buying land and building tiny homes

I’ve got big plans, y’all. My dogs are old and I’m feeling more and more uneasy about cruising long distances with them. Sort of related, I have wanted to build a tiny home for years now. Eco friendly, recycled products, reusing reclaimed materials, solar powered, etc. It would be really nice for the dogs to have somewhere to “retire” if you will. While this was always just a thought in the back of my head, it wasn’t until I was recently in French Polynesia that I seriously started looking into this idea. As I admired the boats anchored out in the beautiful blue waters off the island, I realized I was absolutely not comfortable putting my senior dogs through an ocean crossing and needed to come up with a new plan. (Honestly, that was never my “plan” plan, but something I want to do sooner rather than later.)

For years now I’ve wanted to build a tiny home, and have thought long and hard about where to put this tiny home. I have no desire to trailer it, I’d want it built on land where it is going to stay permanently. This land needs to be close to water for snorkeling, kayaking, SUP’ing, somewhere to cycle, hike, etc. The island of Moorea had *everything* I’d been looking for, except I’m not French and wouldn’t be able to stay there more than 3 months at a time not to exceed 6 months per year. I do, however, have residency in Mexico! I can afford Mexico, I speak the language, and I already accidentally met with someone who built tiny homes out of shipping containers and shared a lot of great information with me. There would be a lot less red tape to deal with.

(image from Google)

I don’t just want to build one tiny home, though. Sure, I’d build one at a time. I’d like to build three, one for me and two for guests. I’d really love to be able to rent these tiny homes out to other Veterans with PTSD. However, I’m going to go a step further. I’ve lost count of how many strangers have introduced themselves almost immediately as being a Veteran with PTSD, and when I ask what they’re doing for it they sort of look at me like I’m crazy. They’ve not seen a therapist, they don’t plan on seeing a therapist, they just want sympathy and I guess acceptance of upcoming bad behavior? Nope. No thanks!

I want to help the people who ARE going to therapy, who HAVE tried floats, and acupuncture, meditation retreats, and are constantly pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone to see if they can find new ways of attaining happiness and inner peace. I specifically want to help other veterans who experienced Military Sexual Trauma (MST), because while many out in the field experienced a universal camaraderie, often times victims of sexual assault are punished into silence and suffer alone.

It would NOT be a retreat. While there would be space for meditation / yoga / kung fu, I don’t want there to be a structured program or an extreme focus on anything. For most of us Vets, we’re already aware of what we need to work on (if we’re in therapy and have been to retreats previously). I wholeheartedly just want a safe space for other Vets to be able to go to to relax and enjoy time in nature. Weighted blankets, noise cancelling headphones, reading and writing nooks, art, musical instruments, complete privacy, all in an off the grid and sustainable tiny home built by yours truly.

(image from Google)

I’m still not entirely sure if I should ditch the Patreon idea or not, but, if you would like to donate to this project please let me know and maybe I will once and for all follow through with Patreon. I finally feel like I have something worth putting donor money towards, although I plan on financing this myself anyways any little bit helps! It’s still a year or two away from happening, but I’d love to discuss ideas and learn from others who have maybe already built a tiny home.

If you’re interested in joining, I’d love to have you along for the journey!

PS: If you’ve been to Moorea AND the Pacific Coast of Mexico, please share what towns you think would be a great spot for my tiny homes! Thanks for reading ūüôā

adventures bla-bla-bla

a boat full of boats

I haven’t written anything terribly boaty for a while, so I thought this would be fun to share. A neighbor knocked on my boat one afternoon and asked if I’d “seen the boat”? Figuring there was a really beautiful wooden boat all shiny with new varnish, I was surprised to see this gigantic container ship like vessel full of other boats.

I knew people shipped their boats to and fro, I’ve never seen it in person until this day. Many non-boaters don’t understand why this is done, and the answer is simple. Sailing is really hard on boats, especially if you are going against the wind (upwind). You’re fighting every wave, and it deteriorates the value of the boat the more you do this on long passages.

If someone is selling their boat in an area far from the US (or any popular area where sailing is more common) shipping may be a part of the deal to getting the vessel closer to the new owner. You can see by the monstrous cranes this vessel is equipped to handle all kinds of boats!

This vessel was parked where the cruise ships normally are. It didn’t stay more than a day, I don’t think it unloaded all of the vessels either. It appeared as if they got an average of 3 boats splashed ever hour! Pretty wild! It was fun to watch this unfold from the docks. I tried to get video footage, but it’s terribly rolly at the end of the docks and the footage is no good.

