Why am I posting this you ask? This is not my boat, but I’ve sailed along side her from the Bahamas to Aruba. While on Allura (my sloop) and then on Mattina (my catamaran), I cruised with her owners from 2000 to 2003 and again from 2009 to 2014, so I know she’s been lovingly maintained, she sails fast, and she is solid on the ocean.
I’ve sailed on Different Drummer, slept on Different Drummer, had endless dinners on Different Drummer, and fished from Different Drummer, which is why I can tell you this boat is designed to provide you with the ultimate cruising experience.
If you’re interested in this lovely sailboat, contact Martin Bird & Associates. You’ll find the details and many photos on their website.
I almost missed the maiden voyage of Allura: our dinghy.
Matt thinks he’s so smart. He uses our dinghy hoist to quietly lower the boat off the stern of Mattina. I hear the splash.
“Wait,” I bark from below. I know what he’s doing.
Then I hear it. One pull and the engine starts. Matt is smiling because it’s the first pull of the season.
I jump up the three stairs from the port hull, that’s my side by the way, and rush to the stern.
“Wait for me!” I bark.
Kristina is passing Matt a life jacket and I nudge her (gently) out of the way. I bound from the top step to the dinghy in one leap. I haven’t forgotten how to do this and am proud of myself. Once I jumped, current took the dinghy, and I went swimming. I try not to do that anymore.
Purr goes the engine (and no it’s not a cat), yippee goes Matt, and woof woof go I.
We head out to the Intracoastal Waterway for my first dinghy ride of the season. I love my little boat.
So my humans tell me it’s getting hot in the Bahamas and it’s time to start the sail north. Sound exciting? Not really, for a dog anyway.
When we travel, Matt and Kristina sail the boat and I do a lot of sleeping. Sometimes we anchor for the night and there’s not even a beach to go to. Sometimes there isn’t even land in sight over night. They’re crazy.
My problem. I don’t sleep well when Kristina is awake at night. I sit in the cockpit waiting and waiting to go to bed, but I just can’t do it while she’s in the cockpit. She needs my constant protection. Matt, on the other hand, can stay up all my himself.
As we head to Canada, Kristina promises none of this . . .
If you are planning on spending long periods of time on your sailboat, I recommend the investment in a cockpit enclosure.
Maybe it’s fun to sail in spray on an afternoon adventure, but when you have no home to go to after the sail, you might want to consider staying dry.
Matt is sailing Allura, our Niagara 42, the first year we owned her. Doesn’t he look like he’s having fun? Rain is pouring on him, around him and dripping down is back. I’m in the main salon taking the photo (and I’m dry of course).
We lasted one season and as soon as we hit Florida, we had an enclosure made.
Mattina, our Lagoon 380, came without an enclosure. Sometimes we are smart and learn from our experiences – not always – but when we, are I like to point it out.
Before we left the coast of the US heading for the Bahamas, we had a full enclosure made.
“Bond, James Bond,” my husband, Matt, said. It was our first ever cockpit happy hour and we’d anchored our charter boat amongst several mushroom-shaped islands. The day started in Phuket, Thailand and ended . . . with a dream.
I raised my eyebrow at him, thinking he was trying to be as cool as his drink. “What are you talking about?”
“Right there.” He pointed with his glass. “James Bond Island, from the movie ‘The Man With the Golden Gun.’”
I turned and looked. Near the closest of the limestone islands, I saw something more interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Bond, but a sailboat with San Francisco written across her stern caught my eye. She was anchoring right next to us.
“How did that boat get to Thailand?” I asked.
“What do you mean, cruisers?” The answer changed my life.
“They live on board their boat and are sailing around the world.”
“People really do that?” I looked him in the eye with genuine curiosity. I had never read a sailing magazine, had no idea the cruising lifestyle existed, and more importantly did not realize it was my dream. “Honey, why can’t we go cruising?”
That was the moment I first heard the ‘Call of the Sea’. It occurred aboard Sweet Robin, a Jeanneau 39 chartered by friends out of Phuket. We were the ‘crew’, invited along to help do a bit of sailing and a lot of living. It was day one of our fourteen day charter, and our attitudes were already changing. After a delicious cockpit dinner of jumbo Thai prawns washed down with a Singa Gold beer, I repeated my question, “why can’t we go cruising?”
Over the next thirteen days we accidentally anchored in a ferry channel, swam to a rustic hut on an expansive white beach for the best ever sweet and sour fish, tried to barbeque while waves splashed into the cockpit, sailed out of sight of land without a GPS, and spent a very bouncy night on a lee shore. We had a moment of panic when the six-year-old on board yelled from below, “is there supposed to be this much water in here?” Relief followed as we tracked down the leak in the head. Through it all, the dream took hold.
