Tiny House Living On A Boat- A Family Of 4 In 128 SF?

Our Tiny House Can Go PlacesWe live on an express cruiser that has two gas engines and all the comforts of home. We used to live on our boat part-time on Lake Travis outside of Austin, TX. That was for rookies. We decided to trade in our 3300 sf, two-car garage home for a more simple life on the water. We moved aboard our boat nine weeks ago and had it moved to Galveston Bay where we started the tiny house living journey of a lifetime.

We knew that living aboard was going to be different and we used to watch the show: Tiny House Living, with interest when we had a TV. “We could do that,” we thought and started to say aloud until our thoughts became reality and we boarded our 37-foot boat with our two kids and 90 lb. service dog named Onyx.The Family That Lives In A Tiny House

We’ve travelled over twelve hundred and fifty miles to reach the Florida Keys, where we will remain through November when the hurricane season is officially over. We are officially living the dream! I brought out the tape measure today and took the official measurement. 128 square feet of living space, down below. It should be noted that we don’t live on a small sailboat and we have as much air conditioning as we want. (as long as we are hooked up to electric or running the generator) Continue reading

A Day In The Life Of A Liveaboard Family

Catching Geckos in The Florida KeysWe lived on land until two months ago and became full-time cruisers who live aboard our boat.  It was our dream to do this and it is really fun but it can be challenging.  We did a lot of research on what it would “look like” to be full-time liveaboards cruising around the U.S. and Caribbean but few people talk about some of the challenges.  Here is a day in the life of the Hamic Family aboard Miss Lone Star.  We are presently located at our dock in Islamorada, FL and we are not underway.

We drove to Key West yesterday to visit the PX and the commissary.  We make the 80 mile trip twice a month to do grocery shopping and pick up odds and ends.  It takes 2 hours because the speed limit is 45 or 55 in most places but the views are amazing.  Our girl-child was on one yesterday and she was beating up on her brother in the backseat.  We tried all of the standard parent tactics: say sorry, don’t touch, no talking, look out your window and then the dreaded spanking.  Nothing worked and she was a mess through almost all of the trip.  Naughty Girl Timeout on Roadtrip Continue reading

Our Weekend Expeditions In The Florida Keys

Florida Keys Mini TripsIt is a bummer that we are living in one place until December but we are making the most of it by taking a lot of mini trips.  In the next day or so we plan to go anchor out at Hen’s and Chickens Reef and then I want to go north for a few miles to find another great spot.  I really want do dive some wrecks.

During the heat of the day, it can be busy with all of the snorkeling tours and dive boats but only between 12-4PM.  We love how deserted it feels after than when it is just us anchored.  We’ve decided that we really love to be on the hook and we want to do that a lot more.

If anyone has a suggestion about a favorite place to anchor please leave a comment!

I am really lucky to have a portable air compressor to fill my own scuba tanks on our boat.  I bought it from my friend in Austin who had re-built it.  It isn’t much to look at and it is 35 years old, but it does the job.  It fills a tank from 0-3000 psi in 30 minutes.

We plan to go out for 2-3 days, weather and food supplies permitting.  I think we learned a lot from our last expedition to Alligator Reef so I think we will be better prepared to enjoy ourselves.  We plan to take along, Brandon, a friend from our dock who is without his family for a few days.  He wants to do a lot of diving and has gone with some of the tour companies.  I prefer diving from our boat with fewer people.  I like staying down longer and not being restricted to going with a group of people.  I think it is diving at its best!

Many of the reefs and wrecks reside in Special Protected Areas (SPA) and there are a lot of restrictions on activities in these areas.  I learned that one can obtain a special fishing permit that allows you to take fish from these area, that is normally prohibited.  We saw a bunch of illegal fishing at Alligator Reef and noticed the boats coming in fast just to take a crack at some huge barracuda.  I thought it was wrong that these people were taking resources from the reef.  There used to be 551 fish species at that location but over-taking has depleted many of them, which is really sad.

