My sailboat 'Magnolia'

Magnolia docked in Marathon city marina Contact me.

This page updated:
December 2017

Magnolia's current
log file

Log and Data Files
Possible Upgrades
Boat Pictures
Sailing Pictures
Frequently-Asked Questions


Magnolia was sold

1973 Gulfstar 44 for sale, asked US$20k at first, then $15k, then $10k. Then it was badly damaged in Hurricane Maria, and I sold it for $500.
Currently in Playa Salinas, Puerto Rico.

Why Magnolia was for sale: I've moved to Spain. 14 years of cruising was enough.

List of problems / repairs needed

  • Needs new refrigerator: $1000 ?
  • House batteries dead: $700 ?
  • Needs anchor windlass: $2000 ?
  • Dinghy tubes leaking: new RIB dinghy $3000 ?
  • Jib sail ripped: new similar jib $2000 ?
    If go to modern new furler, add another $2000 ?
  • Needs new GPS: $300 ? (not a charting GPS)
  • Needs new depth sounder: $200 ?
  • Navigation lights and binnacle switches need replacement: $300 ?
  • No battery monitor: $300 ?
  • No charge-controller for wind-generator: $100 ?
  • No propane stove/oven: $1300 ?
  • Has no auto-pilot: $2000 ?
  • Problems with main halyard at top of mast: ???
  • Needs new mattresses in aft cabin: ???
Total: $16K to $18K ?

Of course, that is a very elastic list. If you wish to polish or paint the 42-year-old hull and topsides, add a lot of money. If you're willing to haul anchor chain by hand, pump the dinghy tubes, hand-steer, and cook on a propane camp-stove as I do, the number shrinks to $7K or so.

Then in Hurricane Maria, damage

  • Pilothouse totally torn off and destroyed, gone.
  • Solar panel and wind-generator torn off and destroyed, gone.
  • Mainmast base went through cabintop.
  • Most of the mainmast standing rigging destroyed, I think.
  • At least one port blown or stove open, plenty of rainwater inside the boat.
  • Not sure if outboard motor was stolen, before or after the hurricane.

Log and Data Files

Magnolia's current log (most recent; selling the boat)

Magnolia's 2015 log (Grenada to Puerto Rico, with haul-out in St Lucia)
Magnolia's 2014 log (Grenada area)
Magnolia's 2013 log (Grenada area)
Magnolia's 2012 log (Grenada area)
Magnolia's 2011 log (St Lucia, Bequia, Grenadines, Grenada)
Magnolia's 2010 log (St Martin, wind-generator, Antigua, Guadeloupe, kidney stones, Martinique, St Lucia, robbery)
Magnolia's 2009 log (USVI's, seized transmission)
Magnolia's 2008 log (NJ, then VI's)
Magnolia's 2007 log (USVI's, BVI's, Puerto Rico)
Magnolia's late 2006 log: first part, second part (Puerto Rico)
Magnolia's early 2006 log (SVI's, USVI's, BVI's)
Magnolia's late 2005 log (Puerto Rico)
Magnolia's 2005 log (Abacoes, Turks+Caicoes, Luperon)
Magnolia's 2004 log (boat work, SW Florida, hurricanes, Miami)
Magnolia's 2003 log (Florida W coast and Tenn-Tom/Mississippi; trip story)
Magnolia's early 2003 log (boat work)
Magnolia's late 2002 log (Chesapeake; trip story)
Magnolia's early 2002 log (Bahamas; trip story)
Magnolia's 2001 log (buying the boat and starting to live on it; first month, second month, six months, girlfriend on boat)

My My Lifestyle and Experiences Living on a Boat page

"My Costs To Date" section of Costs page

Log file of a cruising friend:
Steve on Manana (met him in Luperon)

