Experimenting with internet service.

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(Courtesy of Google Images)

One of the challenges with cruising full-time has been finding a cost-effective way to have internet service.  What we were looking for was something similar to what we would get at home – unlimited data with no throttling for a reasonable price.  You’d think we were trying to find the holy grail.  From what we’ve read it’s readily available in other countries, but the United States isn’t exactly consumer friendly when it comes to the cost of cell phone plans and data.

For the first six months that we lived on the boat we had a T-Mobile plan on our cell phones for $90/month (for 2 lines) with unlimited data, and an unlimited data plan on our iPad through AT&T for $30/month (which recently increased to $35/month).  Using T-Mobile was o.k., but hotspot data was capped which was problematic because that was our laptop internet connection (the iPad plan didn’t include tethering).

When we went to the Bahamas we tried to use the T-Mobile data on our phones, but it was incredibly slow.  No matter what we tried it felt almost as slow as dial-up from the old days.

Continue reading “Experimenting with internet service.”

September by the numbers.

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Another excellent month for the budget!  Can we make it three in a row next month?  We’ll see.

In September we moved from Port Washington, NY to Annapolis, MD where we are settled in for a few weeks.  The plan is to work the entrance gates at the boat shows before we start heading south in earnest.

We read that the anchorages in Annapolis get extremely crowded during the boat shows with employees and attendees, so we found a reasonably priced marina and decided to move into a slip for three weeks.  It’s weird not being at anchor, but it certainly is convenient to be able to step off the dock and take a shower whenever we want!  We also won’t have to worry about other boats dragging into us if the weather pipes up while we are working.  Peace of mind = money well spent.

Here we go:

Continue reading “September by the numbers.”

Burley Travoy: the perfect cruiser’s cart.

Grocery shopping can be a challenge without a car.  It’s not a big deal if we’re only picking up a few things, but buying a large number of items can be a hassle since we have to carry it back.  We get creative when we can.  If we’re at a marina sometimes the local grocery store will have online ordering and delivery available, or there will be a a courtesy car.  We’ve also been known to walk one way and take an Uber back.  But none of those options are available in the Bahamas, and carrying cases of ginger ale and tonic water gets old really fast.

Cruisers we met in Port Washington last year showed us an inexpensive travel cart that they bought at Staples, so we found one when we were in Delaware City.  It was o.k., but the wheels were small and the handle was low, making it not very ergonomically-friendly for 6’4″ Jeff.  Then our friends on M/V Eventide showed us their Burley Travoy when we were hanging out with them one afternoon last November in Carolina Beach.  We immediately recognized that this was the perfect cruiser’s cart.

The Travoy is actually a bike trailer.  It’s only 9.8 pounds but has a 60 pound load capacity.  You can set it up and break it down in literally seconds, and it measures 21″ x 18″ x 8″ when it’s folded so it can fit easily in Pegu Club’s quarter berth (also know as our garage).  It has 12″ wheels and quickly hitches onto a bike, but can just as easily be pulled by hand.

The cost kept us from buying one for quite some time, but then one evening in the Bahamas we told our friends from S/V Lone Star about it and they looked it up online.  They loved it and when they returned to the states they found one on E-Bay.  Then they texted us a week later and told us they had bought a second one on E-Bay, and did we still want one?  A Travoy for about 1/2 the cost of a new one?  Heck yeah!

We’ve now used it several times and it is fantastic.  The larger wheels easily roll over uneven surfaces and curbs.  It holds plenty of groceries (or sodas), and for really large provisioning runs we can also carry some bags.  We even use it when we’re going to the laundromat.  The difference between the Travoy and our Staples cart (which has since been left on the give-away table at a marina) is like night and day.  With its light weight, its easy set-up and break down, its large wheels, and its compact size when its not being used, it truly is the perfect cruiser’s cart.

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It also comes with a storage bag for when its not in use.

Mount Harmon Plantation on the Sassafras River and Rock Hall.

While waiting for Dorian to settle on a track we had several days to decide where the next stop would be.  We had approximately three weeks before we needed to be in Annapolis, so we thought we would head south down the Eastern Shore for awhile before crossing over to the Western Shore and working our way back north.  Looking through our Waterway Guide, we quickly decided on a visit to the Mount Harmon Plantation, followed by Rock Hall.

Dorian passed giving us nothing but some clouds and moderate winds, so the next day we pointed our bow towards the Sassafras River.  It was a gorgeous day as we tacked our way out of the Bohemia River and several miles down the Chesapeake before the wind died.  Firing up Big Red, we motored up the Sassafras before dropping the anchor in a nice spot near Mount Harmon. Continue reading “Mount Harmon Plantation on the Sassafras River and Rock Hall.”

An unholy body of water.

It was another fun ride down the East River from Port Washington.  High winds the day before had stirred up the water but it wasn’t noticeable until after we went under the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge.  Then it was VERY sloppy for a few hours with the wind on our nose and against the current until we were inside the tip of Sandy Hook.  45 minutes later we were anchored in our regular spot behind the Atlantic Highlands break wall (I think three visits makes it a regular spot, don’t you?).

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Getting closer.
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Rikers Island

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We’ll just stay out of this guy’s way as he makes his way towards New York Harbor.

Now I will readily admit that I was NOT looking forward to going down the Jersey coast.  Even though we had a windless, uneventful trip from Cape May to Atlantic Highlands a few months ago, this was going to be the same direction as our trip from hell last fall, and it was absolutely messing with my mind.  My nerves were NOT helped when I saw the waves near the hook as we went inside towards Atlantic Highlands.  

Continue reading “An unholy body of water.”

So what’s the plan for winter?

