What do you DO all day? When you're just at anchor, doesn't it get boring? Is it just like vacation every day? Well, here's one of our typical days.

What Do You Do All Day?

What’s cruising really like? When most people dream of cruising, they tend to think of days being similar to what they are on a bareboat charter. In other words, vacation. Play.

There is a certain amount of that . . . but there’s also a certain amount of “everyday life” and almost always at least a little bit of repair or maintenance.

No two days are ever identical, but a recent day at Shroud Cay in the Bahamas was fairly typical of days when we aren’t underway or visiting a town.

The previous day, we had said we’d like to explore an old well in a nearby cove and take our dog Paz to the beach, and we’ve decided that the next day we’re going to move to Warderick Wells Cay, about 20 miles away.

Here’s how it actually played out:

7:30 – I get up and check email with the tiny bit of cell phone signal we have. More often, we have decent internet via the cell phone and I can check in on the blog and post pictures on Facebook. Not today. I double check that the camera and handheld VHF did get plugged in to charge last night and are ready to go.

8:00 – Weather comes on the VHF at 8 and I listen and make notes while Dave and dog Paz wake up. While she’s still half asleep, we do a bit of dog grooming.

8:30 – Dave lowers the dinghy, checks the gas in it, adds more (we’re planning to go a couple miles and have done several other long trips in the last few days)  and then he makes the bed and vacuums the carpets and settees while I fix breakfast and do other cleaning as I wait for the coffee water to boil.

Oops, part way through cooking the fresh water pump won’t turn on. We do some quick checks to make sure it’s nothing simple like a flipped circuit breaker. Nope, it’s going to take more troubleshooting to determine if it’s electrical, the pump motor or just the pressure switch. Good news, though: we have plenty of water in our filter dispenser and also in a jerry can so we can go explore this morning while it’s cooler and then deal with the pump this afternoon.

10:00 – We’re ready to go. Dog Paz can’t go on the trails in the national park, so we make sure she’s taken care of “business” on her piece of carpet on the bow (read more) and has plenty of water in her bowl. We leave all the hatches open for a nice breeze for her and also turn on a fan . . . but we do close the door to the cockpit so she can’t go out on deck while we’re gone.

For ourselves, we toss a couple of bottles of water, the camera and a handheld VHF into a day pack and go for our excursion. We both wear swimsuits with a t-shirt for sun protection and wear sturdy hiking sandals (Keens) – the trails generally have a lot of sharp rock.

We dinghy to the beach where the trail starts, and toss out the anchor in knee-deep water. We get out and wade to shore with the day pack and then stand to watch how the dinghy drifts in the wind and current. Darn! It’s beaching itself . . . so I go back out, take the anchor out a little further, bury it well, and also shorten the rode. Good thing I wore the swim suit as I ended up in water up to my waist!

It’s not a long hike and we explore a bit of the area, then go back to the beach where we left the dinghy.

Here’s Dave checking out the water from the well:

What do you DO all day? When you're just at anchor, doesn't it get boring? Is it just like vacation every day? Not exactly . . . here's one of our typical days.

A quick swim to cool off, then it’s back to the boat. We use our solar shower for a quick freshwater rinse in the cockpit so that we’re not tracking salt into the salon.

Noon – I fix lunch and Dave gets out various tools for dealing with the water pump. Our email weather forecast has come in while we were gone this morning, so we look at that as we eat lunch. Nothing serious looming but it looks like our trip the next day will have about 10 miles pretty much straight into the wind.

Afternoon –  Dave works on the pump, occasionally asking me to flip a circuit breaker or try the water faucet. I had hoped to do some bottom cleaning on the boat today, but he needs my assistance just often enough to make it impractical.

Instead, I plot the route for tomorrow’s trip – I use Garmin Home Port to do it on the laptop and then transfer it to the chartplotter via SD card. (NOTE: So far, Garmin charts have been spot on; I believe they use Explorer data.) I double-check by looking at the route on our Explorer paper charts. As long as the charts and books are out, I do a bit of research on other nearby anchorages we might enjoy. Other days, I may write posts for The Boat Galley.

At the same time I’m doing the chart work, I bake a loaf of wheat bread for sandwiches (no stores in the national park) and also a loaf of zucchini bread that we can eat as breakfast underway tomorrow – the two can fit in the oven at the same time so I don’t have to heat up the boat twice. I make some potato salad that we’ll have with dinner and I run the watermaker.

5:00 – Dave has the pump fixed – it was the pressure switch, so he just had to clean up the contacts and didn’t have to swap out pumps. He also found some problems in how the pump was mounted and corrected them – this is how a one-hour job takes three, but hopefully will avoid some problems in the future. Now, all the tools are put away and everything that had to be moved to get to the pump has been put back.

Good news – there’s still time to take Paz to the beach for a nice long walk and some wading. We try hard to get her some good exercise the day before we’re going to be traveling so she’s tired and happy to nap when we’re underway.

6:00 – Back on the boat and again a quick rinse to get the salt off (yes, Paz gets rinsed too – she’s not just salty but has rolled in the sand numerous times). We sit in the cockpit with a cold beer, then I finish up dinner while Dave takes the motor off the dinghy in preparation for tomorrow’s journey (it rides on the stern rail), then raises the dinghy in the davits and straps it down.

7:30 – Dinner in the cockpit and then we watch the sun set. We talk for a bit, and then Cyndi from Pablo’s Girl texts us on our DeLorme inReach to see where we are. Yes! Our paths are going to cross on Thursday night and we make plans to share happy hour.