Magnolia's equipment and how to use it
Equipment removed from Magnolia

My work-to-do list


"Magnolia" is a

  • 1973 (HIN GFS0441M73F; "73F" means "January 1973"; I think it means "hull number" 1 of 1973; paperwork says hull number "44WK14")
  • Gulfstar (in business from ??? to 1980's)
  • 44 (I think the fiberglass LOA is 44'3"; the LOA from tip of anchor platform to end of stern davits is about 50')
  • motor-sailer (a fuzzy term; boat has sails but also a big engine and a very bulky and shallow-draft hull shape)
  • pilothouse (has a wood-and-fiberglass cockpit enclosure with glass windows; maybe better called a "doghouse" since aft end is open)
  • ketch (2 masts; main mast is taller; mizzen mast is forward of rudder post)
  • from Florida (manufactured in St Petersburg FL; home-ported to Miama FL; docked in Key Largo by first 2 owners; I started out basing it in Marathon FL)


  • LOA: 44'3" (official documented length: 43.6)

  • LWL: 39'

  • Draft: 3'6"

  • Beam: 14' (official documented breadth: 13.9)

  • Displacement: officially 22,000 lbs; real cruising weight about 24,000 lbs

  • Ballast: probably 4,500 lbs

  • Mast height: 53' above water

  • Sail/rig dimensions:
    deck-to-masthead H = 45.13, mainsail luff P = 37.33, mainsail foot E = 15.75,
    120% jib foot J = 15.21, working jib luff = 43'7", working jib foot LP = 19.0 ???, working jib leech = 40.0,
    mizzensail luff PY = 27.58 or Pmiz = 23.5 ???, mizzensail foot EY = 9.0 or Bmiz = 10.0, mizzensail area = 117.5,
    mainsail area = 293, mainsail material 7.75 oz,
    mizzensail area = 124, 100% foretriangle area = 343, working jib area = 414 ???,
    total sail area = approx 750

  • More official documented numbers:
    Depth (headroom): 6.2
    Gross tonnage (a measure of volume; a ton is 1000 cubic feet): 18
    Net tonnage: 16

Calculated numbers

  • DL (Displacement to Length) ratio =
    (Disp / 2240) / (0.01 * LWL) ** 3) =
    officially: 166 (a surprisingly low / fast / light number)
    at cruising displacement: 196

  • SA/D (Sail Area to Displacement) ratio =
    Sail area / ((Disp / 64) ** 2/3) =
    officially: 15 (a low / slow / cruiser-type number, as expected)
    at cruising displacement: 13.7 (very low / slow)

  • Waterline length to beam =
    LWL / Beam =
    2.8 (a medium number; higher would be faster)

  • Theoretical maximum hull speed =
    sqrt(LWL) * 1.34 =
    8.4 knots

  • Comfort ratio =
    Disp / [0.65 * (0.7 * LWL + 0.3 * LOA) * B^1.333] =
    officially: 24.8 (on the low/jerky end of moderate)
    at cruising displacement: 29

  • B/D (Ballast to Displacement) ratio =
    officially probably: 0.20 (less than the recommended 0.33)
    at cruising displacement probably: 0.17 (not good)

  • Beam/LWL (form stability WRT heeling resistance) =
    0.36 (moderate)

  • Capsize Screening Ratio =
    Beam / ((displacement in cubic feet) ^ 1/3) =
    2.0 (values less than 2 are safest offshore)

  • Approximate area at waterplane =
    LWL * Beam * 2/3 =
    364 sq ft

  • Approximate weight to change waterline by 1 inch =
    (64 lbs / cubic foot for saltwater) * (area at waterplane) / (12 in / ft) =
    1940 lbs / in

  • Weight of full water tanks =
    (8.34 lbs / gallon) * (230 gallons) =
    1920 lbs

  • Weight of full diesel fuel tank =
    (approx 7 lbs / gallon) * (200 gallons) =
    1400 lbs


  • Perkins 6.354 diesel engine (130 HP), normally aspirated, with Borg-Warner 2.1:1 gearbox (rebuilt 3/2009), and 100A smart-regulated alternator.

  • Sails: genoa (bought used 2006), mainsail (new 4/2009), Mack-Shaw mizzen, two Mack-Shaw down-wind headsails, Mack-Shaw club-footed jib (removed attachment from deck).

  • Roller-furling: old-style Schaefer wire-in-luff on jib, main and mizzen.

  • Britton downwind sailing system (twin headsails poled out; I've never used them).

