Monday, March 31, 2014


Vonore, TN

 2005 Harley Davidson Dyna Super Glide

I know, this is a cruising blog and the photo above looks nothing like a boat, or even a dinghy.

We are continuing to downsize to prepare for leaving in Nov/Dec timeframe.  Dahleen has been fairly successful putting things on Craigslist, eBay, etc.; but, I thought that along with this quick post I would offer up a possible opportunity for one of our blog readers.  If you are a cruising reader, or a reader who is preparing to cruise like we are, this probably won't interest you. 

We hate to do it, but we have decided to sell both of our motorcycles.  We love riding and have gotten a ton of enjoyment over the past few years from doing so, but we just can't see putting the bikes in storage for 10+/- years.  They need to be ridden.  

The first bike on the block is a 2005 Harley Davidson Dyna Super Glide.  It is highly customized, and is definitely a 'head-turner'.  Classic black in color, low miles, excellent condition, and always babied. New tires, new battery 

We are asking $7900 and there are a lot of extras that go with it; three different styles of seats, three different style of handle bars, windshield, etc.  If you are interested shoot us an email at 

flyarmy623 at

Friday, March 28, 2014


Kabul, Afghanistan

Mike and Lynn's SV Wombat of Sydney

This is a top five list of things that we think make our life onboard while cruising more enjoyable, or safer.  This is a tough list.  The difficulty is keeping the list at five.  If it were top ten list, it would have been much easier; but, by limiting the list, it made me think about and analyze the list more carefully to determine what things would make the top five.  

The things that ultimately made it definitely deserve to be there.  They range from the 'absolutely essential' to the 'really, really nice to have' categories (admittedly, these categories are subjective).  

I have not included anything that came standard on the boat; like the built in 3-burner propane stove, the built in refrigerator/ freezer, the electric anchor windlass, the swim platform, etc.  While we love all of these things, and we think they are essential, we did not individually choose and install them.

1)  Rocna Anchor

Our 66 lb. Rocna anchor is the bomb!  File this is one in the absolutely essential category.  I researched extensively to determine what I thought was the right anchor for us, and could not be more pleased.  If there is one topic that is sure to get a "discussion" going among cruisers that would be anchors.  

The Rocna is the best of the new generation spade type anchors, and it will dig in within a couple of feet of where it is dropped on most bottoms (not concrete).  Even on less than ideal bottoms, if it does come "unset", due to a wind shift or a change in current, it will reset almost immediately.  

It gives us the confidence to 'set it and forget it' …..allowing a good nights sleep without worrying about dragging onto shore, or into another boat.  Now, if we could just get everyone to use one we wouldn't have to worry about someone dragging into us.  

2)  Dual Furuno Chartplotters

One of the things on our list that is not absolutely essential, but very, very few people cruise today without one.  That should tell you something. 

Though we haven't used these particular units yet (SV Into the Light had Raymarine E-80's), Furuno is reported to make a great top-of-the-line product.  I am speaking more in terms of chartplotters in general.  

We always have paper maps available and we use them in addition to the chartplotter went doing crossings.  I chart our course, use time distance, and headings, along with our speed log to determine our approximate position.  

I own a sextant; I understand the principles of using it; and i do plan to learn it and get good at it, but, at this point, I have not done so.  You never know when something electronic can quit on you.  

But, the chartplotters make life so much easier.  There is a ton of information available to you at the touch of a button and with a radar system installed that can be overlaid right onto the chartplotter picture.  I can't imagine cruising without some type of chartplotter.   

3)  Caribe 10' Dinghy

Your dinghy is your 'car'….it gets you from your 'house' (the mothership) to the store, to the beach, to your neighbor's 'house', to the 'hunter-gatherer' sites (spearfishing), and back 'home' again.  

It is plenty big enough for 5 people and, because of the bigger tubes, it keeps us very dry.  With just Dahleen and I, the Tohatsu 9.8 horsepower 4-stroke outboard is more than adequate for us to get up on plane and zip around quickly. 

However, when we load up with 2 or 3 additional people, or load that baby down heavy with provisions and supplies, we usually can't plane out.  That is where a 15 hp Yamaha would come in handy…..that purchase may be in our distant future.

