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

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

Christensted, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

Saint Croix USVI

We took pictures of this sailing yacht at night and we decided that the image was “wall worthy.”  This is the un-edited image.  We were told that this boat spends the summers in Massachusetts and the winter around St. Croix.  It had a very large crew and they all had busy jobs, from what we saw in a couple of days of it being in port.  Christiansted was one of our favorite places on the island of St. Croix.  It had a very laid back feel and it was quaint.  The streets weren’t busy and there were more local people than tourists.  I have been all over the world and I can say it felt just like the hometown I never had.  The fort guards the harbor as it has since the 1700’s when the Dutch built it to guard against pirates.  It is ironic that the US Park Service maintains the Dutch fort and it is open to the public.

There were a lot of great shops and restaurants in town.  We dined at a place named Savant.  It was walking distance from our little Cay.  There was a shortage of fish because of the storms that surrounded the islands.  The owner said that he bought only one thirty pound fish for the night and was lucky to get it because nobody was fishing.  We were lucky to get a private table in their courtyard.  It was an interesting evening and we dined with some people we met on our Cay.  Our new “friends” were from North Carolina and the matriarch of the group invited us to dinner.  She was a really flamboyant gal who had done a lot in her time and we thought she would be good company.  Her friend who lives on the island was planning to join us and she said he had authored six books about the Caribbean.  We arrived on time and she chose our seats for us.  Have you ever met people like that?

We learned that she nicknamed herself “Catherine the Great.”  Seriously.  Cathy turned out to be obnoxious and one of the most condescending people I have ever met.  I guess she could command the room, in her mind, because she insisted on paying the large price of dinner.  Her Highness said that she would come and visit us when we moved to the island.  Luckily for us, her friend was worse.  He was a pompous man who seemed to think he was gracing us with his presence.  He had a very colorful life and probably had a lot to share but he didn’t.  He drank rum like it was free (actually it was) and didn’t speak to me about anything substantive except how he thought my wife was beautiful.  He mentioned to her that she was older than his girlfriend, which would’ve made that girl his granddaughter’s age.  Life is funny but at least we had something to laugh about.

I am so thankful that I married the woman who is my best friend and confidant.  I know that many people say that about their spouse but I know it to be true.  I spend all of my waking time with my girl and our kids.  We are so lucky that we don’t really fight or become irritated with each other.  It is rare.  She is the only person whom I could dream of spending a year aboard a boat with me.  I feel so lucky to have her and our kids.  It is my dream to get the opportunity to raise two little children.  I have three older kids and I love being their Dad.  The littles haven’t seen the Caribbean and I can’t wait until they see their first unspoiled island.

I saw a lot of people who were content with what they had on St. Croix.  People seemed to be happy with less.  We are spending a lot of time de-cluttering our own lives in our preparation to move.  I spend the good part of my day going through my training gear, gun stuff and bullets.  I can’t take it all and I don’t need most of what I have.  I spent a lot of time being a firearms instructor and it amazed me at how many stashes of bullets I had in my garage.  I think it has hit the hundred thousand mark or so.  It is a good thing that bullet prices are high and I will make a bundle selling what I can’t shoot, take or lose in the remaining months that we have in Austin.  I spent two hours separating varieties of bullets I had in one bucket.  I felt like a big squirrel counting my nuts.  I’m not sure what I needed with thirty holsters but I’m sure someone will be happy to take them off my hands.

I ended the day with a nice motorcycle ride to see our boat docked in the local lake.  I love to ride in nice weather.  I am really happy that my Harley is the only vehicle that we will take to the island.  I found myself dreaming about riding it through the rain forest of St. Croix.

In the name of Science and in the Spirit of Exploration

Yesterday we decided to venture out of our home and into the wonderful world of Cabelas outdoor sports store. I am told this is the biggest Cabelas in the country.  They have as many wild life exhibits as a zoo, although the majority of the animals there have spent a little time with taxidermist. The day started off like any other day, Robb suggested we go on an outing and I though it would be a great opportunity to get my “Home Schooling Feet” wet. After a 45 minute drive and two pit stops later, we arrived at Cabelas. In true Texas style it was enormous, the parking lot would have put some amusement parks to shame. After a quick photo opp, we began to tour throughout the exhibits, we talked about where each animal originally hailed and what types of food they ate. There where probably over 500 different mounts likely even more. My favorite to look at are the “non-typical” deer.

