A Day In The Life Of A Liveaboard Family

Catching Geckos in The Florida KeysWe lived on land until two months ago and became full-time cruisers who live aboard our boat.  It was our dream to do this and it is really fun but it can be challenging.  We did a lot of research on what it would “look like” to be full-time liveaboards cruising around the U.S. and Caribbean but few people talk about some of the challenges.  Here is a day in the life of the Hamic Family aboard Miss Lone Star.  We are presently located at our dock in Islamorada, FL and we are not underway.

We drove to Key West yesterday to visit the PX and the commissary.  We make the 80 mile trip twice a month to do grocery shopping and pick up odds and ends.  It takes 2 hours because the speed limit is 45 or 55 in most places but the views are amazing.  Our girl-child was on one yesterday and she was beating up on her brother in the backseat.  We tried all of the standard parent tactics: say sorry, don’t touch, no talking, look out your window and then the dreaded spanking.  Nothing worked and she was a mess through almost all of the trip.  Naughty Girl Timeout on Roadtrip Continue reading

Our Weekend Expeditions In The Florida Keys

Florida Keys Mini TripsIt is a bummer that we are living in one place until December but we are making the most of it by taking a lot of mini trips.  In the next day or so we plan to go anchor out at Hen’s and Chickens Reef and then I want to go north for a few miles to find another great spot.  I really want do dive some wrecks.

During the heat of the day, it can be busy with all of the snorkeling tours and dive boats but only between 12-4PM.  We love how deserted it feels after than when it is just us anchored.  We’ve decided that we really love to be on the hook and we want to do that a lot more.

If anyone has a suggestion about a favorite place to anchor please leave a comment!

I am really lucky to have a portable air compressor to fill my own scuba tanks on our boat.  I bought it from my friend in Austin who had re-built it.  It isn’t much to look at and it is 35 years old, but it does the job.  It fills a tank from 0-3000 psi in 30 minutes.

We plan to go out for 2-3 days, weather and food supplies permitting.  I think we learned a lot from our last expedition to Alligator Reef so I think we will be better prepared to enjoy ourselves.  We plan to take along, Brandon, a friend from our dock who is without his family for a few days.  He wants to do a lot of diving and has gone with some of the tour companies.  I prefer diving from our boat with fewer people.  I like staying down longer and not being restricted to going with a group of people.  I think it is diving at its best!

Many of the reefs and wrecks reside in Special Protected Areas (SPA) and there are a lot of restrictions on activities in these areas.  I learned that one can obtain a special fishing permit that allows you to take fish from these area, that is normally prohibited.  We saw a bunch of illegal fishing at Alligator Reef and noticed the boats coming in fast just to take a crack at some huge barracuda.  I thought it was wrong that these people were taking resources from the reef.  There used to be 551 fish species at that location but over-taking has depleted many of them, which is really sad.

Bianca is really hoping to get some beautiful new shells while doing her new favorite pastime with Dad, snorkeling.  I was so happy that she took to it so well!  I held her hand and we swam all along the reef and around the lighthouse.  I think she will remember seeing fish for the first time for the rest of her life.  Blake loves to swim around the boat and use Mom’s GoPro but he doesn’t venture so far.

Onyx probably wants me to dinghy over to the shore to give her a break at night and in the morning, which seems reasonable.  We wish that dogs would use the bathroom in the water.  The reefs are 3-4 miles off shore so that makes the trek inland more difficult.

Aubrey is really getting an aptitude for video and I think we will get of our best footage yet.  I am happy that she has the time to practice here before we head to Cuba and beyond.  We won’t want to miss any of that footage.  We are building so many great memories and I am so thankful that we have them documented so well with this journal, pictures and video.  We’ve noticed that the traffic to our blog has doubled since we started including video on a regular basis and we will keep it up.

If anyone has suggestions for us or if you want to see something send us a suggestion!

Miss Lone Star’s Crew Contracted Florida Key’s Disease!

Florida Keys Disease is real!

Florida Keys Disease is real!

We heard about Key’s Disease from several people since we arrived.  It is a general term that refers to many different things going wrong or attributes that one contracts after moving to the Florida Keys.  We were first warned by a boat broker who said a boat can get the disease after being moved here from fresh water.  Apparently, there are a lot of boats that get moved down here because it is the mecca of boating.  The owners don’t use them anymore.  These vessels fall into disrepair and get eaten up by the salt water while the owners goof off, drink beer and go diving.  Don’t let your boat get Keys Disease.