Bianca is really hoping to get some beautiful new shells while doing her new favorite pastime with Dad, snorkeling.  I was so happy that she took to it so well!  I held her hand and we swam all along the reef and around the lighthouse.  I think she will remember seeing fish for the first time for the rest of her life.  Blake loves to swim around the boat and use Mom’s GoPro but he doesn’t venture so far.

Onyx probably wants me to dinghy over to the shore to give her a break at night and in the morning, which seems reasonable.  We wish that dogs would use the bathroom in the water.  The reefs are 3-4 miles off shore so that makes the trek inland more difficult.

Aubrey is really getting an aptitude for video and I think we will get of our best footage yet.  I am happy that she has the time to practice here before we head to Cuba and beyond.  We won’t want to miss any of that footage.  We are building so many great memories and I am so thankful that we have them documented so well with this journal, pictures and video.  We’ve noticed that the traffic to our blog has doubled since we started including video on a regular basis and we will keep it up.

If anyone has suggestions for us or if you want to see something send us a suggestion!

Video Episode 3- The Intercostal (ICW) into New Orleans- Day 4 of our Travels

This next episode was day 4 of our travels and you can already see the relief in my eyes, as the boat captain.  I was a little more confident but still giddy like a kid (or Quagmire from Family Guy- giggidy giggidy).  We came through the dreaded city of Intercostal City, LA and into Houma.  It was nice in its own way but it was hot as the Sahara. We met some cool kids and had fun at the city marina, by our lonesome- but it was time to go.

The Intercostal was unremarkable until Morgan City, LA- where it got beautiful.  We saw bald eagles, bogs, swamps and tall trees.  The ICW came together with a river and it was big.  We mooted on towards New Orleans and I hoped, against hope, that we could get through the locks and make it to our marina by night-fall.  We did and it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Up and down by 12-15 feet and through the Mississippi was something I will remember forever.  It had a 20 knot current and was over its banks by 50 feet on that day.  It was massive and scary but we made it down the lock to the marina, where we resided for 4 days.  We explored, rode the trolly cars and went to an alligator farm in Hammond.  It was still hot but we didn’t care and the French Quarter was much more tolerable with Onyx leading us.

This is a true account of our travels.

What Is It Like To Live In A Marina- Islamorada Florida?

Blake is aptly named

Blake is aptly named “The King of the Dock” and his fishing skills are known far and wide!

Aubrey and the kids were less than happy with my marina choice and I can attest to the fact that things often look a certain way on a website (or Google Satellite Maps) and turn out differently when you see them in person.  The Mangrove Marina wasn’t the place for us and we decided quickly that we needed to go.  I think the decision for me came when I took my morning walk to the bathroom in my jammy pants without a shirt.  I got heckled by the morning crew of mid 50-70 year old Florida Key men who hang out at the dock drinking coffee.  I’m pretty sure I got a cat call or two and I reasoned that if I felt uncomfortable with these guys then my wife must want to jump out of her skin.  We discussed it over coffee at a cute little place in Tavernier called Moka.  I definitely recommend this place for coffee! Continue reading

Bubba Blade Knife Review

Cleaning fish is our main priority and it is how we will eat many days on our boat.  I needed to find good knives that would work and last a long time.  I also didn’t want to break our budget in doing so.  I’m happy to say that I found a good solution in the Bubba Blade knife!

Bubba Blade Knife Review

My selection of Bubba Blade Knives!

We will be catching a lot of different fish aboard Miss Lone Star.  A knife is so important and can make your life very hard if you make the wrong choice.  I looked at all of the different products out there and chose this knife company because of its good reputation for ease of use and quality materials.  I found their website through a simple google search and I noticed that they had a lot of products.  It turns out that they are sold at Wal-Mart, Cabelas and through Amazon.  I never noticed them in these stores before my purchase. Continue reading

Sea Sucker Dive Tank and Rod Holder- Unbiased User Review

I just got my new Sea Sucker holders in the mail and I am stoked!  I am trying to keep our gear list minimal for our boat but these items were a necessity.  I had some very specific needs and I found this product by chance on the Internet.  I am so glad I did!