You can see the first boat splashed was a power boat. The owners (or delivery crew) were taken to their vessel via dinghy, and within twenty minutes the top layer of wrapping had been cut off and thrown to the side so they could take off. You can see in the last photo another boat is already being hoisted! So cool! Hope everyone enjoys this as much as I did. Obligatory #nerdalert

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where it all began

I began this journey in 2011 when I first moved to San Francisco. Because it comes up often, I thought I’d compile a brief timeline of the story to make sense to how I got to where I am now. When I moved to San Fran from Arizona, I couldn’t find anywhere to live. As a recent college graduate, I struck out left and right and was not able to make ends meet on my $40k salary.

I sold everything (and I mean everything, I have no storage unit or anything stored at anyones house) and moved onto a boat I knew nothing about. I’d never even stepped aboard a sailboat before! It was a Columbia 26′, and I learned so much my two and a half years aboard. It was an invaluable learning experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

After I’d gotten the boat sailing and paid off all my debts and saved up some money, I was ready to move up to a larger boat. Almost immediately, Coconut came to me and I had someone begging to buy my little Columbia. It was a seamless transition, although I had a whole lot to learn about stainless steel water tanks, an inboard engine, fixing leaks, etc. I bought Coconut in May of 2014 and have been working and living aboard ever since.

I tried to switch careers in 2015 but was severely injured and ended up going back to school. My PTSD from military service (along with chronic back pain from heavy lifting and eyesight issues caused by a surgery while in service) has left me unable to work. I always try to make the best of situations, while depression and anxiety take a hold of me most days, I would love to be able to find a way to help other Veterans suffering in silence like I often have.

If you are curious about the work and adventures I had on my little Columbia, search for the category “Columbia” and all the posts will come up. There are a lot of shenanigans to sift through, but I really enjoyed the simplicity of the tiny boat. I absolutely adore the space and comfort I have aboard Coconut, however, and am so happy to call her my home.

As for how this all has worked for me, I’ve gotten pretty lucky. I’ve always been pretty resilient and independent. I started traveling in middle school / high school and knew I wanted to see more of the world as I got older. I couldn’t figure out how to have a stable office job while also having time to explore remote areas in other countries (hint: you can’t!). Being that I’ve got my doggies, when I learned people sailed around on their boats with their pets (and kids), I was instantly fascinated.

On some level I knew there were people out there doing cool things like this, however I did not ever think I could be one of them. The stars aligned, I worked my butt off, and here I am. My goal is to not return to the US by boat at least for many years to come. I may be a little slow at the beginning, but I want to make sure all my ducks are in a row and that I have taken care of as much as I possibly can before leaving for good.

Wish me luck and thank you for following along on my journey!

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how to be less trashy ;)

By now if you’re not aware, the weather is changing rapidly and it’s pretty alarming the amount of damage being done on an annual basis from nothing other than bad habits. This is a proven fact and if you don’t believe it, I am not sure what to tell you. I’m not a scientist, I’m not telling anyone what to do, but I do feel very strongly about the impact our capitalist culture has on the world around us and how we are capable of changing our habits for the overall health of our oceans and air we breathe. Literally doing anything is better than nothing. Because I follow so many environmentally friendly sailing people, it seems like common knowledge. However, in the event that it is not, it couldn’t hurt to repeat a few key aspects of climate change and what we can do to combat it.

It never even occurred to me the “Recycle” in the 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) is last… as in we should be Reducing our waste first, Reusing what we can second, and Recycling at what we can not reuse. This had a pretty strong impact upon realizing I thought I was doing the best I could by recycling everything. In Mexico, recycling centers are difficult to find. You have to take your items there, and honestly, who is going to do that? I don’t have a vehicle, so I certainly don’t as I already have enough on my plate as a solo sailor.

I’ve decided I need to use less overall. There are “Zero Waste” lifestyles which I am completely perplexed by (and in awe of!) as well as “Plastic Free” lifestlyes. After walking the docks on the weekends with a telescoping fishing net collecting all the trash I possibly could before the tide whisked it away, I was very saddened to see just how much of it was plastic. Bottles, food containers, soo many different sizes of plastic bags, shampoo bottles, tooth brushes, fishing gear, buckets, etc.

There are a few key things I think are important to know.

  • Single Use Plastics: as in you open a package, and toss it in the garbage once you are done using it. These items, such as plastic water bottles, create so much unecessary garbage. If you can purchase a metallic water bottle and refill at home, school, work, etc. you would already be saving literally tons of plastic pollution a year.