4)  Village Marine Watermaker 

Our watermaker is a 110-volt, high output unit that makes 24 gallons per hour.  Our boat tanks hold about 150 gallons of water and that will last us several days, but it is so nice to fire up the genset, start the watermaker and replenish our water supply without hauling up the anchor.  

We love the fact that our cruising schedule does not depend upon where we can get water.  In the Bahamas, water wasn't that plentiful and you usually had to buy it.  Even if it was free, we would still prefer to have a watermaker onboard to give us that additional freedom.  

They are very cost prohibitive, ($7k+) but, you can actually build a modular one from quality components for a LOT less money. If I had it to do over again, this is the route I would take.  We have been very happy with our Village Marine unit, and we would highly recommend it to anyone who didn't want to build their own.  

5)  Engel 12-volt Refrigerator/Freezer

We (I) cheated on this one.  We don't own this one yet.  But, because of our previous cruising experience, we realize how limited our freezer space is with just the built in refrig/freezer combination that comes with the boat.  There were numerous occasions that we had to give fish away, or it spoiled, because we didn't have enough space to freeze it.  

All the reviews I have read have nothing but great things to say about this unit.  These portable units are very dependable, last a long time, and use very little DC power.  Their 40-quart size is just about right for us.  The only complaint seemed to be the metal housing tended to rust in the saltwater environment ….surprised?  The company now makes a ABS-type plastic unit perfectly suited for a cruising sailboat.  

The only real negative is the price……close to $900.  Ouch.  But, it will pay for itself over the course of a year with the money saved by being able to store fish and lobster caught/hunted.  The more meat we catch and freeze, the less we have to buy.  We are really looking forward to stocking that baby up with lobster during lobster season in the Bahamas.

Honorable Mention:

Mase 6kw Marine Diesel Generator
Renolgy Solar Panels (400 total watts)
Furuno Radardome (4kw; 36-mile)
Cockpit Mounted Gas Grill

 Dahleen's  Birthday, 29 April 2006, Georgetown, Exumas   

Overlooking the Anchorage at Warderick Wells 

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Exumas, 2006

"The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers, but what the world needs most is dreamers who do." - Sarah Ban Breathnach  

If you can't tell from the title, this is one of those somewhat philosophical posts; not a post about the progress we are making toward buying the boat; not a post about the things we are researching and buying to refit the boat; not a post about the planning and routing we plan for the boat delivery in June; and, not a post of past places we have visited in tropical paradise.  So, if that is the kind of post you had your heart set on…..skip this one and come back in a day or two.  

Dreams. This post is about dreams and (maybe a little) about achieving those dreams.  What are dreams?  Knot the kind of dreams you have (see what I did there?) while you are asleep and the 'subconscious you' takes over.  The dreams I am talking about are the dreams you have while riding to work, or sitting at your desk, or waiting in the car at the Walmart parking lot while your wife "picks up a few things".  The kind of dreams you have in the day….daydreams. Duh.  

Some time ago, I remember reading the quote at the top of this page on another cruising blog (I don't remember which one, and I am currently too lazy to search for it).  That quote stuck in my mind, making me think of all the dreams people have, but for various reasons never achieve.  

Some of those reasons are beyond our control; health, family responsibilities, etc., but the single biggest reason most people fail to realize their dreams is they are not 'doers'.  I don't say this arrogantly, or from a position of 'superiority' (because we aren't 'doers' yet ourselves, but we are pursuing the 'doing'), only to point out that change is difficult.  Change is difficult for everyone…..even good change.    

We get stuck in a rut of working, spending, debt, working, worrying, spending, debt, owning stuff, owing for stuff, working……. we can't seem to get off the merry-go-round.  Are we working to live, or living to work?  Think about it….for most of our lives the majority of us live only to work.  I was in this same boat, metaphorically speaking, for most of my life.   

This type of lifestyle has become the self-perpetuating, out of control definition of the American dream.  The more money you make, the more you spend; the more you spend the more debt you incur, and the more money you need to make.  It is circular; and it can be never ending, unless a conscious  effort is made to break this vicious cycle known as the rat race.  