Sea Sucker Vacuum Pole Holders

My shipment of Sea Sucker vacuum holders is in!

Gear storage for a cruising boat is essential.  Everyone works with different spaces and configurations.  I was concerned that what I wanted, didn’t exist and lo and behold I found the amazing company called Sea Sucker!  I immediately bought two dive tank holders, heavy-duty trolling pole holder and horizontal fishing pole holders for the boat.

This company is known for its quality products that use a patented vacuum seal for the suction.

I had a need to store two scuba tanks on the boat but I have space limitations and strange angles.  I’ve seen a lot of products that require screws and I wasn’t thrilled about having to make holes in my boat just to support hardware.  Nobody wants dive tanks rolling around on the deck and sometimes we will encounter rough seas.  We needed something sturdy enough to handle rough conditions.  The dive tank holders are heavy and made with quality materials (made in the USA).  The 6′ suction cup holds 210 lb. (anything) and will be perfect for my tanks.  I can mount them next to each other or on different sides of the boat.  I can change locations easily.  Price: $90. Continue reading

Portable Coffeemaker For Boats/ Cruisers…

In my house coffee is important.  So much so, it was one of my primary worries when we decided to cruise our boat full-time for a few years.  I was surprised that there is very little concise information on available options.  I decided to write a journal on my decision-making process that led me to purchase a Coleman Quickpot Propane Coffeemaker.

I think that me and the coffeemaker will get along just fine but I plan to fill it full of bullet holes and sink it in the Gulf of Mexico if it doesn’t work out.  I don’t want to think of the things I will do to this coffeemaker if it doesn’t uphold its end of the bargain!travel alert danger visit caribbean blog

There are a lot of choices for portable coffeemaker and this is what I found for boats:

Coleman Propane Coffeemaker

It better make good coffee or it will visit the bottom of the ocean!

Generator for 110 power.  As much as I love coffee, I couldn’t think about this option because it is expensive and noisy at 5A-6A, when I wake up and need that sweet caffeine!

Inverter to 110 plug-in.  I don’t have a large enough battery bank to make this a viable option.  Surprisingly, coffeemaker pull a lot of watts to run for about 15-18 minutes brewing time.  Most makers run from 900-1500 watts and that will kill a batter in no time.

12v plug coffeemaker.  I thought that this might be a good option until I read the reviews on these systems.  It seems that the smaller, 4 pot coffeemaker work well in this situation but I can drink 4 cups of coffee in the first 5 minutes of being awake!  Cuisinart makes a 10 cup model that is nice looking but it got horrible reviews.  I just can’t chance it!

Battery coffeemaker.  This option was a joke and I couldn’t bring myself to research further.

Propane coffeemaker.  This seems to be the best and most viable option for me.  I see that the 4 cup models are most frequently utilized but there are a few 10 cup models.  There are a few different brands but one maker is no longer in business.  I’ve owned a lot of Coleman camping gear in my past and it has never let me down.

Miss Lone Star Travels CaribbeanI like the advertised features of the coffeemaker I purchased.  It states that a small propane tank will last 4.5 hours on a full-burn, which equates to about 10 pots of coffee.  The brew time is a reasonable 18 minutes.  It looks and works like a normal coffeemaker, front load.  It is not a percolator.  I don’t care for percolated coffee unless it is the only option.

This devices weighs in at a shocking 10.4 lbs but I got a nifty nylon carry case and have a spot picked out for it next to our cooler on the deck of the boat.  It is three parts: pot, coffeemaker and case.  Most models come with a glass pot that wouldn’t last a few nights on a boat so I upgraded to a nice thermal metal one.  I hope it keeps the coffee warm long enough to enjoy the last cup.