  • Microplastics: You know those little beads in hand soap and body wash? Those are being mistaken for food and fish are eating them, which of course leads to their illness and death. Many brands are no longer using them, but if you have any soaps with this please refrain from using it or purchasing it again. I did not know this until writing this post, but they are contaminating the air as well.


  • Not everything that is thrown in the recycling is actually recycled. This was sad to learn, which further solidifes why I am trying to reduce my use all together.


  • Cigarette Butts: The unthought of pollutant! A company in San Francisco (and others have popped up) with solutions to recycle these and keep the billions a year out of landfills.


  • Composting: Put your food scraps in with the landscaping bin if your city does not do composting or if you have no desire or space to compost. The city of San Francisco has mandated composting and with other strict measures, has reduced what ends up in the landfill by 80%! Food scraps will naturally deteriorate, on the boat I just throw them overboard and let the fish eat them.


  • Collection Programs: I know that IKEA allows you to drop off batteries, CFL light bulbs, and other hazardous materials, but there are other collection programs out there. I came across this website with all kinds of collections for items I wouldn’t have thought belong anywhere other than the trash.


It’s taken me years to understand a lot of this, and living in San Francisco greatly helped me understand just how dangerous this “trashy” lifestyle is, and how it absolutely is possible to make a few small changes to our daily habits for a greater impact. While most of the pollution is coming from manufacturers, it is so important to be smart about our purchases and habits.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out the websites mentioned or feel free to ask me any questions! I’m learning about this along with you, we can learn together and hopefully reverse the damage being done.



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steps to becoming a cruiser

I’ve met several awesome folks on my travels who dream of sailing around on their own boat one day. I can be somewhat of a dream crusher when discussing these plans, as starry eyed dreamers don’t realize what some channels put out there on YouTube isn’t telling the entire story. I’d like to give some realistic advice to following this dream, if it is what you want for your future.

Step 1: Buy a Small Boat
This may seem counterintuitive, however if you plan on being a boat owner one day I recommend to start off with something simple. Get familiar with how marinas function, the types of crowds at marinas, if you have the energy to maintain a boat, and if you have any desire to actually leave the slip. It could be a 10′ dinghy, a Cal 20′, a Columbia 26′. Anything small and simple to get your feet wet, literally and figuratively. I would not recomend a first time boat owner and non sailor to purchase a 30′-45′ boat. I’m not saying it can’t work, but it will be much more of a struggle to understand the bigger picture. If you end up not liking it, you’ll waste a lot of money for nothing.

It’s okay to not know everything. Everyone starts somewhere, and nobody was born knowing everything. It will feel like you’re learning a new language, because you are. Chandlery? What’s that. Cabin sole? Say what now? Brightwork? What needs to be made brighter?

Step 2: Do Necessary Repairs 
Whatever boat you’ve got, just make it work! Running rigging all tattered and frayed? Get new lines. Standing rigging no good? Replace it. Need a small fiberglass repair done? Go ahead and scope out some of the ever so helpful DIY channels and give it a go. My favorite aspect of small boats is they’re a breeze to maintain and fairly inexpensive to repair. $5,000 should get a neglected boat back out onto the water and safe for sailing.

The most important factor in this is that you are becoming familiar with the vessel. Should something go wrong, you’ll know where to look or how to troubleshoot. You should absolutely get familiar with materials, processes, etc. Otherwise, someone may suggest a costly repair when it is not necessary. Be wise to this and you will be a more knowledgeable boat owner. I’ve seen many people blindly agree to unecessary repairs simply because someone said it needed to be done. I guess if you have deep pockets, what does it matter? If three people who don’t know eachother all suggest the same repair / method / product, then maybe they’re right. Otherwise, don’t be afraid to seek out second, third, and fourth opinions.

Step 3: Go Sailing!
Yes, get away from that dock! By now you’ve probably made friends with your dock neighbors and can buddy boat around the bay, lake, or whatever waterway you fancy. If the repairs to your boat are keeping you at the dock or out of the water, go sailing with anyone and everyone who invites you. I’ve learned so much just from seeing how different boats are set up. Everyone has their own creative solutions to problems, some you may be able to implement on your own, others maybe not but at least give you food for thought on how to problem solve.

The more you get out on the water, the more you become exposed to different situations. No two days are the same, the more you learn the better Captain you will become! There is always something to learn, and learning first hand is a better way to learn than by reading about it. You will make mistakes, everyone does. You learn from them and become smarter and hopefully can laugh about it later!

