Guns aboard?


Perhaps one of the most hotly debated topics in all of boating/cruising is if one should bring a firearm aboard while travelling. Of course this makes perfect sense because gun ownership is also one of the most hotly contested issues in all of politics. Be it American or otherwise, everyone seems to have an opinion which they will express loudly. You could even say that people are “quick on the trigger” when it comes to the issue.

bring a firearm aboard

However, the topic is even more radioactive in the cruising world. Just as a gun owner may face differing laws when bringing a firearm from state to state in the USA, there are different laws in each COUNTRY that one might visit while sailing. While resources do exist that list these laws, it has always seemed almost impossible for someone planning a journey such as ours to catalog the laws of each and every place you’ll stop in. Some Countries even outright ban firearms in their territorial waters. Some Countries go so far as to ban other things like tazers, spear guns, mace sprays, etc. It seems each little spot on the globe has their own views. And it also seems that most of the world has a dim view when it comes to weapons in the hands of normal citizens or visitors.

It is my understanding that a lot of places will tolerate a firearm but will not tolerate you having it. It works something like this… When you arrive you must declare that you have a gun aboard. In the process of clearing in you must either lock the firearm in a safe aboard which is sealed or you must “check” your gun. This basically means you turn the gun over to the local authorities until you’re ready to leave. When you are ready to clear out, the authorities will give you the gun back (sometimes in the same condition it was given to them and sometimes not).

It all seems a great big hassle. It also seems to ensure that in most places in the world you wouldn’t actually have a gun at the point in time it would justify its purpose of being aboard your boat. That isn’t a political statement, its just what I see.

Now don’t get me wrong. Both Dani and I have been long time gun owners with good firearm training, practice, and use. I’ve never seen anything wrong with having a gun in my home provided that it is responsibly stored and handled by responsible people. So it isn’t some philosophical opposition to having a gun that drives our decision to NOT carry a firearm aboard, instead it is the hassle of laws and jurisdictions that we don’t understand and don’t want to inflame.

The really silly thing though in my opinion is how so many sailors will openly state their views on guns aboard and talk about how they do or don’t carry weapons aboard. Now if I were going to take a gun with me on my boat I wouldn’t want anyone to know I had one aboard. And if I didn’t have a weapon I wouldn’t want people to know that either. So I might write a post like this oneand then include a final paragraph like this one to really muddy the waters while still talking about the topic.


One car down, one to go

In just over a week I am going to be without a car! That’s one short e away from without a care. Tate was able to strike up a deal over steaks and wine and got my little Corolla sold! Yippee. After next Monday we’ll be a one car, or truck in this matter, family. Since Tate is still working (trying to finish a big project) we’ll be truckpooling to work until we leave or until he finally throws in the towel, which is any day now. Progress towards leaving land life has become more real with the selling of our car. There’s no backing out now! (haha as if THAT would happen).

NEWS FROM THE VACCINE FRONT: Tate successfully got the second Hepatitis B shot last Thursday without much side effect at all which is GREAT! It was the 2nd Hep B shot when he was a teenager that made him so ill doctors advised him to never get shots again thinking he had serum sickness. Well whatever side effects he currently experiences seem to be manageable which make me sleep easier.

The week before Christmas and New Years we have an appointment with the local Passport Health travel clinic to get the Yellow Fever and Typhoid fever vaccines which will be that last we get in the country. I’m still waiting for and donating money to the Mosquito Vaccine Foundation in hopes one day they’ll create something that will make me an unappetizing meal. Maybe one day.

Life on the boat really just gets better and better, granted we are just in a marina (not a very protected one though!). Things that seemed to take a long time now don’t bother me as much, I’m getting used to it I suppose which I’ve heard happens. About once a week I grind up four full bowls of coffee beans to use for our coffee. Each bowl takes about 5 minutes so all together about 20 minutes. Not a bad thing to do sitting in the cockpit watching the water plus it’s a minor arm workout.
Coffee grinder storage, Life on the boat

Making the actual coffee takes a bit longer with the AeroPress but it is oh so good. Each “round” of the Aero Press procedure yields about 16 ounces or 2 “literal cups” of coffee. Typically I will only make us each a 16 ounce cup but sometimes if I’m feeling frisky I’ll make Tate another 16 ounces and keep it in a small thermos until he’s ready for it. Men are more productive with coffee.
Tate making Aeropress coffee

At home we’d definitely drink around 32 ounces of coffee each in the morning (or more) but I don’t mind cutting my consumption in half, it’s probably healthier that way. If I want more I can just make it later…although since we turn the propane on and off at the outside tank we try to utilize the stove in “batches” to minimize the up and down out of the boat. When the propane is on we make everything we can think of including coffee and boiling water for the carafe (which stays hot enough all day to make tea with).

