28 July 2017

Cooking On Boats | Chana Masala At The Exuma Land & Sea Park

When you tell people you're going to go cruising on your sailboat in the Bahamas, here's what they way to you:
"The Exuma Land & Sea Park! You'll love the snorkeling the crystal blue waters and exploring the islands! You've just got to go there!"

And it's true the snorkeling is great and the islands are made for adventures. But what they don't tell you is how great the curry is there. Seriously, Shroud Cay is the place for chana masala in the Bahamas.

One tiny catch - you have to make it yourself. There aren't any restaurants on Shroud Cay, let alone Indian ones.

Fortunately, chana masala is easy to make. And more importantly, you can make it from canned goods. A very critical point when you're on a sailboat far, far away from well-stocked grocery stores. 

I used my bloggy pal's (Lucy from the Larks of Independence) recipe, adapting it based on what we had on board Tickety Boo. She uses garam masala. I used Patak's hot curry paste instead. I also added some dehydrated bell peppers and then stirred in a container of plain Greek yogurt at the end. Takes the deliciousness level up a notch, if I do say so myself.

You know what's the best thing about chana masala? It even tastes good the next day straight out of the fridge for lunch.

Of course it wasn't all stuffing our faces with curry. There was some adventuring to be had too.

We walked down the trail to the freshwater well. Seriously, that's a well. I know because there was a bucket nearby and water inside.

There was a sign which said "No soap or contaminants." Must be safe to drink, right? Scott looked at me in horror as I took a sip. "Don't you think that you should boil that first?" he asked. Oops. Maybe I should have. Good news is that I didn't get sick.

All the guidebooks say that when you're at Shroud Cay, you have to take your dinghy up Sanctuary Creek to the Atlantic side of the island. Who are we to argue? We got in our dinghy and motored slowly through the creek. After all, I needed to get some adventuring done before I ended up in the hospital with some sort of waterborne parasite I picked up from the well water.

It's supposed to remind you of the movie, African Queen. It didn't, which is good because leeches feature heavily in that movie. Not something I want to encounter.

When you get to the Atlantic side, you can climb up the hill and check out Camp Driftwood. It was built in the 1960s by a sailor who lived in the creek on his boat. People used to bring offerings and leave them at the camp. Nowadays that's verboten.

You can get a great view of the beach from the hill. People have told us it's the most beautiful beach they've ever seen.

The next day we headed to nearby Hawksbill Cay. We had to work off that curry somehow, so we went for a walk and explored the ruins of an old plantation belonging to the Russell clan, Loyalists who settled this area in 1785. It amazes me that anyone can eke out an existence in such a bleak, rocky and barren environment, but I guess they made it work.

Cruising Log | Friday, 2 June 2017 – Saturday, 3 June 2017
Went adventuring in the afternoon. Found a freshwater well. Went on dinghy trip down estuary and checked out Camp Driftwood. Curry day on board Tickety Boo. Nautical Miles = Nil. Engine = Nil. Spending = Nil.

Anchor up at 10:00 AM. Anchor down at Hawksbill Cay at 11:00 AM. Leftover curry for lunch. Went for a dinghy ride and tried unsuccessfully to get pictures of sea turtles. Explored the Russell ruins and checked out the cave. Nautical Miles = 4. Engine = 1 hour. Spending = Nil

Do you like curry? Can you imagine moving to an island like Hawksbill Cay and making a life there? Have you seen African Queen? If so, what'd you think of the scene with leeches?

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26 July 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Queen's Dock, Stocking Island, Bahamas

Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - The Queen's dock was originally built in 1975 by Norwegian Cruise Line. Now, it's used by cruisers to tie up their dinghies when they're visiting Stocking Island.

2 - We tied up our dinghy and started to go for a walk on the island. Then the mozzies came out of nowhere and attacked us. The mozzies won. We skipped our walk and headed back to our boat.

3 - The dock is located on Hamburger Beach. Isn't that a great name for a beach?

What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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24 July 2017

Mingling With The Posh Crowd At Highbourne Cay Marina, Bahamas

I have a confession to make - we're not very posh people.

