Liveaboard Lifestyle: Plans Can Change Quickly..

Miss lone Star Reaches FloridaWe’ve been living aboard our boat for 9 weeks and counting and we’ve learned that our plans change quickly with no notice.  For example, we planned to leave to anchor out yesterday morning.  We didn’t leave for an unknown reason but we though we would leave today.  It didn’t happen for some unexplained reason.  I don’t even know what we will be doing for the rest of the day but not to worry.  We don’t care.

Don’t worry, we haven’t decided to make any rash decisions like: living on dry land.  We love our life and wouldn’t change anything except being out alone more often.  We officially put our boat on the market yesterday and hopefully it sells.  We really want to get a trawler so we can use less gas and have more range and living space.  We are looking hard for a 3 stateroom model so we have a space for Aubrey’s Mom and our friends.  We’ve met a lot of friends who are teachers and the thought occurred to us that we could have people come out to tutor the kids and supplement their education.  We are not opposed to running some liveaboard charters or diving trips so the space could be really nice.  We are trying not to spend too much time browsing boats but we made an appointment to see a few tomorrow so we could get the feel for them in person.

We’ve all decided that we would love to make more of a long-term lifestyle of living aboard.  We’ve expanded our outlook to 5-7 years- at least.  It is impossible for any of us to think about what it was like to live in a big city house.  Our lives are so much better now!

I start my Instructor Development Course (IDC) for scuba diving soon and I will be pretty busy for a couple of weeks.  I look forward to getting certified to teach and doing a lot more diving.  A lot of our friends are planning visits.  Hopefully, they like close quarters.

InReach Explorer by Delorme- User Review

We were looking for an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) for the boat.  If something bad happens, we surely want the ability to contact search and rescue or the authorities.  There is a lot of information out their about EPRIB and much of it is negative, in terms of the different products available.  There seem to be a lot of people who’ve purchased ones that didn’t work.     I think it is the best product out there, definitely a good value for the money.

InReach Explorer by Delorme

It’s nice buying something that might save your life!

I bought the unit at REI for $379.  It is very small but sturdy.  It has a good warranty and it is apparently shock resistant, waterproof and only weighs 6.9 ounces.  It is powered by a lithium battery and recharged with a USB or USB to wall plug (provided).  I spent a lot of time talking to the salesperson about the unit and its features.  She owned one and that is always a good sign.  It has an awesome bluetooth feature and can be paired with your smart phone or tablet for ease of use.

Information for the InReach Explorer by Delome can we found on their website.  It is not available on Amazon or any discount store, for you bargain shoppers.  REI doesn’t offer a military discount. 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..

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Captain of the Miss Lone Star

Why I’m Taking My PADI IDC in the Florida Keys- Key Largo

It won’t be long and I will be starting my PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) to teach scuba.  I chose Florida Keys Dive Center in Key Largo, Florida.  Tom Witmer is the Course Director who will lead the IDC and he has been a course director for about twenty years.   I’ve wanted to teach scuba since I first took my PADI Open Water certification class in Austin, TX.  It didn’t take me long to become a Divemaster because I trained really hard.  I enjoyed being a Divemaster but it is time to go further in my study of scuba.

scba padi diving cuba caribbean travel blog

I start the IDC in early August and I look forward to taking my instructor examination (IE) directly after.  The IDC taught by Florida Keys Dive Center is an intensive, boot-camp 10 day course.  I plan to start my Master Scuba Diver Trainer course directly thereafter and we decided to stay in Key Largo until December.

I did a lot of research on different IDC’s offered in Florida and I am happy with my decision.  There are a lot of options out there for people wanting to become instructors.  Many of the different schools have several options for IDC including all-inclusive, housing, meals, different types of advanced training or certifications, a certain number of dives allowed during training, etc.  Several of the schools offer internships that seemed to offer the student a way to pay for the non-PADI fees through a work exchange to pay for the education.  I’ve heard from a lot of instructors who chose this route for their education and others who stayed away from this practice.   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

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

Becoming a Dive Master- Zero to Hero

I hit 60 dives yesterday while assisting with a class of new students.  It is hard to comprehend that I had never taken an underwater dive prior to starting my first class less just over 3 months ago.  I took the route, which is referred to as” zero to hero.  I scheduled most of my training in advance and moved from one certification to the next in quick succession.

Dive Master- Zero to Hero

A Dive Master’s day can be tiring but is truly rewarding!

I feel happy about my competency and I learn a few things in each new dive.  My skills are definitely coming up and I am proud of my pace of study.  I really enjoy working with new students and helping them to overcome difficulties underwater.  I am getting through with my dive master training program and I have only a few skills left before I will take my assessment test.  I am anxious to finish but the next few months will be filled with helping with classes, much the same as I do currently.

I descended to 95 feet on a deep dive over the weekend at the quarry.  It was a good dive but it was extremely cold, 46 degrees.  I’ve gone deep before but this was a new spot and the visibility was very low in the dark murky water.  I realized quickly that I need to invest in a new dive light that has powerful LED and lumens.

I completed my mapping project in an underwater navigational dive.  I was really surprised that I was able to get exactly where I needed to go by use of my compass and computer, through the murky water.  This was a much longer and challenging dive than others that I have done in the past.  I realized that I need to trust in the compass and pay close attention because of the low visibility water.  I figured out that I need to invest in a better dive slate.  I’ve seen a lot of divers with wrist mounted versions and I plan to get one on Amazon.com today.

I feel confident in my gear and I am happy that I got quality stuff that should last me a decade or so with good maintenance.  I realized I need a new pair of fins that fit better and has spring straps.

I decided to set goals for myself as I progressed through my training.  My next goal is to hit 120 dives before we leave Austin in July and get scheduled for my Instructor Development Course (IDC) in August or September.  I plan to get certified to teach 5 specialties at the same time so I can get my Master Scuba Diver Trainer rating at the same time.  My plan is to teach in the Florida Keys during the winter until we make the gulf crossing in December.  I think I am on track to accomplish my goals.