Archives for 2014 | Distant Shores Sailing Newsletters

Sailing Recipe - Roast Chicken in a Pressure Cooker

By Sheryl Shard, copyright 2014. All rights reserved

Try making "roast" chicken in a pressure cooker. It's so tender!

In the small settlements of the Out Islands of the Bahamas it is sometimes hard to find good meat but you can always get good quality frozen chicken both in pieces or as a whole chicken so I have been experimenting with lots of chicken recipes recently!

Good quality frozen chicken can even be found in small Bahamian settlements

On Sundays Paul and I maintain our family tradition of cooking up a nice roast for a relaxing midday meal and we enjoy a roast chicken with all the trimmings as much as roast beef, pork or lamb. But roasting a whole chicken for up to an hour in the oven in the tropics really heats up the boat. I'd heard that it was possible to roast a whole chicken using a pressure cooker but had never tried it. I thought it would be mushy but I did a little research, spoke to some cruising friends and came up with the following recipe that I think comes pretty close to the flavour and texture of a garlic herb rotisserie chicken which we often enjoyed when we were cruising in the Mediterranean. It's incredibly tender and tasty. Best thing - it cooks in 20 minutes on the stove top!

Whole Roasted Chicken in a Pressure Cooker

1 whole chicken (choose a size that will fit snuggly in your pressure cooker)
3 Tablespoons of Italian Herbs or any mixture of herbs you like
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half
1/4 lemon cut in 2-3 segments, skin on
2 bay leaves
1 cup of water

Thaw chicken. I leave a whole frozen chicken in the fridge to thaw for about 24 hours.

Remove any giblets. Rinse chicken inside and out and pat dry. Tuck the wing tips back behind the neck and place on a large plate or casserole breast up. Take one garlic clove half and rub raw edge all over chicken to flavour skin. Dispose of garlic clove you used on the chicken. Place the remaining garlic in the cavity with one bay leaf. Wash and dry hands.

In a bowl, mix the herbs, salt, pepper and olive oil. Squeeze the lemon slices over the bowl to add juice and then put them in the cavity of the chicken along with the garlic cloves and 1 bay leaf.


Using bare hands, smear the herb mixture all over the chicken. Wash and dry hands.


Brown the chicken on all sides for about 10 minutes in a separate pan, or in your pressure cooker if you have a large one. Browning the chicken gives it the roasted taste and texture. Place chicken in pressure cooker.


Add the one cup of water and the second bay leaf to the pressure cooker. Close and lock the lid.


Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker reaches pressure turn heat down to the lowest heat needed to maintain pressure. Cook for 20 minutes.

Turn off heat and let pressure drop naturally rather than by releasing it with the valve.


When the pressure has dropped, remove the chicken from the pressure cooker and place on a serving platter.

Tent with foil to keep hot while you make gravy from the juices and liquid left in the pressure cooker. Simmer the contents uncovered until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Strain the pan sauce and pour over chicken or place on the table in a gravy boat.

I serve with steamed vegetables and Pan Roasted Potatoes. You can dress this up further for special occasions by serving stuffing too as well as cranberry sauce.


Note: If you just want to cook up a chicken fast and use the meat for chicken salad or other dishes requiring cooked chicken you can skip the browning stage and cook up chicken pieces or a whole chicken with just water. My friend Hermione of S/V Arion (owner of Zigzag Bags who appeared in Distant Shores season 7 episode #79/7-1) does this often and by throwing in chopped onion, lemon and whatever herbs she has on hand also creates a lovely stock which she uses later in risottos or to make soup, etc.

If this recipe appeals to you, email it to yourself or save it to your Facebook timeline. Thanks for sharing it with your friends too!

You might also enjoy these
other sailing recipes.

From January 9 to 18, 2015, Paul and I will be conducting
seminars at the Toronto International Boat Show in Canada including "Provisioning for Cruising". Hope to meet you there!

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Bahamas to St Martin in Photos

At the dock Staniel Cay Yacht Club before leaving...
GGT to SXM - 01
Our final anchorage in the cut by Thunderball Cave ready to lift anchor.
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First day is calm and we motor in smoothly rolling seas.
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The wind fills in from the North and will stay this way for the next 5 days!!
GGT to SXM - 04
We have the main and jib mostly but switch to our large genoa when winds get down below 15 knots. We hope to keep an average speed of 7 knots for this passage.
GGT to SXM - 05
Christmas decorations - solar powered lights...
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Sunset and clear skies.
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We are flying the Self-tacking Jib and a single reefed main for 60 percent of the passage. We unroll the big genoa for the other 40 percent.
GGT to SXM - 08
Charging along into 1-2 meter seas from the ENE but they are far apart and easy to sail.
GGT to SXM - 09
Sargasso weed. We are crossing the Sargasso Sea on this passage.
GGT to SXM - 10
Sheryl cooks on an angle...
GGT to SXM - 11

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GGT to SXM - 12
No moon means lots of great star-gazing - plus amazing meteors!! Turns out this was the Geminid Meteor shower and WOW did we have an amazing view. Some were so bright the whole sky lit up. On each 3 hour watch we would see dozens to hundreds of meteors!!
GGT to SXM - 13
Winds just forward of the beam, what perfect conditions?!
GGT to SXM - 14
Onwards we average nearly 180 miles per day.
GGT to SXM - 15
Admiring the sunset...
GGT to SXM - 16
GGT to SXM - 17
Rare that we can set the table to have dinner outside like this. But the wind is so predictable and there are no squalls. Baked potatoes, chopped steak and green beans... Yum!!
GGT to SXM - 18
Who is having fun?!
GGT to SXM - 19
Great sailing!!
GGT to SXM - 20
Salt spray everywhere building to thick crystals.
GGT to SXM - 21
Rafts of Sargasso weed passing often. A few times they catch on the rudders and keel and prop skeg. I can lift the keel and they slide off but the rudders are harder to clear.
GGT to SXM - 22
Anchored in the lagoon in Saint Martin (french side) we are well ready for an uninterrupted night’s sleep!!
GGT to SXM - 23

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Bahamas - Catching and Cooking Lobster

By Sheryl Shard, copyright 2014. All rights reserved

Steamed Lobster Tails served in the cockpit of Distant Shores II

One of the pleasures of cruising in the Bahamas is the abundance of fresh fish and lobster found on the vibrant reefs throughout the islands. We love to snorkel and on our first cruise here in 1989 a friend showed Paul how to use a hand spear and catch lobster. Now it’s something he looks forward to whenever we return to the Bahamas during lobster season which is August 1 to March 31st.

Paul with his Catch of the Day

The lobster in the Bahamas is not like the cold water lobster with claws that you may be familiar with. Here you find Spiny Lobster, also called crawfish by the Bahamians, and in some places called Rock Lobster. These lobsters have very large tails and long barbed whips instead of claws.

Spiny lobster have long whips instead of claws

The best time to hunt for spiny lobster is in the early morning and late evening or on a cloudy day since they hide from the sunshine and wander around at night to forage for food. You'll find them tucked under coral heads or ledges or any safe hole with their whips facing outwards for protection in the daytime.

Regulations for Hunting Lobster in the Bahamas
You need a fishing license to hunt spiny lobster in the Bahamas which is included in your cruising permit when you arrive on your own boat or you can purchase one separately, usually from customs, if you're flying in. In the Bahamas:

  • you can only hunt lobster by free diving (breath holding using a snorkel only, no scuba tanks) and you can only use a Hawaiian Sling, a type of hand spear, to catch them, not a spear gun. (In most places we've visited in the Caribbean only the locals are permitted to hunt lobster.)
  • Lobsters should measure 3 3/8 inches across the carapace (main part of body) or have a 6 inch tail length. Paul marked these lengths on the end of his spear with a permanent marker so he could measure the lobster before choosing one for dinner.
  • Egg bearing females are protected.
  • Only 6 lobsters are permitted by one person at any one time.
  • The annual season is August 1 to March 31st, closed April 1 to July 31.
More information on regulations.


Steamed Lobster Tails


1 lobster tail per person (depending on size of lobster)
1 lime or lemon cut into sections
seasoning salt
1to 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil or melted butter
1 teaspoon of sea salt

Using kitchen shears cut the tails in half longways making sure the vein down the back is cleared out.

Pour about 1 inch of water into the bottom of a large pot and bring to a boil. Add a tablespoon of sea salt and a tablespoon of lime or lemon juice to the water. The juice prevents a strong smell of seafood in the boat. (I have also used clean sea water in place of fresh water plus sea salt. You be the judge.)

You can place a steamer insert inside the pot so that the lobster tails stay above the water level but I usually just place the half tails, shell side down, right into the boiling water.

Cover and steam for 8 minutes or until meat is no longer transparent and shells are reddish in colour.

Meanwhile, crush garlic cloves and add to 1/4 - 1/2 cup of olive oil or melted butter.

When tails are cooked remove with tongs and brush with a little of the garlic oil/ butter and sprinkle with seasoning salt. Save the rest of the garlic oil/butter for dipping into while eating.

Plate and garnish with slices of lemon or lime. Serve with rice and salad or cole slaw.

Steam until the meat is just opaque. Smaller lobsters are more tender.

There are many ways to prepare lobster tails and use the meat. Please tell us how you like it best in the comments below!

If you like this recipe you can save it to your Facebook timeline or email it to yourself. Thanks for sharing it with your friends too!

You might also enjoy these other sailing recipes.

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Sailing Recipe - Crab Nicoise

Crab Nicoise by Jayne Finn S/V Phantasia

This week’s recipe is submitted by cruising sailor and artist, Jayne Finn, of S/V Phantasia. Her favourite cruising ground is Eastern Canada. Thanks, Jayne!

I love a salad Nicoise as a main dish in hot weather. It's so elegant with the vegetables carefully arranged and is open to personalization depending on what's available or freshest. Switching it up keeps it fresh to your family too.

This version is from Newfoundland when crab was in season and the traditional tuna is replaced by crab legs purchased already cleaned and cooked.

On a bed of torn lettuce (use what is freshest…romaine, bib, leaf or even iceberg) arrange very lightly steamed whole green beans. I have substituted asparagus or yellow beans at times. Then add sliced tomatoes or halved cherry tom's and olives (again, lots of options but I usually use pitted). Thin-sliced radish and cucumber can be a nice addition. Around the edge of the plate add chunks of firm-cooked potatoes and quartered hard-boiled egg.

The piece-de-resistance…piled high crab legs but this could be shrimp, tuna or salmon, or in a pinch, tinned tuna.

Make a vinaigrette and drizzle over top. If you're an anchovy fan you can add to the vinaigrette for a more traditional, Mediterranean, taste.
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice or a white wine vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp minced onion
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
shake vigorously

Garnish with some fresh parsley or parsley flakes and grind some extra fresh black pepper over if you wish.


Jayne from Phantasia II


Bahamas - Shallow Draft Sailing on the Exuma Bank


Friday November 7/14 dawned bright and sunny in Elizabeth Harbour near George Town, Great Exuma, where we had been anchored off "Hamburger Beach", Stocking Island (~ 23 31.8N 75 46.0W) for the last couple of weeks aboard our Southerly 49 sailboat, Distant Shores II. Paul and I produce a television series about the cruising lifestyle called Distant Shores so had been using the time here at anchor cataloguing the many hours of footage we've been collecting for season 10 episodes of the series, scripting narration, doing rough editing as well as updating the show's website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sites. Around us were other cruising sailors working aboard their boats too doing website design, technical consultation, chartering and various types of online sales (see more on "Making Money while Cruising") as well as the endless boat projects that go on while you’re cruising.

Working While Cruising
We feel very blessed to be able to earn our living as television producers doing the thing we love best – sailing! However it requires that we fly home once in a while to do post-production work in the studio (a good chance to catch up with colleagues, friends and family) and pause in a place from time to time, usually where there is good fast unlimited internet access, in George Town we use Bahamas Wi-max. You can also get internet access while cruising through BTC Bahamas data plans for your open smartphone (we have iPhones) which is great since every main settlement has a tower meaning that even in remote islands you can usually get internet access. This service does not offer unlimited access so is good for e-mail and web surfing but not practical for uploading large video files, for example, which is necessary for our business.

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Cruising the Exuma Bank
But today it was time to unplug and get back to cruising! The Bahamas are one of the world's top cruising destinations and during the 25 years we've been sailing internationally and living aboard we have visited these jewel-like islands many times. There are over 700 islands and cays (pronounced keys) in the Bahamas which spread out over an area the size of the whole Caribbean so you can spend years here and always find new places to explore. Today was another example. We were heading to new destinations; for the next week we were going to sail the shallow waters along the west coast of Little Exuma and Great Exuma to visit and film our experiences in the small settlements and remote cays of the Exuma Bank, places we had never been before.

Shallow Draft Cruising
The word "Bahamas" comes from the Spanish "Baha Mar" or shallow seas so there are many places you can't go in the Bahamas if the draft of your boat is over 6 feet. However we cruised the Bahamas many times with our first boat, a Classic 37 named Two-Step, that drew 6 feet and we always had a fabulous time. However, our current boat, a Southerly 49, has a variable draft swing keel and with the keel raised Distant Shores II draws 2' 10” (0.88 m). With the keel down she is deep draft at 10' 4" (3.15 m). The shallow draft ability of this boat has changed the way we cruise since it has made so many more cruising destinations accessible for us. If you are considering buying a new boat we recommend considering shoal draft options.

Bah-warderick WS480
Our first boat Two-Step drew 6 feet and we cruised happily in the Bahamas

George Town Cruisers Net VHF 72
Before raising anchor we tuned into the George Town Cruisers Net on VHF 72 (daily at 8:00 a.m. local time) to say goodbye to everyone during the Arrivals and Departures section of the net and thank them for all the great hospitality - dinners on board and at the beach, happy hours, information exchange, you name it. The cruising community is very friendly and supportive!

Three Fathom Channel
By 9:00 a.m. we were underway. It's fun to stop in a place for a while but leaving for new places always gets us excited and energized. We never get tired of sailing to places unknown! There was a light north wind so we unfurled the genoa right away and sailed downwind south through Elizabeth Harbour waving to friends at anchor exiting the harbour an hour later at Three Fathom Channel (~ 23 29.4N 75 41.9W). Once out into the sound the breeze strengthened and we sailed along the east coast of the islands of Great Exuma and Little Exuma to Hog Cay Cut. The cut would take us out onto the shallow banks where we would then begin our voyage up the west coast along the Exuma Bank.

Hog Cay Cut
Hog Cay Cut (~ 23 24.2N 75 30.7W) is one of the trickiest cuts in the Bahamas since the current runs strong here and there is a hard bar (3 feet at low tide) so you have to time your passage carefully. Best time is at high water slack but we had timed our transit for mid-tide ebb so that we had enough depth for our shallow draft boat and were steering into a head current which gave us good control. The tide time is a little tricky to figure out at Hog Cay Cut since wind strength and direction can really alter the tide times on the banks but for planning purposes 2 hours after Nassau Tide (later than, add 2 hours to Nassau times) seems to the accepted time for planning. There are anchorages either side of the cut so if conditions aren't as expected you can wait at anchor until you get the tide conditions you are comfortable with.


The water is extremely clear so with me piloting from the bow and Paul at the helm we got through the cut without trouble and slid onto the shallow protected bank. It is like arriving on a different planet. The wind dropped, the seas flattened and the colours became brilliant. The bottom is pure white sand on the banks which makes the clear water a swimming pool blue, one of the great delights of boating in the Bahamas. The natural beauty and healing colours raise your spirits continually. The average depths we were seeing throughout the day and rest of the trip were 2 to 3 metres (6.5 to 9 feet) so with extreme care and attention to depths and tide heights you could do this trip with a draft of 1.8 m (6 feet).

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Onto the Banks
There were no other boats in sight except for the occasional local skiff whose owners gave us a friendly wave as they whizzed by. Unfortunately there was not enough wind for sailing so we puttered along under power taking in the wild scenery and viewing the birdlife as we made our way to the evening's anchorage off the tiny settlement of The Ferry at the west end of Little Exuma. There used to be a ferry there to Great Exuma that was replaced with a bridge in 1979.

Snorkeling on Coral Heads
Along the way we stopped and dove on some of the coral heads we were passing by and we have never seen reefs covered with so many fish! At one coral head Paul came upon a nurse shark and the largest hawksbill turtle we have ever seen. The shark took off when it saw us arrive but the old turtle stayed put for about half an hour before growing tired of our company. He slowly surfaced for air and headed off. Who knew they could hold their breath for so long?!

Turtle VCU 600480

Mosquito and No-See-Um Control
We reached our anchorage (~ 23 24.9N 75 37.3W) off McPhee's Creek just east of the channel through the mangroves into The Ferry settlement at around 4 p.m. (Our plan had been to go into the settlement to see if we could find a local place for dinner but with the recent time change the sun was pretty low already. (The Bahamas are in the Eastern Time Zone the same as New York and Toronto.) We decided to delay our trip ashore until the morning so that we weren't navigating mangroves in the dark when the mosquitos and no-see-ums (sandflies) would be out in full force. It's a good idea to have screens on your ports and hatches as well as the companionway when cruising shallow marshy areas in the Bahamas. We found a good companionway screen called a Bugbuster Companionway Screen made by Sogeman of Canada. (We're experts on mosquitos in Canada!). No-see-ums can fly right through mosquito netting so the best solution is to anchor well offshore so they can't get to you. You can buy no-see-um screens but they are so fine they don't let any air through so you might as well just close the hatches. If your boat has air conditioning and the power to run it at anchor you can close up anytime and avoid them altogether.

Green Flash
There was a lovely sunset that evening and we saw a green flash as the sun sunk below the horizon! This is a rare phenomenon to see! It happens when there is a clear open horizon and the last ray of sunlight refracts into a green glow. We would have missed it if we'd gone to town.

Green Flash as the sun sets

Dinghy Expedition
The next day was a mirror reflection of the day before so with sunshine and clear skies we jumped into the dinghy carrying water, bailing bucket, anchor, VHF handheld and navigated our way through the mangrove creek and main channel into The Ferry Settlement using the Navionics mobile app on our iPhone. It is a couple of miles from the outer anchorage to the settlement (there is an anchorage closer to town but too many bugs there) and when we got to the bridge two guys fishing from it directed us to the little ferry dock where we tied up our dinghy and walked up to "town". The settlement is really just a string of houses along the road but there was a little grocery store and snack bar where we were welcomed by the friendly owner, Freddy (short for Frederica) and across the street was a very casual outdoor grill, The Ferry Grillin', where we hung out with some local guys just shooting the breeze. We had lunch there sampling Richard’s (the owner) special conch salad (conch is a large shellfish) that included a crunchy local pink seaweed that the guys called Irish Moss. This was the first time we had encountered this recipe for conch salad in the Bahamas or seen this plant but the guys loved this stuff and swore that it had strong medicinal powers that prevent certain types of cancer. It is these types of encounters and experiences that makes traveling of any kind so wonderful!