  • Ketch-rigged.
    All-wire standing rigging and halyards; all-rope sheets and furling lines.
    Two backstays for main mast, backstay for mizzen mast attached to top of davits, triatic stay between the two mastheads.
    Two lower shrouds and two upper shrouds (one to masthead, one to halfway between spreaders and masthead) on each side of main mast.
    Two lower shrouds and one upper shroud on each side of mizzen mast.
    Both sets of spreaders angle up to bisect rigging angle.
    Attachment and pole for club-footed jib, but no sail for it.
    Traveler for mainsheet, track-and-car for mizzen sheet, tracks-and-cars for jib sheets.
    Center attachments for main sheet (self-tacking) and mizzen sheet (self-tacking).

  • Garmin GPS 128 (12-channel). Display has faded to unreadable.

  • Force 10 propane barbeque. Haven't used it in years.

  • Furuno 1621 RADAR display (RADAR dome was dead; removed it).

  • Nova Kool AC/DC refrigerator/freezer (dead; needs replacement).

  • TrippLite 500 W inverter.

  • AC and shore-power wiring is dangerous and should be ripped out.

  • GE SmartWater under-sink water filter.

  • Shipmate rudder position indicator (not working).

  • Winches: main sheet winch is Lewmar 46 2-speed, jib sheet winches are Lewmar 25 2-speed's, halyard winches (4) are Lewmar single-speed wire.

  • Icom IC-M120 VHF radio (mounted at navigation station).

  • Cobra MR F45-D VHF radio (mounted in cockpit).

  • Two Pioneer TS-MR165 marine speakers in cockpit.

  • Standard DS-1 Digital Depth Sounder. Display has faded to unreadable.

  • Standard Horizon SL45 Digital Speed Log (not working).

  • Standard Horizon WS45 Wind/Speed Point (not working).

  • Anchors: 45 lb CQR, 45 (approx) lb Danforth, 35 lb CQR, 35 lb Fisherman.

  • Anchor rodes: 100 ft of BBB 3/8" chain and 225 ft of 5/8" nylon rope on CQR,
    100 ft of BBB 3/8" chain and 240 ft of 3/4" nylon rope on Danforth 45.

  • Xantrex TrueCharge 40+ battery charger.

  • Morningstar ProStar PS-30 solar controller.

  • One Kyocera 120-watt solar panel.

  • KISS wind-generator.

  • Batteries: 4 Trojan T105 golf-cart house batteries; one starting battery.

  • Bilge pumps: Rule 1500, Rule 1500, Blue Cascade "Pony Pump" (not working), Whale manual (not working).

  • Hynautic hydraulic steering.

  • Two Groco type K manual toilets.

  • Novurania 320 RIB dinghy, 10.5' long (two tubes leaking badly).

  • Tohatsu 6 HP outboard motor, 4-stroke, 2008.
  • Some things good not to have: no canvas, almost no varnished exterior wood, no bowsprit.

Previous owners

  • John Northup (3/1973 - 1995; original purchase price $39,600; registered FL 2438 SD)
  • George Le-Bert (1995 - 5/2001; USCG documented 1036844)

From Bill Tracey:
I lived at the end of the canal that John and Ann lived on from 87 until 93. John and I both were pilots for Eastern although John had already retired. He died after I moved if I remember correctly. I went on the boat once but never sailed on her nor did I ever see John take her out. He collected old Lincoln town cars and was very meticulous so I am sure the boat was well taken care of when he had it.

Possible Upgrades

Known problems:
Possible changes:
Freezer box (existing box has 3" foam in bad condition, no gasket on lid):
  • Dyplast polyurethane sheets at Marathon Lumber.
    2" thick 4' x 8' == $40, K=.14 at 70F, R=14.3 for 2" thick.

  • VIP vacuum panels at RPARTS
    1" thick 1' x 1' == $24, R=28.
    Flat only: no curves.

Tried several kinds of rubber material as a gasket on the lid, then realized there are air leaks outside of the area for the gasket. Filled those gaps with construction glue, and I think that helped a lot. But I don't routinely run the freezer any more, since I'm coastal cruising and now I'm single-handing (girlfriend left).

