Category Archives: Why?

Anything that deals with the philosophy or emotion that motivates us.

Turn Your Head And Cough

The countdown clock has once again started.  We’ve begun gearing up for departure, and it’s now time to give Eagle Too a thorough physical. We need to make sure that she’s in tip top shape and ready for the long trip ahead.

One of the first items on the checkup list was to make sure that our batteries are still youthful and fit. We installed them about 18 months ago, which means that in people years they’d be finishing high school and starting their freshman year of college about now.

Back in a post from last year called More Power Scotty, Part Two, we talked about the reasons why we preferred flooded lead acid batteries over other types. One is the ability to take individual cell readings with a hydrometer to monitor their function, something that’s impossible with AGMs or Gel cells. We don’t want any unpleasant “Holy crap, the batteries suddenly won’t take a charge!” incidents while we’re deep down island, days or weeks away from a marine chandlery.

It’s a pretty simple process. While performing this month’s battery level checks and topping off the cells with water, I took a moment to sample the acid in each cell with a hydrometer to measure their specific gravity.batterycheckup1 batterycheckup2

The results tell us two things. First, we were looking for all the cells to be at about the same reading. A cell that’s reading significantly higher or lower than its neighbors is a harbinger of doom. And second, comparing the readings obtained to a specific gravity chart gives a good measure of the state-of-charge, which can be used to validate the reading on our battery monitor.

Here were our results:

batterycheckup3

Not all exactly equal, but within the normal and expected range. Most of the measured difference could possibly be chalked up to interpretation, as it can be a bit tricky to read the scale on the hydrometer accurately.

Once we had our readings, I then compared them to the data in this handy chart:

batterycheckup4

Based on our specific gravity measurements, our batteries were at just under 90% state-of-charge. And sure enough, when I checked our battery monitor, it read 88%.

I think we can check this one off as ready to go!

Our Shakedown Cruise

As we’ve mentioned before, it wasn’t originally our intention to return to our hometown of Pensacola, Florida just four months after heading off on our grand adventure last April. But as things have turned out, it probably wasn’t such a bad thing after all. Four months of voyaging turned up some issues with Eagle Too that never made themselves apparent during the year and a half we lived at the dock. Issues that will need to be addressed before we head out again, and which will be much easier to deal with stateside than from somewhere down island. Besides, we had to go somewhere for hurricane season, and Pensacola isn’t a bad place to spend the summer on a boat.

BahiaHonda

Eagle Too anchored in Bahia Honda, Artemisa Province, Cuba

Our biggest concern, of course, is our ailing transmission. Even though it appears to be running smoothly and quietly and shifts well, the fact that it toasts the transmission fluid to a nasty dark gray color after 30 or 40 hours of operation tells us something is wrong. Fixing it is going to require pulling the transmission and sending it off to be rebuilt, and that means hauling the boat.

It’s been 28 months since our last bottom job, and our antifouling is showing its age, so if we are going to have to haul the boat to do the transmission work, we might as well put a fresh bottom on. No sense heading out with worn out bottom paint when we just happen to have friends here in Pensacola that run a marine maintenance and repair yard.

CayoLevisa

Eagle Too anchored off Cayo Levisa, PInar del Rio Province, Cuba

The windlass. That was a big deal. The fact that it stopped working at a really bad time (anchored too close to a lee shore with a rapidly approaching thunderstorm) drove home just how important to your health and safety a functional windlass is. Especially when your bower is a 65 pound brute like our Mantus. My back still aches thinking about pulling it up by hand in 25 knots of wind. But it’s all better now. Just some corroded crimp connectors under the deck switches.

Then there’s a short list of little things that we’re working our way through. For instance, we’ve mentioned before that instead of using expensive marine ventilation fans, we stocked up on cheap ($10) 12 volt automotive fans from Walmart to cool the boat at anchor. To power them, we installed 12 volt outlets all over the boat, wired to the Fan circuit on our breaker panel. Well, it turns out that the Fan circuit was only a 5 amp breaker, and if we tried to run three or more fans at once, the breaker would trip. I guess we never tried it before getting underway, since we usually had the air conditioning running. So we swapped out the 5 amp breaker for a 10 amp, since the wiring can handle the current. Problem solved!

