We have met some of the most wonderful people while we have been out cruising.  That’s what they call this lifestyle of traveling by boat:  Cruising.  Some locals refer to us as “yachties”, but mostly we refer to each other as “cruisers” and we have a kinship that comes with having like minded goals.  We share stories of anchorages, give advice on where to find the best fresh produce, and commiserate on rough passages.  But the best cruiser stories I have heard during Happy Hour story telling are the tales and triumphs of having guests on board.  Hilarity can ensue when non-boaters take a vacation to spend with a cruiser.


I will admit that my friends Michelle and Allison didn’t give me any material to share.  They were absolutely wonderful guests.  They were flexible, didn’t mind getting wet in the dinghy, and even cooked a breakfast or two on the propane stove.  They were ideal guests, but I may have not been the best hostess.  I probably didn’t prepare them for some of our life style that we now take for granted.


So, here is a handy list of things to consider if you plan on making a visit to spend some time with us and our cat crew.  Annabelle, Buddy and Mia will entertain you.  But if you're allergic to their glorious coats of fluffiness, we are very sorry for your ailment.  We can't help you.  They live on the boat. We’d love to have you, but there is some flexibility required on your part.


1.     Food.  We are on a budget that needs to last us for at least two years.  We try not to eat out often.  There are restaurants, but they can be expensive.  We provision when we are able.  There are no Whole Foods or large supermarkets on the islands that we frequent so we buy what we can when we find it and make substitutions.  I like to learn about unfamiliar fruits and vegetables and incorporate them into our diet.  It’s all part of the adventure.  If you’re picky and have one of those personalities procured by parents who didn’t force you to try new things then I suggest that you bring several boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in your luggage.  I’ll show you how to use the propane stove to boil your water.  

2.     Bathroom Stuff.  One of the most rib tickling stories I have heard is about the cruisers who have framed pictures of people in the head.  It’s the wall of shame of guests who have clogged the toilet.  I would never do this to my friends or family, but I will talk about you if you do not heed the warnings concerning marine toilets.  Absolutely NO toilet paper is to enter the toilet.  We will provide you with secure bags for your paper.  We will show you how the head flushes.  You will have your own head onboard s/v Somewhere that you will share with the other guests you travel with.  You are able to shower in it and we will provide you with soft, clean towels. We will give you as much privacy as we can onboard a boat, but honestly, we all poop.  It’s no secret. If you have an embarrassing question about the toilet JUST ASK.  Your question won’t be as embarrassing as breaking the pot.

3.     What to Pack.  Honestly, we wear bathing suits, cover ups, shorts and tee shirts, little sun dresses. (I wear the dresses, not so much Jim). Shoe wear consists of a pair of boat shoes (which you won’t need unless you plan on taking over first mate duties from me), flip flops, and a pair of sturdy shoes for hiking.  We wander around barefoot most often.  I can’t imagine you will need high heels or boots.  Seriously, I have a shoe habit and I understand the need to pack a pair of heels “just in case”, but I can promise you, they aren’t needed.  No event will arise that will call for a pair of stilettos. 

We live on a boat.  We are surrounded by water.  Our main mode of transportation to shore is a dinghy.  I can pretty much promise you that you will get wet at some point.  If you don’t like water, don’t have a sense of humor about walking around with a wet bottom-what we call dinghy butt, or will have a hissy fit when salt water sprays in your face or all over your Gucci hand bag, then I suggest that we get our time together over Skype and take your vacation to the desert.  We may love you and love to spend some time with you, but we don’t want you to be miserable.


4.     My sister Kathleen taught me that sunburns and hangovers are self inflicted

and are not conditions in which you will receive sympathy.  Rum here flows as readily as water.  Painkillers are tasty and rum punches go down quite easily.  If you over do it, don’t expect us to feel sorry for you.  I will still vacuum the main salon even if you’re suffering.  Be careful with how much you enjoy yourself.  Also, getting into a dinghy in the dark is less than graceful.  Add too much liquor to the mix and you’ll be dangerous.  We also have enough sunscreen to go around.  Use it.  There’s nothing worse than exposing northern latitude, pale skin to the elements because you want to return home with a glow.  Don’t be stupid about your skin care.  I won’t nag you about skin cancer, but I may show you my scars from surgery to remove the nasty stuff from my face and gently remind you to reapply. 


