22 January 2012

Shopping with a list?

Usually you prepare a list of what you need - either handwritten on a notebook or the modern version, saved in your smartphone - so you can tick it off while shopping. We had to change this habit rapidly! Most stores we encountered so far in the Exumas do look like this: a couple of shelves and a freezer in a corner. If you're lucky there are some fresh veggies and fruits but only immediately after the mailboat's arrival. Two days later - nada. And if you take a closer look of the freezer - it looks mostly rusty and not too promising. The meat or chicken is usually packed in zip-lock bags without any date of expiration... If you ask the shopkeeper he immediately assures you it came with the last mailboat! Do you understand now why Marco instists to catch our own food?? We're glad that we stocked up well back in the US and hope to find some proper stores in the next bigger town...

With love from paradise

21 January 2012

Laundry with the best view in the world*

I guess you folks think we're running around in our swimsuits (or even nothing...) all day long and therefore don't need do do a lot of laundry. WRONG. As for us having lived in the Middle East for three years, water temperatures of 25°C/77°F are almost too cold to even bath your toes in, not even thinking about to go for a swim every day. And since those temps are not yet reached daily we're still wearing ordinary clothes (Shorts and T-shirts count as normal cloths right?) But even shorts and some shirts are piling up in the laundry basket over a couple of weeks. And as we do shower from time to time and sleep in a quite big bed, the towels and linen are adding up too of course.
In a cruisers community you're exchanging tips like where and even more important WHEN to find fresh produce (after the mailboat's arrival), where to find the nice and protected anchorages, fresh water (fortunately we do have a watermaker) or where you can do your laundry. Black Point was recommended to have a pretty nice laundry facility. But we almost had to rub our eyes when we actually got there! There was a building, neatly painted in white with the sign "Laundermat" on it and when we entered we counted at least 20 washing and drying machines in a room with the most amazing view you can imagine! It's not cheap though, we paid for six washing/drying loads 21.- Dollars but hey, it was worth it!
As you may have discovered, we're getting excited about really basic stuff already!

With love from paradise

*Thanks for giving me the idea for the titel Tammy from: http://ploddinginparadise.blogspot.com/

20 January 2012

Fishing Tales

It's time to report about my fishing experience in the Bahamas. Well, mixed feelings.....

First of all you need to know that fish in the Bahamas/Caribbean can be poisonous with a kind of algae (Ciguatera). There is no way to determine or destroy that poison before you eat your catch. But thanks god some fish are known to have it and some not. A general rule is as well, to avoid very big reef fish which feed on smaller fish. You actually would prefer to catch Tuna, Mahi Mahi and Wahoo as they are known not to get this poison. I guess they know that myriads of cruisers are hanging around some reefs and try to catch them - that's why they stay mostly in deeper, offshore water. And that's as well the point where the whole story becomes silly: If you fish from the dinghy you would really like to get big boys, but if it's not a tuna or so, please be it a bit smaller so it's edible. Being picky while fishing?

I had the luck to go fishing a few times with a fellow IP cruiser from Canada, Mark, and we had a lot of fun being out there. How is the saying? Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will go out everyday in a boat and drink beer....Besides the beers we had some really nice catches for a few dinners. But I have to admit, mostly they have been rather small, or simply too big: A few minutes nice bending of the rod before snapping the 30 pound line with an ease...! And carrying the bigger gear in a shaky dinghy is rather unpractical.
Important: Don't ever try to take your wife fishing in the dinghy: This good for eating little reef fishes are amazingly cute, I mean fancy colors and real big eyes. Believe me I saw it: If they recognize a woman on board, this creatures can use this big wet eyes to beg for their life! No way you can keep your hard fighted meal as it is much to cute to kill or eat! You will have to throw them back...
Dinghy fishing in Summary: 1:0 for the fish.