We’ve prided ourselves on our bone dry bilge, so it really bothered us when we started accumulating a couple of inches of fresh water in the bilge from an unknown source. Some sleuthing determined that the level probe on our freshwater tank had developed a leak, allowing water to seep into the bilge whenever we topped off the tank. So out came the old one and in went a brand new probe from KUS (the company formerly known as WEMA).

Our cockpit speakers were falling apart due to UV exposure. So now we’re sporting a shiny new pair of West Marine stereo speakers. The backlight on our Raymarine depth gauge gave out early in the trip, so the instrument is now on its way back to Raymarine for repair under warranty. And it’s a little thing, but we kept losing the little black plastic caps on the tops of our stantions. They’d just pop off underway and go overboard, and we eventually ran out of spares. So we placed a quick order with Sailboat Owners for a set of stainless steel replacement caps, which we hope will be more durable and tenacious.

I’ve been playing this little game with our steaming light for some time now. It stops working, so I go up the mast with my multimeter and tools and coax it into working again. It tests fine for three or four days, so I consider it fixed. Then the day comes where we actually want to use it, and damned if it hasn’t quit again. I can actually see it up there sticking its tongue out at me. After two or three rounds, the fun has worn off, so there’s a new steaming light sitting on our chart table ready for my next trip up the mast.

With the exception of the transmission, none of these problems are voyage-ending. But sitting here in mid-September, looking back on our year, I think it has probably been a good thing that we first headed out in early spring and were able to do a thorough shakedown on all of our systems and gear, identify all our weak spots and then spend the downtime during hurricane season making adjustments. So much of what we did to prepare Eagle Too was based on research on what seemed to be working for others, or some notional idea of what we’d want or need once underway. But four months of theory-to-practice now allows us to better judge wants and needs.

We’ll shortly try and do some posts on what we thought were the most useful systems and/or pieces of gear, the things we would absolutely not want to leave home without.

Home Again Home Again Jiggity Jig

Five months and 2,400 miles after throwing off the lines at Palafox Pier and Yacht Harbor in downtown Pensacola, Florida, Rhonda gently worked the throttle to carefully back Eagle Too into a slip while I hung from the starboard shrouds, ready to jump ashore and tie off our docklines.

Arrival

After cleating off the lines, I climbed back aboard while Rhonda shut down the diesel. As the engine shuddered to a stop, the low-oil-pressure alarm whistled shrilly until Rhonda reached down and switched off the engine key, silencing it.

We noted the time for our log, checked the instruments as we usually do upon arrival, and then, our end-of-voyage ritual completed, stood for a moment in the now silent cockpit, taking in our very familiar surroundings.

“We’re home,” we said to each other. For we had just returned to what has become the closest thing to home for us now that we live the life of vagabond cruisers. We were once again docked at Palafox Pier.

Palafox1

We previously lived in slip 6 on E dock for 16 months, but it has another occupant now, and we slid instead into slip 11 on D dock. We can clearly see our old home, it’s just right over there, and we look with dismay at the squatter currently occupying “our” spot. But D dock isn’t a bad place, and we’ll be fine here for now.

The marina at the Naval Air Station was accommodating and affordable, but unfortunately there is very little there in the way of shopping or dining. Getting around required a car, and after five weeks, we’d pretty much worn out our ability to borrow a car from family or friends. Moving to downtown, while more expensive than the Navy marina, would be cheaper than staying put and renting a car, and would put numerous replenishment and dining options within walking or biking distance. With luck, we won’t be here too long. Rhonda thinks I’m being overly optimistic, but I’m hopeful that we’ll have the issue that brought us unexpectedly home sufficiently under control by November to let us head out again before the weather gets too cold. We’ll see.