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Jewfish Cays
Our new friends invited us to stay another day and go fishing and "conching" with them on Sunday which would have been great but we wanted to move on to take advantage of the weather and tides. Also we had a shipment of spare parts being flown to Staniel Cay in several days so couldn't linger. It was another day of motoring on Sunday to our next destination, the Jewfish Cays, where there is a narrow cut between this string of mostly uninhabited islands. The cut is marked by a light - a rare thing in the vast shifting sands of the Bahamas - but the cut is on a big rock on the mail boat route. The mail boats are crucial to the survival of the islanders since they bring weekly supplies. We went through the cut and anchored in the northeast bay (~23 27.5N 75 57.1W) just off an idyllic deserted beach where we went ashore for an evening walk. The next morning we went back for a barefoot run and swim off the pristine beach. We were sure to run lights during the night since we were close to the cut and local skiffs as well as the mailboat run through this area. Sadly, but not surprisingly, when darkness fell the light marking the channel never came on.

Rocky Point
Monday was a similar day of sunny skies and motoring into light headwinds. The wind was keeping to the north and northwest which is really unusual for this time of year and for so many days. But we continued along through the cays, stopping for a lunch stop and to dive on the coral heads around Hawksbill Rock (23 25.5N 76 06.3W) where there was another light which didn't look operational, then carrying on anchor at Rocky Point (~23 34.8N 76 04.2W) near the northwest corner of Great Exuma. We had a bouncy night since the wind picked up and blew uncharacteristically straight off the banks into the anchorage so we left at daylight.

Exuma Cays
Soon we were saying goodbye to Great Exuma and heading on to the rest of the Exuma Cays that we know well and love. Here’s a video clip showing some of the beautiful water you can sail in here, especially if you have a shallow draft boat.

Rudder Cut Cay
All though we’ve visited the Exuma Cays many times once again we had a new place to explore and a discovery to make. When we were in The Ferry one of the guys there was telling us about an underwater statue of a mermaid playing a grand piano that was off the coast of Rudder Cut Cay. We got out the charts and saw in a small bay an item marked 'piano'. That had to be it! We were on a quest now! We reached Rudder Cut around lunch time on Tuesday and sure enough we found it (~23 52.15N 76 14.15W). Paul played the piano for this patient mermaid and as you can see he had her full attention. The story of how she got here is that magician, David Copperfield, who owns nearby Musha Cay, commissioned this statue, hid it and held a contest encouraging people to find it.


Big Galliot Cay
The anchorage here was rather exposed in the continuing northwest winds so in the remaining daylight we headed north and tucked into Big Galliot Cay (~23 55.0N 76 17.3W). We saw two other sailboats that day, both catamarans, the first cruising boats we'd seen in three days.

Little Farmers Cay and Great Guana Cay
Wednesday the wind was really up and still from the north so we bashed our way to the protected harbour at Little Farmers Cay where we stopped at Farmers Cay Yacht Club (~23 57.9N 76 19.4W) to say hello to owner Roosevelt Nixon and top up our water tanks (40 cents/US gallon). The drinking water is really good here. Roosevelt takes good care of his desalinator changing filters regularly. If you've seen Distant Shores season 5 we interview Roosevelt and his wife in the Little Farmers Cay episode. After a good chat we carried on to try out the anchorage at Great Guana Cay at White Point (~23 04.1N 76 22.3) which is deserted and has a gorgeous beach. It was a little bouncy and exposed in the unusual north winds when we arrived but the forecast was for things to settle down by dinner so we hung in there and were rewarded for doing so. We spent two lovely days there beachcombing, swimming and snorkelling with the world to ourselves (but good internet through out phones from the tower at Little Farmers Cay).

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White Point, Great Guana Cay

Staniel Cay
Yesterday we arrived in time for lunch at Staniel Cay where we are anchored in our favourite spot off Thunderball Cave (a major scene in the James Bond movie Thunderball was filmed here hence the name). Watermakers Air that handles freight forwarding from Fort Lauderdale had already delivered our spare parts for the generator and furling gear which we picked up at Staniel Cay Yacht Club. We celebrated our mini cruise of the Exuma Bank with dinner at the yacht club.

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Sailing Recipe - Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers served at the cockpit table of Distant Shores II

Recently sailing friend Maggie came to visit us aboard Distant Shores II along with her husband, Douglas. Maggie is an excellent cook and she and I had a lot of fun cooking together in Distant Shores' galley for the weekend that they sailed with us.

Margaret preparing Stuffed Peppers on board Distant Shores II

Maggie uses her microwave a lot when cooking at home so she shared some microwave tricks and recipes with me (Paul and I just use the small 800 watt microwave we have on board for reheating and thawing) and I shared some pressure cooker recipes with her.

The 800 watt Bosch microwave oven on Distant Shores II

Maggie and Doug are planning to go cruising in a couple of years so Maggie wanted to get familiar with pressure cooking which she doesn't do now at home. She's feels a little nervous of the steam and high pressure just like I did before I came to love my pressure cooker which is so great on the boat!

Why do most cruising cooks love pressure cooking? Things cook very quickly in a pressure cooker compared to a conventional oven so less cooking fuel is used and the boat doesn't get so hot as a result since you're not running the oven or stovetop for long periods. Pressure cooking also keeps steam contained until you release the pressure which disperses rapidly and this prevents build up of humidity and condensation in the boat. The locking lid makes it very safe when underway especially when the seas are rough. But best of all, meals come out moist and tender in a pressure cooker!

PressureCooker480 (copy)

The recipe I'm going to share with you today is Maggie's recipe for Stuffed Peppers. Using a conventional oven her Stuffed Peppers take about an hour to cook. When she does them in her large microwave at home they take about 35 minutes. Using the small microwave on the boat we would have had to run the generator for about 45 minutes, so I adapted her recipe for the pressure cooker which we tested and they cooked in 15 minutes!

Although the recipe and photos demonstrate what we did using the pressure cooker, I have included Maggie's instructions for how to prepare Stuffed Peppers in a regular oven AND a microwave too, so you have three recipes for Stuffed Peppers today.

By the way, you can also stuff eggplants, zucchinis, onions and tomatoes!

Stuffed Peppers

6 medium bell peppers (we used 4 peppers)
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (we used 1 lb ground beef and had some left over)
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of worchestershire sauce
A few dashes of Tabasco sauce (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt (we used 1 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1 cup cooked rice
1 10 3/4 oz can of condensed tomato soup + 1/2 cup water (we substituted about a 1/4 cup of tomato sauce per stuffed pepper).
2 cups grated cheddar cheese (we used about 1 cup of grated cheese for 4 peppers)
1/2 cup of water or broth for pressure cooker method

Pressure Cooker Method
Cut off tops of peppers; remove seeds and membrane. Chop up tops of peppers discarding stem.



Mix raw beef with chopped pepper tops, onion, garlic, worchestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce (if desired), salt, pepper and cooked rice.


Divide evenly and stuff into peppers.



Add 1/2 cup water to the pressure cooker. Arrange peppers upright snugly in the steamer basket of your pressure cooker.


Blend soup and water until smooth (or substitute tomato sauce) and spoon over peppers.


Top with grated cheese.


Close and lock the lid.

Turn the heat up to high and when the pressure cooker reaches pressure, lower the heat enough to keep it at pressure.

Cook at 15 minutes at high pressure.

Release pressure with valve if your cooker has this or, if not, immerse cooker in water to bring pressure down rapidly.

Open the pressure cooker being careful of the steam.

Using tongs, move the peppers to plates and serve.


Microwave Method

Cut off tops of peppers; remove seeds and membrane.
Chop up tops of peppers discarding stem.
Mix raw beef with chopped pepper tops, onion, garlic, worchestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce (if desired), salt, pepper and cooked rice.
Divide evenly into peppers.
Arrange peppers upright snugly in a 3 quart casserole, so one pepper fits into centre of dish.
Blend soup and water until smooth (or substitute tomato sauce) and spoon over peppers.
Microwave at High (10) for 28 to 32 minutes. May require more time in small microwave.
Sprinkle with cheese, cover again and let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Using tongs, move the peppers to plates and serve.

Conventional Oven Method

Cut off tops of peppers; remove seeds and membrane.
Chop up tops of peppers discarding stem and set aside.
Cook peppers in enough boiling water to cover them for 5 minutes. Drain.
Mix worchestershire sauce, chopped onion and chopped pepper tops into the raw beef.
In a medium frying pan, saute meat, onions and chopped pepper tops on the stovetop until onion and peppers are soft and meat is cooked through.
Drain off fat from meat and add cooked rice, garlic, salt and pepper.
Divide evenly and spoon into peppers.
Arrange peppers upright in an 8-inch square dish.
Blend soup and water until smooth (or substitute tomato sauce) and spoon over peppers.
Bake at 350° F for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Uncover. Sprinkle with cheese; recover and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes until cheese melts.
Using tongs, move the peppers to plates and serve.

You might also enjoy these other sailing recipes.

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Sailing Clothing for Tropics

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Paul keeping cool in the tropics

Last week Paul and I went from wearing as little as possible to keep cool on the boat in the tropics to wearing hats, gloves, sweaters and jackets at the Annapolis Sailboat Show in Annapolis MD near Washington DC on the east coast of the USA.

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Paul on the ferry at the Annapolis Sailboat Show dressed for October weather

When long-distance cruising and living aboard it is important to have clothes for all climates and occasions, yet it is a common mistake to bring too many clothes. When travelling and living afloat you do not need the extensive wardrobe you do when working and living ashore. Life is much more casual and, since you are not seeing the same people every day, you don’t need such a variety of outfits. Then there is the question of space, which is always limited, so it is best to choose clothing that you can mix and match together easily.

For the last two seasons we have been doing most of our cruising in tropical climates so the clothes we keep easily accessible are for hot weather. Our cold weather wardrobe, used when cruising in Scandinavia, the UK, Holland and Germany, is now in deep storage but was good to have onboard for our recent flight to the Annapolis Sailboat Show where we would have frozen otherwise.

We find the most comfortable fabric to wear in hot climates is a cotton-polyester blend. It doesn't wrinkle, is cool and absorbent but moisture wicks away and it dries quickly. It's great if you have to do laundry by hand since it drip-dries nicely, especially in a trade wind. We find 100% cotton is too absorbent; it always feels clammy to us in really hot weather. It also wrinkles badly and tends to fade quickly in strong sunshine. It doesn't seem to be as hard wearing as cotton-polyester either. There are also lots of high-tech wicking fabrics popular with tropical cruisers today too. But what is really important is that the clothes you pack are what YOU are comfortable wearing and allow you to do the job at hand.

In many countries that we have visited outside North America, people dress more formally to go to town for simple chores such as grocery shopping. If you show up in shorts and a T-shirt, it is considered disrespectful. When Paul and I go ashore, we “dress to belong”, especially if we are clearing into the country. You can really get off to a bad start if a customs official thinks you are not being respectful. Paul shaves and trims his beard and wears long pants even if it's hot and a nice shirt; I tie back my long hair and put on a skirt or sun dress, then off we go.

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Sheryl keeping cool in a light sundress

Our friend cruising friend, Elizabeth, said wearing her “missionary dress” opened a lot of doors for her. This was an ankle-length, high-necked dress. She found when she wore it in the Caribbean, that the local women felt more comfortable with her. People invited her to their homes and she even got better prices at the local market because she was “obviously a god-fearing woman”. Having known Elizabeth for a number of years, Paul and I thought this was quite hilarious.

As a woman, I also discovered that wearing a dress is much more comfortable when the heat and humidity are severe. It's healthier too; wearing confining clothing in the heat (or sitting in a damp bathing suit) allows bacteria to incubate in your groin causing heat rashes and painful urinary tract infections. For the same reason, you should never wear nylon underpants in the tropics; cotton is more breathable therefore better for your well-being and comfort.

For passage-making in the tropics, we have several sets of warm clothes because at night or in bad weather you seem to need warm clothes. Sweat suits and fleece are great because you can move around easily in them, they are comfortable under your foul weather gear and you can wear them as pajamas when you're off watch. If you're called on deck in an emergency, you can jump out of your sleeping bag and still be decently dressed!

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Sailing in the BVI where warm rain showers usually pass quickly

Foul weather gear should be comfortable and lightweight for tropical cruising as well as easy to move in so you can handle lines and sails. It should also be easy to get in and out of. If it's not, you probably won't put it on as often as you need to. If you get a douse of saltwater, your clothes will never dry and, before you know it, your teeth will be chattering.

Foul weather gear doesn’t need to be expensive. It just has to keep you dry. We give ours lots of ventilation by hanging them in the ventilated wet locker onboard Distant Shores II. Whenever we get the chance, we give them a fresh water rinse and a little air and sunshine to keep them fresh. We also keep a set of lightweight nylon rain gear for wet rides in the dinghy or if rain is expected when we are ashore. They roll up in their own compact little pouches and are easy to store in our tote bag or backpack. But often the rain and temperature is so warm in daytime we just enjoy getting cooled off in the shower and quickly air dry.

One winter when we got work ashore in Gibraltar, my mother shipped Paul two suits which we’d left at home (I had enough dresses with me) and we have kept good clothing on board, as well as our briefcases, ever since. Opportunities to work in other countries are a great way to gain insights into a new culture, make some interesting friends as well as adding some dollars to the cruising kitty.

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Paul suitably attired for a banquet dinner for the annual Southerly Regatta in England

We keep several sets of dress clothing since we are often invited to local events that require it. In southern Spain the ex-patriot community frequently host formal parties and in Bermuda many restaurants require that men wear dinner jackets (but not ties... Paul asked, but they said “Oh no! That would be too hot”!!??).

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Nice to have a few sets of dressy clothes for evenings out

We have a couple of nice hanging lockers on the boat where we hang our dress clothing and long sleeved shirts which we wear a lot for sun protection.

We store most of our other clothes – collared golf shirts (they protect your neck from the sun), T-shirts, shorts and bathing suits, etc. folded on shelves in well ventilated lockers in our forward cabin. They take up less space this way and aren't as likely to chafe as when they are swinging on hangers in a hanging locker. If you fold them carefully, you won't need to iron them.

Sun hats are important parts of our sailing wardrobe and for many years we have been fans of Tilley Hats which stay strapped on in the wind, have a secret pocket, float if you accidentally drop them overboard and are so long-wearing they have a lifetime guarantee.

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Paul wearing his Tilley hat and long-sleeve wicking sailing shirt

Footwear consists of boat shoes (and boots for cold rainy weather) to protect our feet on board, sandals for walking around town, Crocs or water shoes for dinghy exploring and one pair of dress shoes each.

You really don't need a lot of clothing as a liveabaord sailor but what you do store onboard must make you feel good, protect you from the sun, not get caught easily when underway, allow you “to belong” ashore, and give you the option to attend a variety of social activities.

How about you? What's your clothing strategy when sailing?


United States Sailboat Show Annapolis

Toasting the boat show with a Pussers Painkiller is a sailors’ tradition
at the United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis MD

What is it about boat shows that makes a sailor's heart sing?

Is it the “toy store” appeal? The joy of being surrounded by every wonderful type of gear or gadget ever designed to make time on your boat safer, easier or more comfortable?

Or is it the opportunity to gather so much information all in one delightful day or weekend by talking to vendors, picking up brochures to pour over on cold winter nights or by attending informative seminars?


About 100 people attended the World Cruising Club’s Ocean Sailing Forum we spoke at.

Or perhaps it's just being amongst your own kind? Your Tribe. The people that don't think you're crazy because you're thinking of selling everything, moving onto your boat and sailing off into the sunset for a grand adventure. Who, like you, are happy to talk for hours about boats and boating.

With ICW veteran, Wally Moran, and his faithful dog and sailing companion, Aduana.

Paul and I would have to say it's all of the above and probably lots more. Are you looking for something special this year? What do you love about boat shows? I’ll bet it’s more than beer nuts and rum punches :-) Please tell us in the comments below.

Last week we had the opportunity to attend and participate in the grandaddy of all boat shows, the United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland, the world's largest and oldest in-water boat show. Until this year it's been all new boats but for the first time ever they added a Brokers Cove so that you could take a peek at great used boats too. If you're interested in almost any type of boat you'll probably be able to see it at this boat show and get the feel of it in the water.

As owners of a variable-draft Southerly 49 sailboat, we’re always curious about other shallow-draft yachts so Paul and I checked out the Antares and Gunboat catamarans, Seaward Yachts with their radical interior design and also took a good look around Jimmy Cornell's (author of World Cruising Routes, founder of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) new Garcia Exploration 45, Aventura, which he attempted to sail through the Northwest Passage last summer as part of his new rally the Blue Planet Odyssey.

The Antares catamaran was one of the shallow-draft boats we checked out.

But while all these boats are impressive and have many interesting features we haven't found a boat we like better than our Southerly 49 yet so we're happy to say we'll be sailing Distant Shores II for another couple of years :-)

If a new boat isn't in your plans or budget this year there were countless vendors in tents with an atmosphere of a festive medieval fair to inform and entertain you. Selling fixtures, rope, fittings, electronics, cleaning products; personalized T-shirts, cups and towels; machinery, jewellery, canvas, magazines, gadgets and inventive doo-dahs of all descriptions. We always find something intriguing and useful.

This year’s find - polarized bi-focal sunglasses for sailors needing reading glasses.

Paul's boat show discovery this year was polarized bi-focal sunglasses for $34.95 at Sunglass Haven. A friend recommended these polarized sunglasses with reading glasses built in. Now Paul can read charts and chartplotters without switching between sunglasses and reading glasses. This will make a huge difference to him on watch!

I was in the market for a new sewing machine for the boat. For the past 25 years I have been using an old hand-crank Singer sewing machine which can sew through 6 layers of canvas, doesn't require battery power but only does a straight stitch. Since we have some new projects in mind and now own a boat with a generator we thought it was time to get a more sophisticated sewing machine that can seriously handle sail repairs as well as complicated canvas projects. We're looking at the
Sailrite Ultrafeed LS-1 PLUS Walking Foot sewing machine. If any of you have this machine we'd love to know what you think of it and invite you to post your comments below or send us an e-mail.

Numerous sailing schools were also to be found at the boat show to get you or your mate started in sailing or to help you take your skills to the next level. Charter agencies were selling bareboat and skippered vacations in exotic locales.

Many of you have been asking if Paul and I will be bringing back our Share the Sail program which we ran a few years ago. We are looking at our filming schedule for this year to see if we can fit in a few weeks here and there this year to offer you a hands-on week of sailing and personal coaching aboard our Southerly 49 sailboat, Distant Shores II. If we can manage it around the TV show's filming schedule, we will go over your plans and help you design a cruise of your own that meets your personal criteria and budget plus help any of your crew overcome their fears or concerns while sailing together. We'll keep you posted...

Walking the show we met many fans of the Distant Shores sailing TV series.

Those looking to gain more knowledge or ask questions of experts while at the boat show had a variety of seminars to choose from each day. Paul and I participated on the expert panel with sailing journalist, Charles Doane, and Caribbean 1500 participants, Jennifer and Scott Brigham, for the World Cruising Club's Ocean Sailing Forum where almost 100 people of all ages keen on doing some offshore sailing showed up early Saturday morning.

Young sailors and fans of Distant Shores give Sheryl a present at the Ocean Sailing Forum

Many were considering doing the Caribbean 1500 Rally which goes from Portsmouth VA at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay to Nanny Cay, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands in early November. We filmed the start of this rally in Distant Shores season 6. Andy Schell, moderator of the panel and organizer of the Caribbean 1500 Rally recorded the morning's discussion in a two-part podcast for his 59 Degrees North sailing podcast so if you missed the seminar you can listen to Part 1 here and listen to Part 2 here.