Like rats running the wheel, we will continue this path until something slaps us in the face and makes us question "is it worth it"?  Sometimes it is an event that slaps us, and other times it's just a 'wow moment' that we have that makes us take stock in our life.  Whatever the stimulus, we usually start to ask ourselves questions……and this is a good thing.  Why are we so wrapped around the axle about 'stuff'?  What are our dreams and what are we doing to make them happen?

I really didn't have this life changing epiphany until I was already middle-age.  Looking back, I never realized what was happening…..that I had slowly, and unknowingly, gotten myself smack dab in the middle of the rat race.  This realization was a necessity in the next step to turning a dream into reality.

After the slap in the face, I shared my dream plan with my wife, Dahleen, and while she wasn't the one that birthed this plan, she did adopted it whole-heartedly.  I will forever be thankful for a supportive wife.  She is adventurous at heart and obviously trusts me (probably too much).  LOL.  I think this is an important step….verbalizing to someone your dream.  It creates somewhat of an accountability situation…someone else knows your dream and they will be observing what you do, or don't do, to achieve that dream.  In the case of a spouse, they can be a tremendous help in accomplishing that dream, and they will certainly be a determining factor.

ICW Sunset, January 2006

Goals.  Goals are the next real step toward changing a dream into a reality.  Goals are tangible.  Goals are measurable.  There are several goals we set toward achieving our specific dream.  I won't go into detail about those goals here (maybe in a later blog post), but I will list and briefly comment on a few of them.  

Get out of debt…..especially credit card debt.

Start having a more minimalistic lifestyle where purchases are concerned…think long-term instead of short-term.

Save money, save money, and save money.  Get the picture….save money.  Set a target; save money for the boat, and save money for the cruising kitty.

Start downsizing.  We downsized houses first, made a nice profit before the real estate market crash of 2007-2008.  After downsizing our house, we then continued to downsize from there.

Verbalize your dream.  Tell other people outside your immediate family about your dreams.  This was a goal that was a little difficult in the beginning, but once the initial shock was over, it was easier to talk about.  Again, this creates a perceived accountability to someone else helping you stay focused on achieving that dream.

All of the above goals are concrete, measurable, and necessary, or at least helpful, in achieving the cruising dream.

Georgetown, Exumas - March 2006

Reality.  Well, I really can't write of the reality part yet….we are still in the goal achieving part.  But, we are getting much closer to the reality of cruising full-time.  The Good Lord willing, in about a year we will be casting off the lines and we will begin living our dream.  

We are currently still set to close on the boat in mid-May, deliver it to the Chesapeake in June (ish), and then begin the refit process.  I will not be back from Afghanistan permanently until the fall, and that's when the refitting hits the 'throttle wide open mode".  So, stay tuned and tell your friends about the blog (if you enjoy it…..if you don't, tell your enemies about it).      :-)

And remember with goals, Dreamers can become Doers.        


Tuesday, March 18, 2014



No, this is not our boat.  :-)

If you missed part one of this series you might want to go back and read it, before beginning this blog post.  Before we get started on the cruising budget, let's talk about the big initial investment …... "the boat".  Much of your cruising budget will be dependent upon this initial investment.

When referring to cruising boats throughout this post, I am referring to a boat that a couple would typically be cruising on…..not a boat for a single-hander (someone who sails alone); and certainly not a boat for a family of five.  Even if we do narrow the field to boats for a cruising couple, you will still have a very wide range of prices.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to the pricing of a boat.  A few are: size, age, condition, equipment, etc.  

The larger the boat the more expensive the maintenance costs, marina fees, and equipment will be.  There are lots of costs regarding boats that are based purely on the size of the boat…marina slips, bottom jobs, haulouts, yard storage, sails, etc.  Where boat expenses is concerned, size does matter.  :-)  Bigger boat = bigger money…both initially, and over the long haul.