Step 4: Start Thinking of Your Next Boat
By now you’ve hopefully spent at least 6 months to a year with your dinghy / boat and have been on many other people’s boats in the process. This will give you the best idea for what you may want in your future forever boat. You will be more confident in what kind of maintenance you can handle and what features you want. Know that if you talk to weekly racers at the yacht club, they will probably prefer a racing boat. Something lightweight, not meant to have a lot of supplies on board. If you don’t plan on racing across the ocean, do you really need a racing boat then? Many cruisers prefer heavier boats that can withstand a storm. No matter what you do, you will get stuck in a storm and for me personally, I’d rather be comfortable. Take everyone elses opinions with a grain of salt. You hopefully know what is best for your situation, so go with that!

Also know that there is no perfect boat. There are things about my boat that I can’t stand, but the benefits outweigh the downsides. For instance, Coconut’s cockpit is ridiculously small. However, this is a godsend in rough seas. It’s not like I entertain aboard often anyways, so in the end it doesn’t really matter. Write a list of wants and stalk Yacht World for all your boat porn needs. I like this site because it includes a lot of interior photos, you get to see different setups and can get a better idea of what boats look like on the insides. For instance, I really love center cockpits because the layouts down below are incredibly spacious. The tradeoff is that the cockpit is tiny.

Important Details to Understand
Newer boats doesn’t equal less maintenance! I met the owner of a 2014 Beneteau Oceanis whose prop looked as bad as Coconut’s previous 40 year old prop! The builder installed it incorrectly and the salt water corroded giant chunks out of the blades. This shouldn’t happen and is a fairly expensive repair. If I’d paid six figures for a boat, I would expect it to not have problems like this, but it is unfortunately common.

I am completely biased and prefer 70’s era boats because the hulls are so thick. It can survive a reef hit much better than the thinner newer fancier boats can by a long shot. The woodwork on my boat is so well constructed I feel safe. This to me is very important.

Multiple cruisers have done a cost breakdown, it seems to be $750 is the lowest end for one person actively cruising and anchoring out with absolutely *no frills*. I’ve only met one gentleman who claimed he was cruising for $500/month. He was emaciated, only had 15 watts of solar power, and didn’t have enough water to last him and his 2 crewmembers for more than a couple of days. We all have our limits to what we can deal with, but putting yourself and your crew in danger for the sake of sailing is not worth it to me.

Here’s where I crush your dreams. Know all those YouTube channels with these young couples who just seem to be frolicking around fancy islands on nice boats who are always clean wearing pristine clothing and conveniently never have a break in their videos because they’ve not had to stop and work? Those are most likely trust fund babies. They make big deals about $3 repairs and $2 beers, yet fail to mention the new $3k navigation system and $15k engine they’re installing.

There are several channels I can’t watch anymore because they’re not being honest about the money they’ve put into their lifestyle. It makes me feel inadequate, when in fact they are the ones who aren’t being truthful. I don’t like sugar coating things, and what a shock many must face when they realize they were following someones footsteps who started higher up on the mountaintop rather than at the bottom where everyone else started. Ignore these people on social media and YouTube all together, they’re on a different playing field and don’t understand the struggles most of us face in terms of reaching our own personal goals.


skin cancer

I’d written a post about keeping your skin safe while at sea, and have a bit of important information to add. I scratched my back one evening and was surprised to see blood all over my fingers. It was a hard to reach area in between and below the shoulder blades, so I couldn’t really see what was there but my guess was it was something bad.

Thankfully, in Mexico all you have to do is find the nearest hopsital, ask for the dermatologist, and make an appoitnment. It only cost $94 to remove two suspicious spots that I now know are called “actinic keratosis” in twenty minutes and zero paperwork! Basically, what I had was pre-cancer. I didn’t know that existed! I thought you just… got cancer.

The initial spot I had was a giant freckle with a dark mole on it, this is always bad and should be removed asap. Upon learning this, I realized I had several other suspicious spots to burn off. Most are flesh colored and on my face / chest. I initially thought they were acne because of the size and location. I also have this odd red flaky spot on the back of my arm. I couldn’t figure out how to get these “pimples” to go away, but they won’t because they’re not supposed to be there! If I were to develop skin cancer, it would be from these lesions. Many of us have many of these, it’s important to watch for changes. This is such important information I just had to share!

An Australian follower told me about a saying they were taught growing up, which is below in infographics.


It initially started out as “slip, slop, slap” as in, slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat.. but they added seek shade and slide on sunglasses to protect your eyes. All great ideas and a good slogan to live by.