Andy Schell moderator of the World Cruising Club’s Ocean Sailing Forum and expert panel.
An attentive crowd at the World Cruising Club’s Ocean Sailing Forum

Note: The World Cruising Club will be offering the Ocean Sailing Forum for the first time at the Toronto International Boat Show in January 2015 where Paul and I will be be on the panel.

On Sunday October 12 we gave a presentation on “Outfitting and Provisioning for the ICW” as part of SAIL magazine's Secrets of the ICW all-day seminar along with ICW veteran, Wally Moran, who presented “Sailing South: Plan the ICW Trip of a Lifetime”, Mark Doyle co-author with his wife Diana of On the Water ChartGuides who presented “Perfect Places to Plunk It: 50 Frugal Favorites on the ICW” and Jeff Grossman and Jean Levine of Two Can Sail couples sail training who spoke on “Couples Cruise the ICW”.

SAIL magazine editor, Meredith Laitos and her team organized a great day of
presentations for Secrets of the ICW seminar attendees.

Many participants signed up for SAIL magazine's ICW Snowbird Rally which is happening this November. Folks said the rally gave them a firm date to commit to their dream and make it happen. Being in company with other sailors gave them added confidence for taking their first steps heading south.

Sunday October 12 was also our 29th wedding anniversary and, knowing this, some participants of SAIL’s all-day seminar, Scott, Nancy, Vicki, and Matt kindly organized a special cake which they presented to us as a surprise. We were very touched and shared it with all 160 seminar attendees. Thanks guys!

A kind gift for our 29th wedding anniversary

Paul and I were also at the Raymarine booth every day of the show answering questions about electronics and navigation for cruising.
We enjoyed meeting many fans of the Distant Shores sailing adventure TV series at the booth and also as we walked around the boat show. Thanks so much to all of you for coming to say hello and telling us how our programs have helped you fulfill your cruising plans. Many had stopped at Annapolis on their way south on their first cruising voyage. Congratulations to you all and to those planning a voyage in future!


It was great to meet so many Distant Shores fans and friends at the boat show!

Most people we spoke to were taking advantage of the 2-day boat show pass since there is so much to see at the Annapolis Boat Show.

The United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis falls on the Columbus Day long weekend each year which is also the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend (our harvest comes earlier) so sailors drive or fly in from all over the USA and Canada as well as many foreign countries. You really find yourself amidst an enthusiastic like-minded crowd!

If you missed it this year we highly recommend you check it out in October 2015 and hope to see you there.

The next boat show where we’ll be conducting seminars is the Toronto International Boat Show in January 2015. When times are confirmed we’ll be posting them on our Seminar and Events page.

In the meantime, we’re back on board Distant Shores II in the Bahamas where we’ll be filming more informative episodes of the Distant Shores sailing TV series to help you plan your own adventures as we continue to explore these beautiful islands.

Back on board Distant Shores II at Stocking Island, Exuma Cays, Bahamas

Wishing you an enjoyable and restful Sunday.

Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard S/V Distant Shores II
P.S. Not familiar with the Distant Shores sailing TV series? Click the image below for a free 30-minute sample episode about the Bahamas.



Recipe - Herb Roasted Cornish Game Hen

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Cruising throughout the Caribbean and Bahamas over the years, we have found that Cornish Game Hens are a popular item in the freezer sections of most grocery stores both large and small in the islands. They are compact, reasonably priced and make a very impressive meal when you want a Sunday Roast, a celebratory dinner or to treat guests on board.

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Our New York friends, Nick and Jennifer, first introduced us to the versatility of Cornish Game Hens as excellent items to include in your provisioning list on our very first cruise to the Bahamas in 1989/90. They had a small freezer on board their boat, SV Moonrise, but the hens are small so they stuffed a few into the box to have for special occasions at anchor. They roasted them plain or basted them with orange juice, stuffed them with wild rice or regular stuffing – a variety of ways. We were sold!

We didn't have a freezer on our first boat like they did but we would buy one or two frozen Cornish Game Hens which would keep in the fridge for several days as they thawed out.

Two people can generally share one Cornish Game Hen but it is not unreasonable to serve each person at the table a small hen each.

Cornish Game Hens generally can be found in weights from 16 to 20 oz. and can be prepared, dressed and stuffed just as you would a regular chicken. I can barely tell the difference in taste and they're quicker to cook and prepare than a large chicken. Paul and I always split one, even a 16 oz.

Herb Roasted Cornish Game Hen
1 Cornish Game Hen per 1-2 people depending on appetite level and size of hen.
Butter or olive oil for basting
1 slice of lemon per hen (optional)
1 garlic clove peeled per hen (optional)
1 bay leaf per hen (optional)
Your favourite dried or fresh herb(s), if desired. (e.g. Oregano, rosemary, or poultry seasoning)
Salt and pepper

If frozen, thaw before cooking.

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C)

Basic: Season with salt and pepper inside and out.
Herb Roasted: Season with salt, pepper and herbs inside and out. In cavity, stuff a slice of lemon (about 1/8 - ¼ lemon), a peeled garlic clove, and a small bay leaf.

Lightly rub outside with olive oil or butter.

Truss (tie up the wings and the legs) as you would a chicken, if you wish.

Place breast side up in a roasting pan or casserole dish.

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Roast uncovered, basting frequently with butter, oil and natural juices as the hen roasts. If the hen weighs over 18 oz (1 lb, 2 oz) cook for 1 hour 15 minutes or until juices run clear when thickest part of hen is pierced and temperature on an meat thermometer reads 180 F.

To brown, increase temperature to 400 F during last 10 minutes.

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To make gravy I use a gravy mix made with the vegetable water and de-fatted juices from the pan. Quick and easy!

Serve with steamed vegetables and roast potatoes.

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Plan your passages around the world with us aboard Distant Shores
Order the Super Pack on DVD and get Season 1-10 Downloadable.
Order the Super Pack on Vimeo and we will send you the code for Season 10 as a bonus.


Bahamas - Green Turtle Cay and Boat Yard Fun

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This week Paul and I enter our second week of working in the boat yard at Abaco Yacht Services at Green Turtle Cay in the Abaco island group of the Bahamas. We had a couple of days delay with heavy rain and thunderstorms last week and now we're waiting for a part to come in by courier, a part we need to install before launching, and so it goes.

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But delays are common when doing annual maintenance or boat repairs especially in off-the-beaten-path places like Green Turtle Cay where communications and shipping can be more time-consuming in some situations.

Related: Paul's Tech Blog “Problems in Paradise”.

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But despite this, we like working and cruising in quiet charming places like Green Turtle Cay because life is good and the people friendly. When you are in beautiful and supportive environments the occasional things that go wrong just seem easier to handle.

Although Paul and I enjoy doing our own work on the boat, boat yard work can be messy and in hot climates can be exhausting, so finding a nice location like Green Turtle Cay and setting things up to be fun helps to keep your enthusiasm up.

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One of the major things we've done to make this year's round of boat maintenance more pleasant is to rent the cottage next to the boat yard office. We normally stay on board when working in the yard since it's convenient and saves money, but soaring temperatures in the boat yard in September in the Bahamas makes onboard living onshore pretty uncomfortable and with the mosquitos and no-see-ums that come out at night we decided to treat ourselves. (At anchor away from shore there is always a breeze and mosquitos are rarely a problem. It's just because the boat is ashore.)

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The Twin Gables Cottage is as convenient as living on board in the yard and it's nice to have a relaxing air conditioned place to retreat to for a shower and a rest when we need a break from boat work. The cottage has a huge kitchen and we're having fun cooking and baking things we wouldn't on the boat in the heat of the boat yard.

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There's lots of space so we've even had friends over for a meal and drinks. It is adding a sense of having a vacation to our yard work, part of our “keep it fun” philosophy. If you can work such a thing into your budget ($125 per day with discounts for a week or more) and the yard you're working in offers this opportunity we would highly recommend it.

Related: For photos of the cottage interior see “Back to the Boat in the Bahamas”

Many of our cruising friends in the Mediterranean do this each winter. They find a nice apartment or house to rent close to the boat yard and move off the boat for a couple of months while doing work and new projects on their boat. It offers a change of scene and an opportunity to become a part of the community in the foreign country that you're visiting.

Another thing we recommend doing to keep things fun during annual maintenance is to get out of the boat yard at least once a day. We can walk to the beach from the boat yard at Abaco Yacht Services which gets the blood flowing and a swim helps ease and stretch out those aching muscles. This too adds to the sense of having a vacation and gets our mind off bottom paint.

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We also made sure we had transportation so we could easily run for supplies (there is no public transportation) but also to go to the little settlement of New Providence for a drink and the occasional meal out.

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These gas powered golf carts are the main mode of transportation on Green Turtle Cay and can handle the potholes in the roads on the island. Driving them is fun!

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Yesterday the community held a fundraising dinner in town to raise money to buy new Christmas lights so they could expand their annual Festival of Lights in December. A heaping meal of fried chicken, macaroni casserole and coleslaw was just $10 plus we met a lot of friendly folks from town. We returned to bottom painting with renewed enthusiasm today.

Doing little things to add a sense of fun and “holiday” can make all the difference when you’re dealing with difficult tasks while cruising. It’s easy to get focused in on boat jobs and forget that the reason you’re “out there” is to travel, explore, make new friends and enjoy new experiences.


Recipe - Sour Orange Pie

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Sour Orange Pie (left) with graham cracker crust and (right) with an Oreo cookie pie crust.

Sour Orange Pie is a refreshing twist on Key Lime Pie and it is just as easy to make.

Sour oranges look like small regular oranges but are bitter. They are used in cooking due to the intense flavour and aroma of the essential oils. They are also used in perfume. You can find them fresh in semi-tropical and tropical regions such as Florida, the Bahamas and Caribbean. The juice is also available bottled in the same way that lemon and lime juice is and this is what I use on the boat when I can't find fresh sour oranges.

A graham pie crust is used just as in Key Lime Pie but a delicious alternative is an Oreo cookie chocolate pie crust, so tasty with the orange flavour! I have found both graham cracker pie shells and Oreo cookie pie shells pre-made in the baking sections of some of the smallest grocery stores in the Bahamas and Caribbean.

Sour Orange Pie
9” graham cracker pie shell or Oreo cookie pie shell
14 oz. (395 g) can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks (Can save whites to make meringue topping if desired. Recipe follows.)
½ cup (125 ml) bottled sour orange juice or juice of 6-8 fresh squeezed sour oranges *

* Alternative 1: If you don't have access to sour oranges or bottled sour orange juice combine 1/3 cup regular orange juice (1-2 oranges) plus 1/3 cups lemon juice (2 lemons) with 1/8 cup of sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes reducing liquid to ½ cup. This thickens the juice creating a more intense flavour. Cool.

* Alternative 2: You can also substitute ½ cup lime juice for sour orange juice to make Key Lime Pie.

Combine sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks and sour orange juice blending until smooth.

Pour filling into cool pie shell. Cover with meringue topping if desired. Recipe follows.

Bake at 350 F (180 C) for 12-15 minutes or until mixture sets.

Allow to stand 10 minutes before refrigerating.

Just before serving, top with freshly whipped cream (if not using meringue, see recipe below) and/or garnish with orange slices. (I use canned mandarin orange slices in a pinch as pictured above.)

Meringue Topping
If you prefer a meringue topping, beat 2 large egg whites until frothy. Gradually beat in ¼ cup (50 g) of sugar until stiff.

Spread over pie filling sealing to edge of crust.

Bake as above or until meringue is golden.


Back to the Boat in the Bahamas

Home in Canada still means boating!
Paul, his nephew Sam, Sheryl and her niece Giorgia at the LCYC Junior Sail Program

One of the joys of part-time cruising is that you can enjoy the best of both worlds – life ashore with family and friends at the best times of year and life afloat living a healthy outdoor lifestyle while enjoying new destinations and the camaraderie of the international cruising community.

This September Paul and I will be celebrating 25 years of cruising together and for 16 of those years we have maintained a home base and studio back in Canada. We need to get home to do post-production work in our studio for the Distant Shores sailing TV series as well as other video, writing and speaking projects but we love the time at home to reconnect with our loved ones and recharge our batteries and enthusiasm for the cruising life. When you cruise long-term you can start to take things for granted.

Related: “Maintaining a Homebase while Cruising”

This summer we were home for 6 weeks and last Thursday we returned to our boat, Distant Shores II, a Southerly 49 sailboat with a variable-draft keel, where we had dry-stored her in the boatyard at Abaco Yacht Services (AYS) on Green Turtle Cay, Abacos, in the Bahamas.

The Bahamas is in the hurricane belt and July and August is right smack in the middle of hurricane season (June to November) but Pantaenius Yacht Insurance, our insurers for many years, offers a hurricane clause protecting us for a higher deductible in named storms if we prepare the boat correctly in the event of a storm.

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This includes dry-storing the boat with tie-downs which the boatyard at Abaco Yacht Services offers as well as a secure location.

So on Thursday August 28 we were up at 4:00 AM to be at Pearson International Airport in Toronto to catch an 8:00 AM flight to Charlotte NC, then to Nassau, New Providence, the main hub in the Bahamas. We flew over Green Turtle Cay and the boatyard en route which gave us a thrill.

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In Nassau we had a two-hour lay-over before catching our next flight on Pineapple Air, “the sweetest way to fly” to Treasure Cay in the Abacos.

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The Pineapple Express is a little 12-seater plane and since the 7 passengers booked were there in good time we left 15 minutes ahead of schedule for the half-hour flight to Treasure Cay.

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We had the same pilots flying us there as we'd had on the way home who we could watch at work as we flew, dodging thunder clouds, to our destination. It is a pleasure to watch them operate the plane. They hardly need to speak to each other but work in harmony, knowing what each has to do and when. And they are so laid back!

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We arrived at the little airport at Treasure Cay and was met by “Uncle Lou” the taxi driver who for $10 US drove us smartly to the ferry dock so we could catch the 4:00 PM ferry across the sound to Green Turtle Cay. The ferry ($13 US per person) delivered us right to the dock at Abaco Yacht Services where we received a warm welcome from the staff at the boatyard.

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All was well despite two tropical storms that had blown through in our absence. The boats are well cared for and properly prepared here at AYS. As you can see, Paul was very happy to get back to the boat :-)

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August and September are the hottest months of the year in the Bahamas and even though AYS allows you to live aboard your boat while you're working on it they also offer a charming air conditioned 3-bedroom cottage for rent right on the property ($125 per night) that we decided to take advantage of. There is a special rate for a week or more.

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Many boatyards offer some kind of accommodation so you can tear your boat apart while you’re doing work on it, but it's usually just a hotel-style room not a lovely place like this to retreat to for a break from the heat and to relax in at the end of the day.

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The kitchen is fully equipped and a pleasure to cook in. We feel as if we're on holiday!

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We also have “wheels”. The main mode of transportation around the island is off-road golf carts so the AYS office manager, Mary, organized a rental for us from Island Road Runner Cart Rentals. The carts are regularly $45 per day but you can get a discounted rate off-season from them. Most cart rental services offer this and special weekly rates as well.

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It's a great to way to get to the beach (which we could actually walk to easily from the yard) but mostly it’s convenient for running for supplies while we're working on the boat to get her ready for the upcoming season. We hope to launch by the end of next week and spend a few more weeks cruising around the Bahamas before heading south through the islands for another season. (We will be taking a short break in October to the USA to conduct seminars about Outfitting and Provisioning for Cruising and Ocean Sailing at the United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis MD the weekend of October 9-13th. Hope to see you there!)

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Stay tuned for more adventures in the Bahamas and Caribbean!


Recipe - Paul's Red Lentil Soup

Paul's Red Lentil Soup

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Paul was first introduced to lentil soup by our Italian sailing friends, Antonella and Giorgio aboard S/V Narena, while cruising in Turkey. It was around Christmastime and we were in Fethiye on the south coast of Tureky and one sunny day we all decided to go for a sail despite the snow on the surrounding mountaintops. At sea level it was warm in the sun. All other boats were hunkered down for the winter.

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Then Paul and Giorgio decided to go diving! Brrr! Giorgio was determined to catch a fish for dinner and to also collect shellfish which he and Antonella eat raw like sushi – a special Christmas treat. So off our men went despite the cold temperature of the water.

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Paul and Giorgio were successful in their mission but blue with cold and shivering after their dive so Antonella whipped up a hearty and warming lentil soup in her pressure cooker aboard Narena using red lentils and some vegetables she had on hand.

Paul loved it and over the years has revised the mixture of vegetables and herbs to create his own special recipe. He often makes this soup up before a passage to sit on the stovetop while we're sailing for a quick, nourishing, easily-digestible meal. He recently made up a pot when we weathered Tropical Storm Chantal with the boat tied in the mangroves in Martinique. It was a warming comfort food in the midst of the raging storm. We documented the experience including how we set up the boat in the mangroves in Distant Shores episode 9-12 (#116) which you can download if you’d like to see it.

This is another “kitchen sink” style recipe that you can easily adapt to the vegetables and herbs you find in the places where you're cruising. For example, Paul sometimes adds celery, green pepper or spinach if it's available. If fresh parsley can't be found he will use dried parsley or oregano. A dash or two of tarragon adds a wonderful flavour too!

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Paul's Red Lentil Soup
1 large potato, chopped
1 large leek, chopped (or 3 green onions)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 small bunch of parsley, chopped
1 large bay leaf
pepper to taste
1 ½ cups red lentils (Or 1 cup red lentils plus ½ cup green lentils for added texture)
6 cups of water

Saute chopped vegetables in olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.

Add pepper.

When vegetables are soft add water and bay leaf, then lentils.

Stir and simmer on medium-low heat until all vegetables are cooked and broth thickens, about 30-40 minutes. If it gets too thick you can add more water. Stir often to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pan. (Note: If you use green and red lentils, the green lentils take longer to cook so you will need to simmer the soup longer, for about an hour total, in a regular saucepan.)

You can also make this soup in the pressure cooker in about 10-13 minutes at 15 lbs. pressure but it nearly always sticks to the pan on the bottom since you can't stir it while under pressure.

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Remove the bay leaf before serving.

Puree if desired but we like it chunky, more like a vegetable stew, for a heartier meal.

Serve hot with fresh bread or rolls.

Makes 6-8 servings.


Recipe - Caesar Potato Salad

Caesar Potato Salad

This potato salad is a delightful mix of the best flavours of a caesar salad and classic potato salad combined.

I adapted it from a recipe I found in the Taste of Home's Quick Cooking Annual Recipes 2001 Cookbook submitted as “Grandma's Potato Salad” by Susan Plocher of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

It's a bit of a “kitchen sink” creation, meaning you can add or subtract from the recipe depending on what you have on hand or how many people you are serving. It is also easy to halve or quarter the recipe if you want to make less.

Caesar Potato Salad is always a winner at Pot Luck Suppers!

Caesar Potato Salad
6-7 medium red potatoes (about 2 pounds)
¾ cups mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
½ cup plain yoghurt
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
2-3 dill pickle spears chopped
4 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon celery seed
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Dash onion salt
Dash garlic powder
4 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped
1-2 tablespoons of bacon bits or 1-3 strips of bacon cooked and crumbled.
Place scrubbed potatoes, leaving skins on, in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil.