Here we are on our former boat, INTO THE LIGHT in the Bahamas in 2006  

The average size of the cruising monohull 6-8 years ago was in the 44' to 45' range.  I think because there are now more younger couples cruising in smaller boats, the average size has dropped a bit.  My SWAG on the average size now is in the 42' to 43' range.  On average, the smaller cruiser is 33' to 34' , with the bigger boats being 47' to 48' .  Again, there are exceptions on both ends of the spectrum.  The key word here being "exceptions".

The better condition your boat is in (or the more money you spend on a repairs/refit before leaving) the more your initial costs.  But, if you buy a boat that is ill-equipped and in poor condition, and begin cruising with it that way, you can bet that your annual maintenance cost will drive the BOAT EXPENSE part of your budget through the roof.  And, you will end up spending much more money over the long haul.  It's a 'pay me now, or pay me a lot more later' type situation.

Our former boat, INTO THE LIGHT at anchor at Norman's Cay 2006

Let's talk equipment for a moment.  While there are those who have sailed around the world on a boat without refrigeration, with sophisticated electronics, without a propane stove, without a head (toilet, for you landlubbers), etc., these people are the exception.  They have gotten to see things and enjoy things that most of the world will never experience.  I salute them, I admire them, but, I wouldn't want to have been them.  

Under ideal circumstances, the cruising life still forces you to give up some of the luxuries of land-based life.  You will always have less room, you will always be at the mercy of the weather, you will always be maintaining your boat, and things will not be nearly as convenient for you while cruising as they are for you on land.  Buying groceries, laundry, communicating, etc., will all be much more difficult and much more time consuming.  With those trade-offs already established, there is no need to make life more difficult than necessary.

I am firmly in the camp of people who, while they enjoy sailing and traveling, do not want to continuously 'camp out' on the water for 3-10 years or longer.  The following is equipment that we will ultimately have on board, and that we think makes cruising comfortable for us.  Remember, everyone has different budgets and everyone has different definitions of comfort.  It's all about compromise.

INTO THE LIGHT back in South Carolina 2006

For the purpose of this article, I will relay what most cruising boats ultimately (I use the word 'ultimately' because a few start cruising without some of this equipment, but add it later) have where equipment is concerned:

  • A built in stove, oven
  • A built in refrigerator/freezer
  • At least on head (bathroom)
  • A dinghy with an outboard motor as a 'car'
  • trusty anchor with good anchoring gear
  • Some type of chart plotter for navigation
  • An electric anchor windlass to save the back
  • *Solar panels to charge the boat batteries
  • *A watermaker to create freshwater from seawater
  • *A grill in the cockpit to enjoy grilling out

Some folks would contend that the last 3 items (*) on the list are not essential, and I would agree, but they do make life much, much more convenient and much more comfortable.

So, whether you are buying a 34' boat for $75k or a 48' yacht for $275k, you will have to determine for yourself what level of comfort you desire; and what trade-offs you can live with to get yourself out there cruising, and stay within your individual cruising budget.

The bottom line…... you don't have to have a new, 54' sailing yacht to be a happy, fulfilled cruiser.  You do have to get a boat that is safe, and meets YOUR needs for comfort and ease of operation.  Everyone will have a different definitions and standards for their safety, their comfort, and their ease of operation.

As always, YMMV. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014


We have been working hard trying to understand and implement the Facebook LIKE and SHARE buttons, and the Twitter FOLLOW  and TWEET buttons.  I think we finally have all of them displayed and functional.  They are located at the right side of the latest blog post and they make it very easy to share this site with others that might have an interest.  

On another front, there are a lot of you guys who have subscribed to our blog posts by email, but you have not responded to the email sent by the blog feed "FeedBurner". If you signed up, but you are not getting the email notifications then…….

Please check your inbox for a verification message from “FeedBurner Email Subscriptions”, the service that delivers email subscriptions for Knot Tide Down/Into the Light. You will need to click a link listed in this message to activate your subscription. If you don't see a confirmation e-mail in a reasonable amount of time please check your bulk/spam folder.  If nothing is there, just subscribe again at the "FOLLOW US BY EMAIL" box just to the right of this page.

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THANKS for reading and THANKS for sharing!!!

Friday, March 14, 2014


How much does it take?  All of it!  