5.     We are driven by the wind and the waves.  Some days we won’t sail because we don’t want you to be scared out of your mind or get seasick.  If you have a problem with motion sickness, for pete’s sake, let us know.  We have medications for you, but bring something that works for you if you even have the slightest notion that your tummy may get upset.  We will give you the low down on how to use the VHF radio and show you where to find all the safety equipment.  There is no reason to be fearful.  We don’t take your safety, the boat’s, or our own lives for granted.  If we ask you to move out of the way, don’t be offended.  It’s for your own best interest to understand that we know how to sail our boat and we work as a team to get us safely from one point to another.  Sometimes we don’t have time to discuss why we are taking a certain action.  Just go with it, enjoy the ride and the scenery.  We’ll take care of everything else.  Just don’t get in the way.  If we need your help, we will ask.

6.     Conservative use of Resources.  This is our lifestyle now.  We know it is the dream of many to sail away into paradise, but you’ll soon learn that there are actions we need to take that are quite “green”.  We are guests in the countries we visit.  We don’t want to hurt the environments we visit.  Trash is a huge issue.  We try to limit it as much as possible.  Don’t bring packaging with you that will need to be disposed of.  Use some common sense.  Also, we make water, but it still needs to be conserved.  You can shower ,just realize that we have a limited supply of fresh water.  Don’t linger in the shower and don’t let the water run while you’re brushing your teeth.  Another story we hear often from other crusiers is that guest who leaves a light on all night and runs down the batteries.  You will not watch TV all night.  You can charge your electronics when we tell you that you can.   We generate power, but keeping the frig running is more important than your ipad’s low battery.  Sorry, it’s just how it is.

7.     Flexibility.  Any amount of travel will mean making concessions.  We understand that your bunk onboard Somewhere is a lot smaller than the king size bed you have at home.  We won’t be hurt if you choose to get a hotel room and hang with us during the day.  Seriously, we understand that living onboard a boat is not for everyone.  Some of our favorite memories from our first boat was finding creative sleeping arrangements for our family.  That was on a 38 foot boat.  s/v Somewhere is 54 feet and we have room as long as you’re flexible and don’t mind sacrificing a bit of privacy for a great time in the Caribbean.


We want you to visit us and we know it’s not inexpensive to get to us.  We will provide snorkel gear and lovely anchorages for you to relax and have a great time.  We are having the time of our life.  We saved and planned for this for years and we would love to share a portion of our adventure with us.  Realize though, that complaining is not allowed in paradise and if you do belly ache we will quote you and laugh at you with the other cruisers.  Much love, friends 

Write a comment

Comments: 7
  • #1

    Sharon (Saturday, 11 January 2014 13:54)

    Addendum: a duffle bag or back pack is enough. There is no need for luggage especially the big suitcases with wheels

  • #2

    Sean Linnan (Monday, 20 January 2014 22:24)

    I love this post for "Guests". Actually, even in the VERY limited experience we have had, its been difficult to educate guests about these little things, tell them to "get out of the way" and prevent them from charging all their electronics even in short visits. If its alight, Im going to print this out and make it a "guest brochure" for them to have when they come for a visit!

  • #3

    Sharon (Tuesday, 21 January 2014 03:31)

    I love the idea of a guest brochure! Brilliant, Sean. Borrow away. Best wishes in your preparations for your upcoming departure date. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us!

  • #4

    Kathleen (Tuesday, 04 February 2014 17:56)

    And you have my permission to quote my words of wisdom.
    "Sunburns and hangovers are self-inflicted and neither deserve nor get sympathy. Get your butt to work."
    Kathleen [Sharon's hard-ass] sister

  • #5

    Sharon (Wednesday, 05 February 2014 03:57)

    Ah, the exact quote! Thank you, Kathleen. I could do an entire blog post on life lessons my sisters taught me.

  • #6

    Lisa (Sunday, 15 March 2015 19:06)

    Your sister is very wise!

  • #7

    ken ingalls (Friday, 27 November 2015 16:18)

    I hope this note finds you healthy & happy. From what I've read, being happy comes easy with the life style you live and I think that's great.
    All is well here in South Bend. It was 61 yesterday, Thanksgiving.
    Today was mainly getting ready for Christmas. The tree is up and looks pretty nice. The first ornament on the tree were paw prints of our cat Big Boy who passed away 2 months ago after being with me for 14 years. Sure do miss my good friend and he'll be missed even more at Christmas.
    Jim, did you get my note about Janice Barce passing away? Her and her husband Guy were active in many organizations and gave millions to the cancer society.
    Fenger's class of 66 reunion is next August. We'll be there.
    Take folks......... Wish you nothing but the very best. Ken & Di