Hands on learning

Hands on learning

The best part for me must have been the fish exhibit, the tanks were huge and filled with giant catfish as well as other types of fish that are local to us here, such as alligator gar. This gave us a great opportunity to talk about the fact that some fish have scales, some don’t and how fish use their gills to breathe underwater. All in all, I felt that the adventure was a success. We enjoyed a Bison burger in the lunch lounge before we left  (this place was like DisneyLand!). We pilled into the car with Onyx in tow and realized that we had forgotten that we were supposed to be meeting our older son Will (16) at his soccer game. Luckily we had enough time to get there and let our smalls have a nap along the way.Family Values

The children had been so good all day that we decided to let them run about the bleachers to blow of some steam, before we called it a day and headed home for our normal dinner, bath, bedtime routine.  Will’s team was winning and the game started to wind to a close. I heard the kids thumping up and down the bleachers and squealing and they chased each other, round and round. Onyx our feet perking her ears every thirty seconds as they ran by. A minute passed and I didn’t hear the children squeak and squeal. I stood up and saw Bianca(5) running up the walk, but where is Blake? I stood and walked to the top of the bleachers and look down to where the children had been playing. The soccer field was between the high school and the middle school. There was a beautiful church with a steeple and children playing baseball in the field next to it, but there was no Blake in sight.

Now, two minutes has passed. The dog and my husband rose to their feet feeling the fear of loss bleeding from my heart. Blake is just three years old and I have a good idea of how fast and far a boy his size could go in now 2 minutes and 30 seconds and it wasn’t far. There was an open field between us and the children playing baseball, but what I hadn’t noticed before, was the street that led a 1/4 mile to a busy intersection. I ran toward the children playing baseball, without saying a word Robb took Bianca headed to the bathroom behind the bleachers. I headed to the most dangerous place he could be, the road. He wasn’t there I looked across the field and saw my husband and daughter walking out of the bathrooms without our son.

Fear rocked me to my core, and I think to myself, he has been taken. This is the worst fear any mother could ever have. I bend down to look into the culvert, five minutes have passed, still no Blake. As I begin to run towards the children playing baseball I felt my body starting to heave, I’m going to vomit, but I stop myself. Now is no time to feel, it’s time to find my son. I reach the parents standing on the outskirts of the baseball field. I think to myself this is where I would go if I were a little boy looking for fun and mischief.

“Have you seen a little boy, he is wearing a purple shirt and green pants?” It didn’t even sound like my own voice, I could never lose my son.

“No we haven’t seen him.” They said with concern. “how old is he?”

My heart plummets to my feet. “He is three, his name is Blake, you have to help me” All I could do was pray that he was just moments away from being found, not in the trunk of someones car.

In seconds, twenty people fanned out and headed back towards the bleachers. There is nowhere for my son to be hiding, just an open field and the bleachers that we had already searched. My mind raced with what my life would look like without my baby boy. I couldn’t even picture it, I thought I heard a child scream and my eyes strained to see the cars that were stopping at the light. At what point do I call for an amber alert? Where is my phone?

He’s been taken, is all I could think. A car came towards me, I didn’t think twice I jumped in front of it. Did this man have my baby? There was no boy in his car – no Blake. (In reality he had only been out of sight for less than 3 minutes before being found by Robb, but because I didn’t bring my phone with me that day I missed the call that he had been located ten feet from where we had been sitting, just a moment after I had headed toward the road). I am now a half mile in the worst possible direction, the highway, in a place I don’t know all that well. Eight minutes have past and I can feel that the blood has drained from my face. Some other power is keeping my feet moving, my heart and soul are back there behind me on that baseball field in a heap, crying. I’m running at a fast clip towards a man waving his hands like a shipwrecked sailor. I looked to see if he has a boy. I do not see my boy.

A woman calls out to me, “We’ve found him, he is okay” I fell into the strangers arms and just cry. She was one of the mother’s from the church, she held onto me as I tried to breathe. All of the emotions I wouldn’t let myself feel, hit me like a monsoon. This kind woman held onto me like a reassuring mother would, until I regained the function of my shaking legs .  I kneeled down and looked  at my son, he looked up at me and saw the fear in my eyes, like he had never seen before.Protecting our children

“I’m sorry I lost you mommy, I will never lose you again.”