Cook for 10-20 minutes or until tender, drain and cool slightly.

Slice or cube potatoes into a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, yoghurt, onions, pickles, mustard, horesradish, garlic and seasonings.

Pour over potatoes and toss to coat.

Gently stir in eggs and bacon bits.

Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Makes 8 servings.


Recipe - English Muffins

English Muffins
English Muffins make a nice change from bread or regular toast in the morning and are easy to make and store on a boat.

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Commonly used in breakfast sandwiches such as Egg McMuffins, English Muffins are a type of skillet bread which means they can be made on the stovetop. Most yeast breads need time in a hot oven which heats up the boat, undesirable in the tropics but welcome when cruising in cooler climates!

Some recipes for English Muffins call for finishing the muffins in the oven but I never do and they're delicious. Instead, after browning both sides, I put the lid on the frying pan and “bake” them for 2-3 minutes that way. Baking them in the oven does make for a lighter fluffier less chewy muffin however.

This recipe, which I got online from All Recipes, makes about 16 English Muffins which I store in a self-sealing plastic bag. They keep well for a few days even without refrigeration.

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English Muffins
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) active dry yeast
1 cup (250 mL) warm milk
1 cup (250 mL) warm water at 110 F (45 C)
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter, melted
2 tbsps (30 mL) granulated sugar
6 cups (800 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (4 mL) salt
1/3 cup (75 mL) cornmeal, (approx)

Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Let cool until lukewarm.

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, yeast mixture, butter and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Add salt and rest of flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Knead. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise.

Punch down. Roll out to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut rounds with biscuit cutter, drinking glass, or empty tuna can. Sprinkle waxed paper with cornmeal and set the rounds on this to rise. Dust tops of muffins with cornmeal also. Cover and let rise until double, 40 minutes or longer depending on temperature in the galley.

Heat greased griddle or frying pan. Cook muffins on griddle about 10 minutes on each side on medium heat. Allow to cool and place in plastic bags for storage. To use, split and toast. Great with peanut butter or cream cheese and jam.

(Make-ahead: Store in airtight container for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 2 weeks.)

Serving Suggestion:

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English Muffin Mini Pizzas
Split English Muffins in half and top with tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese and pizza toppings of your choice. Place under a broiler to melt the cheese. When golden and bubbling, remove from heat and serve. Makes a quick lunch.

Researching Destinations for your Dream Cruise?

Check out the entire Distant Shores Super Pack which now includes the newest episodes in the Caribbean, Turks & Caicos and Bahamas from Season 10.


Recipe - Bahamian Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

Potluck suppers and dock dinners are popular social occasions for sailors whether they are out cruising or at home moored at the local yacht club. A collection of good recipes for dishes to contribute to a potluck gathering seems essential to the cruising lifestyle :-)

So this week's recipe, Bahamian Macaroni and Cheese Casserole, is a potluck favourite of mine. It is simple and a hit with sailors of any age.

Bahamian Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

It is also a good meal to prepare for a passage because you can cut it up into convenient serving-sized squares and eat it hot or cold. In bad weather at sea it is easy to digest and gives you lots of energy. You can dress it up by adding more vegetables or chunks of chicken, tuna or ham but today I am giving you the traditional recipe.

Paul and I are home at the moment and last weekend we attended a potluck supper at Lagoon City Yacht Club in Ontario, Canada, one of the many events being hosted to celebrate the club's 50th anniversary. Since we just flew home from the Bahamas, Bahamian Macaroni and Cheese Casserole was what I contributed to the meal. It is a very traditional dish in the Bahamas where it is often served at dinner as the main starch.

Potluck Supper at Lagoon City Yacht Club

My niece, Giorgia, and Paul's nephew, Sam, stayed with us last week and attended the Junior Sailing Program at LCYC so the LCYC Potluck Supper was also a nice way to conclude the week and celebrate having a couple of other sailors in the family!


Bahamian Macaroni and Cheese Casserole
1 X 1 lb/500 gram box of elbow macaroni (about 5 cups uncooked macaroni)
¼ cup/1/2 stick of butter
2 Tbsp/30 ml minced onion (about ½ the onion pictured)
2 Tbsp/30 ml minced green pepper
1 scotch bonnet pepper (Bahamians call these goat peppers), seeded, deveined and finely chopped. (Alternative: a jalapeño pepper or hot banana peppers)
1 lb/500 grams of grated cheddar cheese (6 cups or 3 X 8 oz packages)
2 X 12 oz/370 ml can of evaporated milk (about 3 cups total)
½ tsp/2 ml ground black pepper
½ tsp/2 ml salt
a few dashes hot sauce
3 eggs beaten
2 tsp/10 ml paprika

Ingredients for Bahamian Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

Preheat oven to 400º F.

Boil a large pot of water to which a couple of pinches of salt have been added.

Add pasta and follow package directions to cook al dente, about 6 or 7 minutes.

Drain pasta then return it to the warm pot and add butter, stirring until melted.

Add minced onion, green pepper and scotch bonnet pepper (or alternative) and stir.

Next add about ¾ of the grated cheddar cheese, stirring until melted.

Then add milk, salt, pepper, hot sauce and beaten eggs, mixing quickly.

Transfer macaroni into a 9 X 13 inch baking pan or casserole dish.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese, then paprika.

Macaroni mixture ready to go into the oven

Bake at 400º F for 35-40 minutes until top is golden brown.

Remove from oven and allow macaroni to cool for 45-50 minutes. THIS IS ESSENTIAL. Bahamian Macaroni and Cheese Casserole is cut into squares for serving (which makes it a good potluck supper dish) so it needs to set. It is not scooped up with a spoon. It can be reheated before serving if you like but needs to cool first to set. It is also good served at room temperature.

Out of the oven golden brown and resting for 45-50 minutes to set


Bahamas - Exumas to Abacos

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A great sailing day on the banks along the Exuma Cays in the Bahamas

We had been waiting for the arrival of some spare parts for our Mastervolt generator to be flown in to Staniel Cay in the Exuma Island group of the Bahamas. The package came in at last, Paul did the necessary maintenance, and we were ready to depart. But it was Independence Day for the Bahamas so we decided to stay to celebrate. We'd been in Staniel Cay for Canada Day on July 1st, American Independence Day on July 4th and it seemed only fitting that we celebrate Bahamas Independence Day on July 10th before sailing on.

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Anchored off Thunderball Cave at Staniel Cay

Bahamas became a free and sovereign country on July 10th, 1973, ending 325 years of peaceful British rule, but is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Junkanoo parade and free lunch and dinner on Bahamas Independence Day, Staniel Cay

It was a beautiful day that started with a church service and then a local Junkanoo parade with local youth playing homemade drums and cow bells. Then it was a day of “Beach Eats”. The Bahamas government sponsors free lunch and dinner on this day. We showed up for lunch – BBQ hamburgers and hot dogs and pasta salad – and enjoyed speaking with the local revellers as well as meeting up with cruising friends we'd partied with down-island. The dinner was even more elaborate we heard – BBQ steak, fish, and lots of salads and vegetables – everyone welcome! The evening ended with fireworks which we enjoyed watching from the cockpit of Distant Shores II, a fitting end to our visit to Staniel Cay.


We set sail the following day with fresh breezes carrying us north through the Exuma Cays along the banks to Sandy Cay off Hall's Pond where we've heard that actor Johnny Depp of Pirates of the Caribbean fame has a home and classic boat. No sign of him though or anyone else for that matter. We had the island all to ourselves.


Next day we had similar conditions and island-hopped our way up to Allen's Cay, a protected anchorage and always an interesting stop since it is home of the Allen's Cay Iguanas (Cyclura cychlura inornata). These are Bahamian Rock Iguanas which are protected by the Bahamas National Trust and come out on the beach to greet you. Actually they're looking for handouts - fresh vegetables are best. Unfortunately their eyesight isn't good and on a past visit Paul got his fingers nipped when he tried to feed one a carrot. This time we just said hello.


Allen's Cay was our last stop in the Exuma Cays before jumping off across the banks to Eleuthera.


Beacon Cay is at the north end of the Exumas and is the last land you see for a few hours as you head for Eleuthera.


The banks are shallow, about 12 feet deep for many miles, with a white sand bottom. We could see the shadow of the sails clearly standing out against the white sand in the turquoise water as we sailed along.


There are also areas of coral reef patches on the banks which you have to keep an eye out for but they stand out darkly against the white sand so are easy to see.

Coral reef patches stand on the banks

We arrived in the Eleuthera island group in the late afternoon and sailed through narrow Current Cut at Current Island, anchoring for the night on the other side with another cruising boat and one of the local fishing boats. Following the example of the fishers we anchored about 1/4 of a mile offshore so the mosquitos and no-see-ums (sand fleas) that come out at dusk wouldn't bother us.

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Current Cut on the Navionics chart on our Raymarine chartplotter

We spent quite a bit of time in the Eleuthera archipelago on a previous visit which we documented in episodes of Distant Shores season 6 which is available on DVD and also download. This time it was a quick visit since our goal was to reach the Abacos, another 60 miles to the northwest.

Unfortunately we had light winds so spent the day motoring across deep seas on this leg of our passage. It was quite a change to see big cargo ships and freighters after sailing in the shallow water surrounding the Exuma Cays for so many weeks.

We arrived late afternoon at Tilloo Cay in the Abacos with storm clouds brewing and anchored there for the night. It was good to get off the boat for a nice beach walk here.

Public dock at New Plymouth, Green Turtle Cay, Abacos

Next day we made our final jump, 35 nm to Green Turtle Cay, anchoring off New Plymouth and today we lifted the boat at Abaco Yacht Services for annual maintenance.


The sky started to look rather exciting as the excellent crew at AYS were blocking the boat but got finished before the rain came in and the winds picked up.

Scary looking sky as we haul out the boat
Distant Shores II with her 10-foot keel partially retracted
Distant Shores II with her keel retracted completely. She is designed to take the ground.

We'll be storing the boat here at Abaco Yacht Services for a few weeks while we're home in Canada completing post-production on new episodes for season 10 of the Distant Shores sailing TV series as well as the first in a new how-to series we're producing - “Let's Go Cruising!: Anchoring”.

But stay tuned! We’ll be posting lots of articles on cruising topics to help you plan your escape while we're home in the studio. We’ll be back to the boat and more cruising adventures in just a few weeks.


Recipe - Mexican Appetizer

This week’s recipes, Mexican Appetizer, is a fast and easy appetizer for onboard entertaining. You can also turn it into lunch or a light dinner by adding more garnishes (see suggestions below).

I use this recipe a lot aboard Distant Shores since it is attractive, flavourful and quick to put together at a moment's notice from mostly canned and bottled goods that can be stored on board long-term, then topped with fresh ingredients.


Adjust amounts slightly to suit the size and type of serving dish you choose to serve it in. I use a 6" x 8" x 2" glass casserole dish (pictured) to show off the layers of ingredients. Everything is prepared in the dish you serve it in so doesn't create a lot of dishes to wash up afterwards. Not only does this save water, it leaves you time to relax and enjoy your time on the boat.

My Mexican Appetizer became a reader favourite when it was published in the May 2013 Onboard Entertaining issue of Canadian Yachting magazine.

I hope you enjoy it too!

Mexican Appetizer
Basic Ingredients
1 X 418 g can of re-fried beans 1 X 230 g jar of taco sauce 1-2 cups of sour cream (substitute 300 g can of cream thickened with a few splashes of lemon juice or vinegar and stirred)


Open can of re-fried beans and spread out contents on the bottom of the dish you're planning to serve it in. A clear glass dish is nice since it shows off the layers.

Spread the sour cream gently on top of the beans with the back of a spoon or rubber spatula trying not to mix the 2 layers together too much.

The final layer is the taco sauce. Use your best judgement here. You don't want to drown the beans and sour cream layers so, depending on the size of your serving bowl or your personal taste, you may not need the whole jar.

Garnish suggestions:
Chopped fresh tomato (substitute canned chopped tomatoes, drained)
Chopped green onion
Chopped celery
Chopped black or green olives
Shredded cheddar cheese

Scoop with:
Natchos, corn chips, or crackers. It becomes a meal if you spread it on fresh bread and serve with a green salad or fruit. Also good eaten with a spoon!

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Recipes - Sunday Flank Steak with Yorkshire Pudding and Garlic Roast Potatoes

Today I'm going to share my secrets for a quick and easy Sunday Roast dinner which is a British tradition both our families share. Paul's parents are from England and my grandparents from Ireland and Scotland so enjoying of a big roast dinner, usually a mid-day meal, on a Sunday with the family and close friends around the table is dear to both of us.

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Sunday Flank Steak with Yorkshire Pudding and Garlic Roast Potatoes

Paul and I like to keep up this tradition while cruising, even when at sea on a passage if conditions allow, since it's a nice way to mark the end of the week and make the day special. Sometimes the days can all start to blend together when you're traveling.

Dressing up a bit, setting a lovely table in the cockpit in a beautiful location, then taking all afternoon to savour and slowly enjoy a delicious meal with cruising friends you're catching up with puts you in a great frame of mind for the week to come. After this special weekly meal, I always finish up so relaxed and with a joyful sense of gratitude for the many blessings the life of a cruising sailor offers.

When at home ashore, I’ll prepare a large roast beef and have the oven going for over an hour, but in the tropics having the oven going for a long time is really unappealing since it heats up the boat so much. Also, depending where you are, it’s often hard to find a good cut of beef for a roast.

So one day I came up with the idea of broiling a flank steak instead of doing a roast since recently I’ve found this cut of beef readily available in the Caribbean and Bahamas. Broiling a flank steaks takes 10-12 minutes - very little oven time. I slice it up and serve it like roast beef with gravy, horseradish, Yorkshire Pudding, roast potatoes and vegetables. It is quick and absolutely delicious! Every time I serve it people rave about how tender and flavourful it is.

Sunday Flank Steak with Yorkshire Pudding and Garlic Roast Potatoes
serves 4

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Yorkshire Pudding Popovers

Yorkshire Pudding
from the Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer & Marion Rombauer Becker

Preheat oven to 400ºF

Note: The ingredients must be at room temperature when mixed or they will not puff.
7/8 cup of all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
2 eggs
½ cup water

Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl.

Make a well in the center and pour in the milk.

In a separate bowl beat the 2 eggs until fluffy. Then add to the batter.

Add the ½ cup water and beat the batter well until large bubbles rise to the surface. You can let this stand covered and refrigerated for 1 hour and then beat again.

Have ready a hot oven-proof dish about 9 X 12, or hot muffin tin (to make 12 muffins/popovers) containing about ¼ inch hot beef drippings, melted butter or vegetable oil (I use vegetable oil). Heat pan or muffin tin in the hot oven until oil is sizzling.

Pour the batter into the sizzling oil in the hot pan or muffin tin. The batter should be about 5/8 inch high. Bake the pudding/popovers for about 20 minutes at 400ºF.

Reduce the heat to 350ºF and bake 10 to 15 minutes longer until puffed and golden brown. (Some cooks recommend a 350ºF oven for a half hour or longer.)

Serve hot. Good with gravy! (See below.)

Note: Yorkshire Pudding or Popovers are best served right away but I sometimes make 12 popovers earlier in the day or even the day before and then warm them gently in the microwave or a hot oven before serving. This way I have less going on in the galley close to mealtime. Also I don't have the oven on heating up the boat for the whole afternoon which is good if I'm cooking this meal on a hot day or in a tropical climate.

I have also halved this recipe but I find the puddings don't puff up as much however they are still delicious.

Garlic Roast Potatoes
Serves 4

1-2 medium sized potatoes per person. (Judge your guests' appetites. We find 2 medium or 1 large potato is plenty for the 2 of us.)
8-12 cloves of garlic (depending on how much your guests like roast garlic), skins on but bottoms trimmed off.

Wash potatoes. I leave the skins on but if you prefer to peel them go ahead.

Cut into quarters.

Place the potatoes and garlic cloves in a saucepan with just enough water to cover and boil until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Alternatively you can pressure cook them for 8-10 minutes which saves fuel and reduces heat in the galley.

Drain potatoes. Save water to make gravy with.

Place a little olive oil or vegetable oil in a frying pan and when the oil is hot add the potatoes and garlic cloves (now softened but still with skins on) and crisp them in the frying pan, turning often, until they have a golden “roasted” potato crust, about 10 minutes.

Place in a serving bowl and season with sea salt or seasoned salt. Adding crushed rosemary or other herb of your choice is also nice.

Note: I sometimes boil the potatoes and garlic ahead of time and then crisp them up as I'm slicing up the beef.

Sunday Flank Steak

Serves 4

2 to 3 lb flank steak
Steak Sauce (I find A1 or HP steak sauce gives a nice “roast” flavour. BBQ sauce is too tomatoey. In a pinch, worchestershire sauce works well too.)

Score the meat in a diamond pattern with a sharp knife to break up the connective tissue and to open the meat to the flavour of the steak sauce marinade.

Place meat in a non-metallic pan, casserole or bowl and slather with steak sauce to marinade. Cover the bowl or put marinading meat into a self-seal plastic bag (takes up less room in the fridge) and refrigerate for at least half an hour or overnight.

Preheat broiler. You can also BBQ the meat but you lose the drippings for gravy if you do. Broil within 2 inches of source of heat for about 5-6 minutes on each side. It will blacken. Be sure to cook it rare or medium rare for melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. If cooked well done it can be tough.

Carve by slicing the meat against or across the grain to make it even more tender and serve it like sliced roast beef with gravy made from the drippings (recipe follows).

Quick Gravy
1 package classic brown gravy mix. (Yes, this is a cheat. I promised quick and easy)
Use water the potatoes were boiled in.
Pan drippings

Follow package directions using the water you’ve cooked the potatoes in (and/or other vegetables in) and mix it with a classic brown gravy mix for flavour and nutrition. I also add the drippings collected in the pan beneath my broiling rack which makes the gravy taste homemade.

Sunday Flank Steak served up with gravy, horse radish, Yorkshire pudding, bowls of vegetables and potatoes and a bottle of nice red wine makes this meal feel like a special Sunday Roast dinner you'd have at your grandmother's surrounded by family and friends.

Your Comments
If you try any of these recipes please let me know how they work out for you! You can post your comments below, on the Distant Shores TV Facebook Page or send me an email.

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Bahamas - Staniel Cay

We have been waiting for the arrival of some spare parts for our Mastervolt generator which will be flown in to Staniel Cay in the Exuma island group of the Bahamas. The package is coming in on a small charter plane, Watermakers Air, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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Distant Shores II anchored off Thunderball Cave at Staniel Cay

There have been delays with the shipment so we've been hanging out at Staniel Cay longer than we'd planned but it is a great place to be with lots to do and see despite being a small settlement with a population of a couple of hundred people. Not a bad place to be delayed.

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The Farmers Market at Staniel Cay

The Exumas are a 120-mile-long island chain-within-the-chain of the Bahamas Out Islands, strewn like a string of pearls extending north toward New Providence from Great Exuma. With the clear aquamarine water of the banks to the west and the deep sapphire water of the sound the water colours are the most stunning you have ever seen.

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We filmed several episodes about cruising in the Exumas for Distant Shores Season 5 which you can see on DVD and also download.

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The cottages at Staniel Cay Yacht Club. Nurse sharks hover beneath the fish cleaning station hoping for goodies.