I guess that really isn't a confession. It's not like I revealed one of my deep, dark secrets. To hear one of those, you'd have to offer me a few glasses of champagne first.

It's more a statement of fact. Anybody who has met us would agree. We're not posh. We don't have fancy clothes or fancy cars, I haven't had a pedicure in ages and I can't remember the last time I had a glass of decent champagne.

I've worn the same outfit for more days in a row than I'd care to admit. (If I told you exactly how many days, that would be a confession.) I have a Yengling beer for my nightly sundowner. Not exactly a champagne flute full of Veuve Clicquot. And I live on a 34' sailboat, not a mega-yacht. Oh, and don't look at my toes.

I'd kind of forgotten how non-posh we were until we anchored outside of Highbourne Cay Marina among all of the mega-yachts.

We dinghied over to Highbourne Cay marina in search of the essentials - diesel, water and milk.

The folks on the mega-yachts send their crews over in search of the essentials - champagne, caviar and OPI nail polish.

This is where you dock your dinghy at Highbourne Cay. It's a nice dinghy dock. No boards rotting with termites which you're worried are going to crumble underneath you. No rusty nails sticking out threatening you with the excitement of tetanus.

Another snap of the marina's snazzy docks. See our blue water jerry can on the left hand side? 50 cents a gallon for RO (reverse osmosis) water. We don't have a watermaker on our boat, so we have to buy water.

There was dock space available, but we're too cheap to stay at marinas, especially when there's a perfectly good anchorage nearby.

Highbourne Cay is privately owned and if you want to explore the island you have to pay $25 per person per day. I think the fee helps keep the riff-raff out. You know, folks like us. It looked lovely, but we opted to go back to our boat instead and start planning for our visit to the Exuma Land & Sea Park.

We did check out the marina store. We had hoped for fresh milk, but all they had was chocolate. Seemed like kind of a strange milk variety to stock on an island in the Bahamas. But maybe the folks on mega-yachts have a real hankering for chocolate milk. There weren't prices on anything. You know how the saying goes - if you have to ask, you probably can't afford it.

My favorite part of the visit was seeing all of the sharks and stingrays hanging out at the pier looking for handouts. When I asked one of the fuel attendants what kind of sharks they were, he told me to jump in, tickle one on its neck until it opened its mouth and then I could tell by its teeth. I decided not to take him up on his suggestion.

After getting our fuel and water, we headed back to Tickety Boo for sundowners in the cockpit drinking cans of cheap beer and hoping the folks from one of the mega-yachts might stop by to offer us a bottle of champagne.

Cruising Log | Tuesday, 30 May - Thursday, 1 June 2017
30 MAY
Had the absolute worst night ever at Rose Island (near Nassau). The most roly-poly anchorage we've ever experienced. I thought one of us was going to flying out of the bed onto the floor. Anchor up at 7:00 AM. Very slow passage - beating into waves and wind. No breakfast or lunch was served which made for an unhappy skipper and crew. Anchor down at 5:15 PM at Highbourne Cay in the Exuma Islands. Nautical Miles = 42. Engine = 9 hours 30 mins. Spending = Nil

31 MAY
Did some planning for next destination - Exuma Land & Sea Park. Went to Highbourne Cay Marina for water and fuel. One of our lifelines broke. Glad it didn't happen while on passage. Nautical Miles = Nil. Engine Hours = Nil. Spending = $90.29 (5 gallons water & 20 gallons diesel).

Anchor up at 10:45 AM. Beat into the wind all day. Very choppy. 20+ knots at time. Reefed mainsail and headsail. More stuff broke - furling line lead, zipper on bimini and loose connection on solar panel. Anchor down at Shroud Cay at 3:00 PM. Number of sailboats and mega-yachts at anchorage. Doesn't everyone know it's hurricane season? Nautical Miles = 20. Engine = 1 hour. Spending = Nil.

How much would you pay for a gallon of water? Would you tickle a shark on its neck? Do you consider yourself to be posh?

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21 July 2017

Tickety Boo Speaks | Berry Islands, Bahamas

I've often wondered what our sailboat, Tickety Boo, might say if she could speak. In English, I mean. After all, she does talk to us in her own way.

