Life Onboard

Jan 18, 2013: “Captain Carter, a sailboat can be a pretty small space. I’m glad it’s you onboard with her and not me.” Night Watch, pg. 79

helmcatWe have now have had two guests onboard, well three if you count the cat who seemed to want to take over the helm in Lucaya. Our invited guests have been family members. First our granddaughter, Ellen, and then daughter, Lilla. In both cases this worked extremely well partly because we have history with both of them. We have sailed with Lilla many times, including in the Bahamas over the past 20 years. (yup, it’s been that long!) Ellen has sailed with her Dad but that has now been 10 years ago and while she has not sailed with us, she lived for a semester with us in our apartment in Paris.





The other part is, both Ellen and Lilla snorkel and scuba dive and being on, or in the water is part of their lives.When inviting guests, you have to remember, a sailboat, including our 385 is a small and personal space. Living on a sailboat is different from living on land and requires a level of familiarity than doesn’t come with all relationships. Just as an example, taking a shower (in a small) bathroom (called a head) requires first wetting down, turning off the water while soaping or shampooing, then turning the water back on to rinse off. Oh, and turning on the shower sump pump so that you don’t flood the head. No long showers. Water is expensive and wasting it, isn’t allowed. It also means refilling the water tanks more frequently. Everyone has to agree to boating priorities which includes stowing everything for passages and putting things back where they came from as there may not be time to hunt for the binoculars, winch handles or flashlights when the time comes.

Boat chores also differ from home chores. They do include, cooking, cleaning, washing dishes but also includes washing the salt water off the decks and stainless, filling water tanks, and checking lines. A boat will take care of you, if you take care of her and that means not procrastinating until there is better weather, safer harbor or less fatigue. For example, just last night the wind increased and changed directions so Ed had to get up at 3:00 am to check the dock lines to make certain they were holding us off the dock and Sable was not taking any damage.

Elbow Reef lighthouse from the deck of Sable

Elbow Reef lighthouse from the deck of Sable

We are now in Hope Town on Elbow Cay in the Abacos. This harbor is best known for its lighthouse. Built in 1863 and still powered by a kerosene-fueled mantle and a huge rotating glass lens. We learned yesterday that there are 6 lighthouse keepers who rotate each night in two-hour shifts, cranking the glass lens by hand! No electric motor here. This Elbow Reef lighthouse is one of the few left in the Bahamas that still uses this old technology under the jurisdiction of the preservation society.

This will be my last attempt to post photos with this blog, if this doesn’t work, I will post the text and hopefully at a later time add photos. You really need to see this beautiful setting, but the internet is not cooperating.

 No caption needed

No caption needed

Jan, Ed and Sable

About ejhowle23

Authors and adventurers, participated in the World Race 2011, an automobile rally from New York to Paris, crossing three continents and 14,000 land miles. Following much the same route as the setting for our debut novel, The Long Road to Paris. This blog describes our own adventures and challenges. And now you can follow our Bahamas sailing adventure that provides the setting for our second novel, Night Watch. Our rally, the African Safari Challenge, crossed five countries in South Africa in May 2014 and in 2015 we participated in the second Trans-American rally this time from Nova Scotia to San Francisco. Spring of 2016 we travelled 28 days around Australia with friends from previous rallies and in the fall participated in our most exhausting rally through Argentina, Chili and Peru- the Rally of the Incas. We were awarded the Against All Odds award. We're still not sure if this was for us or our car. Stewball never broke down and we hardly did. We will soon take on Iceland as a self-drive tour and in the fall of 2017 we will participate in the Odyssey Italia and then back to Africa for a do-over (almost) of the Africa Safari Challenge.
This entry was posted in Bahamas, book promotion, international travel, Sailing adventures and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Life Onboard

  1. TBC says:

    Sorry to be so out of touch, but I have enjoyed your blogs. You describe on-board life beautifully.

    Some additions …

    We used to turn on the radio when someone had to use the head! Every boat has its own delicate way of handling such indelicate things.

    I remember my daily chores as a child included swabbing down the decks, getting down in Churchy (Cherchez la Femme, our Dyer Dhow dinghy) and scrubbing the water line, and finally, polishing all the brass, since we did not have much stainless steel in those days. Of course, I helped with the dishes, stowed cushions when we were underway, and helped furl the sails once we were at anchor. Dad also taught me to use the boat hook when we shot the mooring, run spring lines when we docked to get fuel or water, and splicing. In fact, on the latter, he said I did it better than he, so I ended up with that chore.

    In shallow waters, I would go up to the bow with the sounding line and call back the changes in depth. In foggy weather, because I had such acute hearing, Dad would always send me up, not only to blast the fog horn, but to listen for other boats, bells, etc., and tell him exactly the direction of the source. Any sailor knows that fog can distort sound and do strange things to it.

    And when we had to check some rigging, it was I who was hauled up in the bosun’s chair to re-thread some stay that had not been put through the proper eye at the boat yard (probably someone new at the yard).

    When there was a buoy way out on the horizon, Dad would ask me if it were a nun or can. I found out that I could discern red (before the days of International orange) at great distances. He was an excellent navigator, but he always liked to double and treble check everything.

    There were times, when we were in a little fishing harbor, that I would row Churchy ashore, and buy a fresh swordfish steak, cut with a machete right on the dock where the fish had just been laid out. The fishermen would wrap it in newspaper, I would pay with the money Dad gave me, and I would row dinner back to the Tabakea where Dad would cook it on the grill over the stern.

    At sunset, I would take in the ensign and stow it. In the morning, I would put it out again.

    Often, when the weather was good, I would sleep on cushions in the cockpit, enjoying the stars.

    I am with you in spirit. Happy sailing, as always.

    Take care,


    • ejhowle23 says:

      You have certainly had a varied and interesting life. I know you have many wonderful memories and stories to shsre. Miss you guys. We’ll let you know when we are heading back. XOXOX

  2. Carla says:

    The photos worked just fine! It’s very enjoyable to read your stories and see the photos. I love boat life and that small world, the short showers, the deck chores and all that just makes me smile because it brings back so many good memories. You can always tell when people are boaters by the way they use the water tap 🙂
    By the way, you used to be able to click on your photos to see them bigger, but that function is gone, did you realize that? Not a big deal, just telling you that changed.
    Have many good boat moments, from a smooth windy sail to that excited feeling of reaching a new harbor and finally having that glass of well deserved wine on deck with the sun setting.
    Bon voyage!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s