Originally Posted by MollyBloom
Hello, I have found this site very useful and thought I'd 'jump in'. My partner - Capt Ron
(really!!!) and I are provisioning
our 38' Lagoon
Catamaran for our first long distance adventure.
We have an income of $1500/mo. from pensions - what is the best way to make sure we have access to funds along the way. Is that a realistic number to go off on our adventure? We plan to moor most often and not use the marina's for other than dingy dock
It costs whatever you want to spend but many folks with well prepared boats and realistic requirements have done it for less.
I used a debit card for my cruising but carried several credit cards as well. I carefully tracked expenses and one of the first things I did when I got to an internet connection was either Skype or check my balance to make sure things agreed. I found it less stressful to do transactions at banks rather than ATMs and I was very leery of using credit cards, carrying more cash than I wanted to lose in a day, and left the jewelry home.
You should probably arrange for direct payment of any bills you get regularly. I contacted my credit card company before I left an island to make sure they knew I was leaving, there were no strange charges, and told them where I'd be next and about what time. When I got to my next destination
, it took a quick email or Skype call to get the card back in operation. I do this not because I'm that paranoid, but having traveled in the past to areas where credit card theft was high, the credit card company wanted to cut its losses by having me on a rather short leash.
I collected a rather esoteric collection of change and bills. Many are used in other locations with no problems and others could be converted to the currency of the island/country. I wish change was convertible as well. I also carried a few hundred dollars in low denomination US currency in case the bank was closed or I needed the cash immediately. USD seemed to be accepted everywhere.
If you're planning on anchoring/mooring then you should have good ground tackle - anchors, chain rode
, nylon rode
, snubbers, windlass
, etc. Anchors get lost
and fatigue and rode wears through so budget for that. Chain needs to be re-galvanized every 5 years or so and the process weakens the chains strength. That means that you could probably get 10 years out of a next larger size chain before replacing it.
Many locations now have mooring fees
and either very small or rolly anchorages
. The going rate in the Caribbean
is about $15/night for a mooring
so you need to consider that. Many marinas
charge for dinghy access and that can add up as well. Since you're mooring/anchoring out you've got to consider gas, 2-cycle oil
, and depreciation on the tender
as a cruising cost.
Many countries require cruising (and) fishing
permits. Most have fees
for checking in and out and some have insurance
requirements. I'd suggest doing a bit of research
about the places you're likely to visit to get an idea of costs and time limits. All these will impact the cost of cruising.
What about internet? I understand that wi/fi is available when we are close to land (which will be most of the time I suspect), and phone services? I think ssb would be great, but our boat is not outfitted for it and seems that it is a lot of money outside our budget to retrofit.
Depending on your location you may be able to grab a free wifi signal from your boat. These wifi boosters aren't expensive and do a good job of bringing the world to you. The biggest problem I've found is that many wifi signals are locked. The good news is that many places that cater to cruisers have free, or very inexpensive, wifi. It may require you going ashore and buying
a beverage but the wifi will be cheaper that way.
is interesting. Places like the Bahamas still use analog cell phones and SIM cards. I'd recommend getting a quad-band or world phone that works on all frequencies. You then buy a SIM card for your location and then a time card and start using it. Many cell services don't include internet as a feature of the cell phone
. The further offshore
of off the beaten path you get, the poorer the coverage. In the Caribbean
where countries are within sight of each other, what works on one island may not work on the other. If you're wanting to make calls, then I've always found it cheaper to buy a local phone card and use the pay phones. You connect for a cheap price
then use the card to make the calls.
SSB is a great accessory, but it's expensive. If you don't want to be able to transmit and talk long distance, I'd still recommend a good general coverage radio
. You'll get to listen to the SSB nets, get weather reports, listen to foreign and US stations, and get coverage of the local stations (which can be a laugh riot in themselves) as well.
One of the benefits of SSB is that you can send emails (but not attachments) for a small fee (or free if you're a licensed ham). Marine
SSBs are fairly simple to use.
I'd suggest chatting up the other boaters in the anchorage or along the way on the VHF
(and a couple handhelds can make finding each other much easier). Cruisers are a great group and willingly share hard earned tricks, suggestions, and secrets.
What about food and supplies? What should we make sure to bring and what is easily had elsewhere?
You can get most anything you need along the way; but not in every location. The cost will be higher and the names you're not used to probably won't be available but supplies are out there. That, to me, was one of the interesting and special things about cruising; using what was locally available and being willing to try new things.
You didn't say where you'd be cruising but lets take the Bahamas and Caribbean in general. The best places to provision in the Bahamas are probably Marsh Harbour, Nassau, and Georgetown
. In the Caribbean, it'd probably be San Juan
, PR, St. Thomas, USVI, St. Martin, St. Lucia, Martinique
, then Trinidad/Tobago.
Many cruisers I chatted with brought quantities of: shampoo, conditioner, perfume, aftershave, deodorant, dental floss, makeup, suntan lotion, bug spray, etc. Many found equal or better substitutes further in their travels; others didn't. The non-US familiar goods can be excellent if you're willing to try them.
I'd suggest bringing enough for the first 30 days or so. I'd also suggest bringing a 6-month supply of things you can't live without (with me it's Crest toothpaste, powdered lemonade, and good coffee). You'll find that many paper products aren't as 'smooth' as what's available so you might add some of that to the list. Don't forget special medications, especially OTC ones. If you're on prescription meds, then you should talk to your doctor about getting extended quantities or non-US regulated OTC substitutes, the best way to prolong the life of the meds (heat can really kill the potency of many medications), and get your shots current
If you have special dietary needs (such as lactose intolerant or a need for soy milk) then you should carry an extra quantity as these items can be difficult or impossible to find. If you have special ambulatory requirements (EEEEE wide feet for example) you might consider bringing an extra pair of shoes. You will walk a lot and much of that will be in salt water
so plan accordingly.
On the mechanical side, I'd recommend a selection of fuel
filters (engine and RACOR), oil
filters, spare engine/genset belts, some 5-gal plastic buckets, enough oil for a couple changes, and a good tool kit. A chat with the service department at your engine
mfgr may suggest some items worth adding to the spares kit. Don't forget: wire, splices, hose clamps, bulbs, water/bilge pump repair kits, toilet repair kit, sail repair kit, fasteners, spare line, manuals
, cruising guides
, and some charts
Are there others who are getting ready to make the same trip? Is there a place to really meet and speak wth others on the journey or who have experienced what is to come for us?
We like to bike ride - should we bring our full size bikes or invest in the fold up ones?
I carried a folding bike when I cruised the Caribbean but found the cost didn't equate to comfort or durability. They do store small though. I'd recommend getting a good quality bike that suits your riding style and have a bag fabricated for it. I'd make sure the wheels came off and it could be stored inside the boat. You'll have to be more diligent about maintenance (cleaning, oiling) and probably should carry a spare set of tires, a couple of chains and spare pedals, and a half dozen tubes along with an extended repair kit and pump. I'd also recommend a good lock that goes through both tires and the frame, and I'd recommend an easily removable seat as well. BTDT. If you can get parts that work on both bikes then you'll be better off.
I'd also suggest getting some canvas
bags to carry items in and a backpack that you can fill with shopping
goodies or enough for a long ride.
I would love to have any and all information that anyone would like to share.
Thank you.....and smooth sailing
Capt Ron and First Mate Marie