I'm very tempted to rip out the built-in freezer box and AC-powered air-cooled compressor, and replace them with a self-contained ready-built 12V freezer (just roll it into place, bolt it down, connect wires). Major drawback: it would be air-cooled (water-cooled performs better). And the cabinetry wouldn't look as nice as a built-in box. Advantages: Easy to install, clean, service, and replace it. Probably far cheaper than building a new box. Free up space used by compressor now.

Have decided I don't need the extra capacity right now; will do nothing.

Freezer compressor (DC-powered, water-cooled):
  • WAECO Adler/Barbour CU-200 "Super ColdMachine".
    Combination air/water-cooled, 5-6 A, 11" x 10" x 8", sea-water pump (AKA water condenser cooling kit) not included.
    $770 at West Marine.
    $??? at Refrigeration Parts Solution
    $770 at BoatU.S.

  • something with Tecumseh compressor.

  • Glacier Bay.

  • Frigoboat.

  • Technautics.
    Only complete systems available from West Marine.

  • Grunert Air/Water-Cooled Polar Mate (W08/12VDC-K-2HW).
    450 BTU/hour at ??? F, ??? amps.
    $1600 at West Marine (includes evaporator).

  • Grunert Mariner.
    Models with 1250 to 6500 BTU/hour at -18 F to 26 F, 20 to 80 amps.
    Compressor is ??? design.
    Good: rebuildable compressor, replaceable motor brushes, "automatic operation when either alternator or charger is energized".

  • Isotherm.

  • Sea Frost model DC 5000.
    ??? BTU/hour at ??? F, 40 amps.
    Compressor is swash-plate design.
    Good: direct-drive between motor and compressor means less noise than a belt-drive, condenser can be plumbed into engine raw water intake hose.
    $3050 with no plates, $3550 with one 809 plate, $4050 with two 809 plates single valve. Bigger plates: add $90 to $260 per plate.

Have to add new through-hulls, or share ones with air conditioners.

Sea-water pump costs about $80; maybe could use air-conditioner's pump. But probably AC.

Complete 12V constant-cycling air-cooled freezer:
Novakool F2600-DC, 2.4 cuft, 35 w-hrs/hr in 100 deg ambient, 20"x20"x18"D, $910.
Novakool F3800-DC, 3.5 cuft, 45 w-hrs/hr in 100 deg ambient, 29"Tx20"Wx18"D, $970.

See my How to Make a GPS-Based Autopilot Control Head page.

Boat Pictures

Pictures courtesy of the previous owner: Aft Cabin, Engine Room, Front Port Quarter, Galley, Left Rear Quarter, Main Table, Pilothouse Frontal, Port Settee, V-Berth

Pictures from 4/11/2001 haul-out: being lifted, front quarter view, front view, propeller and rudder

Pictures from 7/16/2001 haul-out: being lifted, stern view, pile of gate-valves removed

Floor-plan diagram.

Sailing Pictures

Pictures from 5/12/2001 sail with Rich, Mike, Kelly and Joy at Tavernier FL: me, me again

Pictures from 6/13 - 6/14/2001 sail with girlfriend from Tavernier FL to Marathon FL: me, me again, me sailing in Boot Key Harbor, girlfriend relaxing on foredeck

Cats on board, 12/2001 Marathon FL: Ginger, Tilley

Bill in dinghy at South Beach 1/2005
Bill in cockpit at South Beach 1/2005

A listing of just about all the pictures I have:

Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ)

What age did I retire ?
Just before my 43rd birthday. I'm almost 51 years old now (4/2009).

What did I do before retiring ?
I was a computer programmer. Worked 8 years at Bell Labs, 10 years at a couple of voice-telephony companies, then 3 years at a couple of internet/database companies. Never made much money on company stock options, just saved my money. [Then, after I retired, the stock market took half of it away.]

Why did I retire and start cruising ?
Many reasons came together:
  • Any time I thought of "paradise", it involved a beach and warm weather.
  • I wanted to try living a different way; I'd always lived in an apartment, worked 9-5.
  • I was bored with my job; started doing the same kinds of projects repeatedly.
  • I had saved up enough money that acquiring more wasn't a big goal.
  • My father had died recently, prompted some introspection about my own life.

Would you do it again ?
Yes. Although it's been painful a few times, inconvenient and frustrating many times, and selling the boat could be hard, it's been worth it.