We have started to keep eggs out of the fridge right now in a little tupperware container or the carton they come in. Later we’ll store them in the egg tupperware I got from lock and lock. Every 2 days or so I flip the container so the eggs are turned over, which is the method for keeping eggs out of the fridge. You have to keep the shell inside saturated with the eggs protein so that it doesn’t dry out, letting air inside which spoils it. So far we’ve keep eggs for about 5 days with no issue.

We LOVE eggs. They are cheap, healthy and taste oh so good all hot and creamy. YUM, I want some right now just writing about it.
Orange and eggs

While we are talking about food let me tell you about my recent discovery. FREEZE DRIED VEGETABLES! They are the bomb. A while ago Tate suggested I look into freeze dried foods to bring on the boat to supplement our diet and help with long term food storage. I researched and tried “Harmony House” freeze dried veggies which I absolutely LOVE. These aren’t the prepared meals with all the sodium and other stuff, They are simply vegetables that are freeze dried. I’ve tried the cabbage (my favorite), bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms and celery.
Freeze dried veggies

A little bit goes a long way and I really like that you can just use a little at a time instead of having to use the whole veggie to cook something. They might be a bit more expensive than store bought fresh ones but not that much to me. A 12-16 ounce jar is around $12 and it seems like it would last months but most importantly it doesn’t go bad and tastes great. I’m kind of hooked. Of course we’ll buy fresh stuff if we can but I’ve read alot of the time it’s hard to find good fresh veggies.

I’m so happy we moved aboard a couple of months before we planned to leave. I have rearranged things many times onboard and am finally happy with where everything is now. It won’t be hard to stow all the items below to sail yet things are still accessible and comfortable. We are also seeing just how much power we need to live. Since we moved we haven’t been hooked up to “Shore Power” at all. Our boat actually can’t even accept shore power, so shore power for us is just an extension cord with a power strip.

Yep, all of our power needs have been fulfilled with an old 50 watt solar panel… but we have yet to hook up the Engel Fridge and use many sailing instruments. We know we need more than 50 watts so the only project we are working on (which is the last major one) is getting the solar hooked up. Tate is 2/3 of the way there already and I can’t wait to show you when it’s done. I might even blow dry my hair on camera to demonstrate.

This weekend I picked up a platypus named Perry who wants to hitch a ride as the Cabin Cuddler in order to see the world. Don’t worry Perry, you can come with us.
Perry the platypus

We spend more time outside now then we have in many years under our covered cockpit drinking coffee, reading or perhaps watching the birds, water and clouds roll across the sky. It’s really relaxing and Tate and I both remark how easily hours slip away just sitting here. What is it about the water and nature that seems to draw humans in? How is it that we can just sit here totally content being on the water? It’s an interesting phenomena that I’m not the first to question.

Maybe we’ll find the answer out there, or maybe we’ll just sit here another hour.
Sunday evening hanging out



I am really getting a taste of what cruising is like today, I tell ya what. Patience Danison…After excitedly writing an ENTIRE blog post, which I’ll attempt to recreate below, I pressed save right before I planned to upload and got the proverbial “blue screen”, or hell’s screen better known as ain’t nobody going to wipe up those tears of defeat and nobody cares as much as you do about what was lost on that screen.

OH the much Love, so much PASSION and so many Words written on that screen that were eaten like a sock in a dryer. Oh how I wanted to throw my computer out the window and unleash my scorn fury onto the world…but no, no, I’m almost a bonafide cruiser and I need to learn to let the unexpected and super annoying events that take place in my life roll off my back and just try to persevere so my electronics and I don’t end up at the bottom of the sea. And so I am.