Dave and I spend a bit of time just talking, but we want to get underway tomorrow at sunrise, so it’s a early evening.

So that’s pretty much it: Some just normal life stuff – cooking, cleaning and making plans with friends – and some routine chores because of living on a boat and/or being in an out of the way anchorage – dog grooming, raising, lowering and gassing the dinghy, making bread, route planning, weather checking and running the watermaker.  Then there’s the unexpected boat work in having to fix the pump instead of the “planned” work on cleaning the bottom. Finally, we had two bits of fun – the hike to the well and taking Paz to the beach. Life’s good.

What do you DO all day? When you're just at anchor, doesn't it get boring? Is it vacation every day? Not exactly . . . here's a typical day.

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  • Rebecca Frana Guthrie
    Posted at 01 August 2016 Reply

    Hi Carolyn, I’m finding the boat galley so useful. The simple joy of a day with your mate! Life is good! My mate and I have plans in a year to begin our journey. Your posts are helping us prepare for our new life aboard. Keep the posts coming! One request – how do you manage trash? Separation between / recycle / compost / waste etc. And by any chance do you raise fresh herbs aboard?

  • Jan Bogart
    Posted at 01 August 2016 Reply

    I’m amazed you can buy zucchini in the Bahamas.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 01 August 2016 Reply

      Nope! I brought a stock of Harmony House dried veggies with us. I’ll be writing more about them after we’re back, with tips for using them (it’s been a learning curve and I want to experiment more before writing . . . some things have been easy, some not)

      • Daniel
        Posted at 04 August 2016 Reply

        I’ve been considering Harmony House veggies for cruising. I’m interested in how it worked out for you.

        • Carolyn Shearlock
          Posted at 05 August 2016 Reply

          I plan to write more after I have a few more months’ experience, but overall I’m reasonably happy. Really, my only complaint is that some of the veggies are diced very small, and I’d prefer larger for some thing. Potatoes, carrots, broccoli and so on reconstitute to about 1/4″ cubes — really too small for something like potato salad. Flavor is good and the texture is great and since the only produce we consistently find in the Bahamas in the middle of summer are tomatoes and oranges (potatoes, carrots, onions are hit and miss), it has worked out really well. The green beans work well as a salad base, and the diced tomatoes are a great sub for canned tomatoes.

          I only had one package of their dehydrated beans that a friend had given me. These are great — they reconsititute to an edible consistency in just a few minutes of cooking, as compared to dried beans that take hours (I usually do it in a Thermos but I still have to remember far enough in advance). I will be bringing large containers of kidney beans and black beans in the future!

    • Lori
      Posted at 02 August 2016 Reply

      A good selection of produce can be found in most of the larger settlements and of course Nassau. But if you like cabbage and peppers you are in luck everywhere!

  • Ellen Jacobson
    Posted at 01 August 2016 Reply

    Great recap of a typical day cruising!

  • Nancy Moore Golay
    Posted at 01 August 2016 Reply

    Great picture of your boat!

  • Sean Riley
    Posted at 01 August 2016 Reply

    Hi Carolyn,

    A truly wonderful explanation. My wife and I are starting our journey and cant wait for a “normal” day like you just described.

    Thank you for taking the time to share.


  • Steven Ricker
    Posted at 01 August 2016 Reply

    Colette Lorana, Maggie

  • Lorana Laliberte
    Posted at 01 August 2016 Reply

    Thats pretty cool

  • Jan Bogart
    Posted at 01 August 2016 Reply

    They are $3/lb. here.

  • JP Pedro
    Posted at 01 August 2016 Reply

    Well, today…

  • Debra B
    Posted at 03 August 2016 Reply

    i was curious where you got your email weather from.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 04 August 2016 Reply

      We use Chris Parker’s weather service, for the US East Coast and the Caribbean: Marine Weather Center. Chris also does one of the SSB forecasts that we listen to when we can’t get email (we prefer the email as we can go over it at our own pace).

  • kelly
    Posted at 04 August 2016 Reply

    Ahhhh….can’t wait to join the fun in 2017.

  • Jenny
    Posted at 06 August 2016 Reply

    Thank you for all of your articles. I echo what everyone else is saying above, we love your posts! 🙂

    What service provider do you use for internet/ cell service? We are trying to figure out our plan for connections when we go to the Bahamas to the Western Carribean this fall/ winter.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 06 August 2016 Reply

      Thanks! In the Bahamas, your only real choice is BTC (Bahamas Telephone Company AKA Batelco). If you have an unlocked smart phone (if it’s 4G it’s usually unlocked), you can just swap out the SIM card for one from BTC. You can get it when you get to the Bahamas, or you can get it ahead of time through Mr. SIM Card. I did it through Mr. Sim Card and was able to activate it instantly once we dropped anchor. It costs a bit more initially, but I didn’t have to go anywhere — we could get weather info immediately!

  • Chay Hobbs
    Posted at 15 September 2016 Reply

    Thank you SO MUCH for all the excellent articles on the Boat Gallery. You are a wealth of knowledge.
    I hope you realize how helpful you are to us beginners wanting to do everything right the first time this having more time to play!!! lolol
    Looking forward to many, many more posts/articles from you and pray we cross paths someday in/near our home state of Florida!

    Best wishes and Blessed Travels!

  • Liana
    Posted at 17 June 2017 Reply

    Thanks for sharing, really.

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