I needed to change my life, to get out of a rut. All I was doing was going from apartment to cubicle, back and forth. Some tennis and hiking on weekends. One good foreign vacation each year. Putting lots of money in the bank. But not doing anything new.

Well, in 39 months of living on a boat, I've changed in a hundred ways, been places most people never get to, learned and done many new things. And I've just scratched the surface of the possibilities.

I've learned a lot about piloting, living aboard, maintenance, retirement, the coastal USA. I haven't begun to learn about nature, languages, foreign cultures, history, a musical instrument, lots of other things to do. And I've had lots of free time for reading books and magazines and listening to radio.

The worst things: not having a paycheck, watching the stock market take away a big chunk of my savings, not having medical insurance, trying to sleep when it's hot and humid, feeling you're shackled to the boat and have to be on it or check on it every day, some loneliness.


Some people ask if living aboard at a dock would be good for them to do; would it be cheap, fun, not too hard, let them still have a job and a car and so on. But the only reason I'd live on a boat is to be able to cruise. Living at the dock or in one place forever doesn't appeal to me, and there are many drawbacks to living on a boat. The worst is trying to sleep on a hot, humid, rainy night with no air-conditioning.

And in expensive housing markets (just about every coastal city, these days), so many people have tried anything to get affordable housing that the live-on-board lifestyle has become very expensive and very regulated. In some places, marinas are not allowed to have more than a certain percent of slips used for liveaboard. Marinas are being bought and torn down to build condos. Slip prices have skyrocketed.


What would I have done differently ?
It would have been nice to "ease into" the lifestyle, instead of quitting job, moving across the country, and right onto the boat full-time. Getting an apartment and maybe a job for 6 months while boat-buying and then starting to learn the boat would have been better. ...

As of 9/2006: one thing I would do differently now: not go to Florida !
The stories I read are very alarming: Florida is becoming totally hostile to living aboard and/or anchoring. One or both are being outlawed in most of Florida, it seems. And marinas and boatyards are disappearing, bought out to build waterfront condos. If I were looking to buy and live aboard today, as a US citizen, I think I'd go to Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands and buy and cruise/live there instead of in Florida.

Would you recommend the lifestyle to other people ?
It's a very individual choice. Making the transition was stressful even for me, a single guy living in an apartment, with lots of money. The same transition for a couple with kids, pets, a house or two, maybe older, maybe less healthy, maybe less available money, maybe more ties to church or neighborhood, would be harder.

Think long and hard before doing it. Research it: read this web site, especially my Lifestyle of Living on a Boat page.

Also, there's more and more pressure against this lifestyle, as the coasts get built up and towns get desperate for more revenue and more space. Marinas are being sold and demolished to build waterfront condominiums. Marinas are restricting the number of liveaboards, mostly because they use the facilities more than non-resident boaters. Towns are outlawing anchoring and filling their harbors with moorings that cost $5 to $10 or more per night. Spilling oil anywhere, or running aground in coral or protected areas, can result in huge fines. Countries are raising their entry fees or the prices of their cruising permits. Boat insurance costs are skyrocketing, and more restrictions are being added. Canals and marinas and waterways are silting up, and environmental rules and government lack of funding are preventing dredging.

But the first step toward doing it, simplifying your life, is worth doing anyway. Start getting rid of material possessions right now. That pays off in many ways, even if you don't end up on a boat. Same for the other big step: saving money (mainly, stop spending it).

What have the costs been ?
This is hard to say, because a lot of the boat costs have been things that should have been upgraded 5 or 10 years ago (gate valves, charging system, ground tackle). And I've put off some costs (some rigging, new sails, air conditioner repair, freezer upgrade).

Now that the upgrades are mostly done, I think boat maintenance will be $5k per year or less (doing virtually all the work myself). Fuel another $1K to $2K per year (but rising).

I think I'm living on $5k per year of personal expenses. But I've always lived cheaply; I don't go to restaurants and bars, don't buy a lot of stuff.

See the "My Costs To Date" section of my Costs page.

How do you do email ? How do you update your web site ?
While in USA:
I go ashore to a library and access the internet there. Or get Wi-Fi somewhere.