Staniel Cay, although small, is a hub in the Exumas. Centrally located it is a good base to explore the islands to north and south. Staniel Cay Yacht Club is a gathering place for boaters, both power and sail as well as private pilots who fly in to the landing strip and stay in the club's cottages. There are other cottages, hotels, boutique resorts and also villas for rent in Staniel Cay. A couple of other restaurants too.

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Taste and Sea Cafe, Staniel Cay

Rental at some of the cottages includes a small boat for getting out to the attractions on the surrounding cays. One of these is the grotto called Thunderball Cave since a scene from the James Bond movie, Thunderball, was filmed here. The cave is full of fish and to add to the beauty streams of light filter in from the ceiling overhead.

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Sheryl surrounded by fish in Thunderball Cave

“Pig Beach” on Big Major Spot, the next cay to the north, is another favourite anchorage where you can feed the swimming pigs - the most unusual marine life!

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One of the swimming pigs at Big Major Spot, Staniel Cay

On July 4th, American Independence Day, Staniel Cay Yacht Club put on a special dinner, party and fireworks that we attended with fellow cruising sailors.

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It was a beautiful evening with so many attending they put tables all down the dock – Paradise for boaters!

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In the summer there are more powerboats than sailboats and some of them such as Party Girl pictured below are pretty impressive!

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When the atmosphere gets overly festive and you feel like finding a quiet place, it's just a 40 minute sail up to Pipe Creek, a collection of little cays with ribbons of blue water where you can anchor surrounded by sparkling sand bars.

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Pipe Creek

Our favourite spot is in a shallow bay off Thomas Cay in Pipe Creek where we this week we filmed a couple of segments for a new how-to video we are producing about anchoring. It will be released at the end of the summer.

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Anchored off Thomas Cay in Pipe Creek

We'd love to know what your top two concerns about anchoring are? We want to be sure we're covering everything a new boater should understand about anchoring as well as techniques that experienced sailors would like to brush up on. Please send us an email. We value your comments.

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July 10th is the Bahamas' Independence Day and there will be more festivities to enjoy here. Hopefully our package will have arrived by then so that we can continue north to the Abaco island group, our next destination...

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Recipe - Seared Tuna with Coconut Rice

Thanks for the great response I got to the suggestion of posting favourite cruising recipes. I love cooking onboard and obviously you do too!

Several requests for seafood recipes came in via email and Facebook over the last couple of weeks so here's a very simple recipe I’d like to share with you for Seared Tuna that I adapted from a recipe in Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals. It's an absolutely delicious meal that always “wows” dinner guests, yet is SO easy to prepare.

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I posted this recipe on the Distant Shores Facebook Page a few months ago and people seemed to really enjoy it. By the way, if you like social media I invite you to “Like” the Distant Shores Page, ask questions and join in the discussions. It's lots of fun!

Seared Tuna with Coconut Rice
serves 4

4 fresh tuna fillets (ask for these at your local seafood shop or lucky you if you catch your own tuna!)
2 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
1 tsp green tea powder (simply take a tea bag of green tea, rip it open and use one teaspoon of the powder. Oregano also works well.)
Salt and pepper
½ tsp vegetable or sesame oil

270g can of reduced fat coconut milk (I often use dried coconut milk powder which is handy on the boat.)
1 cup Basmati rice
1 cup boiling water
Pinch of salt

1 yellow zucchini, sliced and sautéed or grilled (I like use a grill pan)
A handful of baby spinach leaves or large leaves, chopped. (I’ve used lettuce in a pinch. Chopped green onion is nice too.)
Slivers of pickled ginger

For the rice: Place the coconut milk, rice, boiling water and salt into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let sit while you prepare the rest of the meal.

For the tuna: Mix the sesame seeds, if using, with the green tea, salt and pepper on a plate, then press each tuna fillet into the mixture until all sides of the tuna are coated. Heat the oil in a frying pan or grill pan over high heat, then add the tuna and cook for 30 seconds on each side, until barely cooked on the outside and still raw on the inside. If you prefer it a little more well done like we do, cook it a little longer, about 60-90 seconds a side. It doesn’t take much. Remove from the heat. Spoon rice out onto each plate and place a fillet on top of the rice on each plate. Garnish with spinach leaves, slices of zucchini and pickled ginger slivers. Serve and enjoy!

If you like this recipe please feel free to forward it to friends...

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Bahamas - Island Hopping and Dive in Angelfish Bluehole

Musha Cay, Exumas, Bahamas

Up-Island, Exumas
Following the festivities of the Long Island Regatta in the Bahamas in early June (see previous newsletter) Paul and I sailed back to George Town, Great Exuma, to wait for the arrival of friend Kuno Kurschner flying in from Vancouver, Canada, to join us for a few days of sailing together before we head north this weekend.

George Town has an international airport so it's a great place to have friends and/or crew fly in to meet you right in the heart of what we consider the world's most beautiful cruising and diving destinations.

Currently (June 2014) there are direct flights from Toronto to George Town via Air Canada on Sundays which for us Torontonians is fantastic but there are also great links from the USA from major hubs and several airlines and small charter companies fly here as well so there are lots of options. Many Europeans find the Exumas a pretty easy to reach too. Click here for more information about flights to George Town, Great Exuma, Bahamas.

Right in the main harbour there are several beautiful natural anchorages off Stocking Island, Crab Cay and others but with easy dinghy access to the shops, restaurants, and many services found in George Town.

Within minutes of meeting Kuno at the airport and settling him onto the boat, a friendly dolphin appeared and Kuno started his visit aboard Distant Shores II with a magical half-hour in-water dolphin encounter. Paul has had fun playing with this dolphin and has filmed her playing with people and dogs on previous visits to George Town. (See newsletter.) You'll see the footage in episode #122 of Distant Shores season 10.

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Paul and Kuno Kurschner at the helm of Distant Shores II

Kuno and his family cruised in the Caribbean and Bahamas several years ago aboard their sailboat, SV Blue Moon. His wife, Renata, kept a really good blog called “Once on a Blue Moon – Travels Around the World” that you will find interesting if you're planning a similar voyage.

After a day in George Town doing some more snorkeling at the Mystery Cave in Hurricane Hole 3 close to the Chat and Chill Beach Bar, a cruiser's favourite, we had a lovely downwind sail north in the sound up north to Rudder Cut Cay where we entered the banks and later anchored off Cave Cay for the night.

Kuno_1 (copy)

Next day we motor-sailed back south on the banks to Lee Stocking Island on the banks side of the Exumas looking for sand bars where we could dry out the boat to inspect the cutlass bearing which needed adjusting. But with the large moon tides we couldn't find a spot that would dry out sufficiently to beach the boat for a long enough time so anchored at Lee Stocking Island off the abandoned marine research centre.

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Sangria sundowners aboard SV Distant Shores II anchored off Lee Stocking Island, Bahamas

The day before Kuno was to fly home we continued south on the shallow banks side of the Exumas to Barreterre (pronounced locally as Barry Tarry) at the north end of Great Exuma where we re-entered the sound for a close-reach back to George Town to see Kuno safely back to the airport for his flight home to Vancouver.

Dive on Angelfish Blue Hole
To conclude our own visit to George Town, Great Exuma, the last one for this season, we organized a scuba diving outing with Dive Exuma, the local dive operator in George Town, to do a dive to 90-feet into the Angelfish Blue Hole. You can snorkel over the entrance in Hurricane Hole #3 between Kevalli House Marina and Cottages and the St. Francis Resort and see the many fish that hang out there but Paul wanted to get down into the caverns to film the experience for an episode of Distant Shores season 10.

An hour to an hour and a half after high tide is the best time to dive here, Dive Exuma manager Tamara McGaw-Robinson told us. The water in the blue hole is flowing out of the hole at this time so when the current picks up you will be forced out, not in, to the tunnels that run under Stocking Island. (The flow of water in the blue holes are different to the surrounding currents due to their configurations.) Also the water from the sound is extremely clear and full of nutrients that attract many fish and often eagle rays so this is the best as well as safest time for diving, filming and seeing the most marine life. At other times of the tide the water is flowing from the sandy banks so the water is slightly murky and not as appealing to marine life plus the currents can be dangerous.

It's less than a 10-minute boat ride out to the dive site for the Angelfish Blue Hole which is in a very flat protected bay. The surrounding water is also quite shallow so is good for snorkeling too making this a great dive for all levels of divers, especially family groups where not everyone might be an advanced diver but everyone can have a fun diving experience together at the same location.

G20140619 Paul in Cave
Paul descending into the Angelfish Bluehole, Stocking Island, Exumas, Bahamas

In fact, a new diver did training at the surface in 10-feet of water for her Open Water Dive Certification with dive instructor, Danielle Scott, while the rest of the group did the advanced bluehole dive right in the same place.

The dive in Angelfish Bluehole was an exhilarating dive with a small friendly group of divers visiting from Alabama. (They limit this dive to 4-6 divers due to the confined space in the bluehole). Paul had free-dived into the entrance at about 15-20 feet but was in heaven exploring the large cavern and tunnels further down using tanks.

There were indeed grey angelfish feeding on the sponges as well as many other fish such as this grouper.

G20140619 grouper
Grouper at the entrance to the Anglefish Bluehole, Exumas, Bahamas

As the current started to build it became a real effort to move around the hole and dive master and boat captain, Jonathon Robinson, finally called an end to the dive which is about 45 minutes in length.

We are now back on board, Distant Shores II, stocking up the boat for our trip north through the Exumas to the Abacos.

Stay tuned for more adventures cruising in the Bahamas!


Recipe - Easy Chocolate Cake

Cooking and entertaining onboard is one of the pleasures of the cruising life for me and a topic I enjoy speaking and writing about. So in response to your enquiries about elegant-but-easy cooking onboard I am going to begin posting some of the recipes I use while sailing aboard Distant Shores II on a regular basis.

I've decided to start with an all-time favourite – Chocolate Cake!

Chocolate Cake_7

The recipe I have used for years and can mix, bake and serve in one dish is called “Po'-Boy Chocolate Cake” from Janet Groene's cookbook for sailors, campers and adventurous vacationers called “Cooking on the Go”. Janet is the author of many books for sailors including “How to Live Aboard a Boat” and has a blog called Boat Cook you might enjoy.

I have found many versions of this quick chocolate cake recipe over the years under such names as Crazy Cake and Easy Chocolate Cake when searching in other cookbooks and also online.

This recipe is great for the boat because there aren't lots of mixing bowls and utensils to clean up (saves water) and requires no eggs, just simple ingredients that are easy to keep onboard long-term. The texture is rich and firm and it's so easy to whip up even when underway!

I recently made this yummy chocolate cake as a treat and to boost our energy mid-afternoon while on passage from the British Virgin Islands to the Turks and Caicos Islands which we filmed for Distant Shores season 10 which you can download as single episodes or buy the season pass and receive new episodes as they are uploaded.

Po'-Boy Chocolate Cake
1 ½ cups flour
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not hot chocolate mix)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white vinegar
5 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (I use rum)
1 cup cold water

Mix the dry ingredients (the first five ingredients listed) in an eight-inch-square cake pan. I use a similar sized pyrex pan, pictured below, that has a plastic lid which makes storing the cake convenient.

Chocolate Cake_1

With the back of a spoon, make three holes in the mixture. Put the vanilla or rum in one, the vinegar in the second, and the oil in the third.

Chocolate Cake_2

Pour the cold water over all. (It woks best if the water is really cold. I use water from a bottle I always keep chilled in the fridge. If you don't have cold water it still works but the cake is a little denser.)

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Work well with a spoon paying special attention to the corners, and make sure no unmixed dry ingredients remain.

Chocolate Cake_4

Bake in your oven at 350º F for 30-35 minutes or until springy to the touch.

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Let cool and top with your favourite homemade or store-bought chocolate icing.

Chocolate Cake_8


Researching Destinations for your Dream Cruise?

Check out the entire Distant Shores Super Pack which now includes the newest episodes in the Caribbean, Turks & Caicos and Bahamas from Season 10.


Bahamas Long Island Regatta

On June 2nd we sailed back to Long Island Bahamas and anchored at Salt Pond. The Long Island Regatta runs June 4-7th. Traditional sloops from all the island groups of the Bahamas come to compete. It's the second largest island regatta after George Town with 55 boats competing this year.

Before the event this ship arrived from Nassau carrying island sloops from New Providence and the Abacos. We watched them unload all afternoon and talked to the competitors who'd had a rough 14-hour sea voyage. Everything was totally covered in salt spray from the ride. We're filming the events as part of a new episode for season 10 of the Distant Shores TV series.

Long Island Regatta_01regatta
There's a big party tonight as everyone celebrates the start of the 47th Annual Long Island Regatta.

The traditional sloops such as the B-Class “Ant’s Nest” use long boards to give the crew leverage to keep the over-canvassed boats upright. It makes for exciting racing!
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Before the Regatta got into full swing we did a road trip with Dawn Simmons of the Long Island Tourist Board in the Bahamas. We visited Clarence Town...
Long Island Regatta_13regatta
St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Clarence Town, with its distinctive twin steeples.

And Dean's Blue Hole, the world's deepest blue hole at 663 feet. The dark blue area shows the deep water.
Long Island Regatta_11regatta

World champion freediver William Trubridge swims past the 10 metre mark in a demonstration free-dive in Dean’s Blue Hole on Long Island. We filmed with William, who offers training courses here on Long Island and he gave Paul hints to improve his free-diving technique.
Long Island Regatta

We also filmed in the spectacular Hamilton’s Cave with guide Leonard Cartwright. It’s the largest cave system in the Bahamas. Plan an hour for this fun and interesting tour.
Long Island Regatta_12regatta

You can't go to Long Island without stopping at Max's Conch Bar and Grill for Max's famous conch salad (pronounced "konk", a large shellfish). Max prepares this delicious seafood salad freshly before your eyes...
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This seafood salad is served with Max’s homemade breadfruit chips. Wow! It’s good!
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Back at Salt Pond we film the Regatta...
Long Island Regatta_05regatta

Sailing on B-Class Bahamian Sloop Susan Chase. What a great thrill! I filmed aboard as we practice-sailed on the way out to the starting line.
Susan Chase1regatta

Filming from out on the “Pry” the long boards used to get the crew/ballast out to balance the huge sails.Susan Chase2regatta

How it’s done!
Susan Chase3regatta

Anchored at the starting line. Rules state the boats are all lined up at anchor with sails down. When the gun goes the crew hauls up the anchor, raises the sails and sets off on starboard tack!
Long Island Regatta_03regatta

Exciting sailing in a great venue. A super time was had by all and we got great film of it all for Distant Shores episode #121!

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George Town Beaches and Blue Holes


For the last week we have been anchored off Stocking Island in Elizabeth Harbour at George Town getting caught up on writing, editing and boat maintenance projects. George Town is a good base for cruising the Exuma Island group of the Bahamas and is the main town with grocery stores, chandlery, banks, restaurants and marine facilities.

Despite it being a cruising centre there is a lot of natural beauty and getting off the boat to stretch our legs we have enjoyed beach walking and running as well as interesting snorkelling right in the harbour.

Here are some images from our outings...

PSBeach (copy)
The beach on Stocking Island is 3 km of white sand and you hardly see a soul here.

HikingS (copy)
There are lots of walking trails on Stocking Island as well which are maintained by volunteers from the cruising community.

Paul-coral-head (copy)
There are numerous colourful reefs in water shallow enough for snorkelling as well as deeper reefs for Scuba diving.

Mystery Cave deep (copy)
There are also shallow caves and blue holes like the Mystery Cave on Stocking Island where you can snorkel as well as scuba dive. Exuma Divers in George Town can supply all the gear you need for scuba diving and lead interesting dives to the blue holes and fantastic reefs in the area.

Cave 1
It’s crucial to watch the current when you’re diving around blue holes. Go at slack water so you don’t get sucked in!

Spadefish Cave
You’ll find many schools of fish around blue holes such as these Spade Fish which are the size of dinner plates at the Mystery Cave on Stocking Island.


White Cay Bank Bahamas

The Bahamas have many shallow areas and we have been enjoying navigating these stunning blue waters. Yesterday we poked into the shallows near White Cay in the Southern Exuma Islands. We came in at half tide and rising when there was just 3 feet covering the sand over the entrance.White Cay1
At low tide we took the dinghy ashore to film these amazing shallow waters.
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There is nobody here for and in fact no land either since all this sand submerges at high tide. All footprints will be wiped clean...
White Cay21
Paul sets up the camera boom to get some higher views...
White Cay2
Its a wonderful world we live in!
White Cay22
Masthead view down to the deck - although it looks very shallow it is actually 6 feet deep.
White Cay23
Here its about 8 feet deep but you can see the shallow water behind us which is the entry channel we came in at.
White Cay31
Looking onto the banks the height allows you to see the channels and cuts in the sand.
White Cay41
Sheryl explores!
White Cay51

Salt Pond, Long Island

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Anchored off the settlement of Salt Pond, Long Island, in Thompson Bay

On Monday May 19/14 we set sail from George Town, Great Exuma, in the Bahamas and headed southeast across the Great Bahama Bank to Salt Pond, Long Island. The forecast had a little north in it for a change so we were looking forward to a nice sail. However it was not to be. The wind slid from NE to SE, then back and forth several times, until it finally settled in from the east. This was pretty much dead on the nose so we ended up motorsailing most of the 35 miles to Salt Pond. Oh well, it helped top up the batteries.

We arrived at Thompson Bay at 4 p.m. and anchored in front of the small settlement at Salt Pond. We have been the only cruising boat in the anchorage since we arrived two days ago but at the height of the season there can be 40 cruising boats anchored here at a time.

Salt Pond_2
A couple of fishing boats sharing the anchorage with us.

But we have not been not alone. Salt Pond is home to a fishing fleet and there are several fishing boats sharing the anchorage with us. There are also a few of the local island sailing sloops. June 5-7th the Long Island Regatta will be underway and many more sloops from islands all over the Bahamas will arrive to compete and party together.

The Long Island Regatta is the second largest regatta in The Bahamas (after the National Family Island Regatta in Exuma) and takes place over the Bahamian Labour Day Holiday weekend. The regatta is also a time of homecoming since many Long Islanders return home to visit relatives and friends, take in the races, and enjoy delicious local dishes.

Long Island Breeze Resort and Yacht Club on the left next to the town quay.

On advice from other sailors we anchored in Thompson Bay close to the Long Island Breeze Resort and Yacht Club (23º 20'.45 N 075º 07'.40 W) which has one of the best dinghy docks we have ever seen. Mike, who runs the resort is a well-known friend to cruisers. Long Island Breeze has a nice restaurant/bar as well as a patio bar and grill, a fresh water swimming pool, showers, laundry, wi-fi, plus rooms and cottages for rent. (Closed in July and August but if you cruise there in the summer Mike says to give him a call and if he’s around he will make the laundry room, showers, etc. available to you.) Mike will help you rent a car, find supplies, and make sure you to enjoy your visit to Long Island.

We came ashore in the morning to do some advance work for the Long Island episode of the Distant Shores TV series and also to pick up a few groceries. But Mike advised us to wait until later in the day to do our stocking up until after the island mail boat came in on it’s weekly run delivering supplies and fresh produce. It also carries passengers.

