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

Stranded on Dry Land and Waiting to Set Off

Waiting sucks! We want to be free like a bird!

Waiting sucks! We want to be free like a bird!

Does anyone else hate waiting as much as me?  We are stranded on dry land and waiting to set course for Florida for the next two weeks.  We have a lot of things to accomplish and we are still waiting for a lot of work to be completed on the boat.  I’ve been contacted by a lot of people who’ve chosen to liveaboard their boats and faced the same frustrating “waiting game.”  In the meantime, we are biding our time wisely by accomplishing too many tasks to list.

We will accept our storage pod from 800PACKRAT tomorrow.  They are delivering a 16x8x8 pod that we will fill with everything we want to keep forever (in storage until we settle down).  I did extensive research on the moving and shipping (storage) option and we think that this is the best option for us.  I plan to take pictures and do a complete review of our experience for others later.  I found the 800PACKRAT option to be the cheapest by over $1000 with everything included.  As many of you know, it is not inexpensive to move and store a lot of contents.  Our shipping cost was $2500 from Austin to Miami, which included a door to door option.  This will save us some money when we settle down and the company will deliver and move the storage unit to our new home once we call them.  I like the idea of not having to pay twice to move it. Continue reading

User Review: REI Microfiber Towels

We will soon be living aboard our boat for a few years.  We’ve cleared out all of the old cotton towels from our boat, which was daunting.  I was surprised at the space 10 towels used!  Space is so important when you live aboard a boat and we decided to get rid of everything that didn’t make sense.  Our cotton towels got donated.

REI Microfiber Towel- Living Aboard A Boat

It feels as soft as it looks!

We spent a few weeks trying out microfiber towels made by various brands.  We purchased all of them from REI in Austin.  We were completely with the REI brand of microfiber towels and decided to buy a total of 10 for our boat.  We settled on 4 for outside, 2 for inside showers and 4 for drying dishes.

I am amazed at the size of the unfolded towel compared with the compact folded size.  My wife is a big fan of a big cotton towel but I prefer the feel of the microfiber.  It dried a person just as fast as a shammy used to dry a car.  We chose to replace the cotton ones because the microfiber dries so much faster.

Laundry time will be much easier because they take up almost no space.  We figure that we will re-use the towels many times and wash them about once per week.  The size will allow us to wash them in the sink on the boat or at the laundromat.  Many boaters hang towels on the outside of the boat to dry in the sun.  I remember the last trip to the lake.  It was windy and our towels blew into the water.  I retrieved them after a lot of effort but they didn’t dry until the next day with full sun.  Happily, we can wring out the microfiber towels. Continue reading

User Review: Mustang Survival MIT Automatic Inflatable PFD

Personal flotation devices (PFD) are very important for boaters, especially those who live on the water and cruise daily.  We knew that we wanted to purchased automatic inflatable PFD’s for myself and my wife.  I did a lot of research on various brands and differing features, such as manual versus automatic.

Mustang Survival Automatic Inflatable PFD- MD2016

Mustang Survival Automatic Inflatable PFD- MD2016

We settled upon the Mustang Survival PFD MIT MD2016 Automatic Inflatable PFD.  I got a yellow and gray model and Aubrey got a black and pink one.  We think they are very light and comfortable.  I like the fact that they are easily adjustable and will fell good over clothes or if I don’t have a shirt on.  We will wear them while we are underway.

I read somewhere that the best PFD is the one you are wearing and I believe that to be true.  I feel more confident knowing that the US Coast Guard, military, law enforcement departments and professional fishermen wear this brand.  It made me feel good that the company has been in business for over 45 years and seems to be the industry leader.

I bought ours, on sale at Bass Pro Shops PFD for $129 each.  The retail price is $154 and the recharging CO2 capsule was an additional $60.  A military ID will get you a full 10% discount, which adds up at this store!  I thought it would be a good buy to have one spare in case they are deployed several times.