Below are the lovely photos of the actinic keratosis.



looking and feeling presentable with minimal effort

I’ve had to put any major boat work aside the last several months and have focused on self care. I’m going to sound like a total Princess, but I do not care. It is not a crime to take care of yourself! It is not a crime to want to look good! Doing a face mask once or twice a week is one thing, but buying better quality products and switching up your routine to resolve years long issues is making me feel pretty good, and I want to share what I’ve learned. It probably won’t be applicable to anyone else, but the overall message is there is likely an easy at home or over the counter solution for whatever issues you consistently struggle with.

Buying more expensive products of better quality not only last longer, but save money in the long run. Target, Ulta, CVS, and Madewell carry pretty much everything I’ve needed to get my appearance in order. The moral of the story is this: why use products to try to make yourself look a certain way, when you could just get to the root cause of the issue and solve the problem permanently? For example, why put foundation on to cover up uneven skin tone, when you can probably easily fix the uneven skin tone? Why take medications for high blood pressure, when you can change your diet and forget the medications and side effects that go along with it? I understand this is a difficult transition, but honestly it’s the cheapest and healthiest route. I’ll be going over changes I’ve made to my hair care, skin care, wardrobe, and diet.



Frizzy and dry, along with itchy scalp when I try to skip washing my hair.

The Curly Hair subreddit (on has helped me a ton, along with following curly haired Instagrammers. I’m a visual person and I need to see the consistent results and difference between product uses and techniques. I’d tried not washing or conditioning my hair (that was bad), I’d tried only using conditioner (also bad), but I’ve finally nailed down a handful of products and techniques that seem to be working!

I bought a brush at Sprouts that helps “distribute oil” and I brush my hair before showering. Start at the ends, and work your way up to the roots. Brush to the left, to the right, upside down, etc. This helps spread your natural oils down to the ends of the hair, and I feel like it helps my scalp as well.

I have had luck with Shea Moisture Apple Cider Jamaican Castor Oil Shampoo and Conditioner. I do use a hair mask or deep conditioner once a week before applying conditioner.

For styling, I use a detangler, leave in conditioner, and then a product. The biggest issue I have with product is hold because of the wind I typically encounter outside. I really liked CatWalk by TIGI as it had great hold, but it has all kinds of ingredients that aren’t good for curly hair sucking away moisture leaving hair dry and brittle.

Finding a product with the same hold properties is tough, especially because gel takes a while to dry and you can’t touch your hair while it’s drying. Ouidad by far is the best gel I’ve found, and I went five days before washing my hair and it still looked great! You don’t need a lot of product, either. I used the “shake and rake” method and it seemed to evenly distribute through out the hair. Once it is for sure dry, you scrunch the crunch away and voila, you’ve got a great and light hold! I’ve started a journal for every time I wash my hair to note what products I used and will keep track of what works and what doesn’t. I’ve been told to try different combinations, so finding the perfect fit it will be a work in progress.

Protecting my hair at night made a big difference, as well. Sleeping on a silk pillowcase helped a little, but wrapping my hair up in a silk scarf made the biggest difference! I have a big head, so silk caps didn’t fit comfortably on my head.

I was given a protein oil by a hairdresser to add to my hair on the 2nd day, as it is always a long time for me in between haircuts and this oil keeps the ends of my hair happy. I generally massage my scalp every morning with Moroccan oil before wetting my hair a little and seeing if I need to reapply any products. So far all these steps have worked really well to keep my hair frizz free in a windy environment, which feels like completing a years long marathon! I now understand how other curly haired women keep their locks looking nice and scalp not an itchy greasy mess while only washing once a week! This might change of course with snorkeling and whatnot, but still… this is a huge accomplishment and really adds to me not feeling so frumpy.



Skin is oily, a bit red, and I had patchy skin left over from acne that had been gone for a decade.

I had been able to get rid of the discoloration left from scarring by using Mederma for several months after my skin finally cleared up.

I wasn’t ever able to get rid of the patchy skin until I started using Stridex pads every night. The skin in that area flaked a little bit, and after a couple of weeks this new layer of skin emerged that was so beautiful! Not perfect, but much better than it was before.

The redness vanished after a couple of weeks by adding Vitamin C serum back into my routine (am and pm).

The oiliness was reduced once I started using Differin every other night. I also started using a better quality moisturizer that did not leave my skin oily. It is so thick and creamy, the tiny bottle will last me 6 months or more. This means less provisions!

I use Vanicream SPF 50 on my face and ears every morning. My skin is so clear I generally do not put on powder unless my face is shiny. For this I use Mac powder with SPF. It is by far the best powder I’ve ever used, and lasts forever (especially because I hardly use it!). The powder inside the container has broken on me before, so definitely don’t throw it in your purse or backpack to take out with you.



