Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Tuesday Tips #14 - A Good Log Book

We were on a good friend's boat and he made an entry in his logbook which was a calendar. We were intrigued. He told us it's the easiest way for him to remember to write entries After a little experimenting we ended up buying the At-A-Glance Weekly/Monthly appointment book and have been using it for the last three years.

The At-A-Glance has a section for each month that's a two-page month calendar with large blocks for each day. We use that for general entries like, "Had sundowners with..." After the month calendar spread, it has columns of hourly entry lines, one column for each day with a week taking up a two-page spread. When we're underway we use these pages to log our watch changes, to log GPS position, and to log destinations and alternates. When we're not underway we log whatever chores we did or major projects. When we're in the middle of a summer refit like we are right now, we log detailed info about the projects we're working on. In the back of the book there's a section for future planning which we use to log our diesel, gasoline, and propane purchases as well as our water usage and pumpout records.

The book is reasonably priced, easy to write in, and stores easily in our nav station. If you balk at the price of marine logbooks, this just might be the solution for you.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Tuesday Tips #13 - Data Management

We're fortunate enough to have a really large data plan with Verizon, a benefit that comes from being with them from the very beginning of cell phones. Yet, still we come close to using it all before the month is up and have to manage our use. There are some very simple things you can do to help along those lines:

  1. Turn off your mobile data at night so apps don't run in the background
  2. Turn off your automatic update of apps, even over wifi because if you're using a hotspot it will update when it's connected to the hotspot.
  3. Turn off the autoplay of videos in your browser and on Facebook.
  4. Download the Opera mini browser. It has a data save function that blocks some ads.
  5. Download a data tracking widget to your front page on your phone or iPad so you're always aware of how much you have left.
  6. Use the app ShareIt to move photos and videos from you phone to your computer or between phones. It moves them without using data.
These are just a few basic things to try to reduce your data usage. When we go to the Bahamas we make drastic cuts and do with just 4gb of data per month, but then we have some incredibly beautiful water, sky, and beaches to look at and explore so who wants to be staring at a screen anyway?


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tuesday Tips #12 - Project Fatigue

There's always something begging to be done when you live on a boat. The stainless needs polished, the teak needs touched up, the deck has yesterday's accumulation of salt crust...you name it, it needs done. Even worse is the summer refit, a time when most cruisers hide out from hurricane season and work on The List of more major things that need done that didn't get done while turquoise waters and white sand beaches beckoned. We're nearing the end of such a summer refit, and I'm tired. Not just regular "it's close to bed time after a long day" tired, but tired to the bone and that's a dangerous place to be when you live on a boat. It's why a lot of cruisers quit cruising because things get added to the bottom of the list faster than they get taken off the top. It's called project fatigue.

If you want to be successful at cruising, you need to learn how to manage project fatigue. Sure, there's times when you just have to push through to get something done, but on the regular project list, you sometimes need to take a step back and remember why you're doing this. Sit in the cockpit and watch the mama manatee lift her new baby up to take a breath. Catch the beautiful sunrise. Go sailing for an afternoon when someone asks if you'll help them with their new boat. Smell the ocean air. Laugh at the antics of the pelicans fishing for their lunch. Ride your bike into town and get a double scoop of Moose Tracks. The project list will still be there when you come back to it and you'll have some new energy to tackle it.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tuesday Tips #11 - Popcorn

On the subject of limited space...one of the difficult things to try to stock up on when we go to the Bahamas is chips. For the most part, we don't stock up on a lot of things before we go because we try to support the local economy since we're using their resources. There are a few exceptions to this rule though, as some things are just too expensive over there to justify buying and chips is one of them. A bag of Doritos that might cost you $3.79 here in the States is going to set you back about $8.00 over there. And beer? It will set you back between $3.00 and $4.00 per bottle. Some things are just non-existent like good decaf coffee and Fair Trade chocolate, so we stock up on just those few things.

For a while we solved the chips problem by buying Pringles but, let's face it, Pringles are OK for a minor diversion, but when you want a good potato chip they just don't cut it. Don't get me wrong - the packaging is great for boats since they can't crush and they take up a fraction of the space of a bag of chips. They just lack in the taste department.