The creak of her anchor chain as the wind shifts direction. The snapping noise as her sails fill with air. The rumble of her engine when we're under motor. The clanging of her halyards if they aren't tightened up correctly.

We're used to that kind of communication from her, but what if she was able to use complete sentences instead? I imagine it might sound something like this.

"Finally, we're anchored someplace decent. Just look at those views. Wait, wait, turn me back around so I can see! Stupid wind, always pointing me in a direction I don't want to look at."

"Sure, go ahead. Take off in the dinghy and abandon me. Again. I wouldn't be surprised if something 'accidentally' breaks while you're away."

"How come I don't get to play in the Blue Hole too? And don't give me the excuse that it's a landlocked body of water. If you really loved me, you'd find a way for me to anchor there."

"Who do they think they are coming into the anchorage? This place is mine, all mine!"

"What, are you some sort of savage. Get your feet off of me!"


Cruising Log | Thursday, 25 May 2017 - Monday, 29 May 2017
25-26 MAY
Passage from the Abacos to the Berry Islands. Lumpy getting out of Ginn sur Mer, heading directly into the wind. Turned, then lumpy on our beam. Good size waves, but nothing breaking. Motorsailed most of the way. Lots of traffic, but all freighters and cruise ships so hopefully they saw us on their radar. A number of squalls, but we managed to avoid them. Anchor up at 7:00 PM. Anchor down next day at 10:00 AM at Goat Cay (near Great Stirrup Cay). A "clothing-optional" Canadian boat anchored nearby. Nautical Miles = 79. Engine = 14 hours 15 mins. Night Sailing = 10 hours. Spending = Nil.

27 MAY
Anchor up at 9:00 AM. Anchor down at 12:00 PM off of White Cay (near Hoffman Cay). Got our outboard motor out of the lazarette and put it back on the dinghy. Went swimming in the Blue Hole on Hoffman Cay. Amazing! Saw sea turtles and dolphins while sitting in the cockpit. Super amazing! Nautical Miles = 17. Engine = 3 hours. Spending = Nil.

28 MAY
Very roly-poly overnight. Went to the Blue Hole again. Love that place. Went for a walk on White Cay. Love that place too. More sea turtle spotting, plus rays and sharks. A number of boats came in and anchored nearby. Our little slice of paradise has become crowded. Nautical Miles = Nil. Engine = Nil. Spending = Nil.

29 MAY
Passage from Berry Islands to Nassau. Anchor up at 6:00 AM. Anchor down at south side of Rose Island at 6:00 PM. A very long day due to fighting current, wind and waves. Very little traffic until got to Nassau. Nautical Miles = 51. Engine = 11 hours. Spending = Nil.

Did you ever wonder what your car, boat or RV might say if it could speak? What kind of voice would it have?

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19 July 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Welcome To Staniel Cay, Bahamas

Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - I liked the colorful sign welcoming folks to Staniel Cay which painted on a wall running along the beach.

2 - On the other side of the wall, there's a mural painted with pictures of different people.

3 - You wouldn't necessarily know it was there unless you moved the benches running alongside the wall.

4 - Don't worry, we put the benches back after taking photographs.

What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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17 July 2017

Cost Of Cruising In The Bahamas & Florida | May & June 2017

We track and report every penny we spend living aboard and cruising on Tickety Boo, our Moody 346 sailboat for a couple of reasons.

1 - It helps us see where our money is going, helps us make informed choices about where to spend our money, which in turn helps us stretch our money further so that we can keep adventuring longer.

2 - We found it really useful to check out other people's cost of cruising when we were starting out, so we figure we can return favor by sharing ours.

You can find details of how much we spent cruising in the Bahamas during May and June 2017 below. Keep in mind that this is what works for us. Everyone has their own budget and priorities and everyone tracks and reports things differently.

You can find links to other cost updates from ourselves (on Tickety Boo, camping across the States and our previous boat in New Zealand) and others on this page, as well as on The Monkey's Fist.

Cost of Cruising In The Bahamas & Florida  | May & June 2017

Overall, we spent $2,986.23 during May and June, which was almost $1,000 more than we spent in the previous two months. 