We returned to living as expatriates in Tokyo and would be there another couple of years. I avidly read about other people’s sailing adventures and the world of cruising. Halfway through our next assignment in Germany we committed to each other that we would make the dream happen.
We took a ‘Learn to Bareboat” course in the Florida Keys and chartered in the BVIs and in Turkey. In 1999 we bought Allura, a Niagara 42 sloop, built in St. Catherine’s, Ontario.
We spent the summer on Lake Ontario learning to sail Allura and headed south in September with all other Canadian boats. We made it to Georgetown, Bahamas, just in time to celebrate the millennium with all our new cruising friends. After two seasons exploring the Bahamas, we sailed to Bonaire and ended up in Aruba for a year of windsurfing. In 2003 we cruised back to the Chesapeake, sold Allura and returned, for a while, to land life.
Now we are on Mattina, and love her just as much as Allura.
I kept the photo of the boat from San Francisco to remind us that dreams do come true, and I often wonder what that family is doing now.
If you’re getting the feeling there are endless ways to keep fit while sailing around the Bahamas, you’re getting the right feeling. This week’s suggestion: Swimming laps.
It’s hard to take a photo of myself swimming laps, so I thought I’d show you the water I swim in.
Things to consider:
The water temperature is around 73 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cool a body down, so I wear wetsuit shorts and a rash guard. I find a full wet suit too restrictive for swimming laps, and the rash guard prevents sunburn.
Since there are sharks in the area, I don’t swim at dawn, dusk or in murky water, and I don’t splash around as if I were a fish in distress.
I don’t wear anything shiny in case a barracuda is sharing my water space.
I either swim with a buddy or have a partner follow me in a kayak to reduce the risk of a dinghy hitting me.
Salt water is hard on the swim goggles, so I bring several pairs to last me the season.
It’s a great way to keep fit if we’re in an area that doesn’t have a beach good for running.
So many ways to keep fit while cruising – so little time 🙂
If you want to keep fit while sailing either you must sail in crazy weather or you must find other things to do. Me I choose to sail in favourable conditions where I don’t have to exert myself in dangerous situations, so that means I must find other ways to stay in shape.
Hanging out with active friends, all who have different interests, is the best way to find things to do. There’s always someone around to push the gang to get moving.
So this week, the activity to keep fit: Spear fishing for lobster.
I’ll just say outright, I really suck at this. In fact I’ve never caught a lobster. My spear likes to head for the sand and rest on the bottom. My husband and friends all seem to have the skill required.
It doesn’t matter. I can still swim and search. Swimming with fins is great for the calves and quads. Diving until you think you’re lungs will explode is great for the cardio. The adrenaline rush when you think you see a shark . . . enough said about that.
The salt water bleaches your hair, the mask strap breaks it and the wind tangles it, but hey, you can’t have everything.
It’s been a hectic couple of weeks getting Mattina loaded with our winter provisions.
One of my favourite outings is a trip to the Vero Beach Farmer’s Market.
The farmer picks the grapefruit and oranges the day before the market. There is nothing like eating fruit that fresh. The fruit hasn’t sat in a warehouse, truck, or grocery store. It’s a special treat for us.
We get enough for about six weeks.
Our fridge can’t store bulk amounts so I’ve learned a few tricks over the years. Oranges and grapefruit can be stored unrefrigerated in a dark space. To make them last longer, I wrap each piece of fruit in tin foil. This will keep the fruit for 6 weeks, hence the reason I stock for that length of time.
Now that we are ready to go, the weather isn’t cooperating. The next part of our journey means crossing the Gulf Stream. The stream runs south to north, and we don’t want wind against current – it creates sloppy seas and big waves. Wind out of the east doesn’t work because we’d be slamming into the waves. We certainly don’t want squally weather. Really, we’d like a beam reach at 15 knots.
Up on the hard, as they say. Mattina, our Lagoon 380, has been stored for the season.
Every year the list of tasks seems to get easier as we store and secure the boat for the summer.
The handy Excel spreadsheet seeps into every aspect of my life, including keeping track of boat tasks. We have a three page to-do list to remind us of everything that needs to be done.
Some of the important items that keep our boat in great condition include:
Taking all sails and canvas down and storing below
Flushing water maker
Maintaining engines and genset
Emptying food lockers, fridge and freezer (Get to eat everything left in one day)
Washing all settee covers
Plugging through hulls (don’t want any unwanted critters to get aboard)
And on and on it goes…
It’s sad to put the boat away for the summer, but we look forward to getting back on board in the fall. The more we do in the spring, the easier it is in the fall when we are anxious to get going again.