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

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

Galveston Bay, TX- Key Largo, FL In 10 Days!

Many of our readers have asked about details of our plans, departure dates, etc.  I am always surprised at the amount of people who lead or are looking to lead the cruising or liveaboard lifestyle.  We leave in two weeks and we are so excited!  Texas cruising

Move The Boat!

I made arrangements with a boat transporter to pick up our boat at the marina ship yard where it is being repaired.  I must have a lot of faith in God that he will see our boat through its last repairs.  I am lucky to have met up with a lot of nice people who seem to understand that we have tight time constraints and must leave on a certain date!  The boat will be placed on a lift and set it into the trailer.  It will travel from Austin to Seabrook Boat Yard at the mouth of Galveston Bay.  We had to contract separately with the yard to off load and launch our boat.  We will stay a night and pick up our tender from a few harbors over.  Our plan is to leave the next day towards Louisiana.

Cost: $2000 to transport and $410 to offload and launch in the water

Louisianan Miss Lone Star TravelsMiss Lone Star’s Course

The Southern Waterway Guide was a really big help.  I found an online and interactive version as well as a spiral bound book on Amazon for much less than the retail priced version.

Day 1,2– Galveston Bay to somewhere in Louisiana.  Assuming the boat checks out mechanically we will cruise under full-power along the Gulf into Louisiana.  Our boat loves to go 30 mph (and is most fuel-efficient) so we have a luxury most cruisers don’t have.  We will try to make it to Houma, LA.  I’m sure we can get there in a couple of days and it is 180 miles away but I think it is doable, depending on the vessel traffic once we enter the ICW.  We have 150 miles of open water and I know we will make good time.  30 miles in the ICW with no bridges to open or locks to go through.

Aubrey really wants to check out Louisiana and I hear that Houma is a nice place so we might stay an extra day to check it out.  Fuel will be a top priority.  We can anchor in a few places or use a nice dock for about $9 per day.

Day 3– Houma to New Orleans.  This leg of the trip is about 85 miles on the ICW.  I don’t know what kind of time we will be able to make and there will be a lot to see so I am open to the possibility we make good time or not.  There is a lock we must pass through below the city.  Our boat doesn’t need a lot of clearance and it looks like we don’t have any low bridges to contend.  Happy me. 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.

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

4 Steps- Become a Rescue Diver!

rescue diver paid become scuba emergency action plan eap course cost review

Rescue Divers respond to water emergencies

I think the Rescue Diver course is a good idea for any diver, especially the people who dive frequently.    Rescue Divers take recreational scuba diving to the next level by learning tools and techniques to help people who have problems in and out of the water.  It is a really good feeling to know that you can save a diver underwater if necessary or observe issues that arise before they cause a problem.  The course is very demanding and difficult but well worth it in the education and confidence you gain.

I remember when I took my Open Water Diver course and I noticed the more experienced people around me.  Diving is an intimidating sport and the learning curve is steep.  Experienced divers get to see a different world of scuba, even before they ascend into the depths.  Gearing up seems effortless.  They have excellent buoyancy and get the most from their underwater experience by working effortlessly.  Rescue Divers enjoy the benefits of experience combined with advanced life saving skills. Continue reading

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

So You Want to be a PADI Divemaster…

The Shores of St. Croix

The Shores of St. Croix, USVI

I recently decided that I wanted to take the training to become a PADI Divemaster.  The Divemaster rating is the first professional certification in the PADI evolution for divers and most people never contemplate it.  After doing a little research on the program, I can see why!  It makes sense to me that a Divemaster’s skills need to be really solid to teach and lead dives.  While every diver is responsible for their own safety, a Divemaster is responsible for everyone’s collective well-being.  My Divemasters have been jack of all trades and have a great deal of knowledge.  I decided to pursue the course last night as I contemplate finishing my Rescue Diver certification in a couple of weeks.

I figured that the learning curve would be pretty steep but after a little research, I saw that a Divemaster’s endurance and swimming assessment is certainly no joke.  One portion of the training is this assessment, which is daunting.  It is completed on the same day with no rest between the watermanship stamina exercises.  All skills are timed and points are awarded for performance.  A candidate must pass with a minimum of 12 points out of a possible 20.  I have never settled for mediocre or barely passing so I set the following goals for myself.  If I complete it as stated, I will get 19/20 points.

400 M swim with no gear or goggles- 6-8 minutes

800 M swim with snorkel gear, face down and not using hands- 13-15 minutes

15 minutes of treading water and or floating, hold arms out of water for the last 2 minutes

100 M diver pull in full gear, pulling a tired diver who wears full gear- less than 2 minutes

I think this will be fun to train.  I have never been a swimmer and frankly, I have never swam laps.  I am going to take a few swim lessons to hone my skills.  Luckily, we have been working out regularly and my cardio is getting much better.  Thankfully, I have lost about 20 lb. in the last 3 months, which makes me want to run like Forrest.    I will need to incorporate about 5 days worth of pool time per week into what I am already doing for exercise.  I love the fact that Aubrey gets in the pool with me and swims laps.  The kids are even swimming a few times per week and making good progress.  We are turning into a pod of dolphins!

It is strange to think of our transformation from land dwellers to being in the water so much in just a few short months.  We will be leaving dry land for the boat and uncharted waters in less than five months.  We are so excited!

How We Will Save A Lot of Money While Living Aboard Our Boat

Most people wouldn’t believe that you could save a bunch of money while simultaneously living on a boat in the Caribbean.  Living aboard your boat can save you a lot of money in the long run.  The liveaboard community has existed for decades in the U.S. and the world.  It has grown since the stock market crash in 2008 for many reasons.  Google thinks “Liveaboard” refers mainly to the type of people who live at one marina aboard their boats.  This is a popular option in Miami, Seattle, San Francisco and other large cities in the U.S.  For our purpose, liveaboard will mean traveling, cruising, staying at anchor and sometimes docking at a marina. Boat Sunset We have a unique situation, in that we could live in Austin or anywhere.  Currently we keep our boat at the lake in a slip that has a monthly cost of about $500.  People around here like to have a boat for occasional use on the weekend during the summer and boat ownership is seen as more of a status upgrade. Continue reading

Preparations Before Leaving the Mainland..

I’ve been busy making many preparations before we leave the U.S. Mainland.  There is so much to do!  It is fun and exciting to work on so many new things as our day approaches.  I took a full inventory of things that I wanted to accomplish for myself and   our family.  A few months it seemed so daunting but as we’ve been working through so many issues, it is getting easier.  These are a few of the items still on my list:

1. Re-certify for PADI Open water diver certification.  We plan to dive while we are out and scuba is such a good talent to have on a boat or an island.  I will be spending next week getting all or my work done for my re-certification.  I will add my advanced open water diver certification in February and purchase my own dive gear and air compressor for the boat.  I plan to take the rescue diver course before leaving Texas and add several specialties.  I definitely want to get my wreck diver certification and get some good training in Florida while we are there.

2. I have always wanted to draw and paint.  I signed us up for private lessons with a classical teacher here in Austin.  We start next week and will train through May.  I am told that we should both have plenty of skill, with practice, to do great art work.  We will have so many beautiful scenes to paint on our journey.  I think this will be a life-long pursuit for us both.
Continue reading