Miss lone StarWatch out if you are trying to buy one on the Internet because you can get screwed from trusted sites like Amazon!  The list price for the package I got was almost $300 new.  A search of the normal Internet sites yielded a huge range of prices, shipping costs and delivery times.  In the end, I purchased each item individually from Amazon to save money.  It is a shame we have to get crafty to save money these days.  I paid $125 out the door with free shipping.  I will have an extra glass coffee pot that won’t go on the boat but can be donated.  If anyone is interested in just the pot and propane maker, Amazon beat out Target online by $6, $71.99.

I feel pretty good about my choice but the proof will be in the cup.  I’m not planning to use it until we are underway because I don’t think I can handle the rejection if it doesn’t work.  I will keep its box and send it back to Amazon (100% satisfaction guarantee) if it doesn’t work.  That is, if it makes it off the boat alive after a disappointing brew..

miss lone star robb hamic captain travel blog #travel #travelblogger caribbean

Captain of the Miss Lone Star

User Review: Brute Bison 150 Cooler

I saw the UPS mail delivery email confirmation on my computer.  It read “left at door.”  I felt like a kid chasing after Santa as I opened my door to see the Brute Bison 150 Qt. Cooler.  It was massive.  It was majestic.  And it was mine!  How could a guy get so excited about the purchase of normal, day-to-day type of item?

King Kong doesn't have sh!$ on the Brute Bison 150 Qt. Cooler

King Kong doesn’t have sh!$ on the Brute Bison 150 Qt. Cooler

The Bison 150 Qt. Cooler is massive and it weighs about 100 lbs. empty.  This may sound like a hinderance but I look it as a benefit because of the sound and solid construction.  I saw an advertisement on the company page where they put the Bison 150 under a front truck tire and it kept its shape.  I thought that they must’ve filled it with concrete, when I saw it the first time.  I had to see this cooler in action.  I stood atop its frame and jumped up as high as I could.  Surprisingly, I landed without crack or dent to the cooler.  I repeated this exercise a half-dozen times with the same result. Continue reading

Caribbean Travel Blog- Q&A With WikiAnswers

I was interviewed by Wikianswers and Answers.com about our choice to live aboard our boat and cruise the Caribbean for years in search of a new home.  It was a great interview and I decided to publish it to my Caribbean Travel Blog to allow our readers to better understand why we made our choice and what it is like to live aboard our boat.  Enjoy!Caribbean Travel Blog

Q&A with Robb Hamic on Answers.com.

Robb, you live on your boat, the Miss Lone Star, with your wife and two children. Can you tell us what life is like living on a boat?

Living on a boat with the whole family is interesting each day! The live-aboard lifestyle is fun, relaxing, hectic and chaotic all at the same time. Living in a small space with a dog and two kids can be challenging but we make the most of it. We don’t have to remind ourselves that we are living the dream everyday but our pesky kids try to give us the business, when they get the chance. We are always busy until there is nothing to do. We take the time to share some of life’s greatest moments with each other and we have grown much closer as a family aboard our boat.

What influenced your decision to live on a boat?

I had the dream of living in the Caribbean since I was a kid. I dreamed of sailing the open sea and diving for pirate gold at the bottom of the ocean. I would catch lobsters with my bare hands someday! It was a kid dream that never died, in reality. We ultimately came to the radical decision of living on our boat because of a number of factors. School violence in the US is prevalent and early childhood education is spotty in schools. We thought we could do better but why do it from a home in a suburban neighborhood? We felt guilty for having a big house, multiple cars and too much stuff that we didn’t use. It made a lot of sense to keep only what we used daily or wanted forever. We actually save a ton of money living on a boat in the Caribbean compared to our everyday life in Austin, Texas. We are creating memories that are unreachable for many people and we felt the positives outweighed the unknown. Continue reading