If I'm really lazy I fish from the boat while on anchor. I mean that's great, it's like fishing from your balcony. All the stuff (yeah, mostly the fridge) is in reach. And you still could ask your wife to make you a sandwich while holding the rod....but I guess that's another blog. As usual I go with the big hooks in case one of this Mahi Mahi would check out shallow water... and when the reel went off recently I knew I had a damn big thing on it. It took me almost a half an hour just to bring it in sight, it was a really nice fight. Just to realize that a shark had taken my bait! I mean a shark is a real bad thing! First of all I do not eat shark, finning is against my belief so I had to unhook that beast...at the end I even had to cut the line, it was simply too big to bring on board (and the Admiral was strictly opposing to even try...).
In Summary 3:0 for the shark (This damn shark gets extra points for scaring Rahel off the water)

For trolling (towing a big lure behind the boat) while sailing I have some really big gear with nice artificial lures for Tuna, Mahi Mahi...you know. All I got so far was some big barracudas. This is bad too. First they do not fight, so no fun at all, and secondly, if it is a big barracuda there is a high risk it has Ciguatera. So the only thing you get are some ugly bite marks in your shiny, expensive lures and the pleasure of reeling 100 meter or more line in. After you unhooked Mr. Lucky he goes right back into the water and you start at zero... Again 1:0 for this slimy creatures...

And this one is hard to admit: Whenever possible I clean my catch on the beach to avoid the mess on board. Since the closest beach was Pig Beach I was thinking I could clean my fish there. In short: Really stupid idea, this pig beasts are used to get fed from humans: A few hungry and complete nuts 200 pounds pigs running towards you makes you really escape like a chicken...I swear that was the fastest dinghy launch in the Bahamas ever - I still can hear the poor outboard screaming! I later learned nobody ever dares to land on that beach, particularly not with any kind of food.....this are no pigs, this are man eaters!
1:0 for the pigs - and that's harsh in a blog about fishing! But I could live with it, if not the whole Staniel Cay cruising community would still be laughing about me

After all, fishing is still fun. I had some decent fights and some real nice meals. Much better fishing than in Dubai. But by now another issue is raising: We had our last steaks out of the freezer a few days ago. And getting decent meat seems impossible, and a man cannot life from fish alone right? ... I'm starting now to think if I should trade my fishing gear against a hunting rifle and take bloody revenge on one of this damn pigs...

19 January 2012

If you cannot fix it with a hammer, it's an electrical problem….

Found this promising sign of a trusty workshop in the Bahamas: It made me reflect our past experiences with having work done on our boat. And let me tell you, in reality just the signs looked better in the US:

If you have a boat you need a yard from time to time. Maybe just for a simple haul out to apply a new coat of antifouling or worse, because something is broken and you are not able (or don’t have the guts) to fix it yourself. As we bought Habibi while we lived in Dubai and the boat was in Maryland (14h flight time in between) we had to depend on a yard at some point. And so far my personal experience with the work mentality/skills was not thrilling at all ….Or like a Swiss couple said after living for almost twenty years in the US: If you need something which involves a handy man, think twice: Either you can do it yourself or you probably don’t need it!

So the biggest learning so far is: Do it right the first time and that means DO IT YOURSELF! A fellow blogger said once “he is repairing himself around the world”, guess it's true, for any boater: But I truly hate to fix things, that are supposed to be done and I have paid for already. Some highlight out of my “do it twice” repair list:

I opted for replacing all the black water piping, and I guess they are called ”black water pipes” because you trust that you never have to see what’s in there. In short: I was able to check in detail what’s going on behind these expensive rubber walls! The moron who replaced them forgot to tie up most of the hose clamps properly. Thanks very much for this “Insider Information” I've never asked for….

Isolation Transformer: Nicely mounted but my zincs are still melting like snow in the Bahamian sun: So I got suspicious: After checking the manual and opening the unit it was obvious: There was a main connection missing, in fact with this setting it was not working as designed and was dangerous, just a highly paid piece of useless iron between my electrical wires…It's so obvious wrong that even an electrical dummy like me was able to find the mistake in less than an hour! First I was thinking to raise a complain, but looking at this work, I have to assume that the skilled electrician who mounted this unit is most probably already self-electrocuted and therefore out of business….

Solar panel mounting: Some panels are designed to be adjustable, means you can turn them into the sun. Would be a big advantage if done properly. The provided manual shows some screws with a handle to tie them up. Since the handles are missing (lost?) they used normal screws: Means I cannot adjust the panels, they are moving with the wind. To be fair, I’m not sure if this is a design glitch or just badly mounted. Anyhow, a highly paid “expert” should be able to think ahead when mounting, right? No wonder so many Americans are scared about the fact that 5 USD/h Mexicans could take their jobs, with this skill set/work attitude I would be indeed very afraid!

And yes I forgot: If you drill holes in stainless tubing to mount solar panels, please make sure that not all the sharp iron pieces are falling into our dinghy stored below: Sharp steel shiver can cut holes into an inflatable boat, claro? Yiekes, sounds this like an advice to a highly paid yard worker??? I would be really scared about my job at this point…..

