“What do you DO all day?” Probably the most asked question we get from non-cruisers (just behind “What’s the worst storm you’ve seen?”). So here’s a sample of a day spent cruising the San Blas Islands or the offshore atolls of Belize …
Sun Comes Up …. cruisers are often like earlier pioneers, we go to bed when the sun sets and are up when the sun comes up! We turn on the Mr Coffee and enjoy our first morning java while drowsing around. If it’s a morning when I’m a net controller (Northwest Caribbean Net or Panama Connection Net), we charge our batteries early – the SSB signal is MUCH stronger and clearer with full batteries.
8-8:30 AM … time for the net. What’s the net? It’s a community broadcast on a marine SSB channel … it’s where we get our local news, local knowledge of what’s going on, chat with friends, find out what boats are in what anchorages, listen to local marine weather forecasts and answer other cruiser’s questions. The net usually lasts a half hour, shorter when there are fewer boats out and longer when there are more. It begins with a call for “Emergency, Medical and Priority Traffic” — that means if there’s anyone with a problem, it’s top priority on the morning net. Other cruisers will chime in to help. Next up is the local weather forecast broadcast by someone on the net who’s knowledgeable about weather followed by check-ins from boats underway. Then QST’s – basically cruiser questions … does anyone know a good vet in Roatan, where can I buy batteries in LaCeiba, my outboard was stolen, where can I buy one in Belize, is there a good marina near Belize City and so on. Other cruisers provide answers. Next comes General Checkins — any cruiser can check in – tell where they’re anchored, what the weather is and if they want traffic with another boat after the net (traffic is requesting to speak one on one with another boat on another frequency after the net is over).
8:30 – 9 AM if we haven’t already finished breakfast, or if we’re having a big breakfast to last us through lunch and snorkeling, now’s the time!
9 – 10 AM is usually reserved for boat chores … does the oil need changed, hand laundry, is there a small leak in the pressure water system, any kind of ongoing maintenance we need to perform … by reserving an hour or so every day for preventative boat maintenance, we find we’re less likely to have trouble later. First priority is whatever broke the day before followed by preventative maintenance.
10:30-11 AM Time to load up the dinghy with all our snorkel and/or spearfishing and underwater camera equipment, get together with friends for a day’s snorkeling adventure. After spending a few hours dinking around different reefs or sand bores, we’ve usually gotten dinner as well as several photos of unidentified new species – fishies, coral or otherwise. It’s not unusual that despite our full length light dive suits, I get cold sooner than David, so I may have climbed back aboard the dinghy, removed the dive suit and let the warm sun dry me while chatting with friends in other dinghies anchored nearby. When David finishes snorkeling or spearfishing, then we head back to the boat. Depending on the timing and the quality of the reef, this could be 1 hour or it could easily be 3-4 hours!
2 PM … Back aboard, we offload all the stuff we loaded into the dinghy earlier. Everything gets a fresh water rinse and is laid out to dry. Depending on what we have planned the rest of the day, we may shower in the cockpit or just rinse with fresh water.
2:30 PM … depending on what we had for breakfast, we probably are relaxing in the cockpit with a quick snack.
3 PM … relax time … or explore time … if we’re somewhere like the San Blas Islands, it may be time to take a dinghy ride and see what we can discover, or kayak circumnavigate the island we’re anchored behind, or just relax in the cockpit researching the “new species” photos with our reef fish/creature/coral book trio. If we stay aboard, often this time is spent studying the cruising guides to see where else we want to explore and what the weather factors look like to make the jaunt.
Just Before Sunset … if we haven’t already had showers, now’s the time.
5 – 5:30 PM … sunsetters in the cockpit or with friends aboard their boats or ours, relax just before dinner time, discussion of if we’re moving tomorrow and if so, where we’re going (weather often plays a major factor in these discussions).
5:30 – 6 PM … just before sunset, so David can still see, we grill whatever we’re having for dinner and I’ll fix the rest.
6 – 6:30 PM … dinner in the cockpit by candlelight or megalight, depending on our mood.
After Dinner … dishes are cleaned up and put away … reality is, no dishwasher aboard Winterlude!
Relax/read time until neither of us can keep our eyes open … check the clock … crap, it has GOT to be later than 7:30 … we can’t go to sleep at 7:30!!! But after dark we don’t like to run many lights – keep the bugs out as well as the heat down and my amp ogre husband has occasional fits because if the wind’s not blowing, there’s no amps going in, we’re just taking out….. and so ends another day in paradise!
Despite how it sounds, every day is different. Some days are reserved for chores, re-provisioning and jerry jugging diesel or gas … but we usually remember to find an ice cream store to treat ourselves for lugging all the heavy provisions and stuff back to the boat manually — no cart it out to the car and load it in the trunk while cruising!
Some days you just have to innovate. One day in the San Blas Islands, we happened to see the local Kuna boys racing their homemade sailboats off a dock. One of them would jump in to shepherd the boats back to the dock between races and they’d all throw them in & go again. It gave David & Doug the idea to try and make their own sailboats from stuff we found on the beaches. What a FUN project this turned out to be. Unfortunately, on this, the christening voyage of David’s boat, it turtled and he had to go back to the drawing board! 🙂 But this project kept the boys busy for some time! And after racing the boats for Easter Sunday in Portobello, Doug donated his boat to some cruising kids that we colored Easter Eggs with!
Enjoy YOUR day, whatever you might be doing!
If you have other fun things to do while cruising, please leave a comment! THANKS! Jan