HOW CRUISING IS LIKE PREPPING FOR A PANDEMIC

Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance*

It’s occurred to me over the past week as we are inundated with MORE bad news of a global pandemic, that there isn’t much we need to do. We are ready, my fellow sailors. We. Are. Ready.

Enjoying a beautiful virus-free day at sea

As fans of The Walking Dead, we have also joked for years that we are readying ourselves for the Zombie apocalypse. And we are….unless the zombies swim or float (which they don’t, in my expert opinion; you always have to fear the living, not the dead). We aren’t survivalists by any means, but good preparation for long passages has a similar look and feel as compared to what the CDC or WHO has currently advised.

Kirby in La Cruz, contemplating a few maintenance repairs and the sunset

Our “home” floats and travels – using wind and solar to get us just about anywhere, and within less than 20 minutes (5 in a real emergency) we can be off and away from land. It’s completely self-contained if need be. We have a water maker on board that makes 30 gallons/hour from seawater, and my general paranoia for running out of food means that we always over-provision (how long should I keep those bags of dried nuts before I acquiesce to their actual expiration date?!). Just last month, I inventoried and restocked our medicine cabinet with just about everything you can think of that you may need if you’re stuck in the middle of an ocean (or escaping a global pandemic). 

Pantry 1 of 8 on the boat

Cleaning out and inventorying some of our lesser used cabinets the other day revealed a literal treasure trove of virus-useful equipment: e.g. seeds for fresh sprouts, 4 full boxes of anti-bacterial wipes, and face masks. And, of course, this excludes our Ditch Bag supplies, which are supposed to keep us alive for several days in the event the Zombies do take over the boat.

Contents of our Ditch Bag emergency kit

But, this is no laughing matter, and experts say it’s about to get a whole lot worse. We have been traveling via plane a lot lately and visiting a few big cities, going about our lives but with a heightened sense of our space around us. We also recognize that we healthy adults have a community responsibility by not being innocent carriers to others whose immune systems may be weakened or otherwise compromised. As a reminder, these rules of safety should be our norm, not our new exception, but it deserves repeating:

  1. Wash your hands – and your phone – frequently
  2. Wipe down the areas around you on planes, at home, and on your boat with anti-bacterial wipes, a soapy bleach solution or alcohol of at least 70%
  3. Refrain from shaking hands and avoid touching your faces
  4. Keep 3-6 feet from people in groups/crowds if possible
  5. Listening for coughing or sneezing nearby from which we can inconspicuously and quickly move away
  6. Share your anti-bacterial wipes with your neighbors and strangers in close quarters
Treasures of the Bilge….

Stay safe out there, friends.

*SOURCE: POLLY BICKEL WONG’S MOM XO

PROVISIONING: 50 MUST HAVES FOR YOUR PANTRY

When I was the cook aboard the Sea Shepherd, I learned a lot of things very quickly:

Photo Credit: Sam Rose Phillips
  • A satiated crew is a happy crew
  • A well stocked pantry delivers infinite possibilities
  • Knowing everyone’s favorite treats can turn around a bad attitude
  • Always cut up the fruit if you want anyone to eat it
  • Rotate your leftovers by incorporating them into a new dish
  • Popcorn is a universal treat
  • Cookies are magical
Lodos’ galley with our fabulous new Dometic fridge

What I have learned so far on our boat, is what I heard repeatedly from others who cruise, but I did not heed their warning;

Do not over-provision!

The Hallway Pantry: one of many places we store (cram actually) our foodstuffs

Remembering that wherever there are people, there will be food. It may not be your brand or type of food, but it will be there nonetheless.

We decided that on our boat, we would mostly be plant-based (vegan). We don’t feel deprived and we never really miss anything (eggs may be the exception, and then we buy local). If we have an intense craving for anything, we eat it when we’re off the boat. Simple. Easy. Low Impact.

PRO TIP: When storing foods while the boat isn’t being used – assuming you have secured your boat from outside intruders (including blocking thru hulls with water permeable materials that keep bugs from entering), we get rid of anything canned that has high acid, tomato sauces, and flours that may hatch bugs. We also ensure everything is in vacuum bags or containers with lids, just in case we do have bugs hatching – it will help contain them. Separately, we layer bay leaves and fabric softener sheets (not in the food, obviously) throughout the boat and in all drawers and cabinets. We also use small cockroach hotels (just in case) on the floors, in cabinets and drawers. Knock wood, we’ve never had bugs.

The reason to eat mainly vegan aboard was multi-dimensional:

And finally, here’s the list!

50 (or more) Must Haves for the Pantry

A LODOS VACATION IN 2020: What to bring (& what to leave at home)

You will be living on a boat. That means, you should pack very light. A soft-sided carry on is ideal if you can swing it! 

Lodos at Isla Isabel with a Blue Boobie

CLOTHING:

  • Former guests say even though they brought very little, it was still too much! You can do laundry if needed, and the dolphins don’t care if they see you in the same outfits!
  • Loose, lightweight, breathable, easy fabrics that dry quick are best (avoid denim and heavy cotton)
  • Swimsuits & coverups, 2 pair of shorts, summer dress, 3-4 tees
  • Depending on the time of year, packing layers is a good idea – a long sleeve shirt or fleece
  • Comfy clothes to lounge around in throughout the day (e.g. yoga pants, sweats, leggings)
  • 1 nicer outfit/shirt to go out in the evening or while on shore/in port – wrinkle resistant ideal, collared shirt for the guys
  • 1-2 hats (ideally something with a strap, so you don’t lose it in the wind – Neptune already has more baseball hats and sunglasses than he needs!)
  • 1-3 pair of shoes: non marking, non skid soled shoes (e.g. light weight tennis shoes or treaded sandals), shoes you can get wet/flip flops for marina showers, hiking shoes/sandals, and something to wear to a nicer dinner. We don’t recommend going barefoot on the boat when it’s moving, but feel free to be barefoot while lounging. Inside the boat, we ask you to remove your shoes.
  • Personal items (e.g. chapstick, toothbrush, moisturizer w/ sunscreen)

