We love to share our adventures, virtually and real-time. So come and visit us! Here are some things to consider if you are joining us for a trip aboard Genevieve.
Packing is somewhat dependent on where we are, but some sailing-specific guidelines follow…
- We spend most of our time in T-shirts and shorts or bathing suits. Bring your own supply…ours all smell funny
- Soft bags. Don’t bring your stuff in a hard-sided Louis Vuitton suitcase. Bags, once unpacked, will need to be stuffed somewhere, so duffel bags or other soft carry-ons are a must. Louis does a nice range.
- Deck shoes. We do go barefoot a lot, but while under sail, barefoot insouciance is a rapid road to stubbed or broken toes, or burned feet…the deck gets hot! Deck shoes, specifically designed for sailing, with squeaky clean grippy soles are the way to go for protection and traction. No shore shoes should be worn on board ever! Ladies and Drag Queens: sorry, that means no heels!
- Water shoes (or an old pair of sneakers) for traversing the rocks, coral etc.
- Snorkel gear and fins if you have them, if not, we have odds and ends on board.
- Sun hat that won’t blow off, plus maybe a baseball cap for sporty, jaunty days
- Thick fleece, or something warm for chilly evenings afloat. Not cotton: thick cotton does not do well in salt water environment
- PJs or warm long pants for cosy cockpit evenings
- Slippers. Optional, but if it gets cool it’s really nice to have some soft-soled slippers to wear on board
- Some long-sleeved shirts that will protect from long days of sun
- A waterproof shell might be a good idea. It rains quite often in the Caribbean: short, intense, knicker-soaking downpours
- A couple of smart outfits for evenings ashore, but it’s very casual down here. Also, something smartish is good to wear if we have to clear customs
- Sunglasses. Polarized shades make reef and shallows-spotting a lot easier…important if you are assigned to the bow to look for boat-eating rocks.
- Books, Kindle, laptop etc. We have 120V with US-style electrical outlets aboard for charging, or USB outlets. We have Mac chargers aplenty. But note, we are not often within reach of Wi-Fi, and cell reception is minimal/expensive, so warn your friends, family and co-workers that you are going off-grid. We can use the sat phone for really urgent calls incoming or outgoing
- Make sure you bring any necessary medications, lotions, potions, eyeglasses etc
- Passport and necessary visas if we are going foreign
- Cash: not a King’s ransom’s worth, but some of the places we visit are a long way from ATMs and credit card machines. We have a safe on board for storage
- No need to bring any towels, bedding etc, we have fully coordinated, monogrammed sets for body and beach
We will conduct a safety briefing and orientation when you arrive on board. This is not to alarm you or to suggest that sailing with us is risky (!), it’s just good seamanship to make all aboard aware of some basic safety equipment and procedures…and point out some things to be mindful of when we are sailing. Most likely, if you are coming to visit, we are planning being in benign sailing areas with calm conditions. Below are highlights. These may not mean much now, but if you read before you join us, the safety briefing will be quicker and less confusing.
Timing. The most dangerous thing aboard a sail boat is a calendar! That is to say, when we arrange to meet you and drop you off, we will certainly agree to a time and a place, but can only guarantee on making one of those (the place or the time!). If the weather does not cooperate, we may have to change the drop off/pick up location at the last minute, or delay until the weather cooperates. Many bad situations have occurred because sail boats try to make a destination to meet or discharge friends, when prudence suggests staying put or changing plans would be safer.
Safety Equipment. Genevieve is set up for ocean passage-making, and therefore she has a great deal of safety equipment not seen on most coastal cruising boats.
- Life jackets and safety tethers for all on board. These Type IV auto-inflating life vests are very comfortable and unobtrusive to wear. You can choose to wear a life vest at any time, but we will insist you wear it if we are sailing at night, if you are under 12, if the wind is over about 15 knots, or in any circumstance the Captain deems it prudent. John and I wear ours whenever we sail with just the two of us on board
- Offshore 6-man liferaft with survival equipment
- Offshore pyrotechnic and optical flare set
- Extensive first aid kit and Rx prescriptions
- Man overboard systems
- EPIRB—beacon that will automatically connect with global satellite system to alert local Coast Guard or rescue services in case of an emergency, anywhere in the world
- Three independent GPS navigation systems, each with back-up power sources. Main system has Man Overboard location marker
- Complete chart sets for areas sailed
- Automatic engine fire extinguisher system plus four manual fire extinguishers
- Satellite phone which enables us to send and receive calls and texts, send and receive emails, and download detailed weather forecasts and send out our position and emergency SOS messages…no matter where we are in the world
- Several VHF radios plus a SSB radio for short-range and long-range ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship communication. All have one-touch emergency call buttons
- AIS system on board so other vessels can locate us and vice versa, even at night
- Jack-lines, which we rig when offshore to clip safety harnesses to
- Ditch bag of essential survival gear
- Water maker that makes fresh water from seawater at a rate of 30 gallons per hour
- Several independent ways of getting weather and storm reports via radio and satellite
Motion. Genevieve is a relatively large and stable sailboat, but if you have never been on a sailing yacht before, please be aware that while sailing on a windy day, the boat will be heeled over at 20-30 degrees and she will be rocking and rolling! That means you will need to hang on, wedge yourself in to a comfy dry spot and be very careful moving around. Also, anything that you put down casually will likely take an immediate dive for the floor (or overboard). Move around carefully with deliberate thought to where you next handhold will be and where the sharp corners and steps are!
