Sunday, February 22, 2015

Semi-International Doggy

The world continues to spin on a 23 1/2 degree axis, the sun rises and sets as normal and water laps against the hull constantly while we await word from the Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture regarding Wyatt's Domestic Animal Import Permit. As your can imagine, this is an arduous process and becomes more complex with a Caribbean laid-back attitude. 

We initially submitted our import permit on December 29, 2014 via USPS. This was likely our first mistake as we didn't track the package to its final destination. I should have done a better job of researching our delivery options and done it properly. I recently called the Ministry over Google Voice ($.10/minute to call Bahamas) to inquire the status of our permit. Not to my surprise, our paperwork was nowhere to be found. After a few personal deep breaths, the woman on the other side was very patient, professional, and gave me next steps.

Later the same afternoon, our second attempt at sending off Wyatt's application was underway to a new ministry address and with an additional permit and fax fee. We sent the app on Friday with an expected arrival on Monday. We could get his 'approved' import permit back as early as next Thursday. From there we obtain a health certificate from a local vet and present this when we clear into customs. As I track the document, Nate looks for a friendly weather window to cross from Ft. Lauderdale into the Bahamas. We're not quite sure where we'll clear customs, but our likely options are either Freeport, Bahamas or Bimini, Bahamas. As soon as we get our pet documents in order and find a weather window by watching Windfinder and listening to local weather reports, we'll weigh anchor, sail the 40-50NM and spend time sailing in Bahamian waters before returning to the US.

For those of you traveling internationally with your pets please note the process may take 4-8 weeks to get your permit approved if they don't lose your paperwork first. Be persistent and track your documents to the end!

Check out the Ministry's website for more helpful information. This dog-permit specific site can explain in greater detail than I can describe what you need in order to safely and legally bring your pet to run free on Bahamian beaches. Of course, each country is unique so be sure you check with each country's appropriate department regarding their import requirements. 

Our next step is purchasing charts for the Bahamas and provisioning food and beverages. We are told that local provisioning is extremely expensive so we'll do our grocery shopping in Ft. Lauderdale before we leave. There are rumors that beer sold in the Bahamas cost upwards of $40/case, if they even sell it at all! At least the rum is cheap. Until then, we listen to the water lap, watch the earth rotate around the sun and selfishly find entertainment from this guy...
I know I already shared this, but he can barely contain his excitement!

~Jenn & Nate

Monday, February 16, 2015

Seven Questions Aboard

Floating on the water, some days when I have nothing to do but think (seriously), I wonder if others ponder how we "do things" aboard Aletheia. So, I've compiled a list of 7 questions that I often ask myself that I think people would want to ask/know whilst living aboard. If you have any off-the-wall, ridiculous questions, by all means, message us!

1) How do you go to the bathroom?
Our composting toilet
Besides Nate peeing overboard whilst sailing, we use the Nature's Head Dry Composting toilet. I have to say, I've always taken my toilet for granted, but this self-containing and waterless toilet takes little clean up and maintenance while leaving practically zero odors. We eliminate pumps, hoses, and a stinky holding tank that conventional marine heads need to operate. Everyone sits (yes, even boys). Liquid go forward, into a waterless, removeable tank that eliminates any foul odors. We empty every 3-4 days. To disinfect, we spray a vinegar/water mixture into the bowl.
Solids drop back through a trap door (sounds magical, huh?!) into a separate holding tank. A hand-cranked agitator rotates the solid waste with coconut husk. Instead of peet moss, which can attracts bugs, we pre-shred this coconut husk to absorb the solid waste – very similar to your veggie compost pile. It's OK...Everybody poops!

2) How do you clean dishes without a dishwasher?
Last item: rinsing Wyatt's bowl
Woe is me! I know not everyone needs a dishwasher to survive, but they are really nice! Depending on the amount of dishes and motivation of the first mate, we clean dishes 1-2 times per day. We start with the pre-rinse-Wyatt-cycle; heat fresh water in the teapot and pour into a rinse basin. If we cut/cook meat or eggs, I'll add a little bleach to the rinse bucket to kill off any bacteria left in the bowl or cutting board. Armed with a soapy sponge, I wash dishes with the salt water foot pump and rinse dishes, silverware, pots, etc in the rinse basin, placing everything on a drying rack overnight. It doesn't take too much time and it's rather satisfying to know I'm saving a ton of water!
Drying time
3) Where do you sleep?
Back in September, we built a trapezoid bed for the master v-berth suite. We can both stretch out and it works great. A 4" foam mattress, cut into 3 pieces, makes a HUGE difference on a small boat. It's comfortable and doesn't feel like camping. A trapezoid mattress pad and top sheet fit perfectly, thanks to Sunny! Wall lights make a great addition for reading before bed. 