Back to where I started! Tate and I both feel it’s time to call the Refit, whistle blows, so that’s the end of Phase 4 and the total cost of this cruising boat refit is:

Drum Roll Please…

Nearly 100k. I know I know that’s a hellalotta money to be spent but we had a great opportunity with a cheap DIY boatyard right down the road so we replaced damn near everything on the boat and she is a VERY comfortable liveaboard and a seaworthy ocean going boat. I do believe we could have saved a good chunk of change if we had needed, I’ll expound upon that later a bit down the page.

For those of you who are new to this refit adventure we spent $30k on the obviously neglected Sundowner in 2010 and spent around $70k and 4 years fixing her up. The FINAL cost tally is down below sorted by categories. You can find a more detailed breakdown in my cost excel spreadsheets further down sorted this go around by category and not by phase:

Categories  Totals
Anchors/Chain  $         2,077
Boat Cost  $       30,248
Boatyard  $         5,883
Canvas  $         1,174
Dinghy-Motor  $         2,650
Electrical  $         5,583
Electronics  $         3,572
Engine Room  $       15,025
Galley/Propane  $         3,233
Interior  $         1,255
Materials  $         3,786
Plumbing  $         2,676
Rigging  $       15,860
Safety Gear  $         4,128
Sails  $         1,289
Spares  $            512
Tools  $            770
Final Actual Cost 12-01-14  $       99,720

Click on the links below for our detailed excel sheets.

  1. Sept-2011 $50,885 End of Phase 1 (Initial price, engine and related systems replacement)
  2. June-2012 $61,240 End of Phase 2 (Electrical, dinghy and outboard, anchor, air head)
  3. Mar-2014 $82,298 End of Phase 3 (Rigging, Interior improvements)
  4. **Dec-2014 $99,720 End of Phase 4 FINAL REFIT COST (Windvane, Solar, Propane, Spares, Misc)

Some of the highlights and big money replacements/refits:

  1. The engine, fuel tanks, filters and a dripless shaft seal (totally worth it)
  2. The electrical, all LED lighting, electronics, batteries and solar set up
  3. The standing rigging including a new SS bowsprit, SS boomkin and tower, chainplates and tangs, mast refit,wire rigging and winches
  4. The running rigging with all new halyards and sheets
  5. The anchor setup with new chain
  6. The plumbing with the airhead and new water tanks
  7. The interior with all cabinets painted with bilgekote and other various projects
  8. The propane system with a new stove and tanks
  9. The dinghy and outboard
  10. ALL new canvas including a dodger, bimini, sail covers, hatch covers and slip covers for the cabin (my mom sewed most of this but it deserves it’s own post)
  11. A new monitor windvane
  12. An offshore 4 person liferaft with cover

I fully believe we could have spent at least $20-$30k less if we had forgone some improvements:

  1. The engine- the one we bought the boat with worked and may had been just fine after a rebuild but it had 6k hours on it and we had to remove it to get to the leaky fuel tanks so we felt it was a good time to make the jump. The PO Roger also suggested we repower if possible, and he would know what that engine had been through best.
  2. The rigging- the wooden bowsprit and boomkin could have been rehabbed for much much less but “while we were at it” we decided to go all out and get the less maintenance stainless something I do not regret ESPECIALLY the boomkin area, wow what a difference that made for the cockpit. Also we were lucky enough to have Bud Taplin with the Westsail Parts Company fabricating all of these improvements for paint by numbers installation.
  3. The anchoring setup- the boat came with two 45lb CQR’s, a Danforth and a boatload of rusted chain that could have been regalvanized. We went with a 60 lb Manson Boss and new chain to feel safer at sea.
  4. The galley system- Sundowner had a functioning Kerosene stove which could have been left. We didn’t want the smell or hassle of dealing with Kerosene so went with Propane. This is one of the things I remember most about our conversation with Roger and Molly. She said if they had kept cruising she would have definitely changed the stove and so we for sure did!
  5. The canvas- the original dodger, bimini and sail covers could have limped their way around the world but since my mom had a canvas shop 40 minutes away I took advantage and helped her redo everything.
  6. The windvane- Sundowner had a Monitor windvane already installed that may have been alright especially if bumming around the Caribbean, but we couldn’t trust it for ocean crossings with the crevice corrosion so opted for a new one.
  7. The liferaft- If we were cruising the Caribbean we probably wouldn’t have gotten one or spent so much, but this gives us piece of mind for the longer voyages.