The arrival of the weekly mail boat is an important event in the Out Islands of the Bahamas.

Paul and I are planning on coming back for the Long Island Regatta in June. We're just here for a quick visit this week is to do some scouting and make contacts for filming the island's attractions as well as the events of regatta next month. We'll do a lot more exploring then when we come back to film a Distant Shores episode about Long Island. Stay tuned...

In the meantime, we have had fun wandering around Salt Pond.

Salt Pond_3
The people have a good sense of humour in Salt Pond which is located close to the Tropic of Cancer. Snowmobiling anyone?

Salt Pond_4
The Salt Pond

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The beach on the ocean side of Salt Pond, Long Island.

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Beautiful rock formations along the beach on the ocean side.

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This weather forecasting apparatus gave us a smile.

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At noon the overhead sun lights up the cave at Grotto Bay.

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The cave at Grotto Bay is like a movie set with vines, tunnels and even bats.

More news...
Check out the recent 59° North Podcast we did with Andy Schell. Also on iTunes.

Registration is now open for SAIL magazine’s “Secrets of the ICW” All-Day Seminar to be held in Annapolis, MD, on October 12/14 from 1000-1600 during the Annapolis Boat Show. Paul and I will be conducting a seminar on Provisioning and Outfitting for the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway). Hope to see you there!


Dolphin Dive in George Town Exuma

We have been anchored in George Town on Great Exuma in the Bahamas for a few days now. It feels like coming home! We have been here many times since our first visit in 1990, on our first trip south. It is a great harbour and as always is welcoming, friendly and fun!
This time we had a special treat as we have had a couple of encounters with a dolphin that visited us right in the anchorage!
This is a young female dolphin and she seems to enjoy swimming with us. Two days in a row she swam around the boat and nearby vicinity for over an hour.
She almost seemed to dance, swimming at our very slow human pace - always maintaining a discreet distance of a couple of feet. What an amazing feeling to swim up close to a large marine animal.
Our neighbours have a cute little Schipperke who is quite a good swimmer and really likes swimming with the dolphin as well!
Note this shot from down under the dolphin, you can also see the dog on the surface!

The dolphin came up close and Bella the Schipperke paddled madly along trying to catch up.
Bella is quite good at spotting the dolphin and immediately heads off in her direction.
Bella Dolphin
Getting a bit tired (after swimming for an hour) Bella hitched a ride on her owner’s back, Peter from SV Freebird...
Watch Freebird’s YouTube video showing Bella and the dolphin playing together on another day.

What a special time to have a dolphin come and play! As sailors we know are very lucky to get such experiences!DolphinVCU

Anchored in Dollar Harbour

Dollar Harbour is at the south end of Long Island Bahamas.
Dollar Harbour
Its a bit of a tricky entrance with sand bores to avoid, but once inside there is nice sand in 4 meters depth for snug anchoring. You can see from the Navionics plot above how we are protected by the sandbanks to the north, islands to the east and west and are slightly open to the south. But although there was some surge coming from the southwest, the outer sand banks took care of that too. Calm as a millpond!
Sandbanks around protect us for a lovely sunset.
We were here 7 years ago and filmed for Season 5 of Distant Shores...
When we were here Paul said "this is so remote, no wifi no internet no nothing" (now we have 3G internet so we can post this :-) But there is still not human settlement or sign of civilization. At night it is wonderfully quiet but in the far distance you can see lights of some cottages on Long Island.
Calm night, tomorrow on across the banks towards Exuma.

Ribs purchased in the settlement of Lovely Bay Acklins Island - $6.50
Amazing sunset sky!

Acklins Island - Attwood Harbour

A 1 Mile long Bahamian sugar sand beach... a perfect morning of exploring, shell collecting and an amazing place for a run!

We are coming ashore in the morning for a run! This is Attwood harbour on an uninhabited cay near Acklins Island.
Sheryl explores and collects shells
Heading off for a 2 mile run (down the beach and back)
Barefoot running...

This is the first time I have ever done my run barefoot. There is perfect sand for the whole mile of this amazing beach!


See Distant Shores II in the background. We are the only boat in the bay and no one lives on this cay.

Clearing in to the Bahamas

Anchored in Abrahams Bay, Mayaguana, watching a passing squall

The morning of Friday April 25th dawned bright and sunny with good conditions for our sail from West Caicos in the Turks and Caicos to the island of Mayaguana lying about 50 nm to the NW, our port of entry for the Bahamas.

We had cleared out of Turks and Caicos the afternoon before in Provo (see previous newsletter) so we sailed off the park mooring at West Caicos at 0650 (we like to practice manoeuvres under sail whenever possible) and were soon making 7 kts under mainsail and genoa. We had to sail a little high of our course to keep up our speed since we wanted to get into Abraham's Bay, Mayaguana, in the afternoon with enough time to get anchored, dinghy ashore to clear in, and get a Bahamas sim card for our open iPhone. We wanted to be sure that we had phone and internet communications set up before things shut down for the weekend.

It was a delightful day as we soared along the sapphire blue seas towards the Bahamas, one of our most favourite cruising grounds. We've filmed numerous episodes about destinations in the Bahamas for the Distant Shores TV series over the years. Several years ago we made this same passage and saw humpback whales leaping and fluking so we kept a good lookout in case we might be blessed with another whale sighting but it was not to be.

All that we could see on the horizon were the sails of SV Rufus and Soliel II, two German boats traveling together that we had met earlier in the week in South Caicos. That morning they had set sail from another anchorage, the one on the west end of Providenciales, and were also headed to Mayaguana.

Abraham's Bay, Mayaguana
At around 1130 Paul I shouted “Land Ho!” as Southeast Point, Mayaguana, rose up on the horizon and by 1430 we were winding our way past the reefs and coral heads into the anchorage at Abraham's Bay. It was half tide and rising. The water is a pallet of multiple shades of blue in this large bay which is protected by barrier reefs. It is quite shallow close to shore so you need to anchor a little way out from the government dock where you can tie up your dinghy with the local skiffs.

Clearing in to the Bahamas
From the dinghy dock and public beach you walk up the road for about 5 minutes and just before reaching the small settlement you come upon a cluster of small yellow buildings where you'll find Customs and Immigration, the Post Office and the BTC Bahamas phone office. Very convenient! While I cleared us in with Customs and Immigration, Paul went to the phone centre to get a Bahamas sim card and data plan for our open phone so we would have a local Bahamas phone number and internet while traveling through the islands.

Clearing in to the Bahamas is quite expensive at $300 US for boats 31 feet and over. It's $150 for boats 30 feet and under. Distant Shores II is 49 feet. (The Bahamian dollar is tied directly to the US dollar and both currencies are used.) However if you consider that the Bahama island chain is similar in size to the whole Caribbean island chain where you are clearing in and out of numerous countries and colonies and paying for numerous cruising permits, it is a little easier to understand.

The cruising permit for the Bahamas is valid for two entries during a 90-day period and the fee includes government taxes, a fishing permit and the departure taxes for 3 people. Each additional person is charged $20 departure tax. At the Mayaguana office THEY ONLY TAKE CASH and there is no bank or ATM on the island. In fact, there is no bank or ATM until you get to George Town, Great Exuma, a few days sail away so it is very important to arrive with enough cash to clear in and cover your costs for any groceries (very basic supplies available so stock up ahead) or bar/restaurants in the small settlements you'll want to stop at on the way north. Credit cards are rarely accepted in the small remote villages of the Far Out Islands of the Bahamas so carry sufficient cash for all your needs when in these islands.

For more information about boats entering/exiting the Bahamas see the government website .

Communications in the Bahamas - Phone and Internet
Our very first trip to the Bahamas was in 1989/90 and to make a telephone call you had to line up at the local Batelco office where they assigned you a booth and you made your call from there. How things have changed!

Now at the local BTC Bahamas office which is found in just about every settlement no matter how remote, you can purchase a local pay-as-you-go sim card for your open phone so that you have a local phone number (goodbye roaming rates) and top it up as you go along. In April 2014 this was $15 US.

You can also add a data plan so that your phone acts as a personal hot spot so that you have internet access whenever you are in range of a tower. These large towers are found on all settled islands and we find that the range for internet is about 12-14 miles. The phone then acts as a modem for connecting other devices you have onboard to the internet too such as laptops, tablets, etc. We purchased a plan for 2 GB for a month, regularly $30 but on sale for $15 as an April special. It’s very fast and reliable service. You can top-up online on which is very convenient.

If you’re not interested in such plans, just up the road at the main crossroads of the settlement is a bar called Big Reg’s where for the purchase of a drink you can connect to the very fast wi-fi there.

We meet up with Yule Charlton at Big Reg’s Bar on our return to Mayaguana

Local Friends
We have visited Mayaguana twice before on various voyages through the Bahamas over the years and filmed there for the Distant Shores sailing TV series for Distant Shores season 5 “Mayaguana” and Distant Shores season 6 “Voyage to Eleuthera”. As a result we know a few local people here now and it was good to reconnect.

We stayed two nights in Mayaguana and concluded this year's visit with a lovely potluck BBQ with our German sailing friends, Heidi and Klaus of “Soleil II” and with Marion and Harold aboard their beautiful Lagoon 410 “Rufus”.

The next day we sailed on to explore more Far Out Islands of the Bahamas which we'll tell you about in the next newsletter.

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Turks and Caicos - Exploring Provo

Hello Everyone,

Our adventures in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) continue!


After crossing the Caicos Bank on April 21st from South Caicos where we'd had a very special Easter Weekend we arrived at the island of Providenciales, better known as “Provo”. This is the most developed island in the TCI with many beautiful resorts, luxury villas, white sand beaches including Grace Beach reputed to be the most beautiful beach in the world, along with great shopping and several good marina facilities.

South Side Marina looking out to Caicos Bank

Border Control - ProvoRadio
When we were on the bank 12 nm out from Provo we were contacted by ProvoRadio on VHF 16 and asked our intentions, the number of people on board, particulars of our boat, the port we were coming from, etc. ProvoRadio mans the coastal radar station at Five Cays, Providenciales, and is directed by the Ministry of Border Control and Labour. All boats on international voyages are required to report in when within 12 nm of Provo when arriving and departing. We were also required to fill out a Vessel Arrival Information Form either over the radio or by e-mail. We opted for e-mail and completed the one page form after we anchored at Sapodilla Bay for the night and e-mailed it back to them. We received a courteous e-mail thanking us for our cooperation. Shortly after we anchored in Sapodillo Bay, a catamaran came in that ProvoRadio had been trying to contact but had not replied. Within minutes a large Coast Guard helicopter descended on the anchorage. We could see that photos were being taken of the boat. They take security seriously here.

South Side Marina
We were in need of marina time to top up our water and do a repair and friends had recommended South Side Marina, “a marina managed by cruisers for cruisers”. So on the morning of April 22nd we raised anchor and made the 40 minute trip along the coast to the east. There was virtually no wind and the colour of the banks was stunning as we approached the harbour entrance.


When we came through the cut, we were met by manager Bob Pratt, dockhand Julien, and the lovely Nevarde who serves as office assistant and bartender at Bob's Bar which recently opened at the marina. Distant Shores II was quickly secured on a floating finger pontoon and we were welcomed into the friendly cruising community at this delightful marina, also a port of entry. The team here does everything to help you get settled, get your repairs done if needed, and makes sure you enjoy your stay on the island.

Bob Pratt, manager of South Side Marina. A friend to cruising sailors in the Turks and Caicos

Road Trip Provo
The next day Bob and Nevarde helped us organize a car rental so we could get out and explore the 37.5 square island. (Turns out the guy that works at the Holiday Rentals is Canadian and his mother is a director and vendor at the Orillia Farmers Market who we know from shopping there when we're home! Small world.)


In the morning we had a lot of fun driving the little back roads of Provo filming for the Distant Shores TV series and discovered some quiet beaches at Northwest Point which we had all to ourselves.



The water is such a beautiful colour and it was a pleasure to just stroll, beach combing as we went along.

This worked up an appetite so we drove along the north coast road where there are many popular beach bars to choose from with fresh seafood and locally prepared dishes. I had a delicious meal of grouper, peas and rice, coleslaw, and fresh avocado and tomato slices. Paul opted for stewed beef with peas and grits and fried plantain. All yummy!


Next we hit the downtown in the centre of the island to pick up a few things at Walkin's Chandlery, then headed to the east end of the island to see the beautiful 5 mile/8 km long Grace Beach and the gorgeous resorts there. This area is such a contrast to the small settlements in the outer islands such as South Caicos. But you can get everything you need here in the Graceway shopping district. We were able to find a few computer accessories we needed at Computech that we didn't expect to find until we got back to the US mainland.


We also checked out the large modern marinas at Turtle Cove and Blue Haven which we found to be reasonable priced. But South Side Marina is still the best deal at $50 a day for our Southerly 49 sailboat.

Blue Haven Marina at the east end of Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

Since we had the car we concluded the day’s road trip with a stop at the Graceway IGA supermarket which is reputed to be the best supermarket to be found between Florida and the Virgin Islands. It is exceptional and we stocked up on goodies we hadn't seen for a while. Things were pricey compared to home but they had an excellent selection. We also picked up the latest Explorer Charts for the Bahamas (our next destination) at the Unicorn Bookstore which shares the same parking lot.


Meanwhile back at the marina, folks were getting ready for the Wednesday Night South Side Potluck Supper and BBQ. This happens weekly at Bob's Bar at South Side Marina with everyone bringing whatever meat they want to BBQ for themselves plus a side dish to share.


Bob's Bar is a really fun place to hang out because local homeowners, ex-pats and island visitors show up as well as sailors so it's a lively mix of interesting and interested people who aren't afraid to make conversation and have fun together. We had another great evening and then Bob treated everyone to a dish or two of ice cream! Boy, does Bob know what sailors love!


This morning, Paul spent the morning completing a repair to Distant Shores II’s bow thruster (rusty contact) and at noon Bob organized for the Customs and Immigration officials to come down to the marina to clear us out as well as another boat. It was another $50 US to clear out so $100 US total for a one-week permit. If you stay more than a week you must pay $300 but have 90 days to cruise. Our week in the Turks and Caicos has flown by so quickly! The officers were kind and courteous and tried to persuade us to stay for the weekly Thursday night Fish Fry tonight :-) Next time!


We said thanks and farewell and this afternoon crossed the bank to the island of West Caicos where we picked up a mooring off the west coast for the night. It is a national park area and there are some excellent dive sites here, hence the moorings.



We'll spend the night here and at sunrise will head northwest to the Bahamas where we plan to clear in at the island of Mayaguana. You may recall we filmed an episode of Distant Shores there a few years ago for Distant Shores season 5 so are looking forward to seeing how things have changed.

Red sky at night is a sailor's delight so it should be a good day tomorrow...


Until next time,

Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard S/V Distant Shores II
West Caicos
Turks and Caicos

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Caicos Banks

What a spectacular day we had for crossing the Caicos Bank! We left the anchorage at South Caicos around low water to head out and onto the banks. It will be about 50 miles all told to get to Provo... Sailing around we are in 1000 meters water, then it immediately shoals to 6-7 meters as we enter the banks!
You can see the water is quite shallow... It started about 6 meters deep and gradually shoaled to 4 meters then finally less than 3 near Provo.
We were looking out for coral heads carefully as there are quite a few sprinkled around. Charts can never show them accurately since they grow taller. A low coral head sitting in 6 meters will be well under your keel but in a few more years it may be getting nearer the surface. Do not go over a head unless you are absolutely certain there is enough water.
Sheryl hoisted me up the mast to see how much the height helped to see the heads. Basically any extra height helps see much further ahead. But the additional height above 10 feet or so makes less difference. (Here is a link to our classic Cruising the Bahamas how-to video with segments on piloting in shallow water)
I went to the upper spreaders. The motion is a bit worse there as everything is magnified by the height, but the view was worth it! WOW!!
Happy Crew enjoying this blue marble!!

Fair Winds

Paul & Sheryl
PS. For more adventures exploring the shallow waters check out our Distant Shores Episodes on the Bahamas here. Downloadable episodes on Vimeo here and here plus our classic Cruising the Bahamas how-to video with segments on piloting in shallow water.

BVI to Turks & Caicos

After a great visit to the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which was concluded by a spectacular lunar eclipse, we set sail for the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) on Tuesday April 15/14 with perfect conditions for a lovely 3-day downwind passage from the BVI.
We were on starboard tack for the whole voyage starting out by sailing wing and wing.

Occasionally we had to bring the genoa over to the other side to keep on course but finished with it poled out wing and wing as we arrived in the Turks and Caicos on Thursday night.

We kept 3 hour watches at night and 4 hours during the day. The nights were bright with the full moon and as we soared along north of the Navidad and Silver Banks we often saw cruise ships on the horizon and on AIS. We only had one short but heavy rain squall during the 3 days. The rest of the time the weather was lovely.

Caicos Q Flag
Our port of call was Cockburn Harbour on the island of South Caicos. Here Sheryl raises the “Q” flag to signify that we intend to clear in.

Clearing in was a story... we climbed out of the dinghy in the small fishing harbour on Good Friday, a hot and dusty day in the little town, where we asked the first person we met where we might find customs and immigration. Betty Craigg told us the 2 officers were on the way to their church for Good Friday and invited us to come join in the service. She assured us the officials would be happy to process our paperwork after the service.

Betty Craigg invited us to her church where she assured us we would be able to clear in to the Turks and Caicos with the Customs and Immigration officers attending the Good Friday service.

Turns out to be a rockin’ service at the Firm Foundations Ministries! Great fun and great singing! Thanks to Pastor Hall and Pastor Cooke and the congregation for such a warm welcome! Turns out the Immigration officer, Sandra Hall, is the wife of Pastor Hall, and the Customs officer, Markia Lockhart, is a very active member of the church.

Customs officer Marika Lockhart, left, and Immigration officer Sandra Hall, right, singing on Good Friday.

Sure enough we pop into the back room after the service is over to deal with the paperwork. “Hallelujah! We are Cleared In!!”

Homiest clearance ever!

Fees were $30 for Immigration and $65 for Customs for a 1-week permit. Overtime charges were included since it was a holiday.

We went back again to celebrate Easter Sunday with our new friends. It was an Easter we will never forget! Here are a few photos...

The telling of the Easter story. Pastor Brandford Hall at the pulpit.

Church dancers add to the story.
Customs officer, Marika Lockhart, also does the choreography for the church dancers.

Sheryl with Pastor Cherimay Cooke, who is a fantastic singer! What a joyful and memorable Easter in South Caicos.

We are looking forward to more adventures in Turks and Caicos. On Easter Monday we will be sailing north across the Caicos Bank to the island of Providenciales.

Best regards,

Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard SV Distant Shores II
Cockburn Town, South Caicos
Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI)


Big Fish! The One that Got Away.

Here is a weird story! (but its totally true and happened this week!)

A fisherman is out fishing on a sunny Caribbean day. He has a handline and 2 hooks with fish heads for bait. He is looking for a big fish.

After a while he feels a hard strike. This must be something big! He plays the fish... its HUGE! Perhaps he get a view of this beauty, almost three feet long. Looks like a very large snapper. But playing it for a while this large fish finally breaks away. Line snapped, bait and fish gone!!

Then what? That’s the last the fisherman knows - the one that got away!

Fast-forward a day or so (to yesterday)...