When we first heard that Dorian had struck the Bahamas we were on our passage down the Jersey coast.  My Uncle Ken messaged me, but we didn’t have great internet service at the time so we weren’t fully aware of the magnitude of what was happening.  We were shocked, and I was in tears, when we saw the pictures the next day.  Even though we had only spent about six weeks in the Abacos last winter, we were enchanted by its beauty and friendly residents.

We’ve been talking over the past few months about wanting to get a bit more connected with a community by staying in one spot for a while – in the states and in the Bahamas – and we had decided to spend at least a few weeks on a mooring in Hope Town this winter.  As of now it looks like that plan will have to be put on hold.

But what about the rest of the Bahamas?  Most people watching the news probably think that “the Bahamas” are devastated.  We would have thought the same thing before going there last winter, but we knew that Dorian spared the vast majority of the islands.  Nevertheless, we debated whether we should go to the Bahamas at all this winter.  To me it sort of felt like vacationing in San Diego if Los Angeles was lying in ruins from a cataclysmic earthquake.  Jeff pointed out that our tourism dollars are now more important than ever (even if they do represent a tiny drop in the bucket), and as the days have passed various Bahamian organizations have been delivering that same message.

Continue reading “So what’s the plan for winter?”

August by the numbers.

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Wow!  It’s been one year of cruising full-time!  Time flies.

We spent August in Fishers Island Sound and Long Island Sound as we began to work our way south again for the winter, with Pegu Club anchored in Port Washington, NY at the end of the month.  As predicted last month, our expenses were much more reasonable and I do believe that we’ve finally managed to get them well-dialed in.  We’ll want to buy radar and an AIS transponder if we decide to go further afield than between Southern New England and the Bahamas, but nothing has been definitively decided yet on that front.

With that being said, here we go:

Continue reading “August by the numbers.”

Keeping it fresh.

One of our goals for this year’s travels is to visit places we haven’t yet seen.  We had a great time last year and while we want to return to some old favorites, we thought it would keep things fresh if we made a point of stopping in new harbors and towns.  Given that, we took a look at the chart and selected a few interesting spots to check out as we worked out way west along Long Island Sound.

Although we had hoped to visit Mattituck again, the weather wasn’t going to cooperate so we bypassed it and went straight to Port Jefferson for the night.  From there it was a quick hop to Northport, NY which was a new destination for us.  There wasn’t much wind until we turned into Huntington Bay (which is very large).  At that point we went from 1 knot of wind to 18 knots and had a nice sail up to Northport.

Continue reading “Keeping it fresh.”

Gardiners Bay: it’s a love/hate thing.

We’ve tried multiple times over the years to feel the love for Gardiners Bay in Long Island.  The first time we were there was to bring Pegu Club back to Groton after we bought her.  She had been kept in Dering Harbor in Shelter Island and we were looking forward to sailing her back.  What we ended up with was a hot, humid day with zero wind and the most obnoxious power boaters we had ever encountered.  The kind who go full speed on autopilot while hanging out down below without a lookout.  Those who were actually at the helm seemed to enjoy going as fast as they could while aiming right at us and then turning at the last minute to see how big a wake they could give us.  Jeff vowed he would never return to Gardiners Bay.

The next season we decided to give it another shot.  We had a sporty, close-hauled 40 nm sail from Block Island to Three Mile Harbor in Gardiners Bay (that was actually our longest sail until we left to go cruising).  Three Mile was a lovely spot with a very large anchorage, excellent holding, and clean, warm water to swim in.  We enjoyed it so much that we stayed there for several days before having to motor all of the way home on a hot, humid day with zero wind while being harassed by obnoxious power boaters.  Are you starting to see a pattern?

Continue reading “Gardiners Bay: it’s a love/hate thing.”

July by the numbers.

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We spent the first part of July on the hard before splashing Pegu Club and staying in a  transient slip at Shenny while we hung around for various medical appointments.  Our last appointment was on July 23rd and we wasted no time tossing the dock lines and heading out again on July 24th.

47% of this month’s spending was for medical appointments and related expenses (i.e. rental cars and fuel, hotel rooms, etc), along with haul out, storage, and annual boat maintenance costs.  We put two solid coats of bottom paint on Pegu Club so we are hoping that we can avoid hauling out next year.

Based on how expensive June and July were, Jeff jokes that we aren’t coming up here any more!  Honestly though, our expenses should crash for the foreseeable future – thank goodness!

Days under way since July 24th: 5

Nautical miles covered since July 24th:  26.31

Number of States: 2 (Connecticut and New York thanks to Fishers Island)

Nights at anchor: 16

Nights at a dock: 11

Nights on the hard: 4

Expenses:

Groceries/Non-food Groceries: $621.83

Diesel/Gasoline: $31.10

Medical: $842.40

Rental cars, hotel room, and related expenses for medical appointments: $603.35

Cell phone and internet (2 phones, iPad, iCloud storage, Garmin inReach subscription): $162.50

Laundry: $7.00

Amazon Prime: $12.99

Boat US Towing Membership: $131.77 (West Marine was running a sale, so now we are paid up until April, 2021).

Boat Expenses: $790.91 (haul out and four weeks storage for Pegu Club, gear oil, spark plugs, and zinc for the outboard, food hammocks, windlass parts, new flares to replace expired ones, new vent hose for Nature’s Head, extra flare gun for ditch bag, diesel additives, 2 water jerry jugs, bucket, bungee cords, gloves, paint brushes, tools)

Restaurants/Entertainment: $203.64

New York Times subscription: $20.20

Clothing: $123.32

Life Insurance Premium: $220.75

Subscriptions: $130.30

Random: $776.18 (fishing gear, galley items, Burley trailer, guidebooks, etc.)

Total: $4,678.24

2019 monthly average to date: $3,720.00

2018 monthly average (September – December): $4,465.95

Monthly average since starting to cruise: $3,991.09