One of the most frequently asked questions concerning cruising is:  "How much does it cost to cruise around on a sailboat"?  Granted most of these type  questions pop up on sailing/cruising forums because, for the most part, people realize that is a pretty personal question to ask someone.  As a person who dreamed about cruising for years before getting a sampling of it in 2006, I had often wondered the same thing and I searched high and low for answers.  I finally found the answer….. "As much as you have".

This is not far from the truth.  If you have 'mo money', you will spend 'mo money'.  The same thing is true for landlubbers.  You would be shocked to see just how little you could live on….if you had to (we all waste much more money that we realize).  

This is probably one of the most discussed topics on cruiser's forums and blogs throughout the cruising community.  The comments and input are as varied as the posters themselves.  There are so many variables in the cruising lifestyle, and these variables will drastically affect the monthly expenditures of a cruiser.  We will try and discuss these variables in order to understand the wide range of cruising budgets out there today.  

I will say that a crew of two on a small (32-36 footer), safe, reasonably equipped monohull COULD cruise longterm on an annual budget of $15k-$18k.  Another couple on a larger (48-50 footer), safe, well-equiped, monohull COULD spend $60k-$70k a year or more.  Needless to say, these couples would have very differing lifestyles and probably very different opinions of what "comfort" and "fun" is.  They would also have differing abilities as far as boat repair and maintenance is concerned.  Most everything is a series of compromises.       

After researching this topic for years, and after cruising in the Bahamas for 6 months, we think we have a pretty good idea what it will take for us to cruise long-term.  

We will be posting a series of blog entries concerning the costs of cruising.  Once they are posted here on the main blog we will also put them on the MONEY STUFF page (see tab at the top of the page) so they will be in a consolidated location for easier reference.  

For the sake of simplicity we have broken down the budget expenses into 3 main categories with sub-categories under each.  The main categories are your LIVING EXPENSESBOAT EXPENSES, and DISCRETIONARY EXPENSES.  Of these categories the biggest expense (after purchase and refitting the cruising yacht) is the LIVING EXPENSES, followed by the BOAT EXPENSES, and the smallest expense category is the DISCRETIONARY EXPENSES.  

Within each of these categories there are some items that you have more control over than others, depending on your desires for level of comfort, eating habits, condition of your boat, etc.  What shape was your boat in when you started cursing?  How often do you stay in marinas vs. anchoring out?  How often do you eat ashore vs. cooking on the boat?  How often do you take inland trips in the countries you visit that incur lodging and transportation costs?  Do you sail as much as possible vs. cranking the engine that requires fuel?  Do you carry insurance on your boat?

We will try to identify and discuss some of these items and help you determine where you stack up as far as cruising budgets are concerned.  This is basically an aid for those who are thinking about cruising, but are not sure it is within their economic means.  It also good for those who are already out there cruising to compare what they are spending vs. the budget that is presented here.  As always, comments are welcome.  What are your cruising expenses annually?               

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


11 Mar 2014
Kandahar, Afghanistan

The single most useful, virtually essential, knot used in sailing is the bowline.  Pronounced “bowlyn” and not “bow line.”  Don’t mispronounce it….you will “out” yourself as a newbie immediately, and probably receive a little ribbing or ridicule.   

How to tie the bowline…..the makeup of this knot is two separate loops; the first is a small one that becomes the knot, and the second is a larger loop that you will keep.  First loop.small, second loop..larger.

There is a “story” told to assist in learning to tie the bowline;it’s usefulness is up for debate.  I report……you decide.  

“There is a hole in the ground (the small loop).  A rabbit (the tail) comes up out of the hole and runs behind the tree (the standing part). The rabbit circles the tree and runs back down into the hole.” 

This is a silly story, but it is the traditional method of teaching the bowline.

An illustration of how to tie a bowline.

1)  Hold the line across your left palm so that the long, standing part is lying away from you and the tail is several feet long.  Coil the rope counterclockwise so that one small loop is in your hand.

2)  Pass the tail (the free end/rabbit) through the loop from back to front (rabbit coming out of the hole).

3)  Then, pass the tail around the back of the standing part (rabbit around the tree), and then through the small loop (rabbit back into the hole), so that the line passes back along itself. Tighten the knot by pulling on the tail in opposition to the standing part.