It’s a crystal blue sky day, where the turquoise water of the bay where we are anchored in the British Virgin Islands looks so inviting....

I grab my mask and snorkel, jump off the stern of Distant Shores II to swim to the nearby reef. But before I go I take a look at our hull and see what looks like a fishing line apparently wrapped around our propeller.

When I swim down to look I find a huge fish hiding behind our keel and prop. There is a hook in his mouth and a second hook with bait and sinker dangling from the first on 3 feet of line.


You can see the second baited hook hanging directly under the fish’s mouth.


He looks like a large dog snapper. They grow up to 2.5 feet. This one is full grown (comparing to our rudder just behind him).


He gets nervous with me there and swims forward to hide behind our keel. It’s tough to swim with a weighted hook dangling from his mouth... (don’t worry, this story has a happy ending!)

fish in keel2
Hiding behind the keel...
fish in keel4

Now perhaps the weirdest part of the story... how a lifting keel saved a dog snapper!

I swim down to check and he’s gone!

But no! He has found our keel housing, the place where our keel swings up into the bottom of the boat’s hull when we lift it. The cavity is 2.5 meters long and just wide enough for this large fish to slip inside. Here he is well up in the keel housing with the other baited hook still dangling out.
fish in keel1

As he tries to back out from the keel well, he comes on the other side of the keel lifting pennant. So now the fish plus hook, line and sinker is tangled around our keel mechanism. Who would dream this could ever happen?

But it finally gives him something to pull on and he pulls out the hook!

fish escapes

The last I see is him swimming away free - you can see the second hook dangling on the left... (told you there was a happy ending)

Now there is one hook, bait and sinker dangling from the keel, and another hook caught around our keel mechanism!

So today’s boat project is to clear out the tangle.

Imagine if I hadn’t seen all this unfold... We’d lift the boat for a haul out/bottom painting, and find a fishing lure and line wrapped around our keel?! How the heck did that happen??

Since I was carrying one of our underwater video cameras, all this is recorded and will be featured in Season 10 of the Distant Shores Television series. Check out some of our other adventures on DVD and download at

Paul & Sheryl
Aboard Distant Shores II, BVI

Tell us Your Story

A real joy for us while we're out cruising and filming new episodes of the Distant Shores sailing adventure TV series is the many chance meetings we have with people who have been inspired in some way by watching the shows we've produced over the years. We’d like to introduce you to some of them.

David MacDonald and Alex Palcic of Halifax, Nova Scotia, discovered the Distant Shores TV series on Travel and Escape Channel in Canada (now airing on Cottage Life channel in Canada). They were dreaming of going cruising and watched the morning broadcast of Distant Shores, Monday to Friday, before work to help keep their dream in front of them. We met them here in the British Virgin Islands several months after they had made the long journey from Halifax aboard their Jeanneau 40 Sun Odyssey sail boat, S/V Banyan.

Distant Shores is now in it's 10th season and is broadcast worldwide in over 24 languages so these encounters happen several times a week now. A dream come true for us!

We also enjoy receiving comments through the Distant Shores Facebook Page, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel and by e-mail where people write to us to tell us their cruising stories and send us photos of their boats. How about you?

Culpepper Family
Distant Shores fans from New York chartered a sailboat in the British Virgin Islands. They spotted our boat and we invited them aboard. They watch the show on DVD and follow our adventures on Facebook too. They’re hoping to go cruising in the future.

We are really delighted that the Distant Shores series has helped so many people discover the joys of sailing since our main goals for the show are to:
  • provide insight into the cruising lifestyle
  • feature top boating destinations as well as places with intriguing maritime history
  • share information about traveling safely by boat
  • inspire confidence in those hoping to set sail to explore distant shores themselves.

From comments and encounters we’ve learned that some viewers head out in their own boat, some charter a boat in an exotic locale, or take a river tour or cruise ship voyage that they may have never considered before.

Many have written to say they knew nothing about sailing but were inspired by the show to get into the sport. They have enrolled in sailing classes and are having the time of their lives!

Distant Shores fans from Mississauga, Ontario, were inspired to get into sailing and came down to the British Virgin Islands to take a sailing course here. They stopped by Distant Shores II to say hello and we learned that they are now members of our yacht club too!

Has watching the Distant Shores series helped or inspired you in some way?

If so, we'd love it if you would tell your story in the comments below and attach a photo of you and your boat, or you and your family/friends having an adventure somewhere as a result of watching episodes of Distant Shores.

Here are a few questions to guide you:
  • How did you discover the Distant Shores sailing TV series?
  • Do you watch the shows on TV, on DVD or download, or a combination of these?
  • What do you like about watching episodes of Distant Shores?
  • How has Distant Shores inspired you or helped you to fulfill your dreams or goals?

So please tell us your stories as comments on this post. We appreciate all the interest and support you have given us during our voyages so we're keen to hear about your adventures or plans!

And to make it even more fun, posting your story will make you eligible for a draw on April 1, 2014, to win a Distant Shores SuperPack. This contains all 117 episodes of Distant Shores from seasons 1-9 on 23 DVDs in a compact wallet (handy on a boat) PLUS all the shows as digital downloads. Info and description of DVDs here.

If you own all or some of the shows already and become our winner, then please pass on your prize as a gift to a friend who is longing to get out on the water too!

Many thanks again!

Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard S/V Distant Shores II
Eustacia Sound, British Virgin Islands


Adventures in the BVI

Rescue in the Anchorage! Yikes!!

Sitting after dinner at anchor watching the full moon we heard shouting nearby and realized it wasn't just sailors coming back from the bar, it was "Help! Is anybody there?!!". A cruiser was swimming by in the dark trying to catch up to his dinghy which had come adrift. But it was drifting faster than he could swim. He climbed aboard and we headed off downwind and chased the dinghy. All OK now. Pheww!

Goes to show you how fast a dinghy can drift even in a moderate breeze as its blowing just 12 knots or so.

Excitement! And happy ending!

Wow!! A few days ago I had an amazing dive with an Octopus!!

He was right under the boat and I was able to swim with him for 15 minutes getting some great video for Distant Shores.

We had friends William and Shane aboard for a few days and William wanted to visit Fallen Jerusalem - near the Baths. We hadn’t been before and we had the perfect day with light breezes, minimum swell and perfect sun to bring out the BVI Water color!!! In the back you see the Baths and Virgin Gorda.

Who has been to the Baths?

Bob Bitchin - Not your Average Sailor

On Monday, March 10, 2014, Paul and I sailed to Soper’s Hole (West End) in the British Virgin Islands to attend the 70th birthday party of friend, Bob Bitchin, ex-biker and sailor, who many of you know as the publisher and editor of Cruising Outpost magazine (formerly Latitudes and Attitudes), presenter of the Latitudes and Attitudes TV series, and host of great boat show parties. Both the magazine and TV series celebrate the cruising lifestyle.

Sixteen guests attended, arriving by boat of course, and a good time was had by all. Since everyone was a sailor, there was a lot of spinning of yarns, tall tales, and frivolity that night!

Birthday Boy, Bob Bitchin, Publisher and Managing Editor of Cruising Outpost Magazine (formerly Latitudes and Attitudes) arrives in Soper’s Hole, BVI, aboard S/V Distant Star

16 guests arrive at Soper’s Hole in the British Virgin Islands aboard "Distant Shores II", "Distant Star" (foreground), and the catamaran "Delphine"

Bob Bitchin's 70th - 04
Paul with Bob Bitchin. We’ve worked with Bob for over 10 years contributing to his magazines as well as the Latitudes and Attitudes TV series.

Bob Bitchin's 70th - 02
Bob’s wife, Jody Lipkin, organized the party at Pusser’s Landing gathering friends together from all parts of the globe.

Bob Bitchin's 70th - 10
Cheers, Bob! Happy 70th birthday!

Bob Bitchin's 70th - 09
The most delicious chocolate birthday cake!

Bob Bitchin's 70th - 19
Lady pirates, Bob, and Charles, owner of Pusser’s Landing - a fabulous host!

Bob Bitchin's 70th - 07
Gentlemen pirates with Bob and Charles

Bob Bitchin's 70th - 08
We look forward to many more years of celebrating the cruising lifestyle with Bob, Jody and the team at Cruising Outpost magazine.

How many of you are fans of Bob’s and Cruising Outpost magazine? Feel free to comment below to wish Bob a happy birthday or post photos of your encounters with this larger-than-life sailor!

Sheryl and Paul
Aboard S/V Distant Shores II
Soper’s Hole, Tortola
British Virgin Islands

Why We Love the British Virgin Islands

News 2014-03-08 PIX01

We're back in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), still one of our favourite cruising grounds in the Caribbean!

There are many reasons why we keep returning to the BVI when our schedule allows:
  1. The beautiful natural islands. We’ve been coming here since 1985 and there has been very little intrusive development.
  2. There are numerous protected anchorages as well as good marina facilities if you want them.
  3. There are numerous restaurants and beach bars if you don't feel like cooking on board. Reservations taken via VHF radio! They really cater to boaters here.
  4. English is spoken so communication is not an issue.
  5. The grocery stores are good although pricier than other Caribbean Islands but they offer a good selection and have high end specialty items due to the charter boat industry here. You can order provisions online from grocery stores such as Rite Way Food Markets and have them delivered right to your boat. There are decent yacht services and chandleries too.
  6. The snorkeling and diving is great and good sites are convenient to anchorages. The dive operations offer “rendezvous dive services” where they will pick you up from your boat, provide gear, and take you to an interesting dive site. Check out Sail Caribbean Divers. There are over 100 sites in the islands within a small area.
  7. It’s easy eye-ball navigation since the islands are all close together so stress-free. It’s a nice break after lots of challenging navigation these past few years.
  8. It’s peaceful. Rarely do you hear an airplane or a siren (unless you're around the main island of Tortola).
  9. Large mooring fields have been installed in popular places so anchor-dragging issues and conflicts have virtually disappeared. Yet there are plenty of quiet places for experienced sailors to anchor, if you prefer.
  10. People love to sail here! Many are on a week's bareboat charter and they want to sail every minute they can! There are regattas and rendezvous and beautiful mega-yachts. The atmosphere is always festive. You are surrounded by people who are happy and active and having a good time - but they fall asleep by 10 PM :-) It's a boat show everyday!
News 2014-03-08 PIX14
So having said all that, let me tell you what we’ve been up to since we got here.
The start of this year's visit to the British Virgin Islands was on Wednesday February 26/14 when we set sail from the French/Dutch island of St. Martin/St. Maarten at 6:30 AM headed for the BVI. We had delayed our departure several times waiting for a part for our Mastervolt generator to arrive but it never came so we finally moved on. (More on the happy ending to this story later.)
We normally do the 80 nm offshore sail across the Anegada Passage from St. Martin to BVI within daylight hours averaging 7-8 knots but Distant Shores II had been in the soupy fertile waters of Simpson Bay Lagoon for several weeks and the hull and propellor were seriously caked with barnacles and other interesting marine growth.
Sunset with still miles to go to reach Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

This, in conjunction with the light flukey winds we had that day (see Paul's Tech Blog on this), slowed us down so much that we didn't make landfall in Virgin Gorda, BVI, until 9:00 PM so ended up sailing in, in the dark. Luckily we have been here many times so arriving in the dark was not an issue.
After coming through Necker Passage we entered the well lit channel into Gorda Sound and anchored off Prickly Pear Island in the protection of the reef where we soon fell fast asleep.
News 2014-03-08 PIX02
Gorda Sound, also called North Sound, in the British Virgin Islands

In the morning we motored over to Gun Creek, within Gorda Sound, with our yellow “Q” flag flying on the starboard halyard indicating to the customs and immigration officials at the office there that we needed to clear in. Unfortunately the customs officer was in Spanish Town for a morning meeting so the very courteous female immigration officer said if we wanted we could take a taxi to the Spanish Town office just a few miles over the hill and down the road and clear in there or she could handle our passports and we could come back in the afternoon and speak to the customs officer when he returned. We checked the price of the taxi and it was going to be $17 US/person one way or $68 for the both of us for the whole trip! So we decided to wait.
No problem we had barnacle-scraping to do in the meantime!
News 2014-03-08 PIX04
Once cleared in ($25 fees), we anchored off Saba Rock Resort, an amazing little boutique resort built on a tiny island within Gorda Sound. They have moorings too for $30 per night which includes 250 gallons of water for your tanks and a bag of ice, which is not a bad deal.
News 2014-03-08 PIX03
They also have free open high-speed wi-fi which we appreciate the use of so support them by showing up for Happy Hour ($3.50 for a beer or Painkiller rum drink. A big difference from $1 Happy Hour beers in Grenada but what a location!) and occasional meals.
News 2014-03-08 PIX05
This first night we had a reunion at the resort with cruising friends, Richard and Lavinia Maggs of MV Partners, who we had met earlier in the season in Carriacou, Grenada.
News 2014-03-08 PIX06
We spent a couple of days at anchor in Gorda Sound editing and scripting new episodes of Distant Shores, organizing interviews and film permits needed in upcoming destinations, and completing some magazine articles that were due. Paul and I start work early in the morning when its cool and we're pretty disciplined about keeping regular 8-hour work days during the week. I know it looks as if we're just out cruising when you watch episodes of the Distant Shores TV series but it is a job that requires hours and hours of work off-camera. Luckily our mobile field office is a pretty nice place to work!
News 2014-03-08 PIX09
Sheryl walking along the Biras Creek Trail on Virgin Gorda

When we needed a break we'd get off the boat and stretch our legs on the trails that start from the Bitter End Yacht Club. Guy's Trail and Biras Creek Trail are especially nice. If you like hiking check out Michael Sweeney's guide book, “Get Ready to Get Wet: Top 10 Hikes of the Caribbean” available on the Home Page of his Zero to Cruising website.

On Saturday March 1 we raised anchor and under genoa alone sailed out of Gorda Sound (also called North Sound) through a very shallow cut between Mosquito Island and Virgin Gorda. Most sail boats are too deep to use this cut but our Southerly 49 sailboat has a variable draft keel which we can raise in shallow places so this cut was not a problem for us.
News 2014-03-08 PIX12
S/V Distant Shores II sailing through the shallow cut between Mosquito Island and Virgin Gorda.

Sadly we saw a motor boat had gone hard aground on the reef there. I guess the captain had misread his charts or was not paying attention to the depths as he approached the cut. Ouch.
News 2014-03-08 PIX13
Motor yacht aground on the reef outside the Mosquito Island cut.

Our plan for the day was to visit the Digicel phone centre in Spanish Town to get set up with a local phone number and data plan, do a bit of grocery shopping, and continue on to Cooper Island or Peter Island. But when we got to Spanish Town, anchored, launched the dinghy, hiked up the hill to the main road we discovered that everything except the grocery store was closed on the weekends on Virgin Gorda! How quickly we forget when we are continually moving from one country to another. Most places in the Caribbean are open on Saturday but closed firmly on Sunday. Darn. It meant we wouldn't have a phone or mobile internet access until Monday. Then we saw a sign on the door saying that Monday was a public holiday! Nothing happening until Tuesday! Argghh.
News 2014-03-08 PIX08
We decided to return to Gorda Sound and continue our work anchored at Saba Rock where we could at least be in touch with the world via e-mail.

On Tuesday we tried at the phone centre again and a very friendly woman at the busy Digicel office in Spanish Town got us set up with a local phone number for our iPhone. The sim card was $10 US and had various pre-paid data plans we could attach to it. We ended up buying a plan for 3 Gb for $50 per month. We can tether our computers and devices to the phone which acts as a modem and both be online at the same time using it. For more info visit
News 2014-03-08 PIX16 (copy)
Spanish Town anchorage

We spent the night anchored off Spanish Town which can get rather rolly with the currents and reflecting waves so in the morning we were keen to move on. We had another nice downwind sail and decided to keep going to Great Harbour, Peter Island, one of our favourite anchorages in the BVI since you can swim from the boat right to the reefs along the shoreline for great snorkelling. There's always lots of room to anchor although it's quite deep.
In Great Harbour, Peter Island, you can swim right from the boat to reefs along the shore.

Another nice thing is that you have access to the beautiful Peter Island Resort where sailors are welcome to use the beach, enjoy the restaurants and bars, relax at the spa, and hike the trails there.
News 2014-03-08 PIX18
Hiking on Peter Island. Paul takes in the view on the Sunset Loop trail.

While anchored at Great Harbour, Canadian friends, Dave and Alex aboard S/V Banyan, sailed in from St. Martin bringing with them the oil pressure sender for our generator that we had been waiting for. We have a Mastervolt Whisper 3.5 generator. The part had finally arrived a few days after we'd left St. Martin and our friends kindly picked it up and delivered it to us in person! Wow! Friends within the cruising community really watch out for each other. We feel truly blessed.
Friends Alex and Dave aboard S/V Banyan arrive in Great Harbour with the generator part we’d been waiting for.

This coming week we'll be visiting other locations around the British Virgin Islands. Stay tuned!
News 2014-03-08 PIX21 (copy)
Kind regards,
Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard S/V Distant Shores II
Great Harbour, Peter Island
British Virgin Islands

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St. Martin - Running and Hiking Trails

Paul aboard S/V Distant Shores II ready for an 8 km run in the hills of St. Martin

It's important to get off the boat once and awhile and do activities that help keep you fit when you're living afloat. Something Paul and I like to do regularly is to participate in local running or hiking activities. We love to be outside and running and/or hiking gets us out into the countryside to explore places in the area we're visiting that we might not see otherwise.


Today, Sunday February 23/14, Paul participated in the Gymfit Time Trial de Bellevue, an 8 km run along trails in the hills of St. Martin, the French side of the island.


We had hiked these same trails with our friends, Lynne and Ken of S/V Silverheels III, a few days before and Paul and Lynne, the runners in the group, had done a few runs too. You can learn more about the trails of St. Martin at and find out about organized outings too.

Lynne of S/V Silverheels III and Paul on Bellevue Trails

And the week before, we had taken a break from editing and boat projects to enjoy a hike on a lovely shady downhill trail past an old sugar mill in St. Martin with about 30 fellow cruising sailors that Mark from S/V Sealife had organized. So the social aspect of hiking and running in foreign countries is as important and as pleasurable to us as the exercise and exploration.

Paul on a hike we did with fellow cruisers last week. The views over the island are beautiful.

Paul signed up for today's 8 km run at Tri-Sport St. Maarten Tours on the Dutch side of the island who also offer hiking, cycling and kayak tours but the majority of the runners participating today were from the French side and were French speaking locals. Events like this are a really fun way to meet people that live in the country you're visiting and become immersed in the culture a little bit, rather than just socializing with other travellers.

Paul running on the Bellevue Trails on the French side of St. Martin near Marigot

When in Grenada this past summer, we both joined a fun running club called the Hash House Harriers (HHH) which is an international running club with both hiking and running events. I hiked and Paul walked and the trails were timed so that hikers and walkers finished around the same time. A BBQ followed so it was always a good time.

Sheryl on a Hash House Harrier event on the north coast of Grenada.

Every weekend in Grenada there was an HHH event on trails in a different part of the island so we really got to see some unusual places and meet great people! See our newsletter "On! On! Hashing in Grenada" about this. We also got back in to shape in a hurry since the trails were up and down hills, across or along creeks and rivers, through forests and plantations, along beaches, up cliffs. Great fun!