Palafox2

You may have noticed that It’s been a while since we’ve posted an update.  The creative energy that would have normally been expended formulating blog posts has instead been devoted to teasing out solutions to a complex family health issue. After a day of dealing with counselors, doctors, and social services workers, there just isn’t the energy or desire to pull together a blog entry. It’s all been quite depressing actually, and depression is not much of a motivator. But we’ve been making progress, things may be on the right path now, and we’re feeling somewhat optimistic that the time may soon come when we can resume our voyage and things here will be fine in our absence. And optimism is energizing. So maybe the drought has ended. Again, we’ll see. For now, just know that Rhonda and I are fine, we’re home, and we’re looking forward to the (hopefully not far off) day when we can once again head out and resume our interrupted journey.

A Journey Interrupted

I’ve said before that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Well, the Big Guy must have been in need of a good chuckle this week. We’ve been busy pouring over cruising guides and studying charts, planning a trip up Florida’s east coast. We were intending to leave Marathon tomorrow, headed toward Miami. But then the phone rang. We found out that a family health issue back in Pensacola requires our urgent attention. So we’re still leaving tomorrow. But rather than heading east, we’re retracing our route back to Pensacola. It should take us 10 or 12 days.

We’re obviously disappointed. It wasn’t what we’d planned. But family comes first. So it’s back to Pensacola we go, with no reservations. With some luck, maybe we’ll be able to resume our adventure this fall. Or maybe we can head out again next spring. We’ll just have to see.

We’ve taken several cruises in the past, and I told Rhonda that while stowing gear on deck this afternoon and getting Eagle Too ready to put to sea, I felt exactly like I’ve felt on the last night of a cruise. That’s when you put your suitcases out in the hallway for the stewards to collect. You’re still on vacation, but the end is in sight. We’re really hoping this won’t be the conclusion of our amazing journey. We have so much more we want to see and do. But sometimes life throws you a curve, and you have no real choice but to just adapt and deal with it. Stay tuned…Keep Calm

Have A Plan, But Be Prepared To Change It

Since arriving in Mexico in mid-May, Rhonda and I had contemplated our next step. The original plan was to head south for hurricane season, tucking into the Rio Dulce in Guatemala for July thru October to wait out the peak of the season. But over a period of several weeks, we had the opportunity to talk with cruisers who had spent time there, and the reviews were decidedly mixed. As we spoke with people, we felt that a pattern began to emerge. The ones who sang Guatemala’s praises seemed to be those who had sailed their boat down for hurricane season, hauled it out and put it on the hard, and then flew back to the States for three or four months. Those who actually stayed on their boats had a less flattering view. “Well, you’re in the middle of the jungle, so it’s hotter than hell,” they’d say. “And Fronteras (the nearby town) is pretty rough, and doesn’t offer much.” We heard tales of having to spend six hours each way on a bus to reach Guatemala City to get to a sizable grocery store or an airport.

Looking around at this little island of Isla Mujeres, with its hundreds of bars and restaurants, grocery stores and shopping all within a manageable walk or short dinghy ride, and Cancun just a 30 minute ferry ride away, we started to ask ourselves why we’d want to leave here to go there and basically become boat hostages for four months. Yes, we have about a thousand hours of movies and TV shows on our entertainment system hard drive, and I have about 30 books on my Kindle waiting to be read, but the thought of just sitting in the salon reading and watching TV for four months lacked appeal. There was only one good reason to go south—hurricane avoidance. We began to consider just staying on Isla Mujeres for the season. We could if we wished to, as our insurance doesn’t require us to leave the Caribbean during storm season.

But that option presented its own problems. There was a protected lagoon on the south side of the island that is a recognized hurricane hole, and we were originally told that if a storm approached, everyone heads into the lagoon to ride it out. But then some folks with more time on the island said, “Yes, but all the charter and fishing boats from Cancun also come piling into the lagoon and try to tie up to the mangroves with clothesline and undersized anchors, and you have to ride out the storm on your boat so you can fend off all the dragging boats bouncing around.