Almost all USA libraries have free internet access these days. About half don't let you use a floppy; a very few block email web sites. In some towns, I have to go to a cybercafe and pay to get access, or to get access with floppy disk.

To update my web site, I:
  1. Update the web site files on my laptop computer on the boat.
  2. Copy the changed files to a floppy disk.
  3. Take the floppy disk to a library.
  4. Email the changed files to my brother, who works in an office.
  5. He FTP's the files to the server that hosts my web site.
I usually update the log file on my laptop several times a day, but it may get uploaded to the web site only once a week or less often.

More and more, Wi-Fi signals are becoming common. This means I can connect my own laptop to the internet, which is great for copying files back and forth, and updating the software. Sometimes the Wi-Fi signals are inside libraries or (for a fee) cybercafes, but sometimes they can be found free on the street or even used right from the boat (the ultimate luxury).


> You mention in your daily log file that you do your banking
> via a wireless connection (from a foreign country).
> Security people tell me that this is not safe, that your
> passwords,bank account numbers, etc can be compromised.
> Do you think this is true? I am travelling to Antigua for
> 30 days and need to pay bills remotely. All connections are
> HTTPS but can't the wireless provider defeat this?
> Just curious if you have had any trouble.

[2/2012] I have never had a problem, and I've used a LOT of connections from half a dozen different countries, not to mention various libraries and other public computers in the USA.

Yes, theoretically it is possible that an ISP or internet cafe could capture your info. Probably most likely threat is that a computer in an internet cafe could have a key-logger program installed on it. These days, I'm almost always using my laptop, not their computer.

The only time I heard of a cruiser having a problem was when they were using Yahoo Mail on a computer in a cafe in Luperon DR. Internet went down, and they left. Internet must have come back up soon, someone else sat down at that computer and was still logged into their email, and deleted everything (email, address book), maliciously.

How do you "do a bucket of laundry" ?
I wash and rinse with fresh (drinking) water.
Use liquid laundry detergent.
Agitate by hand.
Let it soak for a while.
Dry the clothes on the lifelines.
Probably takes 4-5 gallons of water for a small load; up to 10 gallons for a big load.
Gets the clothes about 70% clean; not as good as machine-washing.

Where do you leave the boat when you take a vacation ?
I've left it anchored several times, and haven't had a problem yet.
  • I find a well-protected harbor or wide creek, in a high-visibility area.
  • Put down two big anchors, with all-chain rodes, with good scope.
  • Put the anchors down a week or more before I leave, to make sure they're well set and I'm not swinging near anything.
  • If it's hurricane season, assume a hurricane will hit the boat while I'm away, and prepare the boat accordingly.
  • Get someone to keep a bit of an eye on the boat while I'm gone, if possible.
  • Lock the dinghy and bike to the boat.
  • Lock the hatches, although someone determined could get in.
  • The large size of the boat is a deterrent; it's a bit of an effort for someone to climb aboard, and my valuable solar panels are high up on top of the pilothouse, strongly mounted, and large and unwieldy. Theft from a smaller boat would be easier: someone just stands up in their dinghy and tears off a small solar panel.
  • Getting dinghy rides to/from the boat require imposing on a friend or bumming a ride from someone.

You should write a book ! (based on the web site)
I don't think boat-books are very lucrative. Much of the info on this site is from other people, so I couldn't use it in a book. And a web site is better than a book: much more up-to-date, links to other info, and I'm always getting email from interesting people.

You should change your log file to a true blog where readers can comment and discuss.
Most of the web site is best done as web pages: big pages where I can control the organization. Much of the content comes from other places, so putting it into blog entries would be inappropriate.

I could change just the log file into a true blog, but:
  • I'd have to separate it from the rest of the web site, probably.
  • I want a totally free host.
  • I want to be able to make a little money from Google Ads and Amazon Associates.
  • I don't want to have to deal with user registration, spam, flames.
  • I want to be able to move all of my content elsewhere later, if needed.
  • I want to be able to go back and update past log entries as needed.
  • I want to be able to search past log entries easily.