It's interesting to note that there was a big difference between what we spent in May ($2,619.36) compared to June ($366.87). That's because during May we had to head back to the States to fix things that broke on our boat (dinghy davit and water pump). That meant money being spent on boat parts and marina fees, plus some Little Caesar's pizza and Taco Tuesday. We spent all of June back in the Bahamas. Nothing broke on the boat, we anchored every day (which is free) and we only ate out a couple of times (cheap snack type food).

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of the details of what we spent, here are a few things to note:

1 - All costs are in US dollars. The Bahamian dollar is on par with the US dollar, so no conversion was required. It's pretty cool that you can use US currency in the Bahamas. No need to worry about exchanging money.

2 - Not all expenses are included - here's what we've left out:

(a) We don't report how much we spend on alcohol. I remember reading some horrible, judgy comments in a blog post a few years back about how much someone spent on booze, so I left it out when we first started tracking our cruising costs back in New Zealand. For consistency's sake, I've continued to leave it out when tracking our cruising costs.
(b) We've also left out our costs for medical insurance. We didn't think it made sense to include insurance costs as they can vary so widely depending upon your nationality, where you cruise, what level of coverage you want and can afford etc. In case you are curious, while we're back in the States, we do have insurance through the health insurance marketplace (aka ACA/Obamacare), primarily to protect our assets and cover us in case of a catastrophic medical condition.
3 - I've included any shipping and taxes we've paid in what we report. Florida has a 6% sales tax. The Bahamas has a 7.5% VAT.

GROCERIES | Total = $433.20

This category includes everything we put in our bodies in terms of food and drink (excluding booze) that we prepare ourselves. It doesn't include things like paper towels and ziploc bags, which I know some people would classify as groceries. Sure, you could probably eat them, but they wouldn't taste very good.

While we were back in Florida, we took advantage of Walmart and Aldi and restocked the provisions on our boat. We also bought groceries in the Bahamas - mostly dairy, meat and produce. 

PERSONAL & HOUSEHOLD | Total = $20.88

This is the category where we include household things (like paper towels and ziploc bags) and personal hygiene items (like soap and shampoo). We also capture items for the "home" here - like bug spray.

ENTERTAINMENT | Total = $96.50

In terms of drinks and eating out, this includes everything we don't prepare ourselves, even if we get something to go and eat it back on the boat. We also track how much we spend on books, magazines, DVD rentals and going to the movies in this category, as well as the occasional lottery ticket.


Our cell phone is actually one of our biggest non-boat related expenses. We have a $60 monthly GoPhone plan with AT&T which includes 8GB of data and unlimited calls and texts. We continued with that plan while we were out cruising so that we can keep our US cell phone number.

In the Bahamas, we're on a 30-day data plan ($35). The data plan we bought was billed as "Limitless" which the woman at BTC assured us had no data cap, nor would it choke down our speed after we used a certain amount of data. Turns out that was rather misleading. Once you use 15GB of data, they shut you down without warning. Fortunately, we didn't use up our data allowance, but I know other people who did. To be fair, the cost per GB is actually pretty good compared to our AT&T plan.

BOAT FUEL | Total = $238.52

We've bought 15 gallons of gas (for our generator and outboard motor) and 55 gallons of diesel during the past two months. It's definitely cheaper in the States than in the Bahamas.

LPG & BUTANE | Total = $37.17

We have a LPG (or propane) cooker on our boat. Not long after we left Indiantown Marina, our stove broke while we were cruising in Florida. Fortunately our oven still worked, so between that and our BBQ, we were able to get by cooking-wise until we got back to Indiantown Marina and picked up our butane camping stove. The camping stove works fine as a temporary solution until we're able to replace the cooker sometime this summer, but butane cartridges are pretty expensive, especially compared to LPG.

We refilled one of our propane tanks when we were back in the States, as well as buying six more butane cartridges. To our delight, we found butane cartridges are cheaper in Rock Sound, Eleuthera than they are at Walmart. We bought four more cartridges there.

