Life Onboard; Comparing Year 1 and Year 2
The unparalleled waters of the Bahamas.
September marks the second completed year of full time living on our sailboat and it is amazing how different the two years have been.
Our first year we spent the first months working hard to get Let It Be ready for us to live on her. Although we bought our boat new, we had several items we wanted to add to make life on our boat just a bit easier.
Probably the three biggest changes we made during the first year that have made LIB more functional for us were:
Adding a Cruise RO Water Maker which frees us from looking for places to buy water as we travel.
Adding these two upper windows to our salon which allow us to have airflow into the boat even if it rains outside.
Our new cushions which are so much more comfortable than our original ones and add a very nice pop of color and individuality to LIB.
As far as our actual travel during the first season, we spent our time in the Windward and Leeward Islands of the Caribbean and loved moving from one country to the next. The majority of our time was spent on anchor; we spent three nights in a dock on Antigua celebrating the New Year, then did not use a marina again until June.
We thoroughly enjoyed being on the hook, swimming and snorkeling almost every day and living that first season very much in tune with nature.
At the end of our first season, we left the Caribbean and sailed north all the way to Annapolis, MD to get in position for my personal “wish” which was to join a rally and work our way south through the Intracoastal Waterway.
Prior to the start of our second season aboard LIB, we made three additional changes to LIB that have made a significant difference for her in a positive way.
We invested in brand new 3di sails by North Sails. These sails are higher performance than our original sails and have gained us the ability to point higher and sail a bit faster. Definitely a win for LIB and us.
We replaced all of our electronic equipment with B&G and we added radar to LIB. We are very happy with our new equipment and find the autopilot to be excellent. The B&G equipment has some features that our previous system did not have and we find the whole system more user friendly.
Our third change was that Frank and I completely revamped the rain water drainage on LIB by enlarging the drain holes and leading the captured water into the drain in the cockpit floor. Prior to making these alterations, our cockpit floor would get wet when it rained because water ran off of the upstairs sun area and into the cockpit. Since our modification, our cockpit is dry and usable even during heavy rains.
Our second season of cruising has been great but completely different from our first. We kicked it off with the 2016 Sail to the Sun Rally that started in Hampton, Virginia. In the company of 18 other sailboats, we spent two months working our way south to Florida. Nearly every evening we were in a different marina and we ate out more often than we ever did while living on land. The social life was amazing and the group of people were like minded and are sure to be friends for a very long time.
A few STTS Ralliers waiting for a trolley tour.
We spent January through April in the Bahamas, including several stays in marinas. Next we worked our way over to the Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic and then to Puerto Rico for this hurricane season.
This marina in Samana, DR isn’t exactly a hardship!
While in the Turks and Caicos, we spent 95 percent of our time in a marina. In the Dominican Republic we spent 100 percent of our time in marinas and now that we are settled in Puerto Rico for hurricane season, we are again in a marina.
As you can tell, our second season was all about marinas and much of it was about land activities.
Kiting in Antigua.
Our first season we ate off of the boat rarely and focused on our water sports. Many hours and anchorages were all about kite boarding in beautiful places and having beaches all to ourselves.
This year we have made a ton of new boat friends, helped considerably by the Sail to the Sun Rally, and we have spent more time exploring on land.
In summary, I would say this year feels more like “land life” while living on a boat but our first year felt more like living on a sailboat.
If I had to choose if I prefer year one or two, I would not be able to do so. Year one I loved being in tune with the sunrises and sunsets while on anchor. I loved swimming to shore nearly every day and daily water activities. I loved being in somewhat isolated places and feeling out of touch with U.S. news but being able to stay in contact with my family and friends.
This year I loved making so many new friends and reconnecting with friends in different anchorages or marinas. The convenience of restaurants and stores was welcome. It was really nice to be back in the U.S. with everything so familiar and accessible. But because we were in the States, it was easy to get caught up in the “real world” and that was not my favorite aspect of year two.
So now that we have experienced two very different years, what will we do for the upcoming season?
In November, we are once again setting off toward the Windward and Leeward Islands of the Caribbean. But this year we will also jump over to the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) and spend time there before the hurricane season of 2018 begins.
My hope is that this season we can somehow manage to blend our last two seasons. Perhaps we will devise an itinerary that includes remote anchorages intermingled with some more developed areas with conveniences we sometimes crave (think grocery stores with our favorite veggies and fruits).
It was a great surprise when Starry Horizons was nearby!
And of course, we hope to reconnect with sailing friends because it is a little thrill to drop anchor and suddenly realize that a nearby boat is a friend we didn’t know was in the area.
As always, thank you for visiting our blog. We love hearing your comments. If you are interested in seeing more of our everyday activities, please visit our FB page: Let It Be, Helia 44