You seem to spend all your time doing maintenance.
Not really, but I do try to do some maintenance-type chore every day, to get a sense of accomplishment if nothing else. And there have been whole months when I worked away on several big projects fairly continuously. But my log file may give a maintenance-heavy impression, because I always record the maintenance activities, and don't write about times I'm reading, listening to the radio, doing routine cleaning or hygiene, etc. And a fair amount of time is chewed up launching the dinghy, traveling somewhere, hoisting it later, etc. Maybe the equipment failures are the most interesting things to write about and read about, and the most memorable ? I certainly don't feel that my boat is always breaking down.

Generally, I really like the lifestyle. Tons of time to read and listen to radio and see new places. Some snorkeling, some nice people, etc.

Your log is boring; you don't seem to have much fun.
I'm not a party animal; never was. I enjoy reading and radio and music and quiet things. Since I don't go to bars and restaurants, I'm not good at meeting women. I'm a bit of a loner, but I enjoy a good conversation. The wider lesson: don't expect your life and personality to change to "constant wild parties and sex" just because you've bought a boat and are cruising; your lifestyle depends on you.

Do you tend to lose contact with your friends ?
Yes, since we're physically apart, and not pursuing similar lives (kids, work, etc), I've found old friendships tend to get tenuous. But I'm making new friendships among cruisers. Of course, when we head in different directions, we may lose contact with each other.

Email and Facebook help me keep contact with relatives and friends.

Why do you write about your dinners in the log file ?
Why don't you mention breakfast or lunch ?

I mention my dinners mainly to shame myself into eating better.
Breakfast usually is a cup of granola, and lunch usually is a PB-banana or PB-jelly sandwich, with iced tea made from teabags.

Why don't you catch fish for dinner ?
I have no idea what the fishing regulations are, and they don't seem to be easy to find out in many of these islands. And I cross a lot of borders from one country or territory to another, so I'd have to be careful. Although I've almost never heard of the authorities busting sailboaters for illegal fishing, and I'm sure some cruisers do it.

Fishing at anchor is a different story: you don't want to fish in a dirty harbor, and you don't want to fish anywhere near a reef (because of ciguatera). So fishing at anchor isn't very practical. Although some people do it.

If I buy a boat, how to deal with rain ?
Once you're on your boat for a week or two, you quickly learn what you do and don't have to close when it rains. My boat has a pilothouse, so I can leave the main hatch open in all but the windiest rains. Yes, it gets hot and humid and uncomfortable down below. Often I can sit in the pilothouse, where it is better. The worst is at night, if there's no wind and a very light rain: you're stuck lying there in hot and humid conditions with everything closed up, unable to sleep.

At the dock, the rain situation is more complicated because the boat can't swing to face into the wind. So rain coming from stern, say, may change which hatches or ports can stay open.

Also, you quickly learn where the deck-leaks are on your boat. Sometimes they change according to the direction and strength of rain and wind.

If I buy a boat, how hard is it to learn how to run it, and to dock it ?
I took sailing classes, but I still think navigation is pretty easy to learn on your own. With GPS, a chart, and good alertness, it's easy. Maintenance is harder to learn, but with some books and willingness to buy tools and give it a go, you can learn it. Figuring out your own style of living aboard (how much you want to cook, where to do laundry, how to run the dinghy, etc) takes some experimentation.

Docking still makes me nervous: I don't like to be near hard stuff that I can run into, especially other people's boats (very expensive hard stuff). That's one reason I stay out of marinas. Takes practice to learn how your boat handles, how your slip is situated, etc. Having help aboard the first several times would be good.

You need a woman. How hard is it to meet women ?
I'm not a real "party" type of guy, and I'm trying to live for the rest of my life on my savings so I don't want to spend a lot of money in bars. So I don't meet a lot of women.

I do know some guys down here who are trying hard to meet women, and generally failing. I don't think local islanders socialize much with the boaties, unless the boatie is turning into a permanent resident. Even then, there is a separation.

Probably if you had a job ashore and a car and maybe had the boat in a marina, and enough money to spend time in bars and restaurants, it wouldn't be too hard to meet someone. Living cheaply and at anchor and being transient, it would be much harder.

And among single boaters everywhere, the ratio of men to women is about 50 to 1.