Winches. Genevieve has a number of electric and manual winches that manage the sails, haul the anchor, and furl the Genoa and Mainsail. If you are eager, we will certainly enjoy having you help sail Genevieve, but you must treat the winches with enormous respect are care. They are designed to generate and manage huge loads. We will show you how to use the winches safely, but even when familiar with them it is vital to always be thoughtful and deliberate when winching or releasing loads, particularly with the electrically powered devices.
Overboard. Don’t fall overboard. It is very difficult to stop a sailboat, turn it around, find a man overboard and get them back on the boat. At night it is 10 times harder, if the water is cold, its 100 times worse. We certainly do have man overboard procedures and systems to mark a man overboard and to help in retrieval, and we do practice using them, but we’d rather not use them for real.
Men Only. Gents, depending on the company, it is often acceptable to pee over the side of the boat! But, it can also be one of the most dangerous activities on board. Never do it while underway at night, if its choppy, or if the Captain says not to. Peeing over the rail puts you in a vulnerable position, where falling overboard is far too easy. The Coast Gard calls it “drowning with open fly” and it is alarmingly common!
Mimi the Dinghy. Mimi is great! She gets us to shore, to the bar, hauls the groceries, takes us snorkeling, and is a lively, fast, quite powerful gal. But she is also quite hazardous. Be mindful getting on and off Mimi and, if driving, always wear the automatic engine cut-off loop around your steering wrist. We often wear lifejackets on Mimi, as she is not as stable and seaworthy as Genevieve. We also always carry oars, a handheld VHF, a light and a whistle. Always make sure Mimi is tied off securely to the dock or Genevieve as losing her in the night or while on shore would be very, very bad.
Dry Boat. As freakish as it sounds, we don’t drink alcohol while we are sailing or about to sail! It’s hard enough to say on your feet and in the boat without adding a buzz to the mix. We certainly break out the bottle(s) once we are in harbor or at anchor, but we won’t be drinking or serving Mai-Tais while underway.
Cooking. If you like to cook, knock yourself out. Gen has a well-appointed galley that is not so different from what you might have at home. But cooking, or even making a cup of tea, while underway requires a different skill set. We try to cook things and heat things when stationary, but we can show you the art of making coffee at 30 degree incline in a boisterous chop and see how you do. (BTW: being in the galley while at sea is a direct path to feeling queasy).
Seasickness. Everyone gets seasick in the right conditions. Some people feel queasy with just a little motion at first, others require a storm. It is unrelated to how experienced or “salty” you are. But you can help prevent it, and your queasy threshold does increase as your body gets used to the motion. We have seasickness medications on board, but they only work if you take them before you feel queasy. So don’t think you are being tough by not taking a pill…you will regret it. A very good article on seasickness and its prevention can be found at http://www.mahina.com/seasick.html. Please read it.
Here are some considerations for life aboard Genevieve.
Water. We have a capacity of 220 gallons of fresh water. But we now also have a water maker that, when cranking, can make 30 gallons per hour. So theoretically we will have unlimited water. But if the water maker is down, the 220 gallons disappears fast, and refilling means making a trip to a marina (often few and far between) or hauling out Jerry cans on Mimi five gallons at a time. So, if we are water rationed, please be mindful when taking a shower, brushing your teeth, etc. For showers, wet yourself, turn the water off, soap, then quickly rinse.
- The heads are seawater fed and NOT like household toilets on land
- Put NOTHING in the head that you have not SWALLOWED at some time in the recent past
- Toilet paper, wet wipes, and other man-made items go IN THE BIN under the sink (or in a ziplock and then in the bin)
- To flush: press foot pedal while pumping the handle, then empty bowl by pumping WITHOUT foot pedal
- Your goal is to flush and empty the bowl but also then to clear out the entire exit pipe (approx 15 pumps after bowl is clear)
- Toilet paper, botty wipes, Chlorox wipes and bog brush are provided for your comfort and cleanliness (but don’t dispose of them in the head)
Electricity. When in a marina and we are plugged into shore power you can do as you like with regards to electrical usage: Air conditioning, ice machine, the works. But when we are sailing or at anchor, we are dependent on solar, engine and generator power via a bank of batteries. We therefore try to be cognizant of power use as much as possible. No microwave, no ice machine, no AC, and efficient, infrequent opening of the fridge and freezer (which are both major power users).
Trash. Out at sea, well offshore, it is permissible to throw many types of trash overboard. But never plastic. We will advise on trash management. We have, by law, a trash management plan posted aboard that we adhere to for the good of our personal liberty and the planet’s health.
Hatches. There are plenty of opening hatches on Genevieve to allow for fresh air circulation. However, when we are under way they all need to be tightly closed. If one is open–even a crack–you can bet an errant wave will shoot straight down the hatch onto some poor soul’s bed, laptop and/or camera. Even when it is seemingly calm, the hatches have to be closed when we are moving. Likewise, when we leave the boat we always assume it will pour with rain. This is a safe assumption, as in the tropics it usually does. You can leave the boat with not a single cloud in the sky, but as soon as you are around the corner a huge thunderstorm always breaks loose intent on dumping millions of gallons of water just where Genevieve is anchored.
Gifts. All involved realize that we have been incredibly generous inviting you to visit us aboard Genevieve. And even though we expect nothing in return (except for equitable division of living expenses while you are with us), we know you will be agonizing over the perfect gift to bring us. If you really need to bring something, please make it a consumable. As alluring as that nautically themed pillow might be in the shop window, resplendent with anchors, rainbows and mermaids, we’d much rather have something we can eat, wash with or drink. Oh, and you may not have any room for gifts as we may be having you mule spare boat parts to us in your soft-sided Louis Vuitton.