That was the point at which the teeter tottered. Maybe we should just go back to the Keys, we started asking ourselves. We’re from Florida, we’re used to living with the threat of hurricanes, and there are a lot more options for running or hiding from a storm there. Instead of just sitting on the boat watching TV, we could spend the summer exploring the Keys and Florida’s east coast, maybe even jump over to the Bahamas.

So a new plan was born. A plan that was finally settled upon when our neighbors Addison and Pat on S/V Threepenny Opera informed us that they were jumping over to the Dry Tortugas at the next good weather window. We’d met them a month previously in Marina Hemingway, Cuba, and finding out that we were all heading in the same general direction, had traveled together ever since.A&P

Sailing from Isla Mujeres to the Dry Tortugas is a trip of over 300 nautical miles (that’s almost 350 statute, or landlubber, miles). That was over twice the distance we’d previously covered in a single jump, and would require spending two nights at sea. Such a trip was the next logical step in our progression as cruisers, but It sure sounded appealing to have a buddy-boat to make the crossing with.

And so that became our new plan. We had some discussion about whether we (mostly I) would regret passing up visiting the Rio Dulce, but I honestly felt that based on what we had learned, this was the better option for us. So at 0945 on the morning of June 15th, we untied from the pier at El Milagro marina that had been our home for four weeks and pointed our bow northeast towards Florida.Crossing1

The conditions were perfect, with 10 knots of wind on the starboard beam and two foot seas. With Threepenny Opera in the lead, we rounded the north end of the island and steadied up on a course of 045°.Crossing2 Crossing3

Several hours into the trip, we entered the Yucatan Channel current, the huge flowing river of Caribbean sea headed north to the Gulf of Mexico which eventually becomes the Gulf Stream. The current that we had fought and clawed against to make our way to Isla Mujeres now picked us up and hurtled us northward.Crossing4

Yes, that’s right. Ten point two knots speed over ground in a 37 foot monohull. It actually hit 10.4 at times, but I was never able to catch it with the camera. We were flying! Florida here we come.

We sailed on through the day making excellent time, with mostly clear skies and steady winds. Unfortunately, as always seems to happen, things became a bit less pleasant as night fell.Crossing6

Our experience here onboard the good ship Eagle Too has been one of miserable night passages. We’d hoped that this time it would be different. I’d loaded several movies on the tablet in hopes that while Rhonda or I stood watch, we could relax and enjoy a flick. But as darkness set in, we started encountering squalls that were building off the northwest coast of Cuba, the winds rose, and the seas became confused. In the early AM, after several hours of dodging storms, reefing and unreefing the sails and rolling about in the building swell, I felt we had once again managed to invert the suck-to-fun ratio onboard the boat.

But shortly before the sky started brightening in the east, things calmed down, and we were treated to a view of the night sky and the Milky Way that you can usually only find in an astronomy textbook. Thursday, June 16th dawned clear and mild, with a gentle ESE wind. It was only blowing five or six knots, which would normally mean a boat speed of three or four knots, i.e. time to start the engine. But the residual current in the Florida Straits was still adding several knots to our boat speed, so we were managing six to seven knots SOG in six knots of breeze.

Crossing5

Eagle Too photographed from Threepenny Opera

Being a bit longer at 42 feet compared to our 37, our buddy-boat would usually pull slowly away from us, having a somewhat higher cruising speed. When they’d get a couple of miles ahead, we’d start the engine and make a sprint to close the distance. As the second day at sea wore on, the conditions became more and more settled, and Rhonda and I took turns grabbing a nap in preparation for another night. Crossing7

And finally, after almost three months and over 1500 nautical miles of cruising, we had our perfect night passage. Mild winds, flat seas, clear skies. More stars than you could possibly imagine, with the Milky Way boldly cutting a wide swath through the middle. No sound except the hissing of the foam from our wake, and an occasional quiet creak from the rigging, the sound of a contented sailboat in its element, being propelled by a gentle breeze. Rhonda watched Finding Nemo during her shift at the helm, and I enjoyed the classic James Bond film Dr. No, pausing every ten to fifteen minutes to scan the horizon, the running lights of our buddy boat still comfortably visible to reassure us that we weren’t alone on this enormous, dark sea. We even had company to talk to through the night. Shortly before dusk, when we were in the middle of the Florida Straits about 80 miles from land, this guy landed on our outboard crane and settled in for the night.Crossing8

We were happy for the company, and he didn’t seem to mind us chatting him up occasionally.