4)  I like to add an extra step…it makes the know a little more secure and dresses it up nicely.  After passing the tail back into the small loop, but before tightening it, pass the tail around the bigger loop from the back around to the front and then pass it through the loop at the top of the standing line (the tree).  I found an illustration somewhere on the internet and it is posted below.

I know all the mariners that are out there reading this already know how to tie a bowline….you might be a little rusty, depending on how long it has been since you were out on the water.  

All of you landlubbers…..grab a short section of line (rope) and try it out.  You will be surprised at how easy it is, and, more importantly, you will learn how useful it is over time.  

Who can do it?  Comments welcome.  Good Luck!

A dressed up bowline.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Kandahar, AFG

There are certain moments in our lives that are amazing in such a way that words cannot relate the experience.  Yet, anyone else who has experienced what you are trying to describe will smile and nod their head knowingly because they have experienced it too.  Those who have not, can only get a glimpse of what you are describing.  Crossing the Gulf Stream onto the Bahama Banks is one of those moments. 

The Gulf Stream (GS) is basically a river of water moving generally from south to north off the east coast of the U.S. It actually begins in the Gulf of Mexico and travels east/northeast around the tip of Florida and turns northward along the east coast of the U.S. and then takes a more east/northeastward route toward Europe.

The GS can be a treacherous body of water to cross under the wrong conditions.  Since the current moves north along the east coast, any wind with a northern component will oppose the northbound current and create an adverse condition for those crossing.  The stronger the winds from the north, the greater the danger and difficulty with a crossing.  Ideally, you would love a breeze from the south, southwest, or even from the west….that would enable you to sail all the way in benign seas.  This seldom happens.  Most of the time you wait for the winds to clock around from the north to east and you fight a headwind, motoring or motorsailing most of the way.     

You begin your adventure either in late evening, or middle of the night, from Florida’s southeast coast so you can arrive at the shallow waters of the Banks with good light.  Good light is essential in ‘reading the bottom’ ….cruiser code for distinguishing deep water from shallow water, and sandy bottoms from coral heads visually. 

Sunrise Crossing the Gulf Stream

Since your departure time was close to, or after, sundown, you will sail or motor sail across the deep blue Gulf Stream...probably all at night.  The sunrise will be magnificent and since you are heading east, it will be right off the bow. 

Then, as the morning sun rises higher in the sky, the dark blue, almost violet, deep water begins to change….. adding greenish, the turquoise hues.  Within a mile the ocean floor rises from thousands of feet to only twenty feet, where the color of the water changes to the most amazing turquoise, pale blues, greens, completely clear water you have ever seen.

The lighthouse at Gun Cay, Bahamas

Eating lunch on the Bank.

The native Bahamian grows up on boats, learning to recognize the water color as it relates to the depth, and the make-up of the bottom.  As a result, there are far fewer navigation buoys, than you are comfortable with.
Each color reveals something to the trained eye about the depth of the water and the bottom that lies beneath.  At first, you are anxious as you struggle to learn this new language. 

 Starfish in 18 feet of water… is so clear it looks about 4 feet deep.

From the bow, we can look through the clear water and see starfish and coral gliding by beneath us.  In a of lot places, the water is so clear that you can see the ripples in the sandy bottom from 25 feet.  The shallow sandbars soon stand out in contrast to the safer, deeper waters.  At a distance, the darker, brown areas warn of probable coral heads lurking below the surface.

 Getting read to drop anchor in the middle of the Bank.

By sunset, 24 hours after departing the southeast coast of Florida, you anchor in 12 feet of water in the middle of the bank.  In all directions, you can see no land whatsoever.  Yet it is shallow, and relatively calm. As night falls, the beauty of the waters beneath us is replaced by a starry sky with more stars than you have ever been able to see before.  These billions of stars are made brighter by the complete lack of artificial, man-made lights anywhere. 

The sights are phenomenal, the sounds of water lapping against the boat hull are soothing, and even the salt-air smell is pleasing….all of this reminding you that you are living the dream.

Be careful out there, dullards are everywhere!