The last time we went over we decided to go a whole different direction and buy popcorn. We don't have a microwave on Kintala, so we buy the regular organic unpopped popcorn kernels that come in a big bag for just a couple bucks. You get an incredible amount of popcorn for the money. And if you want it flavored? We buy this cheddar powder and butter powder which keep really well in the cupboard. Price wise - one 15.75 ounce bag of Lay's Classic chips has about 13 cups of chips in it for around $4.00. One jar of Orville Redenbacher's popcorn kernels costs about the same amount and it makes 240 cups of popcorn. To make it even more of a contrast, I usually buy the store brand of popcorn which is usually at least a dollar cheaper. Easy on the budget and easy on the storage space. It's a win-win.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tuesday Tips #10 - Natural Deoderant

Using commercial deoderant really bothers me. Have you ever really studied the label? It's scary. Add to that the fact that it builds up and it was starting to make these very weird dark stains in my underarms and I was ready to try something new.

My daughter, who feels the same way about the stuff, has tried many different natural concoctions, but none of them have worked for me. So color me surprised when I bought a bottle of Magnesium Oil for my husband to use for its alleged properties of helping with insomnia and restless leg syndrome, and read on the label that it also makes a great natural deoderant. I've been using it every since and have been very pleased.

A word of caution: Not everyone can use this stuff. It appears that some people are very sensitive to it and react with severe itching. They tell you that if you are magnesium deficient, you may react more severely. They tell you to try just a small amount on the bottom of your feet, and if you don't react then you can progress to using more of it. I have never reacted to it since we bought it and have been using it as deoderant quite successfully for some time now. My daughter, on the other hand, reacted like she had poison ivy, so if you decide to try it, go slow and see how you do. I'm really happy that I found something that works as deoderant that's actually good for me! Oh, and the insomnia thing? Jury's still out on that one.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tuesday Tips #9 - Portable Music

One of the things we try to do while cruising is to attend any drum circles we find. We've gone to the Coconut Grove Drum Circle by the Dinner Key Mooring Field that's held on the Saturday of the full moon each month. We've also gone to the very famous and long-standing Siesta Key Drum Circle, that meets every Sunday evening from about 6:00 pm till dark, year round. The problem with being a drummer is that drums take up a lot of room, and space is at a premium on most cruising boats.

A few months ago I happened on a new idea that Remo came up with. Remo is the manufacturer of many styles of replacement drum heads, and they designed a drum head that could be snapped on any 5 or 6 gallon bucket. Hmmm I don't think I've ever run across a cruising boat that didn't have at least one 5 gallon bucket on hand so this seemed like a really great idea. You can buy them in many styles. They have one that's labeled "Comfort Sound Technology" which is more of a fabric skin and produces a softer, more mellow sound that can be played indoors. Their regular heads come in three tones: a low, medium, and high pitch. We ordered the comfort sound technology head and a low tone head from Lone Star Percussion in Dallas, Texas, only because they had the best price at the time with the shortest delivery. The heads come in perfect cardboard boxes to store them in. We also ordered one of their dedicated Rhythm Pal buckets because it was a better shape than the $3 ones you get at Lowes. The drum produces a very nice tone and has been tested repeatedly at the drum circle. The really nice thing about it is that the head snaps off easily so you can store your sticks inside. We also store our maracas and our tambourine inside when we're not using the drum. Remo's bucket comes with a strap as well, so it's easy to carry - an important benefit because a lot of drum circles are a good walk from wherever you are. So if you've always wanted to have a drum on board or even if you're land locked and you want a very inexpensive way to get into drumming, try it out.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tuesday Tips #8 - A Great Stain Remover

One of the things that we try to do on the boat is to have as many items that can serve more than one purpose. The more of these you have, the less space you take up. An example of this would be our laser thermometer - the one that's supposed to be used to check the temp of the engine block which also happens to serve as the yeast dough liquid temp checker.

Another really good one is something you may not have though of before - that old bottle of hydrogen peroxide that's in the back of your medicine cabinet. It turns out that it works incredibly well as a stain remover on clothes.

All of my shirts that I wear on the boat seem to have stains on them. The galley is small, and I cook a lot, so I inevitably end up wearing food of some sort or another. The night before I go to the laundry I squirt hydrogen peroxide all over the stains, soaking them really well, and then stuff them in the laundry bag. I wash as normal the next day and voilá! Stains all gone. I even use it on colored clothes and it doesn't bleach out the color like bleach does. It has worked on greasy stains, colored stains like strawberry, and just about any other type I've used it on. Hairspray still works the best on ink stains though. Happy laundry day!