It turned out that in the spirit of exploration, he had been running tiny circles around the bleachers not far from where we had been sitting  as I ran off to handle “worst case”. Robb ultimately found him by looking  where any good detective or ex-police officer would; In the place that makes the most since. This was the worst ten minutes of my life. My dear husband tried his best to reassure me that I am a good mom and that he hadn’t even really left our side.

I sat in silence the whole way home and thought about our decision as a family to be exploring in unknown lands. I thought this was God’s way of telling me that all will be good in this world if you keep your family close and are vigilant in protecting them.

After this false alarm I have decided it best to curb my addiction to Investigation Discovery.

A thought (rather a million) went through my head when I looked back at Robb with Onyx the former dope dog on lead searching for our son with only their eyes. Why have I not trained our dog to “find kids?” Tracking is the most primal thing for a dog to do. Any dog can track! Blake would have been safely found in a fraction of the time, (and I would have avoided aging ten years in ten minutes) if the dog had been trained to track instead of the silly human tricks I’ve been working with her on, such as drinking from a water fountain or opening doors.

Over the next six months I will training Onyx and the rest of the Hamic family to be an interracial part of the HSAR (Hamic Search And Rescue) team. I have always been the “hovering” type. There is no worse fear, than the one a mother feels when  her child is lost, each moment is an eternity. I’m told that this type of thing happens to all mother’s at some point or another in their child rearing adventures, but you just don’t believe it will ever happen to you.  I don’t even let them play in the front yard with out supervision, even though we know all of the neighbors on our quiet little street. It only takes a moment for the worst to happen. I can only pray that this is the first and last time for me and I am endlessly thankful for the happy outcome.

Here are a few statistics that I found very alarming, but we need to be aware.

  • Every 40 seconds in the United States, a child becomes missing or is abducted.
  • In 2001, 840,279 people (adults and children) were reported missing to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC). The FBI estimates that 85 to 90 percent of those (roughly 750,000 people or 2,000 per day) reported missing were children. The vast majority of these cases are resolved within hours.
  • Based on the identity of the perpetrator, there are three distinct types of kidnapping: kidnapping by a relative of the victim or “family kidnapping” (49 percent), kidnapping by an acquaintance of the victim or “acquaintance kidnapping” (27 percent), and kidnapping by a stranger to the victim or “stranger kidnapping” (24 percent).
  • Family kidnapping is committed primarily by parents, involves a larger percentage of female perpetrators (43 percent) than other types of kidnapping offenses, occurs more frequently to children under 6, equally victimize juveniles of both sexes, and most often originates in the home.
  • Acquaintance kidnapping involves a comparatively high percentage of juvenile perpetrators, has the largest percentage of female and teenage victims, is more often associated with other crimes (especially sexual and physical assault), occurs at homes and residences, and has the highest percentage of injured victims.
  • Stranger kidnapping victimized more females than males, occurs primarily at outdoor locations, victimized both teenagers and school-age children, is associated with sexual assaults in the case of girl victims and robberies in the case of boy victims (although not exclusively so), and is the type of kidnapping most likely to involve the use of a firearm.
  • Only about one child out of each 10,000 missing children reported to the local police is not found alive. However, about 20 percent of the children reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in nonfamily abductions are not found alive.
  • In 80 percent of abductions by strangers, the first contact between the child and the abductors occurs within a quarter-mile of the child’s home.
  • Most potential abductors grab their victims on the street or try to lure them into their vehicles.
  • About 74 percent of the victims of nonfamily child abduction are girls.
  • Acting quickly is critical. Seventy-four percent of abducted children who are ultimately murdered are dead within three hours of the abduction.
  • One in five children 10 to 17 years old receive unwanted sexual solicitations online.
  • In a 1998 study of parents’ worries by pediatricians at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, nearly three-quarters of parents said they feared their children might be abducted. One-third of parents said this was a frequent worry — a degree of fear greater than that held for any other concern, including car accidents, sports injuries, or drug addiction.

Sources: Federal Bureau of Investigation; National Crime Information Center; U.S. Justice Dept.; Vanished Children’s Alliance; Redbook, February 1998; State of Washington’s Office of the Attorney General; United States Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Juvenile Justice Bulletin, June 2000

The First Mate of Miss Lone Star

The First Mate of Miss Lone Star