If at least one of our previous night crossings had been as pleasant as this one, we would have had much less anxiety about this trip. Now that we know that it’s not a requirement that night sailing has to suck, we feel better about doing more going forward.

With the rising of the sun on Friday, June 17th, we found ourselves within sight of our destination. Lightening winds had let us pass our buddy-boat, as we do a bit better in light air.Crossing9

The lighthouse on Loggerhead Key hove into view, and we entered the channel to the anchorage at Fort Jefferson to drop anchor.Crossing10 Crossing11

And exactly 48 hours after we threw off the docklines in Mexico, we were anchored in the Dry Tortugas. I told Rhonda we should be proud of ourselves, as not one person in a thousand could have taken a small boat and crossed three hundred miles of open ocean as we had just done.

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A shot of Eagle Too anchored off Fort Jefferson taken from Threepenny Opera

Why Fi?

In our previous post Rocking The Cellular World, I described Google’s foray into the cellular communications market, called Project Fi. At the time, I hadn’t yet pulled the trigger and switched my phone to their program (you can’t really call it a network, since it encompasses several different ones all bundled together). But their program just makes too damn much sense for someone with a lot of international travel in their future (which would be us). So I finally went ahead and completed my application.

Within two days, my Project Fi SIM card arrived in the mail.

FiSim

The instructions said that after plugging in the new SIM, I could use data over WiFi immediately, but it could take up to 24 hours for talk and text to resume working, as my number had to be switched from my old carrier (Verizon) to Project Fi. Concerned about being out of touch for so long (we have a lot of things going on at the moment as we get ready to depart), I waited until early on a Saturday morning to swap my Verizon SIM card with my new Project Fi card. Well, they might have issued an ominous warning, but it actually only took about 90 seconds for my number to port and a cheerful “Your phone is now available for use on Project Fi!” message to appear on my screen.

So far, I don’t see any difference in call quality, which is naturally a good thing. The Project Fi app that installed on my phone is very informative, showing me everything I’d ever want to know about my account, billing, data usage, and customer service and technical support. And I even now have the visual voice mail (for no extra charge) that Verizon was always trying to sell me as a $2.99 a month upgrade.

So what ultimately caused me to make the switch after 18 years with Verizon? The $10 per day per device access fee and $1.79 per minute international roaming rate that Verizon charges for international calling. It’s absolutely absurd to think of paying $10,000 annual phone bills, and I didn’t really want us to have to keep buying local SIM cards and changing phone numbers every time we run a new courtesy flag up the mast. With Project Fi, we can keep the same phone number for all our international travel with no additional fees, and calling rates to the US that average 20 cents a minute. Check back in a few months for a review on how it’s working!

I just wish I knew how they came up with the name Project Fi. As far as we’re concerned, it should be Project Awesome 🙂

A Visual Voyage

Our courtesy flag order from Color Fast Flags arrived yesterday, and Rhonda had fun this morning laying them out in a visual representation of our planned itinerary for the remainder of this year.

CourtesyFlags

Can you name them all? And which of these is not like the others?

For those who aren’t aware of nautical tradition, it’s considered a respectful gesture to fly a nation’s flag from your boat’s spreaders for the duration of your stay after you’ve been cleared in to the country. I don’t think it’s actually a requirement, any more than saying “please” and “thank-you” are, but it can earn you a few hospitality points while visiting foreign lands (foreign to us, of course. It’s home to the people who live there!) And you never know when a few hospitality points just might come in handy…

Typhoid – It’s What’s For Breakfast

Today’s post focuses on one of the less glamorous aspects of embarking on a cruising life—the epidemiology of it all. Now that Rhonda is retired and our breakneck sprint to our departure date has begun, the first item on the agenda was a visit with our family physician to obtain prescriptions for the drugs we wanted to have onboard and discuss the vaccinations we would need. If you’re preparing for extended overseas travel, the Centers for Disease Control has an excellent website that tells you exactly which vaccinations are recommended for the countries you intend to visit. You can find it here:

CDC Travelers’ Health

Plugging in our planned itinerary, it recommended that Rhonda and I receive inoculations for Hepatitis A and Typhoid, along with ensuring that our tetanus and measles/mumps/rubella shots were current. Our doctor also advised us to get the Hepatitis B shot as well. The CDC says it’s only recommended for people who may be exchanging bodily fluids with others, and I pointed out to our doctor that that wasn’t really part of the plan. But he replied with, “It doesn’t matter, if you get in an accident and need blood, you can contract Hep B.” Apparently one of his patients had had just that very thing happen on a trip to Egypt.

So the following morning, we found ourselves at the Escambia County Health Department, shirt sleeves rolled up, performing our best impersonations of human pincushions.Shots1 Shots2

It could have been worse. They have a combined Hep A/Hep B vaccine that covers both with a single shot. And Rhonda was current on her tetanus, so she was able to skip that one. When it was time for the typhoid vaccine, they gave us a choice. We could either have a shot, which is good for two years, or an oral vaccine, which is good for five.

“Wait, you mean we can just swallow a pill instead of getting stuck again? Sold!”

The oral vaccine was even $20 cheaper than the shot. The only (minor) downside is that it’s not one pill, it’s four, taken every other day on an empty stomach. Which is why we found ourselves getting up to an alarm at 0700 today to have a typhoid pill and a glass of water for breakfast. And then we went back to bed for an hour, since we’re both retired now and we can do things like that even during the week… 🙂Shots3

Total cost for both of us ran a little under $350, which should be reimbursable as routine preventative care through our health insurance.

It’s a good thing we went when we did. As it turns out, the Hepatitis B vaccine is a series of three shots. The second has to be administered 28 days after the first one, and the third one six months later. Twenty-eight days means our return visit to visit the puncturist  will be on or about March 30th, which is just a couple of days before our planned April 1st departure date (weather dependent, of course). And both our doctor and the clinician said that the third shot isn’t really that important, it’s the first two that build your immunity. So we’ll just get Hep B number 3 sometime later this year or early next year when we’re home for a visit.

Finally, there are a few places in the Caribbean where Yellow Fever is still a concern, and some countries require that you’ve had a vaccination if you’ve visited one of those areas (check the CDC site for more info). Since I’m former US Navy and Rhonda grew up a Navy brat, we’ve both been previously vaccinated for the disease and it’s reflected in our shot records, so that was one less needle we had to endure.Shots4

I sure am glad I married someone as meticulous (no, I did not say anal, stop putting words in my mouth!) about filing and record keeping. I would have lost these records years, probably decades ago!

The Greatest Leap Of Faith

It’s been almost two years now since this blog was born. We’ve covered a lot of ground in that time as we moved inexorably toward our goal of breaking free from a wage slave existence and departing for our Life On The Hook™. There have been some big days along the way, which of course we’ve documented here. But today is among the biggest. You see, Rhonda got up, got dressed, and went to work this morning for the very last time. It has been her greatest leap of faith, voluntarily retiring from a well paying professional job for no other reason than that she loves me and believes in me when I say that we’ll be fine in every sense, and that the journey is going to be amazing. And I love her for taking the leap with me. With this last major step, we’re now so close we can taste it.

Leap of faith

So the last big push now starts. Tomorrow begins a flurry of final preparations. Doctor’s visits to get prescriptions written and vaccinations administered. Getting our vehicles ready to sell. Clearing out all the onboard stuff that we needed for a comfortable life at the pier in order to bring onboard the gear we’ll need once we depart. Updating our will and providing family with guidance regarding how to handle our affairs in our absence. And of course, provisioning for a voyage where we never know when we might encounter the next grocery store or market.