Mustang Survival Automatic Inflatable PFD- MD2016

Mustang PFD with replacement cartridge

In 2014 there were over 550 boating deaths (reported by the US Coast Guard) where drowning was the cause.  In over 400 cases, the victim was not wearing a floatation device.  In many of the cases, the victim was knocked unconscious and into the water, which would prevent manual floatation for the PFD.  It is easy to draw a conclusion that people should wear an automatic PFD to help preserve life on the water.  It seems like an inexpensive purchase to guard your life.

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Captain of the Miss Lone Star

Miss Lone Star’s Epic Hail Storm

The crew of Miss Lone Star headed off to spend a few nights aboard the boat.  It was a sunny day and only 40% chance of rain.  Wind was 5 knots from the North.  We arrived at a wind-protected cove and enjoyed the day.  We enjoyed a nice dinner of salmon and asparagus.  It rained a little so we went below deck.  The weather passed and it was bright outside so we went out to play.

We made a warm beach fire with some driftwood and we got three lines in the water.  The kids caught some big fish that we put on a stringer to clean later.  I noticed that the first mate was dozing off in her chair basked by the warm yellow light of the fire.  Bianca was snuggled in her lap while Blake was in mine, carefully watching the poles.  Onyx, the dive dog was anxiously walking around.

The dream of staying up all night to catch a dozen fish was shattered when the wind gusted to about 20 knots at our back and blew stinging sand onto our bare skin.  Blake shrieked and mom when to get him a sweatshirt from the boat.  The fire flared with the strong wind.  It started to rain and the wind picked up the sand at a furious pace.  Blake stood up and the chair blew away into the abyss.

I handed mom the boy child like a football as she ran into the water to get him secured on the boat.  Bianca stood up and the wind almost pushed her headfirst into the fire before I shoved her back into the chair.  It was raining really hard at this point and only about 30 seconds had passed since Mom took Blake towards the boat.  I saw pea sized hail as they bounced from the sand from high above.  I realized that it was time to go and I grabbed Bianca and covered her with my body to shield her from the stinging hail.  The sky opened up.

I set one foot in the water and then heard the pounding splashes of the golf ball sized hail hitting the water.  I got her to the boat and Mom came to shuttle her in.  I gasped with pain as a few balls of hail hit me in the head.

“Where’s the dog?”

Dive Dog likes SCUBA not hail!

Dive Dog likes SCUBA not hail!

Onyx is part of the family and I didn’t think they would let me in the boat without her.  I was starting to get beaten badly and I feared that the hail size would continue to increase.  Luckily, the dog appeared at my feet and I scooped her inside the boat to safety.  We rushed inside as we passed the destruction of the storm, which was our beloved boat.

We were all out of breath and the hail beating against the boat made it too loud to talk.  I heard Bianca telling her Mom, “Call 991!”  I’m sure that the storm was pretty traumatic for the kids who were huddled under a blanket safely with their mother.  We felt the boat moving and I remembered that the winds really picked up as we seemed to be in the center of an unhappy storm.

The pounding turned to tapping from rain and I went topside to see if things were OK.  The temperature dropped about 20 degrees and the once sandy hills were now white with hail.  There was about 12 inches of hail on the deck.  The wind caused us to pull anchor and moved us about 200 yards from where we sat before the storm.  I took the time to laugh a little and take some video of the epic thunderstorm that we were in and the lightning that surrounded us.

Then I noticed the boat.  The side, front and back canvasses were all ripped away completely and nowhere to be seen.  The top canvas was hanging loosely and collapsed with under the weight and force of the hail.  Glass instrument gauges were shattered along with pretty much anything plastic on the decks of the boat.  Our beloved BBQ grill had hundreds of dents.  Our electric windlass wasn’t working anymore but I was happy to pull the 50 lb. anchor by hand so we could right the vessel.

adventure caribbean travel blog visit destination miss lone star blog scuba diving liveaboard boat kids family relationships

Only 13 weeks before Miss Lone Star heads for the Caribbean!

Ominous fog covered the water and the rain stopped completely.  Aubrey handed me a dry sweatshirt that I was happy to exchange for my sopping wet T-shirt.  I decided that enough was enough and we needed to go back to our dock.  We set off using the flood light to navigate because the navigation lights were all broken.  That’s when I saw the large boat dock that had two large boats and a few jet skis floating past us.  I figured that it would be a poor choice to run into more of these accidents waiting to happen and went back to the cove to rest for the night.