A dog can get Key’s Disease by misbehaving and not obeying commands because she doesn’t get the exploring time that she craves.  Onyx first started her bout with the illness by trying to make every dog on the dock love her.  She knocked Diesel the dog on our first night by playing too rough and she has made most of the small dogs run in fear of her from her smiling face. 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

Scuba Diving for Veterans Who Have PTSD and TBI

I am a 100% Service Disabled Veteran with PTSD and a TBI.  I am a PADI DIvemaster and I scuba dive on a regular basis.  I overheard a complete idiot telling a person that Veterans with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries can’t scuba dive.  This moron went on to explain that Veterans with PTSD and TBI’s who do scuba dive are faking disabilities because of the obvious evidence that scuba diving is a stressful experience and exacerbates symptoms related to PTSD.

veteran ptsd tbi scuba divingI really hate it when people make strong statements with no actual or accurate knowledge on a topic.  It is no wonder why scores of Veterans, including the severely disabled, flock to scuba diving because of its calming and therapeutic effects on the body.  The Veteran’s Administration (VA) recognizes the value of scuba diving for disabled Veterans and has in-house programs in place to provide certification programs free-of-charge throughout the country.  There are additional programs that are directly funded by the VA.

It is no wonder that many large Veteran organizations including: The Wounded Warrior Project, Project Rebirth, Veterans of Foreign Wars and others, offer scuba diving certification to their members.  It is no wonder that one of the most popular VA Vocational Rehabilitation educational program is Scuba Diving Instruction.  The Veteran community has long known the positive effects of scuba diving for disabled Veterans.  I can’t count the amount of disabled veterans that I’ve met while diving.  The instructor who taught me Rescue Diving and Divemaster (DM) is a 100% service disabled Veteran and his primary Divemaster is 90%.  I finished my DM program with a retired Army Colonel who is also 100%.  It should be noted that all persons receiving or giving training were service disabled Veterans.

Like most Veterans, it just pisses me off when I hear people talking out their ass about what disabled Vets can and can’t do.  This moron solidified his ignorance when I overheard him say “you can’t prove PTSD and TBI- the VA just rubber stamps those claims.”  In reality, the VA denies upwards of 80% of all claims for disability.

Why is Scuba Diving so beneficial to Disabled Veterans?

I feel happy and calm when I am in the water scuba diving.  It feels completely different from swimming or sitting on a beach.  I notice significant decreases in anxiety and depression that exists in much of my daily life.  It is common for Veterans to discuss challenges with each other and I have heard many others who have the feelings.  We often feel a strong relief of symptoms for days to come after diving.  Like many Vets, I have sleep problems that have persisted for decades.  I can safely say that my sleep is much improved after diving.  A good night’s sleep has many benefits that carry forward into my life.

Washington Post article: The researchers speculate that the physical improvements may have something to do with an interaction between nitrogen, which is pumped into a diver’s bloodstream at a high rate, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter well-known for its feel-good effects but less known for its role in the spinal cord. The theory, Becker says, goes like this: “The increased levels of nitrogen will translate in your nervous system into increased levels of serotonin, and these increased levels of serotonin act on the cells in the spinal cord and the brain, which seems to improve their function.”

An expert of the John’s Hopkins Medicine research (9/2011) “But the most striking psychological impact was seen in PTSD symptoms, which decreased, on average, by 80 percent in those veterans who went diving. Escaping to a tranquil beach setting, Kaplin says, wouldn’t be enough to account for such an apparent escape from PTSD symptoms.”

“On 16 DEC 2009 a briefing was held by former Secretary of the Army Martin Hoffman in Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in the treatment of brain injuries. During the presentation, Sec. Hoffman highlighted the need for additional funding and research into the treatment of the numerous traumatic brain injuries (TBI) from Iraq and Afghanistan by Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT 1.5). The 1.5 in the acronym represents the treatment atmospheric pressure of 1.5 atmospheres. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a well-tested option in treating at least 13 other medical conditions.

The Army Warrior Transition Unit began scuba therapy for soldiers transitioning out of the Army who had PTSD and TBI injuries.

I hope that all Veterans continue to explore the many benefits of scuba diving for fun and therapy.  I would love to hear from other Veterans who have had positive experiences with scuba diving.  Please comment below!