I couldn’t ever figure out how some people look so “together” and “mature” yet the feedback I was mostly getting was if I was assuming I was “homeless” and “here studying”. I was always flashing too much skin when bending down (jeans and v-neck too low cut).¬†I’d try wearing baggy flannels over this to resolve the problem, but I think this is what made me look super frumpy.

I’ve decided to cut the crap with shopping as I’ve never really enjoyed it. I bought a few t-shirts and a nicer pair of jeans from Madewell. I still have workout or boat work clothes, but I no longer walk around in those off the boat.

As I’ve already mentioned, I stalked Reddit for this as well. Female Fashion Advice is an okay sub, I say that because it’s the only sub I’ve mentioned that you can’t post a photo and ask for feedback. They do have a daily thread where you can ask questions, and people are pretty responsive and have given great advice.

I’d already learned that Madewell had great t-shirts for a good price, and the cut of them is classy and simple. I got some high waisted jeans and not only are they really comfortable, the muffin top is gone and I haven’t flashed too much skin at all when boarding the boat or leashing the dogs. This alone feels really nice. So what if my four shirts are either grey, grey, black, or white…. My jackets are bright, and so is my hair. I feel this wardrobe goes along perfectly with my minimalistic style anyways, and takes out the guessing as to what am I going to wear (and will it look good with the only pair of clean pants that I have?).



My stomach suddenly hates food, leaving me bloated and a total grumpalump. Having Delhi Belly for nearly a year is really difficult. I am already fairly lazy when it comes to dressing myself, styling my hair, and preparing meals so I’ve really needed to spend more time taking care of myself to not feel like such a useless hot mess.

Bloodwork, checking for parasites multiple times, upper and lower endoscopies, more bloodwork, elimination diet, and intermittent fasting.

While I am thankful I don’t have any chronic condition or auto immune disease, I still don’t know what’s wrong and there is a high probability my stomach will get upset after a meal if it has anything crazy like squash, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, celery, etc. The elimination diet was necessary, and I am SO thankful I have a friend on speed dial who is a nutritionist. Any time my stomach gets upset she is able to pinpoint what it probably was, and I add that to the “do not eat” list.

However, cutting out sugars, carbs, and everything else was really difficult. Upon some YouTube research, learning about Intermittent Fasting seemed like a good way to “reset” my stomach and metabolism. Basically, only eat for a certain period of time during the day and allow your body to burn fat the rest of the hours. If you eat from 7 am to 11 pm with meals and snacks in between, you’re not giving your body enough time to digest anything. I’ve gotten over cravings, have lost 10 lbs in a month with zero exercise, and a lot of random aches and pains that had suddenly come out of nowhere are gone.

Intermittent fasting may not seem necessary if you aren’t having any GI issues, however many of the bad food decisions I’d made was simply because I was traveling and hungry. I’d often eat whatever junk was in front of me thinking it was better than nothing. However, when you train your body not to “need” food, you can skip meals a lot easier or get by with just a Cliff bar. I can see this coming in very handy as a solo sailorette, because even when I have to go on long bus rides to provision I am able to say no to everything at the snack stand full of chips and cookies.

To our health!

We owe it to ourselves to take care of our bodies, minds, and spirits.





Those who are nomadic know finding a spot to take a nice hot shower can sometimes be a scavenger hunt. The bathrooms at marinas are typically similar to or slightly above campground bathrooms. Cement walls, cold toilets, bugs galore. It’s not fancy, but hopefully the hot water is a plenty. Some bathrooms nicer than others, which is always a treat.

The biggest hiccup when heading to shore to shower for me was forgetting something back on the boat. Shower caddies are the easiest way to shower and ensure you have everything you need, but finding the right one was a bit tricky.¬†I tried several different styles early on in my liveaboard days, the fabric ones with three compartments with a coat hanger are fairly popular but my least favorite. My gripe about most of them is they have too much fabric that was going to get wet from putting your shower stuff back in there. Or it barely had any storage, so you have to put everything in travel sized containers and refill them all the time. The other popular style is all open and barely any compartments, so anyone could see “Hey, Rachel’s going to go take a shower!” with a black hole of shower stuff. Fishing around for the right bottle all the time is also really annoying and got old pretty quick.