I went below and the kids were already asleep in their warm bed with the dog.  Aubrey was looking over the hail marks on her body, cuts and scrapes.  She laughed at me as I turned to the side, exposing the outline of my cranium.  It looked like I got the worst end of a tire iron a few too many times.  My back was worse but I still slept well knowing that my family was safe.

We have good insurance and the damages will be repaired.  Everyone is fine and we made it back to the dock safe, save some sunburns we accumulated the day after the storm.  Everyone except me wanted to stay another night on the boat.  I had Rudy’s BBQ in mind.  We watched the season premier of Naked and Afraid from the safety of our bedroom with no bad weather to report.

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Captain of the Miss Lone Star

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

#1 Caribbean Travel Blog For Family Travel

Caribbean Travel Blog

Caribbean Travel Blog

It is important for travelers to have good resources when visiting the Caribbean.  We write one of the top Caribbean travel blogs for family travel while we are actively cruising to all of the countries that touch its seas.  I became frustrated because there was little information on the internet for families traveling with kids in the Caribbean.  We live aboard our boat and will visit each country, documenting places it visit, top attractions, safety concerns, accommodations, travel guides and the top things to do in each island nation.  Our blog is Miss Lone Star’s Travels (named after our boat).

Caribbean Travel Blog Scubapro mk25/ a700 review

The Caribbean still has deserted beaches for you to explore!

Get The Most Out Of Your Caribbean Travel

I have always been a lover of the Caribbean and wanted to retire there someday.  In the process, I married and had two kids who wanted to come along on the journey.  We realize that many are just planning a visit and don’t wish to retire.  We have spent numerous trips to the Caribbean doing research on the best places to visit and the top things to do.  We noticed that there were no first-hand accounts of family travel in any Caribbean Travel Blog written by real people with kids.  We decided to create a true resource for people who had up-to-date information so people could get the most out of their expensive vacation plans.

Caribbean Family Travel Is Different

Visiting new countries with kids can be challenging.  Depending upon the kid’s age, available activities can be limited.  Adults need resources to find fun things to do without spending a fortune.  I’ve traveled with kids for many years and I like to mix scheduled activities combined with a lot of free time for the kids to run around.  Younger children may need to stay close to the hotel room around nap time.  Family travelers have to consider different dining choices because it is never a good idea to take the little ones to swanky restaurants.  I’ve never met a parent who likes to spend $30 for chicken fingers!  Are your kids good swimmers?

Safety Is Always a Concern When Traveling With Kids!

Do you remember going anywhere you wanted before having kids?  It seemed so effortless and carefree.  Parents must make new allowances for family travel while still getting the most out of the visit.  In unknown territory, many families stick close to the available attractions without venturing too far for safety reasons.  Wouldn’t it be great to have a real-time understanding of safety concerns relative to the specific country you visit?  The Caribbean Travel Blog is co-authored by Robb Hamic, an international personal protection expert.  My family’s safety is the #1 concern!  I will give your family all of the information you need to stay safe while visiting unforgettable places!

Adults Want To Have Fun While On A Caribbean Vacation With Kids!

Where’s the babysitter?  I know that I’ve yearned for some good alone time with my wife in the Caribbean!  We live on a 37 foot boat with two small kids and a dog.  We have learned some really great tricks to get the most out of our alone time while we visit Caribbean islands with the kids.  Our travel blog is filled with insightful information and strategies to feel like you didn’t stay at an amusement park for the whole trip.  I wish I learned many of these tips a long time ago, believe me.

Caribbean Travel Blog

The Caribbean Travel Blog shows you how to keep romance alive during your vacation!

How To Visit Unique And Less Traveled Caribbean Destinations

I can only stand in lines or be on guided tours for so long before I want to find interesting and less visited places to share with the family.  The Caribbean has 30 million visitors per year and many of them will be visiting during the same time due to kid’s schedules and the hurricane season.  Peak tourist season in the Caribbean runs from January through early June.  Hurricane season lasts from June through December.  Bad weather can ruin a visit and it is important to visit at the right time.  Excessive tourists can also ruin a visit or make it less pleasurable, in my opinion.  Once you’ve landed, how do you find new and interesting things to do that aren’t guided tours?  What can you expect?  We tell you how, what, when, where and why.  Save time and browse our Caribbean Travel Blog.  If you don’t find the answer to your question, please e-mail us and we will do our best to answer your question or point you in the right direction.

