Mention that you’re living on a sailboat in the Caribbean to someone and they most likely picture the classic Hollywood flyover shot of a sailboat anchored in crystal clear sapphire waters off of a deserted, pristine white beach studded with gently swaying palm trees. It zooms in on you, sitting with your feet propped up, sipping on a fruity rum drink festooned with a jaunty little umbrella, staring out at paradise with a contented look on your face. While those sublime moments are definitely a part of the cruising lifestyle, much of boat life ends up involving the more mundane aspects of life. With that in mind, I thought I would describe what a typical day living on the boat in Nassau looks like.
Our typical day starts at some point after sunrise; we don’t have a set time to get up. By nature, I will usually awaken once sunlight fills the cabin. We will usually lay in bed with our iPads, checking the day’s weather predictions, checking email and surfing our favorite news websites. Missy will lay there, content to be snuggled up between us until we’re ready to get out of bed.
After heading topside, our first order of business is to let Missy out. She’s been inside with us all night and it’s time for her to do her bid’ness. Fortunately for us, Missy has of her own accord taken to doing said bid’ness on the netting at the front of the boat. It’s fortunate because this makes cleanup easy; number 1 just passes through the net into the water and number 2 we bag up and throw away just like at home.
If it’s cool and/or if we’re in the mood, I’ll make coffee for myself and hot tea for Cindy. Coffee-making in the absence of a Keurig machine involves scooping grounds in a handy little item called an AeroPress, setting it on top of your cup, filling it with water heated in a metal teapot on the propane stove and then pressing down its plunger to force the water through the grounds and into your cup. It makes excellent coffee; I think it’s a significant improvement on the French Press, which we found always lets too many grounds get through.
We’ll usually enjoy our hot beverage while we’re at our laptop computers, which live on the table in JOD’s salon. Cindy will spend much of her day running our remaining Anytime Fitness health club in Scottsboro. Since she always had to run this club long distance (Scottsboro is about a 50-minute drive from Huntsville), it’s not that much of a change to work from the boat, except that internet is spottier out here than back home. A really good manager and crew working the club are instrumental in making this possible.
I work at a variety of things; I respond to emails, update our budget and project the month ahead, make up grocery lists, plan meals for the day and of course, occasionally write blog posts. I also do a bit of work from time to time for an online technical journal editing company. I take articles written in fairly mangled English by non-native speakers and correct grammar, punctuation and sentence structure. The pay is peanuts and the quality of the original documents varies widely. Still, you work if and when you want (you normally have 3 days to complete your edits), I’m not doing it for the money and it helps me keep in touch with the technical world. I’m also getting involved in volunteer grant writing for non-profits back in the States.
At some point, usually after I finish my coffee, I’ll start preparing our first meal of the day. We have an Engle cooler and an Engle freezer for refrigerated food storage, having recently decided to turn off our relatively cavernous built-in power-hog fridge and use it for dry storage (BTW…why does “fridge” have a “d’ in it and “refrigerator” doesn’t? Just wondering.) Lately, breakfast has consisted mainly of egg sandwiches. I toast bread face down in a pan on the stove, then fry up slices of bacon and finally cook two eggs, either fried over easy or scrambled, depending on our mood. The toast gets topped with sliced cheese, the bacon and the eggs. Eat and enjoy. Other breakfast favorites include pancakes, eggs with pan-fried potatoes, French toast, breakfast burritos and huevos rancheros. Hot cereal is always a quick and dirty option as well.
Throughout the rest of the afternoon, there is always stuff to keep us busy…washing the boat, topping off the 2 80-gallon water tanks, cleaning the boat bottom, performing boat maintenance, fighting the never-ending battle against the mold and mildew that prevail in damp marine climates, etc. We’ll also get off the boat, walk around and explore, take Missy for walks and visit favorite local hangouts.
Here in Nassau we found a really nice little tiki bar at Junkanoo Beach named Seagulls. We’ve gotten to be friends with the owners, Kevin, Timon and daughter LeeAnn and go there as much for the company as the excellent burgers, hot dogs, cold Sand’s beer and Fireball shots (3 beers and three shots for $10…hard to beat!) Kevin, a recently retired telecom worker, was just enticed out of retirement by a $3 million dollar contract to switch New Providence and a couple of the other major islands over to fiber optic lines. He’ll keep the tiki bar, though. We’ve also found a couple of good Greek restaurants we like. Senor Frogs, deep in the heart of the Nassau cruise ship tourist ghetto, is another guilty favorite; it deserves a blog post on its own.
Errand running, most often for groceries, also takes up a considerable amount of our time. With no car and little desire to test our skills against local drivers, we walk to wherever we need to go if it’s within a couple of miles or so. Grocery shopping means going to one of two locals here in Nassau – Solomon’s or SuperValue. Solomon’s is just like a Fresh Market back in the States…think faux wooden floors, classical music playing on the speakers, lots of fresh items from the States and the high prices that go with them. We mainly go here to pick up meats. The other option, SuperValue, is a local grocery store with better prices (though everything in the Bahamas is expensive) and a wide selection of items. Oh and its right next door to the only liquor store on the island that sells Fireball Whiskey; this has recently become a staple on board JOD. We prefer to shop here for everything except meats.
To be blunt, the meat department at SuperValue is just gross. The shelves holding the shrink-wrapped meats are corroded, the shelf liners are stained and look like they haven’t been changed in months and raw meat juices puddle along the rails. You smell it before you see it. Both of us have had the disgusting experience of having our hands reek for the remainder of our shopping trip after having handled a package of their meat. Back home a health inspector would shut their meat department in a heartbeat. I’ll pay an extra buck or two a pound at Solomon’s anytime.
If we can, we’ll fit our purchases into our backpacks and carry them back. Big items, like cases of diet Coke or beer, or larger shopping lists usually require a cab ride back to the marina.
Lunch is usually leftovers or on-the-fly (think sandwiches, peanut butter and crackers) or is skipped altogether for an early dinner. I usually start dinner around 6:00. We have both the propane stove/oven (though we try to avoid using the oven due to the heat) and a gas grill. Many of our favorite recipes from home translated well to the boat, though I don’t do much of my former fancier dinner-party type cooking due to ingredient and stove capacity limitations. Sometimes we will go out to eat; the marina here in Nassau has three good restaurants onsite, two of which offer live music 3 days a week.
In the evenings we often “watch TV” on Cindy’s large laptop, using international streaming services such as VIP-TV and Netflix. An amazing selection of shows and movies are available so long as we have internet. When we’re anchored out, we usually read on our Kindles or just watch the sunset (cue the Hollywood flyover shot.)
We usually shower in the evening since it is nice to wash the salt air off your skin before going to bed. The boat has a hot water heater that functions both off of A/C electric power as long as we are at a dock that provides shore power or off of the engines.
Bedtime is normally any time after 9 pm (aka “cruisers’ midnight”), though it can get late if we’re watching a long movie or doing a marathon session of a favorite show.