MARINA COSTS | Total = $519.40

Anchoring out is one of the things we love about cruising. Not only is it nice to relax on the boat in a quiet anchorage and fall asleep to the waves gently lapping against the side of your boat, it's also free. We like free! Of course, anchoring out isn't always all that it's cracked up to be - we've been in our share of roly-poly anchorages and not been able to sleep at night wondering if we're going to drag anchor, but it's still free!

Sadly, because we had to come back to the States to deal with our broken dinghy davit and water pump, we ended up shelling out a pretty penny on a slip and pump-outs while at Indiantown Marina.

BOAT STUFF | Total = $1,031.42

This category is for all the stuff we've been buying for the boat, as well as repairs and maintenance costs. The big expenses were for a replacement Kato dingy davit ($660) and a new water pump ($144).

TRANSPORT | Total = $78.87

This category is for costs related to our vehicle, mostly for gas to keep it going and drive into the nearby "big city" of Stuart for errands. We put $36.47 worth of gas in it while we were back in Indiantown. We also pay $21.20 a month to store our vehicle at Indiantown Marina while we're off cruising.


This category includes medical expenses outside of our monthly insurance premium (which aren't included here - see section on exclusions above), like over the counter medications, prescriptions and things for our medical kit. It also includes the costs of doctors visits and medical tests which aren't covered by our insurance.

Although there were a few cuts and bruises while we were cruising, neither of us needed medical attention.

OTHER | Total = $330.37

In this category, we break out how much we spend on clothes and travel expenses. We also include a catch-all miscellaneous group for stuff that doesn't fit neatly anywhere else - things like laundry and trash disposal.

The big expense in this category was a flat screen TV, which we installed in our aft cabin so that we can watch shows from our hard drive at night. I know a lot of cruisers would look down on having a TV on their boat, but we're really enjoying it.

Did we spend more or less than you would have expected? Do you track your monthly expenditure? What are your cost saving tips and tricks? 

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14 July 2017

Anchoring At A Ghost Town | Ginn Sur Mer, Bahamas

Have you ever spent the night at a ghost town? Were you worried what would happen when the sun set? Were you scared by the thought of ghosts, zombies or vampires sneaking up on you in the dark?

We spent the night anchored at a ghost town in the Bahamas back in May and I have to confess that I was a little nervous about who or what was lurking in the shadows.

Ginn sur Mer was a big development project at the West End on Grand Bahama Island in the Abacos. Much of the infrastructure was put in place - canals, golf courses, roads, utilities and an airport - but then the developer defaulted and the place was abandoned. 

Several people had told us what a great well-protected anchorage it was and it seemed like the perfect place to wait out a front that was forecast to come through before we made our way south to the Berry Islands.

We entered the inlet, made our way through the canals and found a good place to drop the hook.

This is what it looks like during the day. You can see a water tower, roads, stop signs, electrical lines and a golf course on shore, but no people or buildings. It's quite surreal. It's like some sort of hurricane came through one day and sucked up all of the houses and people, leaving the infrastructure behind.

At night is when things really get creepy. The wind started howling through the palm trees.

I had a closer look on the shore and wondered who or what crushed one of the retaining walls. It had to have been something big. Maybe it crushed the wall trying to climb down into the water to attack people on one of the sailboats anchored in the canals?

You look around and realize you're the only people for miles around. Or are you? Although, are ghosts, zombies and vampires considered people? They're dead aren't they?

Fortunately, we made it through the night unscathed and lived to tell the tale.

Cruising Log | Tuesday, 23 May 2017 - Wednesday, 24 May 2017
23 MAY
Anchor up at 7:45 AM after a very roly-poly night anchored on the Banks. Had to use generator to start engine. Replacing our battery bank has moved up in priority on the boat project list. Very confused seas. 6' waves close together. Buried the bow on occasion. Fish on the line! Darn, just a stupid barracuda. Anchor down at 12:15 PM at Ginn sur Mer. Nautical miles = 30. Engine = 4 hours 30 mins plus another 30 mins at anchor to check engine. Spending =Nil

24 MAY
A peaceful night despite the spooky surroundings. Hung out waiting for the front to blow through. Nautical miles = Nil. Engine = 30 mins to check it. Spending = Nil

Have you ever visited a ghost town? Did anything spooky happen to you?

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