Have Fun With Your Hobbies or Interests While Visiting the Caribbean!

What are your hobbies?  Are you and amateur photographer?  If so, bring your camera because your Caribbean paradise awaits!  Do you scuba dive?  The Caribbean has some of the best scuba diving sites in the world!  Do you like to experience new cooking?  Caribbean fare is some of the most tasty we’ve found and you can easily steal some good recipes to cook back home!  Whatever you enjoy doing, the Caribbean offers many fantastic experiences for you and the family!

Caribbean Travel Blog

Take the kids (and dog) to the Caribbean!

We hope you found this Caribbean Travel Blog interesting and informative.  We update it a few times daily and we invite your questions!  E-mail us for in-depth and local information.

Robb and Aubrey Hamic

misslonestaradventure@gmail.com

Goose on the Loose

Critter Capture

Critter Capture

Out at the rock quarry where Robb dove this weekend we were able to lure this big gal into our grasp with some ramen noodles. She was not very happy with us, we discussed making goose poppers, sadly the kids objected and the goose avoided the BBQ.  After a quick goose selfie and getting our pet on, we set her free.

We spent two days out at the Reveille Peak Ranch watching Robb help certify a group of divers for their open water certification. Other big news, Bianca caught her first batch of little mosquito fish and Blake captured a big ol’ number two with just his underpants.

First mate

The Beauty and Virtues of St. Croix

St. Croix warmed our hearts and we wanted to share our experience with the people of the Virgin Islands.  I spoke to an Editor of the Virgin Islands Consortium and I was asked to write a piece for the publication.  It was published today. Virgin Islands Consortium January 22, 2015 Recent first-time St. Croix visitor, Robb Hamic, shares a first-person account of the adventures, sights, sounds, and people he and his wife, Aubrey, encountered while on island. In many respects, his journal entry serves as a reminder of the often-overlooked beauty — both natural and interpersonal — that surrounds us in these U.S. Virgin Islands we call home. May we ever be mindful of it, and see our islands, and their people, with fresh and loving eyes. -VIC Staff