I found one I love dearly several years ago now at Target (now available on Amazon). I love it so much I bought a backup, because I ruined the first one after putting it in the dryer. It’s meant to be a college dorm shower caddy. You can wash it, I’ve certainly had a container open on me before. I would let it dry on it’s own, though.¬†

Things I love about it:

  • The mesh at the bottom of the compartments allows water to drain¬†
  • You can bring it into the shower with you, via the opening strap for the shower curtain rod or suction cups on the back
  • It can get wet and it will not soak your backpack or bag you put it in
  • The fabric will not mold or hold water
  • The shower caddy closes, so nothing can fall out in transit, nor does it reveal my top secret plans to get clean
  • There are four compartments, easily grouping things together
  • The zipper is heavy duty and never gets stuck, as is common with zippers on boats
  • I can fit full product bottles that last months, no more refilling every week!
  • I can hang it up in the boat and use it at night without unpacking / repacking it every time

So there it is. An ode to my shower caddy! This baby lets me shower anywhere with ease, and I am forever grateful to the creators of this masterpiece.



maintenance progressions

sprucing up the stanchions: part 1

I had a friend with the same boat as Coconut. He wanted to sell his boat, and offered me the handrails to switch out my lifelines. Being that hard handrails are so much sturdier, I quickly said yes and took off my stanchions. It took two weeks! Those bolts are not easy to get to. He said he’d come down with everything before I left for Antarctica, but realized his passport was expired and we’d do it when I came back. But when I came back, after ignoring me for several days he finally sent me a message saying that he’d sold the boat and didn’t take off any of the handrails (besides the aft portion that I already picked up). This put me in a bind for heading south. I didn’t want to do the 1,000 mile leg with no lifelines. The dogs need to go to the bathroom up there. I’m not sure why ¬†he even asked if I wanted them. Flake all you want but leave me out of it please and thank you.


I was already freshening up the wooden blocks that go between the deck and stanchion base, so I decided to continue with that and figure out a plan. His stanchion bases were much nicer than mine, as some of mine were completely cracked and all of them were so rusty no amount of metal polish could clean them up. I’d seen you could get new bases for $15 a pop at a chandlery in San Diego, so all I needed to order were a couple of t-bar connectors and end caps to fit onto an imaginary stainless steel handrail to go forward one day in the future. I can’t afford those right now, so I am fine putting the forward lifelines back on. Those are in good condition, with new bases it’ll be just like new. Thankfully I was able to purchase exactly what I needed from calendar sales as well as a very kind donation from a dear friend. Thank you!!! <3

While I was gone, I had the toe rail worked on because there was nothing in it’s way and it would be the only shot to clean that baby up. Basically, this has turned into one of those projects that just snowballs into a million other things when you’re already tight on cash. I’m glad I’m doing it though, because I’ve stopped a couple of leaks and will be a helluva lot safer out at sea with new bases. And the teak looking nice and fresh doesn’t hurt. But I decided to paint it because I loathe brightwork and don’t have the patience for ¬†maintaining it.

Besides the pain of getting the nuts and bolts off, what takes the longest is prepping the wood bases. Sanding the old paint off, getting the gunky caulking off the bottoms, drilling out the holes, filling them and other cracks with thickened epoxy, filling them again because air bubbles, sanding them down, putting two coats of epoxy on, and three coats of paint before they are ready to be caulked on and drilled through.

Because my original stanchion bases were welded on, I had the yard break the welds. The “newer” stanchion bases were easy to remove and put onto my stanchions with set screws instead of welding. After that, all I had to do was saw off the eye at the top and the handrail connector could go right over that. This way I wouldn’t have to completely change the location of some of the bases. The aft handrail was much longer for some reason, extending way past the pulpit, but I didn’t want to cut that down until I had the stanchions back in place so I could tell where to cut it to get the correct curvature of the boat.

So far, this is a work in progress and not complete yet….



maintenance progressions

prepping for a safe passage

I had some pretty wild good luck on my way down the coast, and suddenly when I was due to take off again every test sail I went on had problems. Nothing major, but enough to let me know I needed to go back to the dock to fix something. I started looking into pre-departure checklists as some of this stuff could have been caught before I left the dock had I made it a habit to inspect it. Below is what I’ve come up with for prepping for a safe passage. I have made this into an actual checklist and put it into my binder titled “Everything Coconut” so it is easy to reference. (To note, this is everything besides the obvious items like topping off water, fuel, provisions, laundry, lifejackets, etc.) I couldn’t find any pre-made detailed checklists so I made my own!

