As summer turns to fall, we are rapidly approaching the one year anniversary of our departure from the Port Tarpon Marina (September 27, 2014). We have travelled 2604 nautical miles, visited 15 countries and dozens of islands. We have all learned much about ourselves, our family and life aboard a boat. At the one year point, as we have done periodically throughout our journey, we have had a family conversation about how goes it. Is everyone still having fun, are we all still learning and has anyone lost the appetite to continue our family adventure? Happily, our trip continues to exceed our most optimistic expectations. The boys are flourishing in our maritime environment. Patton has become a boat dog extraordinaire and Theresa and I continue to be amazed by how our family has adapted to life at sea.
Looking at the calendar as well as the map, we are at a logical point in our journey to make additional decisions about where we are headed next. When we set out, we had given some thought to heading southwest after Grenada to visit the ABC islands, Columbia and Panama, perhaps even transiting the Panama Canal. Although the Panama Canal transit still holds an allure for us, we have made the decision that we will instead head back north via the Caribbean chain to return to Florida in time for the boys to be reintegrated into traditional bricks and mortar schools at the beginning of the next school year.
When our trip was in the initial planning phase, I would not have imagined that after one year of cruising the Caribbean any of us would have felt like we did not have sufficient time to see everything we wanted along the way to our summer home of Grenada. How wrong I was and as a result, we will take this additional cruising season to retrace our steps and spend some additional time exploring some islands we did not stop at on our way south as well as revisiting some of the spots that we particularly enjoyed.
Our stop in Grenada has also been an opportunity to evaluate the performance of our boat and equipment and make modifications and adjustments to optimize the suitability of the Pilot’s Discretion for her role as a full time home and cruising platform. In general, I would say that our Sea Ray 480 Motoryacht has performed better in it’s role as a full time home than I had initially thought it would. The electronics, refrigeration and watermaker have all performed reliably. The Cummins QSM11 engines have so far been bulletproof and the boat itself has proven to be reliable and safe in a variety of offshore conditions.
There have been some issues that have been problematic. The Sealift tender lift system has not been a suitable solution for carrying our tender in sea conditions that exceed 4 or 5 feet (a problem in an area of the world that commonly experiences those conditions or worse for days and sometimes weeks at a time). We have developed a suitable workaround by towing the dinghy rather than leaving it in the Sealift cradle when we operate in moderate or greater seas. Additionally, we would prefer to have greater reserve electrical capacity in the form of a larger battery bank but given the free space constraints of our engine room we have not been able to bring that additional capacity aboard. As a result, we need to recharge our battery bank each day when at anchor, not a deal breaker but again an issue that has required us to make adjustments to our daily life aboard.
While we have been in Grenada we did splurge and install a Fisher-Paykel drawer style dishwasher. Not something that we had to have but as anyone with two growing boys understands, we go through lots of dishes and silverware in the course of a day. It is much more enjoyable to listen to the quiet hum of the dishwasher than it was to hang off the back of the swim platform rinsing the dishes in the saltwater.
All in all, we have thoroughly enjoyed our trip to date and look forward to sharing our return voyage with all of you via additional posts on our blog. Thanks for sharing our journey with us thus far.