I looks like we have a busy month ahead…

Betting Against Ourselves

I hate insurance. It’s the most expensive thing a person can purchase that you hope you never have to use. But I will admit that it can help you sleep a little better. Our boat is our home and our most valuable asset, and while we have confidence in our sailing ability and know our skills will only increase with time, accidents do happen. We’ve heard that Cuba has lately been taking a Sargent Schultz¹ attitude to coverage, but many marinas do want to see proof that you at least carry liability insurance before letting you enjoy their facilities.

We’ve always carried an agreed value policy from USAA on our boats. The policy is actually from Progressive, but if you call them directly, they’ll tell you that they won’t insure boats as big as ours. It’s because we’re USAA members that we can get the coverage we have. As boat policies go, it’s a pretty good one, with the annual cost of coverage running in the 2% of agreed value range. Anything less than 3% can probably be considered “affordable.” USAA is also known for stellar customer service, which fortunately we’ve never had to test as we’ve never filed a claim on our marine policy.

There’s one big showstopper though with our current insurance—we’re only covered for coastal waters within 75 miles of the mainland US. But our plans are quite a bit more far ranging than that. Even travel to the Bahamas would require an additional rider that would push the policy beyond the “good deal” range. The Caribbean isn’t even an option.

Some people go without insurance. I mean, how hard would it really be to go pirate and photoshop up some kind of insurance declaration page that you could give to a marina in Mexico or Grenada that makes it look like you’re covered if they asked? It’s not like they’re going to actually call the states to verify the policy (I believe…). Since we own our boat and don’t have to jump through some bank’s hoops, we could go without insurance if we wished. But there’s still that issue about being able to sleep at night, so not carrying insurance on our home isn’t a viable option for us. We knew that before we left for our Life On The Hook™, we were going to have to tackle obtaining coverage. While researching our options we came across a great post on the sailing blog Where The Coconuts Grow that was titled What Marine Insurance Companies Don’t Want You To Know.

WTCG

Among other things, the post included the contact information for an  insurance broker in Dunedin, Florida called The Pegasus Group. They offer policies backed by Lloyd’s of London, among others. Intrigued by the prospect of insuring with the same company that covers the Queen Elizabeth II, I gave them a call and asked for a quote.

Since this is a post about insurance (yawn), I won’t drag this out. We now have a policy from London International Marine, backed by Lloyd’s of London. It’s an agreed value policy that covers 100% of the replacement cost of our boat in the event of a loss, along with coverage for our tender (dinghy), and the usual liability, medical, and pollution coverage. The deductibles are pretty small, and amazingly the total cost came out to be just about exactly what we were paying Progressive (USAA) for our previous continental-US-only policy  We’re covered for the entire Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and the Bahamas, with the only exclusions being Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela and mainland Columbia. Of course, since we have Cuba in our sights, I asked what a two week Cuba rider would cost. Less than $100, they replied (!). Since LIM and Lloyd’s aren’t US based companies, they can legally write insurance for Cuba. Best of all, there is no hurricane box restriction. None of that “have to be north of here or south of there between June and November or you’re not covered” nonsense. Imagine that—an insurance policy that will actually let us use our judgement on where it’s safe to sail during hurricane season rather than dictating arbitrary requirements!

We did have to provide a survey to obtain the policy, but they gladly accepted our pre-purchase survey from March of 2014 rather than require us to have a new one done. A brief search online turned up posts by others claiming Pegasus had accepted surveys up to five years old. If you’d like to talk to the folks at The Pegasus Group to see what they may be able to do for you, you can reach them at (336)280-4312, and their website is here:

The Pegasus Group

So as I said, I really hate insurance. It feels like you’re betting against yourself, because the only time it benefits you is in the event of a disaster. But we accept it as a necessary evil, and value the peace of mind it provides. And with our newly issued policy, we’ve now checked off another box on our departure checklist!

¹For our international readers—Sargent Schultz was a character in the 1960’s television comedy Hogan’s Heros, set in the  fictional WWII German POW camp Stalag 13. When confronted with evidence of wrongdoing by the Allied prisoners he guarded, he continually said, “I see nothing! I know nothing!”