Have a Float Plan

I wasn’t sure what this was, but upon seeing some examples like this one from the Coast Guard, I definitely need one of these. I have a couple of friends I regularly let know I am leaving and the city where I am headed to. They do not know the details of my boat, the Documentation Number, type of engine, type of sailboat, marina or anchorage I plan on staying in, etc. I am not always good at letting them know I got in either, which I definitely need to get better about. Even though my passages are around 70 miles each, at least giving my friends a copy of this to hold on to is a good idea should anything go wrong.

Engine Pre-Departure Checklist

I’ve learned a lot about maintaining a diesel engine, but at the same time I am still learning the more I work with it. For example, checking the oil and coolant level is easy. However, I am not good about inspecting the sea strainer, the tension on the belts, or checking for leaks.

  • Check oil level and color (if black, time to change it)
  • Check coolant level
  • Check Alternator Belt and Water Pump Belt tension, inspect for black dust
  • Check for cracked hoses, oil leaks, loose hose clamps
  • Empty water from bilge compartment
  • Clear out Sea Water Strainer
  • Check water flow exiting the boat
  • Check Gear Shifter to ensure bolt fastened properly


Check Steering System

Check hydraulic steering for leaks from the pump at the wheel all the way down to the ram at the rudder. Check for loose hose clamps, leaks, and missing cotter pins.


Check Standing and Running Rigging

On my first failed sail, I turned around because the lower shrouds on both port and starboard were loose and shaking. It was very windy, so the side opposite of the wind direction was the one flailing a bit too much for comfort. I don’t have the money for a Loos Tensioning Gauge, but decided to tighten the offending shrouds more than what I thought necessary. I’ve already lubed them, so I probably should have marked the spot where the turnbuckles were before removing them. Lastly, make sure everything’s got a cotter pin and that it is properly bent and covered so it doesn’t catch on anything!

For running rigging, check for chafe. If you can see what the line is chafing on, see about covering that area with white electrical tape. My roller furling line always gets caught on the cotter pins where the rigging is attached to the chainplate. I used to stuff an old washcloth between here, but this only allows dirt and dog hair to collect and not go through the deck scuppers.

I also check the spare lines I have on the stern pulpit. I drape them over the pulpit and it always comes in handy if I need to throw a line to someone. Make sure the lines are secured tightly and will not fall off or foul in the prop.


Secure the Anchor

If the anchor is not secured, it can possibly jump off the gibsea and puncture a hole in the hull. No bueno! I’ve simply attached a line through the end of the anchor to an eye bolt on the toe rail.


Check Electronics

I’ve got a handheld GPS and InReach¬†with satellite GPS. Both of these seem to receive updates maybe 2x a year, so it is always good to connect those to the internet and make sure everything is up to date.

Make sure all navigation lights are working. Another failed sail of mine the front red and green nav lights on the pulpit were mysteriously dark. Turn on all equipment and ensure function, even if you don’t need it at that time. The depth sounder, AutoPilot, VHF/AIS radio, etc.


Check the Weather

When I was hopping down the coast I would leave as long as there was no wind. This was very helpful in getting me comfortable with single handing, and when a line got snagged on something the sail or jib sheet was fairly easy to un-foul. Even though there was “no wind” predicted, there is always at least enough wind to keep the main up.

Upon reading more about this, one site (can’t remember which) recommended to start keeping track of the weather in a journal. This will help you see patterns, and start to understand weather in general. I thought this was a great idea. I was gifted a PDF of reading the weather, which I plan to familiarize myself with.

It can also be good to keep track as I am not yet familiar with what conditions are favorable and unfavorable (mostly wave height). I know 20-30 knots will be a more cumbersome sail, but I tend to forget about wave height and tides/currents since I am no longer in San Francisco (which has notoriously strong currents). NOAA has good and reliable information for this.


Organize Tools

Sounds silly, but I am bad at this. Having a shop means I tend to toss tools back in the shop without making sure it’s secure or in the right spot. When I had pulled into a marina to tighten the alternator belt I couldn’t find the right sized socket and of course I couldn’t get a box wrench in the space. I knew I had it on board, but it set me back just trying to find it.

I’ve gone through my shop and gotten rid of things I hadn’t used in a while (like my 5 gallon vacuum) and moved things that didn’t need to be in there. I also found some treasures I forgot I had! Zita was hiding from a big bad scary fly in the first picture, but the shop now has a floor! And their bike trailer is secured! And so is the net! And last but not least I finally put the door handle back on. The handles are all pretty corroded and ugly looking, so I took them off. (Four years ago.) I was going to spray paint them and never did until a few days ago. Not crazy about the chunky clear coat finish, I will have to buy a matte finish before finishing the rest of them! At least I know where my tools are, they are more secure than before, and I should be able to access them quickly should I need to.