We met some new friends on North Shore Beach while taking photography

We met some new friends on North Shore Beach while taking photographs

We got settled down into our seats for the final leg of our trip to St. Croix, U.S.V.I. I sat next to a retired St. Croix schoolteacher with a happy face and a warm smile. She had the look of an educator. She was a life-long resident of St. Croix and was returning from a trip to visit her son in Delaware. I tried not to ask too many questions about this foreign place, but I never had the chance to talk to a local. Maybe if I were patient, she would tell me all that I wanted to know. My wife and I had an uncommon reason for visiting the beautiful U.S. Territory of the Virgin Islands. We have already decided to move to St. Croix, sight unseen. There was no job to transfer us and we didn’t know a soul on the island, save this kind schoolteacher sitting next to me. I grew up dreaming about cruising my own boat in the Caribbean and one day living on an island. I suffered an injury after getting blown up in the U.S. Army that somehow made the possibility of my dream come true. My wife inherited my dream, through our marriage, and I was fortunate enough to adopt her two children. We decided months ago to “set the date” for our move and settled on St. Croix for a number of important reasons. We currently live in Austin, Texas and neither of us has ever lived on an island. Maybe I am crazy, but I never once considered the potential of us making a poor choice in our new destination. We were immediately struck with the warmth of three people on the plane who heard our story. We exchanged names and numbers. Our new friends offered to show us around and introduce us to people whom we might have things in common. I think we were both surprised to feel this level of acceptance from people who actually seemed to care that we were to make this island our home. Growing up stateside made me feel unimportant and sometimes irrelevant. I feel very much like a name or a number and not a member of my community; despite trying really hard to fit in and assimilate in the large place we call home. I hoped it would be different in the U.S. Virgin Islands. We awoke the first morning from our apartment in Christiansted to hear the faint sound of the ocean. After drinking a couple pots of coffee, we drove off in our Jeep to explore our future home. We were astounded at the diversity in the scenery of the island and its laid-back feel. We walked on a few dozen beaches and captured beautiful images from our travels. We are photographers and it wasn’t hard for us to find thousands of landscapes and creatures to record. Being a normal man, I chose to not bring a map. We spoke to a guy on the street as we set off and he asked us if we knew where we were going. He imparted this knowledge to us, “The island isn’t that big and if you get lost, who cares!” We proceeded to get lost in the warmth and happiness of the people who call St. Croix their home. We stopped to get a drink from a roadside stand after combing a North Shore beach. Our host, Bernard, sat with us and we visited for half-an-hour. He cut us some sugar cane and laughed, saying he didn’t see many tourists that carried their own knife. He told us that it wasn’t hard to fit in on the island and he moved back after living in New York and St. Thomas. He introduced us to his daughter who was home from school in Chicago. She dropped off some coconuts for him to make drinks. We shook hands and he asked me for my name again. We drove down the road and saw a beautiful old-school house adorned with vibrant colors facing the Caribbean. We stopped to take some shots of this building that was in the front of a small community that went up the hillside. We were on location for a few minutes and a couple of guys drove up playing loud music. I’m trespassing was my first thought, being from the mainland. The guys hopped out and said hello, shaking our hands. They explained that the school was in disrepair and vacant for many years. They came down to clean up the bushes. We continued taking our photos and set up a tripod so that we could both be in the picture. “You wanna make a picture with us,” said one of the guys. “Of course, get in here,” replied my wife, and we all set down for a group photo. We had fun taking the pictures and they said they made the photos so much better, which was obviously true. We spoke for thirty minutes about nothing and everything. They explained that they live up the hill and wanted to make their community look better, so they came to clean up the school. The man next door had horses that they rode from time to time and there was a baseball field up the road. Everybody gets together at the beach on Sunday and sometimes they cook up some fish. They said we could come anytime after hearing that we planned to move to the island. They were both immensely proud of their community and said we would like it best on the North Side. We had to get on down the road for some more exploring, but not until they asked for our names again and gave us warm handshakes. We found ourselves in the rainforest many days and nights. We both loved the terrain and found many out-of-the-way places to abuse our rental Jeep. We happened upon a farm and met one of the guys that works it daily. We drove up during the middle of the day when no other people were around. He was getting some fruits and vegetables together for a market. He gave us some fruit as we talked for a long while. Upon leaving, he pointed us to a road that took us all over the farm. I never noticed a ‘NO TRESPASSING’ sign, and he never looked at his watch to mark the time missed from his work due to our visit. I wondered many times why more people from the mainland didn’t immigrate to the U.S. Virgin Islands. The price of real estate is relatively low, services are readily available, and although the cost of gas is twice that of Texas, the island is only twenty-eight miles long. In Texas, we may drive errands that take us farther. I retired from the Army at a young age and receive care from the Veteran’s Administration for my medical needs, which exist on the islands. The people are warm, the sun shines and the trade winds usually blow from the east. There is a strange absence of ‘NO TRESPASSING’ signs. We traveled 250 miles in that Jeep and talked with dozens of local people who we found on beaches, hills and restaurants. I noticed that people often asked for my name twice and fully expected to see me when I returned. It was always a good feeling and I have to admit, unexpected. I moved to Texas eight years ago and remember a saying I heard about people becoming Texans: “I may not be from Texas, but I got here as soon as I could.” In writing this, I think I will come up with my own saying when we move to the U.S. Virgin Islands in six months. Robb and Aubrey Hamic are travelling to the U.S. Virgin Islands from Austin, Texas in July 2015 aboard their boat, “Miss Lone Star.” Robb is retired from the U.S. Army and is a service disabled Veteran. He was an investigator, private security company owner, and tactical firearms instructor. Aubrey is a professional portrait and landscape photographer. Visit their blog here. Feature Image Credit: Frederiksted, St. Croix/Robb and Aubrey Hamic