Trapezoid mattress pad
Ready for bed!
4) How do you set your anchor? What is a snubber?
Once we find a permissible anchorage, we look for at least 6 feet of water at low tide with good holding (sand/mud is best, grass is ok, rocks are not cool). Nate steers from the cockpit, Jenn is up at the bow ready to drop the hook once Nate agrees that our depth finder has given us an accurate depth reading and says "OK, go for it!" I typically wear closed-toe shoes in case my feet were to get caught up in an anchor chain dropping a 45lb anchor into the water. We drive into the wind, come to a Californian stop and drop the anchor+chain until the anchor hooks the seafloor. Usually you can feel the boat catch when we have a good holding. In rougher conditions, to eliminate pulling the anchor chain (which is not stretchy), we use a snubber (which is stretchy). A rope, once given a responsibility on a boat, is no longer considered a rope, but becomes a "line" and gives itself a name (i.e. Snubber). The snubber is attached to the anchor chain itself, using a rolling hitch. Once the anchor is "set", the snubber pulls the weight of the anchor chain, but no longer stretching the chain. All good things. 
Aletheia's anchor and snubber
Snubber (white line) doing its job!
5) When weather ties you to the boat, how do you spend your time?

In windy, rough or cold conditions, we typically spend the day onboard. We may have wifi, but we also like to read magazines, books and listen to podcasts. Jenn likes to write in her vision journal while sipping coffee. Right now Jenn is reading Blue Shoes & Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith while Nate is reading Gipsy of the Horn by Henry Scott. I just finished The Happiness Project, a wonderful and highly recommended book I found at a free library in NYC. I'll use this as a guide for years to come! Most popular podcasts include: Cracked, Freakonomics and Planet Money.

Poached eggs, peach mango salsa, wilted spinach on corn tortilla
I also love to cook and bake when its gross outside. Also helps to warm up the cabin. I love finding recipes or deciding what to make based on onboard ingredients. It makes me feel productive, accomplished and happy with something yummy to share. My favorite things to bake: cast iron cornbread, quick breads and chocolate chip cookies. And my new favorite: No-oven skillet pizza!

Pizza dough has risen!

Perfectly cooked pizza. Great with a glass of Malbec!
Windy Day: Ingredients for Vanilla Lemon-soaked quick bread

6) How do you store food? What food items are on your shelves right now?
We have great amount of storage space under our butts! We store non-perishable food items under the port side settee pantry (pasta, sauce, almond milk, crackers, rice, canned beans/tuna/chicken, etc). Things we use on the daily get upgraded to our galley shelves (i.e. sriracha). For dry food items, I add bay leaves to keep out any weevils. 
On our shelves at the moment: granola, chia seeds, chocolate chips, sriracha, turkish-ground coffee, a variety of herbs and spices, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, flour/baking soda/cane sugar/brown sugar, pancake mix, dog treats, canned tuna/chicken, canned corn/garbanzo beans, mason jars full of red/black beans, freekeh, jasmine rice, molasses, and honey butter.

7) How does Wyatt go potty?
Besides peeing overboard whilst sailing, Wyatt uses his grass turf to pee and poop. I'm kidding about the peeing overboard, but wouldn't that be somethin?! After 3 days of pumping Wyatt full of water, not taking him off the boat, and treats abound, this smart dog figured out his new pee routine within our first week in Halifax! We keep his pad on port side, because our guests, including ourselves board from starboard. The washdown hose is also on port so this makes it MUCH easier to rinse where he pees. People are impressed when they see his grass pad and how he has learned to use it so well! Such a good boy! Here are also some pics of how Wyatt spends his time on & off the boat!

Decisions, Decisions!
Fountain of Youth!
Taylor Birch State Park

Party Hat. Silly vet visit 
Just one of many times we're cleaning dog hair
More sunning
Making friends
What'll it be?!
Love to all!
Jenn & Nate