water on the planet is in the oceans…” Considering the amount of water there is on earth, it’s hard to believe that clean water can be so difficult to obtain for so much of the world’s population.

On land in the U.S., fresh water was readily available. Now, I’m surrounded by an unlimited supply of water, but it’s all salt water. Fresh water is a daily challenge to keep in supply on a boat.

On my boat there are two fiberglass water tanks that hold a total of about 140 gallons. Both tanks are plumbed to the kitchen sink (shown below), two bathroom sinks, and one washdown hose on deck. The lines are pressurized by a water pump and accumulator so water is readily available at each tap.

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Getting water into the tanks is the hard part. There are three ways to refill our tanks with fresh water.

Jerry Jugs

Long-term cruisers often carry 5-gallon Jerry Jugs on deck for diesel, gasoline and potable water. These jugs can sit on deck as a last resort when tanks run dry, or they can be used on a frequent basis for transporting the liquids back and forth from shore. Instead of bringing the whole boat to a fuel dock or a marina slip, we can take a dinghy full of Jerry Jugs to shore and refill in smaller quantities. The jugs are then heaved back up on deck when full. It’s hard work, never fun and the nozzles always leak.

In the islands, water from land is always suspect. Sometimes local water supplies come from wells and sometimes it is generated from a Reverse Osmosis procedure. Well water may not always be potable water and a bit of bleach or chlorine should be added before consumption.

Catching Rain

In the Caribbean, it rains a lot. The storms are often isolated squalls and pack a punch. As Captain Ron would say, they come on ya fast and they leave ya fast. Other times a cloud will pass overhead sprinkling a bit of liquid sunshine.

Mostly, it rains in the middle of the night when I’m sound asleep. Suddenly, everyone on board jumps up to race around and close the hatches just in time for the heavy rains to stop. It’s rarely enough for a good boat wash and usually just enough to be irritating.

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Many sailboat owners construct some type of rain catch, either by blocking off the decks to pool water directly into the deck fill, or by suspending a tarp or piece of canvas over the deck to direct water down into the deck fill.

The problem with barricading my decks is that our anchor chain is in need of replacement or regalvanization and it leaves a fair amount of rust on the bow (front of the boat). It doesn’t rain enough to thoroughly rinse the decks before I would feel comfortable letting rain water run off my salty decks into my water tanks.

On an ambitious day, I may move rain catch up to the top of the boat project list and break out the sewing machine to make a custom rain catch with tarp/canvas/sail material. One boat project is really never just one boat project though. If I ended up using a rain-catch, this would surely bump filter-replacement higher up the list. Rain water tends to increase the amount of sediments reaching the filters. Nothing is ever really free, is it?

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Making Water

My preferred method of replenishing the water supply is by means of a watermaker. It’s a 12-volt system plumbed to turn salt water into fresh water in a desalinization process. The watermaker in my boat is about 10 years old but still produces about 6 gallons per hour of fresh potable water, plumbed directly to my two water tanks. Newer machines are being built with a higher output, lower power draw and lower cost.

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These machines are a significant investment, but can save money, time and hassle over a long period. They do require maintenance and are tricky to work on. It must be run every three days or less to prevent marine growth and bacteria from destroying the internal membranes. If unable to run the machine, it must be flushed out or prepared for long term storage by what is called pickling the membranes.

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Where does your fresh water come from?

By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]