This is the last Refit Cost post but I will start keeping a detailed account of the money we spend cruising once we start. We are budgeting roughly $1,500 a month.

Things are really in a whirlwind lately and time is slipping by faster than I can utilize it. Just next week we are going to move the boat to Southern Yacht Club so it will be close for our friends and family to tour during our Bon Voyage Party. We will head out just 2 weeks after that East through the Rigolets as soon as the weather is good after the first of the year. Currently in New Orleans it’s around 75 degrees in the daytime. Much better than the 30’s and 40’s we were getting used to.

Not sure how this post will turn out as I’m writing on my computer on the boat which I’ll transfer to my phone in order post via cell phone service over the WordPress app…God help me.

Check out our COST page for more detailed accounting of the refit and updates on actual cruising costs. See ya!

Disco Stu doesn’t advertise

You guys are going to have to get used to me waxing poetic about all sorts of weird stuff or alternatively going on rants or raves. You see, now that we’ve moved on the boat and we’re wrapping up the final projects there has just been *no* motivation from team Sundowner to write more technical articles or refit posts and I’m guessing that everyone is tired of us shouting, YAY IT IS HAPPENING. Sad I know… In any event, I have been chastised in the past for not writing about “other” stuff that involves life and “connecting” with the audience. I mean hell, isn’t that what Dani is good for? I just kinda slip a post in here or there about odd ball boat refit ideas. But the time has finally come to start blogging about life instead of fixing a boat. Getting in the mood for it has been a challenge for me, but inspiration landed in my inbox yesterday.

–Begin stream of consciousness–
 photo Blogging-For-Money.jpg

Over the past few years, we’ve met a lot of really awesome people online. People that share in our triumphs and pat our backs in defeat. We feel like we practically know a lot of participants on our blog. This community spirit has done two things that I’d like to talk about. One, we have people write us occasionally asking us where our “donation” button is, or if they can support us, or how they can donate to the cause, etc. The second is that our website has a LOT of traffic on it. A lot more than I ever expected. And that attracts advertisers looking to advertise to a select market.

Yesterday we were offered a sizable sum of money to write a blog post and link back to another site. We’ve also been asked to write articles for other publications. We’ve been offered lots of money to review products. (We haven’t had a sponsorship offer yet, but we don’t ask). This is all totally unsolicited on our part. Its flattering to my vanity, but at the same time, No. Back on day one when I started this website I told Dani, “Zero commercial interest”. I refused on principles that I don’t like seeing ads, I don’t like seeing “beggar buttons”, and I really don’t like seeing people review products that they’re being paid to review. Therefore, I shall not do these things.

Now please please, those of you that do these things, don’t get too ruffled. I don’t begrudge people making money or taking donations or writing articles or anything of the sort. I just have a personal aversion. Personal, as in for me.

I recently read a thread over on the cruisers forum about blogs and the writers in the thread said things like, “There are two types of bloggers, those that write for money and fame and those that are just putzing about to keep up with family.” I’d like to be a third type. One who writes for the love of writing and sharing and fellowship with others that seek adventure. So my response to all of the commercial interests has been a polite decline. But to those of you that continue to blast us with your kindness and your dollars, I say this to you… Take whatever you may have asked to give or might have in the future and spend it on something awesome. Dani and I busted our humps to be financially prepared for our journey, and so we blog and share without expectation of reward, but more than that… We want other people to do the same! Go do something awesome.

I know this is a highly controversial topic that can make someone seem either beggarish, miserly, judgmental, arrogant etc. But please don’t take it that way. Its just my thoughts on why you’ll never see an advertisement, a paid review, a sponsorship sticker, or a donate button here on our blog.
–End stream of consciousness–

There. How did I do? I blogged about something non boat related. Let me hear your thoughts.