In Grenada we really got in shape participating in a Hash House Harrier event every weekend.

We had participated in HHH events in Gibraltar many years before. One of the runs was through the tunnels of the Rock of Gibraltar! When you're a Hash House Harrier you're welcome to join in the events held in any country there's a club.

Today's 8 km run in St. Martin started early, at 7:00 a.m., since it gets too hot to run during the day. To get to the Race Start, Paul and Lynne took our dinghy to the dock at Port de Plaisance Marina on the Dutch side of St. Maarten.


Then they had a 2 km walk up the road to the Race Start in Marigot on the French side of the island, crossing the border from the Dutch side along the way.

Paul and Lynne warm up for their run with a 2 km walk to the Race Start crossing the border into the French side of St. Martin.


At the Race Start there were about 80 runners and each runner was given a start time 30 seconds apart to stagger them on the trail. The times were determined by a draw of names.


Paul's start was at 21 minutes after the first start and, by chance, Lynne's was only slightly later at 28 minutes after the start. Paul was #240 and Lynn was #236.


The brochure said the trails would offer beautiful panoramas and “the chance of encountering goats and monkeys”! We've never seen a monkey on our hikes on this island but have seen goats. However, today the only wildlife encountered were cattle that made large deposits on the trails. Hmmm. The runners had to really what their steps.


Ken (Lynne's husband) and I were at the finish line to cheer on our mates as they crossed the line within a few minutes of one another.

Paul crossing the finish line after running 8 K through the hills of St. Martin.

Cruising friend, Lynne of S/V Silverheels III, crossing the finish line.

The last runners finished about an hour afterwards. It was great since there were people of all ages and several families with children participating together.

Family running teams.

Youngest prize winners at today’s 8 K run in St. Martin.

There were lots of prizes too donated by local businesses and sponsors for the winners of various categories and the 1st prize winner got to sit on a chair and rest :-)


The $15 US entry fee for the run included a very nice breakfast of fresh fruit, yoghurt parfaits, and other snacks plus lots of water, juices and PowerAde.


It was a fun morning and a great time was had by all!


We are now having a restful Sunday afternoon on board Distant Shores II. If the spare part we're waiting for our Mastervolt generator arrives tomorrow, it will be our last day in St. Maarten. The weather is looking good for sailing to the British Virgin Islands on Tuesday. We’ll keep you posted...

Have a good week!

Warm regards,
Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard S/V Distant Shores II
Simpson Bay Lagoon
St. Maarten

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St. Maarten - Locker Clear-out and Inventory


Simpson Bay Lagoon

For the last couple of weeks Paul and I have been aboard Distant Shores II anchored in the protected waters of Simpson Bay Lagoon on the Dutch side of the island of St. Maarten/St. Martin. This island is unique in that half the island is Dutch and the other side belongs to France!

Paul and French flag at Fort Louis, St. Martin

It is also a major yachting centre and duty free port which for sailors means it's a great place to stop to do boat projects, repairs, and annual maintenance; stock up the boat with food and goods from around the world at affordable prices; top up the fuel tank and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow sailors.

Paul checking out the latest Raymarine equipment at Budget Marine, one of the major chandleries in St. Maarten

See my newsletter from our last visit, “Leaving St. Maarten” - 05/06/13. The island is a “cruisers crossroad” and you are bound to meet up with sailors you have met elsewhere on your travels. It's also a jumping off spot for sailors heading up or down island, offshore to Bermuda or Panama or across the Atlantic to Europe.

Dinner on board SV Banyan with cruising friends, Alex and Dave.

Like most of the crews on the boats anchored around us, we're taking the opportunity to do a little spring cleaning before the next leg of our voyage. Paul and I try to empty, inventory and clean out every locker on the boat at least once a year and St. Maarten is a good place to do it since here we have access to just about everything that we might need to replace, upgrade, repair or re-stock on our Southerly 49 sailboat. Our plans for this spring include time in the out-islands of the Bahamas where self-sufficiency will be key.


Before loading your boat with provisions and spares, we find that doing a thorough locker clear-out and cleaning helps you to rid yourself of unnecessary clutter to make room for the fresh supplies coming on board. It also helps to remind you of the stores you have so you don't purchase things already on the boat. It's surprisingly easy to forget what's on board despite valiant attempts at updating your inventory lists. Things do settle to the bottom of lockers and erase themselves from your memory or fall off lists.

Checking lockers regularly means that “disasters” such as exploded soft drink cans or cracked ketchup bottles don't go undetected. It is really depressing to return to the boat exhausted from shopping and find a locker you are about to fill with groceries is in an awful mess.


But most important of all is that this is a great time to examine how well you are using the storage space available on your boat and to make changes while the boat is relatively empty. Organizing the boat in a way that is convenient for you and that achieves your goals makes it a nicer place to be. If you like cruising in remote places you'll make carrying lots of supplies a priority for your storage areas versus a crew that loves performance sailing who would keep the boat light and makes sail storage a priority. The more efficiently you use your boat's storage space, the more money you'll save, the better your boat will perform, the more comfortable you'll be and the better sense of control you will have in your cruising life. Sometimes it will seem to be the only thing in control! LOL.
A Few Tips on Efficient Organization of Lockers:
1.Store items near their point of use.

2.Analyze your storage spaces and determine their degree of accessibility. Items you use regularly should be stowed in the most accessible cupboards and lockers. To determine the best use for each locker or cupboard, think about what you're most likely to be doing when you’re standing near it or where you’re going when you walk by it.

3.Consider the importance of weight distribution. Keep heavy items like canned goods low down and lighter items like pasta in higher cupboards. Similarly store heavy items centrally and keep the ends of the boat light so she can sail well and respond to the seas. Weight in the ends causes most boats to bury their bows in the waves.

You Might also like the following...
Tropical Storm Chantal Arrives
Making Money While Cruising
Maintaining a Homebase
About the Southerly 49
Top 10 Canal Journeys

Making Money while Cruising

Sheryl conducting a seminar at the Toronto International Boat Show

Happy Winter! We hope you are keeping warm wherever you may be and keeping your mind on boating by attending one of the many boat winter shows, taking a boating course, or attending a local yacht club’s Speaker’s Night. For most of January, Paul and I have been on the road conducting seminars and doing presentations for snowbound sailors in the Northern USA and Canada since speaking, writing and DVD sales are an important part of how we earn a living in addition to the license fees we earn for our sailing adventure television series, Distant Shores.

Paul filming on the wreck of the Rhone in the British Virgin Islands for Distant Shores season 9.

One of the presentations we give that is always popular and generates lots of ideas and enthusiastic discussion is "Making Money while Cruising". This was the case once again recently at the Strictly Sail Chicago boat show where we had full houses for our weekend presentations as we also did at the Toronto International Boat Show. Now back on board our Southerly 49 sailboat, Distant Shores II, in the tropical warmth of St. Maarten in the Caribbean, I thought I would write about our experiences and those of other sailors who have found interesting ways of earning while cruising since we always get lots of questions about this.

At the Travel Channel studio in London, England.

Travelling by boat, as I'm sure you'll agree, offers many pleasures and freedoms but can present plenty of challenges and heart-pounding moments as well. Adding financial stress to the adventure can really take the fun out of cruising so it's important to maintain a good financial base when out sailing long-term. As in life ashore, financial security provides freedom and peace of mind. The ability to earn a living while cruising then seems the ultimate freedom.


Paul and I feel blessed that our work as authors, speakers and the producers of the Distant Shores sailing adventure TV series as well as other travel documentary series has enabled us to earn our keep while living the cruising lifestyle for 24 years now. Although making money while cruising can be a tricky thing to manage, it is possible, and throughout our years of cruising we have met many sailors who are making cruising pay in positive and creative ways. There is probably a way that you can too. Here are some ideas...

Sheryl on assignment in Malta in the Central Mediterranean.

Earning without Working - Investment Earnings
The easiest and most common way to make money while cruising is to have a nest egg of investments that earn a reliable interest rate while you're out having fun on the boat. Earning this way is the least work while you're sailing and, if carefully planned before you set sail, should hardly interfere with you're cruising itinerary as opposed to trying to take on jobs along the way. Ideally your investments should be low maintenance and easy to cash in with little or no penalty. This is not difficult to set up with the help of a financial adviser. Most cruisers we meet doing this have down-scaled their living costs by moving on board and sailing in affordable places so their investment earnings or retirement funds go further than when living ashore back home.

Since communications can often be tricky when travelling, it is generally advisable to establish a portfolio that doesn't require a lot of attention. If you have to be checking the stock market constantly or risking disaster if you're caught out in bad weather and can't get a call in to your stock broker or get on the internet it's just going to add to your stress level and be dangerous financially. This of course depends on where you're cruising since technology has improved to the extent that in so many places, even at sea or in a remote anchorage, you can get internet access and have good affordable phone service on board. We know of several cruisers who earn their money through serious trading but they are very experienced and treat it as a job by dedicating several hours a day to the process. They spend a lot of money on communications systems to guarantee they're connected.

Looking at things from the other side of the coin, when we sailed to Bermuda for the first time in 1997 we met a cruising stock broker from Connecticut who was handling the complicated investments of his high profile clients while cruising on his boat. He'd made the offshore voyage to Bermuda, something he'd always dreamed of doing, and having accomplished this he then set himself up at a dock in the harbour for several months with phone, fax and e-mail and was enjoying island life while working for his clients. Very occasionally he had to fly back to his office at home but by remaining in one location for a long period he was able to establish the reliable communications he needed to handle the investments of his clients and earn his living while cruising in paradise for the summer. This is an example of “Working while Cruising but Earning at Home” which I'll elaborate on later on.

Paul at work in the Bahamas.

Royalties from intellectual property that you have created in the past such as a book, computer software you have developed or, as in our case, license fees for television programs we have made in the past plus DVD/download sales is another way to make money without working while cruising since the income is from work you have done in previous years. For us, the income from DVDs and downloads of Distant Shores episodes which feature the world's best cruising destinations goes towards production costs of making new shows. By the way, many thanks to all of you for your support over the years. It's always a pleasure to meet sailors “out there” who have used the shows as resources for planning their own adventures. We hope they do/have done the same for you.

Every year we release new Distant Shores sailing DVDs that profile the world’s top cruising destinations to help you plan your own adventures.

Rental Earnings
Another popular method of making money while cruising without working while you sail is to move aboard your boat and rent out your house or other property that you own at a rate that covers the house expenses plus enough to maintain a simple cruising lifestyle, probably in addition to savings or other investment income. (I wrote more about this in a previous newsletter about “Maintaining a Home Base while Cruising”.) We meet many cruising sailors who are renting out their homes especially if they are out cruising for a set period of time – a summer, two years, etc. - and are planning to return home afterwards, or if they have just begun cruising and want the reassurance that they have their place to go home to if they find the cruising life isn't for them. Since property values generally increase over time, renting also helps maintain any investment in a home or other property. Then if you do eventually decide to sell, you can wait for a good time in the market and hopefully get a good return on your investment.

The importance of having access to good communication is also an issue when renting property. You must be in touch to look after your tenants needs or assign a reliable representative at home that your tenants can contact if they need the plumbing fixed or repairs made. A property manager can be hired if you do not have a friend or family member to help you out with this but hiring a property manager will reduce your earnings somewhat. The hassles you may be spared however will probably make it worthwhile.

The key to success with rental income is to be sure you have good tenants for the long-term that are not causing trouble with the neighbours or damaging your property. Bad tenants or a high turn-over of tenants which results in increased administrative time and cost can make this form of earning-while-cruising a nightmare but with carefully chosen tenants, earning income by renting your home or other property works well for many cruisers since it offers emotional as well as financial security in many cases.

Paid Sabbaticals
We've met many teachers who have arranged a sabbatical by deferring part of their salaries for several years in order to self-finance a planned leave of absence, with the guarantee of a job upon return. The typical model is the Canadian "five over four" in which 20 percent of a teacher’s pay is deferred over four years, and then the teacher is paid 80% of salary over the fifth year for the sabbatical leave of absence. Cheques are coming in while they playing beach volleyball on a tropical island somewhere. Could this be you?

Doing Work while Cruising but Earning Money at Home
Today with the accessibility of the internet while cruising, most sailors we know keep a blog or website and generate a following. If your numbers are significant this may be an opportunity to make money while cruising by monetizing your website. For example, selling your music CDs or downloads (cruising DVDs and downloads in our case). You can get sponsors for your page, sell advertising or set up affiliate links with companies such as Amazon and West Marine whereby if you mention or promote a product they sell while writing your blog, and visitors to your website click through to their website from yours and purchase a product, you receive a small commission. You have to work very hard at promoting the products to make much money at this but it does provide some additional income. The Zero to Cruising blog by Mike and Rebecca Sweeney and The Boat Galley by Carolyn Shearlock are good examples of this.

Join our email list and get hints, technical articles and tips plus videos to help you achieve your cruising dreams.
  • FREE 1/2 hour video on cruising the Exuma Islands in the Bahamas
  • Technical Blog shows you how to deal with issues facing the cruising sailor
  • Destination information from some of the world's best cruising areas
  • Special discounts and promotions

We work while cruising but earn money at home filming our sailing television show. Similar to travel writers and photographers on assignment, we do the physical work of filming, interviewing and scripting while traveling in foreign countries but we are selling the finished product at home. Since we're not earning money in the territory we are documenting in our television programs, work permits are not required although we must work with the tourist boards to obtain filming permits.

One of Paul’s cover shots on the October 2013 issue of Canadian Yachting magazine.

Other examples of working while cruising but earning money at home are working as a Virtual Assistant, writing a book or magazine article, doing software development or IT consultation while on your boat for clients back at home, the way the financial planner I mentioned earlier was doing.

Working Part-time
Many cruisers go home to do contract work or do work on a part-time basis for the company they worked for before setting sail. This is appealing since it provides some financial security and a chance to stay connected with your industry while sailing for a large part of the year. We've met sailors that run a B&B when they're home for the summer, then close down for the winter and go cruising in the tropics. Like us, they mostly store their boat in the location they finished their voyage in the year before rather than sail it back and forth each year. Marinas and boat yards around the world are set up for this. You fly back, launch, and carry on to new destinations. Job-sharing is another set-up we've seen working for part-time cruisers. Teachers share a class and each work different semesters. We met two brothers that owned a dinghy repair and servicing business who took turns managing the business so each could go cruising for six months each year. And yes, they shared the boat too.

With advanced communications these days your boat can be your mobile office in beautiful locations such as the British Virgin Islands.

Finding Work Along the Way
Perhaps the most obvious way of making money while cruising is to set sail and work along the way. Unfortunately, this can be a very unreliable method of making money while cruising if you are constantly on the move and if it is your only source of income it can be very stressful. Most cruisers who work along the way do it only as a supplement to their travel funds. Having said that, we know lots of cruising folk who have worked their way around the globe and who find that working in a new place adds greatly to their cruising experience and understanding of the world. They generally have a specific skill that travels well such as carpentry or waitressing or bartending or teaching English as a second language or they charter their boat for part of the year or provide yacht maintenance services. But these folks are generally willing to take on any variety of jobs depending on what is available, so flexibility is key.

Selling off old gear at local boat swaps and "Treasures of the Bilge" sales is quick way to put some money in your pocket while cruising.

Working in other countries can often present limitations in the form of requiring work permits, local certificates of qualification, special coding for yacht insurance if you're running charters as well as charter permits and upgraded safety requirements, language barriers, and the like, but with advance planning the paperwork can be applied for and these obstacles dealt with and overcome.

If you have dual citizenship be sure to carry passports for both nations since this will open up work opportunities for you while travelling in other countries. In the Azores we met an American cruising couple who had dual citizenship in the UK and were computer professionals. They enjoyed taking on short-term contracts in countries they could sail to within the European Union. This way they had an interesting mix of cruising and job security in the countries they arrived in. We've met doctors, nurses, teachers and other professionals doing this too.

If working while cruising you may need a different set of clothes from your regular sailing attire.

Cruisers with skills useful to other cruisers such as refrigeration and engine repair often earn their keep just working within the cruising community wherever they go and where they are in constant touch with potential customers. Here you must be very careful since you may be taking work from local service people and work permits will be an issue. Realize that you risk large fines, deportation, or having your boat confiscated by working illegally.

On our last visit to Malta we met up with a British sailor spending the winter there before sailing on to Greece for the summer. He was a certified RYA instructor so was approached by many local sailors wanting to achieve various levels of training and RYA certification. He spent the winter teaching them on their own boats and was offered several delivery jobs as well. Like many work-along-the-way sailors, he didn't rely on this work as his only source of income but it was an enjoyable and rewarding way to top up his cruising fund and get involved in the local boating community while cruising at the same time.

Long-term cruisers generally find that it is nice to stop and stay in one place from time to time to catch their breath, maintain their boats, and find seasonal work while they do. Once they have established work contacts they often return to the same place each winter or summer or tourist season when extra workers are needed during busy times.

There are lots of wonderful and unusual ways to earn a living while cruising. In the Bahamas we met a statuesque Swedish hairdresser who gave topless haircuts on the beach! In remote places where she wasn't infringing on the business of local hairdressers she announced her services on the VHF net and only charged $5.00 for a basic cut or beard trim but always made a bundle. Sorry no photos :-) Musicians top up their cruising kitties performing at local events and by selling their CDs. Artists take on commissions and sell their artwork. The list is endless.

Making money while cruising is possible. It just takes a little patience and imagination - qualities all boaters with a dream possess!

Have you found ways to earn money while cruising? We’d love to hear about your experiences too. We welcome your comments and questions below...

Warm regards,

Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard SV Distant Shores II
Simpson Bay Marina
Sint Maarten, Dutch Antilles

Strong Winds sailing through the Caribbean

Its been a very windy week ... locals call this the "Christmas Winds" and it means windy trades in the 20-25 knots with higher gusts...

We have been making fast passages hopping north from the Grenadines to St Lucia where we picked up friends Scott & Austin Swift (Singer Taylor Swift’s father and brother respectively). They sailed with us to Martinique, Dominica and the Saintes before flying out again. It was great having them on board.

Starting as we left the Tobago Cays in the Southern Grenadines we passed one of the world largest mega-yachts... that’s a real helicopter - it just looks like a model since the yacht is over 400 feet long.
Folding-out decks to launch all the boats and beach toys...
Rainy squalls meant some lovely rainbows including this nice double-rainbow.
The Saintes are one of our favourite stops
Here are some sailing pix from the trip north! It was quite breezy and a bit uncomfortable but very fast!
Some sunny patches with trade wind clouds but also lots of squalls passing
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We charged along at 8-9 knots most of the time!
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Paul ventures forward during a more settled patch to set up the camera at the bow and film the windy conditions.
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Distant Shores II has a "bone in her teeth" as they say.
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We sailed with the small 100% jib - often reefed down and sometimes full out as here.
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Nevis in the background as we complete the 2nd last day
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Waves do not look as large in photos ... Video shows it much more accurately...
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Seas are down to 2.3 meters - 7 feet or so and winds 20-25... pleasant :-)

We Celebrate the arrival in Nevis with an excellent roast pork Sunday Dinner... gravy et al!

Then its on to St Martin where we will store Distant Shores for a few weeks as we go home to the Toronto & Chicago Boat Shows.