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.

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

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

Read the Classics

Take some time and dust off the old classics. Recently Robb and I have gotten into my books from when I was a child (remember these mom?). We just finish The Adventures of Frog and Toad, and the kids were so thrilled with it, we busted out this pretty little stack from my box of “specials”.Miss Lone Star Travels Read books ClassicsWe have started at the top with Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, albeit it’s a little scary for a 3 and 5-year-old, but they are hanging in there like champs. It has been brought to my attention (thanks Dear) that until the children learn how to read, there will be a lot of “are we there yet” while we are under way on our year-long boat voyage thorough the Caribbean and Central America.

So I am doing my best to get these two hooked on books. Robb and I made the choice last year to cut back substantially on Blake and Bianca’s time in front of the “boob tube”, while watching a questionable episode of My Little Pony Princess is Magic. After about five minutes, I immediately stopped wondering where Bianca learned to roll her eyes and say “whatever”. I didn’t think I’d have to kill her for that until she was at least 13 years old!

After we cut back on the TV and iPad time, I was shocked to find, that I have much sweeter and far less sassy kids. I know what you all are thinking, and you are right, at first it is harder because they are underfoot declaring their boredom and protesting the injustice. Trust me it gets easier, just give it time.

Currently Bianca is learning to read, and I cannot wait until the day I can lie in a hammock and have her read Shakespeare while I doze off for a nap. Okay, okay I know that’s pushing it, but I can dream right?

Aubrey Gravitar

Ahh, day dreams…

Bullying in Kindergarten

My child the bully, lessons learned.

Does bullying even really exist in preschool and kindergarten? The answer is a very clear yes. You might wonder how children this age learn this behavior; I always assumed the blame rest on the parents. I was about to learn a hard lesson.

Before I had children of my own I often pictured the parents of a bully to be big bullies themselves, passing down the bully gene from generation to generation. After all, every sit-com and cartoon depicts the bully in school having a clone bully for a Dad that beat up on the nerdy kid’s Dad 30 years earlier.

When I researched “how to parent a child that is a bully” the first piece of advice was to lead by example. It was clear to me that I wasn’t the only parent who felt this way. My position would change drastically when I received this note in my 5-year-old daughter’s backpack.

Miss Lone Star Bullying

It was just last week that Bianca was being extorted for money at school, the victim of bullying herself, you can follow that story here.

Why would she do this? Had her 5-year-old mind decided it was bully or be bullied, that if she were the bully then she would be on the safe side of the fence? I know this may sound awful but I’m kind of glad that the little boy punched her.Kindergarten Bullying

Either way there is no excuse. The next day I went in to her class to speak with her teacher and was mobbed by several little girls that told me Bianca was mean to them too! I was shocked to find out that this little boy wasn’t her only victim. She had been in several through downs, but the most recent incident with the little boy, was the only altercation that ended in a fist fight!

I didn’t even know this sort of thing happened in kindergarten. Bianca is now grounded. It’s true that I’m not sure what “grounded” even means for a 5 year-old. No cartoons or deserts until further notice? In addition I am headed off to go spy on her at lunch today.

I can’t help but feel like this is my fault, that I could be doing something more to show her the meaning of empathy, and the satisfaction in your heart that you get by being kind.

 Are there any parents out there that have been on both sides of the fence on this issue? I would truly love to hear from you, as I am at a complete loss.

The First Mate of Miss Lone Star

The First Mate of Miss Lone Star

5 ways to keep the Memories not the clutter

tame your kids pile of artIdea

I have been feverishly brainstorming on ways to continue to encourage my children’s love of art while living tiny, on a 37 foot cruiser yacht in the Caribbean.  This is what I’ve come up with so far.

photography picture caribbean ask us miss lone star travel

Portfolio albums

Precious project from school or pieces that have special meaning can be scanned or you can take a picture of your child holding their masterpiece. Bound into hard or soft covered book through a company like mpix.com or blurb. You can order multiple copies and send them as gifts to relatives.Miss Lone star Travel Caribbean

 Teach conservation early.