LUGGAGE:

  • Duffels or backpacks are ideal, something compressible/malleable to fold into smaller spaces
  • Small tote or dry bag for marina showers, dinghy-ing to a shore destination, keeping your phone/camera safe, going on land adventures, etc. are better than a bulky purse

PERSONAL/ENTERTAINMENT:

  • Motion sickness meds, patches and sea bands if you get sea sick 
  • Downloaded music that can be played on bluetooth without wifi 
  • Books/Kindle and/or magazines
  • Puzzle books or other non-wifi entertainment vehicles (we have games and cards on board)
Relaxing in the Cockpit

THINGS TO LEAVE AT HOME:

  • Sunscreen, soap, shampoo, bug spray, towels, jackets, life jackets, binoculars, other extras you may have forgotten
  • Basic medicine/first aid
  • Solar charger or external battery (we have iPhone/solar chargers on board)
  • Goggles/snorkel gear
  • Makeup, curling irons, hair dryers, heeled shoes, big purses, lots of jewelry
  • Headlamp/flashlights
Sailing on a close reach in the Sea of Cortez

Back in the Sea of Cortez – during hurricane season…

I love the familiarity with the sea, the anchorages, the wildlife and impending challenges we will no doubt encounter while sailing. The big difference for this 2 weeks, is that we don’t have internet, and I feel that I need it for work, which has created a new set of problems or anxiety – needing to be in a specific place for a phone call or meeting isn’t exactly the safest way to sail/travel, as it forces you to make potentially compromised decisions on weather that you might not have otherwise.

Sunset in Caleta Partida

We started this trip with a few days in Caleta Partida – an anchorage that divides two islands, and which has a narrow channel that we can take our dinghy through to get from one side of the island to the other. It’s one of our favorite places because it’s sheltered and protected but also because it’s the home to dozens of turtles.

Kirby cleaning the hull
Jodi snorkeling with sea lions

On our way to our next anchorage at San Francisco Island, we made a quick stop at a couple small islands that are home to hundreds of sea lions. The pup season ends in July. Kirby anchored the boat in a deep rocky islet while I jumped off and swam with them. They warned me to not get too close by barking at me – they were adorable and fun to see up close, and of course swimming with sea lions is pretty special.

Heading north to Isla San Francisco, we happened upon a group of 5-7 giant manta rays feeding at the surface. We stopped the boat to watch them eat, and then saw them soar under the boat with wingspans of more than 10 feet, mouths open, breathtaking….

After arriving in Isla SF, we stayed at two separate anchorages – we found some fantastic dive/snorkeling sites and appreciated the rich variety and diversity of the fish – so many we’d never seen before and that are indigenous to the Sea: Golden phase puffer fish, Cortez round ray, Cortez angel fish, and dozens of others – including 4 types of parrot fish.

Bahia Agua Verde

Our next stop was one of our favorites – at Bahia Agua Verde – but we had to scoot up to Puerto Escondido (where we are now on a mooring ball) as our refrigeration is on the fritz, we need to do laundry and dump our trash 🙂 We’ll be here for a bit while we catch up on work and projects, and I plan for my next trip to the USA for work.

And, it’s hot. So hot. ~100 degrees and nearly the same in humidity. We are having trouble keeping the fridge and freezer working properly it’s so hot….but, we are swimming and relaxing and doing our best to breath our way through it as the benefits outweigh the annoyances.

Renovations: A New Floor for the Cockpit

We are excited because we finally finished replacing the cockpit floor of our sailboat. This was a BIG project that required a cascade of smaller things to be completed first. We replaced the cockpit teak wood flooring (which was beyond saving and leaking) and put in PlasDeck, which is a synthetic teak substitute.

I will admit that this project was not much fun. It was a highly detailed, you-only-have-one-shot kind of project, and we had to work quickly as the glue dries so fast (under 15 minutes!). But, we are pleased with the finished result and are excited to have access and use of the cockpit again!

First, we prepped the floor and our new table pedestal (which Kirby built, then we fiberglassed, sealed and painted) where the table is mounted; this new pedestal will also gives us secure space to put a small trash can and (vintage) playmate cooler as well as an important toe rail/toe stop while the boat is heeling underway. We plan to put 3M non-skid tape on the sides as well.

Unrolling and letting the floor flatten before installation

After the floor sat in the sun for a couple of hours, it was flat and ready for installation. We had to prep the cockpit surface by sanding it to remove any large bumps and then cleaning it thoroughly with denatured alcohol.

Then we dry fit and traced each piece before gluing them to the seats and to the floor. You have to work in sections, and quickly, as the glue sets up in 15 minutes, also making it nearly impossible to wipe off or clean up if you aren’t cleaning as you go along.

Gluing the pieces in place (the seats were a lot easier than the floor!)

THE FINISHED PRODUCT!

TIPS: If you’re doing this job yourself, spend extra time up front on the template because once it’s cut, it’s cut! Make sure you have ALL of the materials ready before you start any work (take an inventory and use the checklist provided by the installation guide), and have dozens of clean WHITE rags with at least a gallon of denatured alcohol for spills and any glue cleanup. You can see a few videos of this project, here: SANDING, CLEANING, PREPPING FOR GLUE

FINAL TIP: Prepare to work quickly and swear (a lot).