There are many other things pending which I thought have been addressed, so my to do list is not smaller yet. But at least I’m a bit wiser now, I understand why I need to do the stuff by myself and it's now clear to me why they're building high walls between countries: Simply to keep the unskilled 85 USD/h worker separated from the guy who could do the same job (most probably better) for 80 bucks less an hour….


PS: to be clear this is not US bashing! As most of you know, I work for a big US company and I’m well aware what brilliant minds are capable to achieve: But I cannot stand overpaid clumsy tinkerers, and so far that’s 90% of what I was confronted with the past three months.

18 January 2012

Piggeldy & Frederick* or the pig beach

We heard many stories in advance about Staniel Cay in the Exumas. Mostly there was mentioned the "Staniel Cay Yacht Club" famous for its New Years Day Cruising Boat Regatta and local C-Class races - short, it seems to be the regions cruising headquarter with sailors belonging to some of the best in the Bahamas.
A highlight and almost mandatory trip for visiting snorklers is the renowned Thunderball Grotto, a spectacular skylit underwater cave featured in several Hollywood films (James Bond, Splash).
But we've got the best tip from friends knowing the region quite well. Take the dinghy, don't forget to bring some veggies and drive towards a specific beach. Just by hearing the outboard motor they're appearing immediately: pigs! And you don't have to land the dinghy. No, they come to you as they can swim! And they are very hungry and therefore demanding all the veggies you have. What a picture - swimming pigs! That was definitely my highlight in Staniel Cay. Marcos highlight might have been another, but more in the next post if you like...

With love from pigadise

* Piggeldy & Frederick: a cartoon (unfortunately only in German) we grew up with as children in Switzerland featuring two pigs. In every episode Piggeldy asked his big brother Frederick a specific question and he always answered: nothing easier than that, come with me!


Internet access in the Bahamas is at best random and slow (@ Suzana & Vlado – much slower than the one at DIC on bad days :-)). Besides it’s costly for what you get: 10 USD per day for max. 200MB up & download! So no skype, big mails or fancy web pages.

But we do not complain, just read the statement from the Bahamian Service provider:


This service uses a satellite uplink for all traffic. On its best day, it will seem slow compared to any land-based service. It's 22 thousand miles to the satellite, which means it's 44 thousand miles before your request hits the Internet, and 44 thousand for the data to come back. No matter how you slice it, 88 thousand miles may take more than a few seconds for a response. So remember, you're in the Central Exumas with the most beautiful water and Cay's anywhere on the planet. Fast Internet is available at most office buildings and cubicles in the states. Would you really want to trade where you are for a cubicle?

The secret to happy surfing on a slow network?
1. Click on the link
2. Take a drink of your Kalik
 (Local Beer)
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 above until network appears to have blazing speed

Nothing to add from our side!
Life is great

09 January 2012

Lost in Paradise...

We visited the Junkanoo Festival in Nassau in the night from Jan 1st to 2nd as recommended and it was worth it to get up at 3 am in the morning! What a pot-pourri of colorful costumes, sounds and people! But since the departure from Nassau we not only lost sight of civilisation but of any internet connection too. So shortly to inform our loved ones: we're save and healthy!

We're currently cruising the Exumas where we first anchored in Norman's Cay (a previous headquarter of a drug lord!) and spent both some quiet and sociable days and now we're moored in Warderick Wells that belongs to Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park, a nature preservation area. On one side we might have lost all Wifi connection (since we left the USA we don't carry a phone number anyways) but on the other side we got plenty of pure nature: hundreds of small islands stringed loosely together like on a pearl necklace, lonely beaches with white sand and clear blue waters, fish of all kind, coral reefs you could snorkel in and all this in absolute silence...With love, from paradise

01 January 2012

Happy New Year to all of you!

2011 was indeed a great year! We have been able to pursuit our dream of living on a boat and cruising the world. As dreams often sound crazy to others, we have been very delighted to get all the support from friends and family to fulfill it finally. And that’s the point to send all our supporters a big warm THANK YOU! (And we will keep on proofing better to all who thought that’s a stupid idea – that’s a promise!)

We can’t wait to see what 2012 has up for us, we will keep you posted and hope to see as many as possible of you at some port of call in the near future!

Remember: There is always a spare bunk for friends on Habibi!

Love and blessings to all of you!

Rahel & Marco