Keep them creating art in a journal. A month ago I bought my kids brand new journals. Before handing them over, we talked about where paper comes from. I told them that in order to make the paper that they color on, trees from the forest have to be cut down. I spoke to them a your recycling, and it turned out to be a great time for a lesson on our environment. I suggested that on thing they could do to help keep the squirrels in their homes would be to take their time when creating their art, quality is better than quantity. Now they carry around their journal and art supplies just like mommy  for their day-to-day sketches. I also like to write some of their cute quotes and descriptions of their creations. This makes a huge difference in clutter and makes a great keepsake!Art

Smash Book for kids

When most of us think of a smash book we imagine a hot little mess. I do anyway, but really this is a great way for kids to keep many of their “specials” in the same place. Wondering what a smashbook is? It’s sn unplanned and on-the-move . No planning is required for making a smashbook. If there is a journey you want to record in a smashbook, you just start pasting pictures and other items on each page each day. A smashbook is a journal in which one pastes pictures, embellishments, memorabilia et al on the go.

Work in Progress 

Put all work that is quick art in a work in progress bin, and encourage them to add to the works that still have room on them or color or paint on the back. My kids like to cut older pieces of their art up for new montages.kid art2 Think outside the box 

Make mosaics’ out of things in the house or on vacation and take a picture of what they have created. This is a great thing to do with shells, twigs and rocks, after you snap a picture and leave the clutter behind. I imagine this will end up being our art project of choice, living on a boat in the Caribbean where storage isn’t an option.

The First Mate of Miss Lone Star

The First Mate of Miss Lone Star

10 Bucket List Visits For our Caribbean Travel

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

Join our once in a lifetime Caribbean travel adventure!

I have had a bucket that existed only in my head since I was a kid regarding my eventual retirement in the Caribbean.  It has steadily increased over the years and I am pleased to announce that I will be checking off these 10 visits as soon as possible.  We will be underway in 4 months and we will let the ocean be our guide.  It is our pleasure to have a Caribbean Travel Blog!

1 Visit Cuba

Coming in at #1 is a long visit to Cuba.  Recently, the United States relaxed sanctions and travel restrictions for normal people wishing to visit Cuba.  I was going to spring for an education trip at the expense of thousands of my dollars before the president kindly eased the restrictions to include individuals who which to travel for any reason.  We will reach Havana, Cuba on our boat and it will be the first stop after we depart from Ft. Lauderdale.  US Airlines have no flights at this time but travelers can board foreign airplanes headed to Cuba from the United States, such as Air Canada.  US visitors can also travel to Cuba from The Bahamas or Mexico without breaking any rules.  Personally, i can’t wait to get that Cuba stamp on my passport.

2 Scuba Dive in Cuba
scba padi diving cuba caribbean travel blog

Imagine the scuba opportunities in Cuba!

I am an avid diver and of course I would want to dive on the pristine reefs that Cuba has to offer.  I have many european friends that have reported back to me over the years and they were impressed.  I am happy that Cuba hasn’t ruined most of its reefs and the tourist industry is not as big as some if its island neighbors.  I will be diving to catch many lobsters and I hear that they are bigger in Cuba.  Diving from our boat will make planning my dive trips easy! Continue reading

Turning Slugs into Butterflies

Can a slug turn into a butterflyHands OnBlake found a slug in the yard a few weeks ago, and asked me if his new “Pet slug Theo” would turn into a butterfly?

Naturally I knew that I had to help him get to the bottom of this insightful question. So the next thing we did was consult the trusty ol’ internet. To Blake’s surprise the answer was, No Slugs Do Not Turn Into Butterflies,  and although he was disappointed, I thought this would be a great opportunity to do some hands on learning.  Slug into ButterflyWe found a popular site of a company that will send you all the supplies needed to grow your own butterflies. For $19 we were sent an enclosure and six caterpillars with enough food to last them until their metamorphosis. The whole process lasted about a month and both Bianca (5) and Blake (3), gained a new and beautiful understanding of our favorite fluttering little creatures. Natural ScienceDo your children a favor and help them grow a passion for natural science, it will take the “Mom I’m bored” right out of them. To order your own butterfly kit follow this link to Insect Lore.

The First Mate of Miss Lone Star

The First Mate of Miss Lone Star

5 ways to get the most out of hands on learning

Look and please touch, gearing up for home schooling at the Austin Aquarium.  Hands on learning is the only way to fly as far as I’m concerned. There is nothing like looking at a dolphin in a text-book and knowing for sure that they’re skin feels just like a canned olive. Although there weren’t any dolphins here at the Austin Aquarium there were so many other things  that you are encouraged to touch and even hold.Hands On

Budgie

(This technique is called selective color. The reason I chose e to use this style is because inside of the aquarium the lighting is very poor for tack sharp images, then caused me to choose to use a high ISO, which then produced a grainer image. In my opinion these types of indoor images look great as a black and white BUT without the color of the bird the image loses some context.. So there you have it, the method behind the madness)

Continue reading