Most of us who live aboard are used to being independent, self-sufficient and can live “off the grid” for long periods of time. We usually have a good supply of food onboard, have communications, can generate our own electricity, and can make our own water. Catamaran Guru team member, Thea Koshman, shares her tips and tricks on how she copes with life and social distancing on her catamaran as a full-time liveaboard during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Steve and I own a 2016 Lagoon 450F and we live aboard full-time. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, we didn’t jump on the panic bandwagon as quickly as most people here in South Florida. Instead we found ourselves visiting unusual grocery stores in search of provisions. See, my husband, Steve, is a chef and I am a foodie so we usually spend time creating delicious food and experimenting with our Ninja air fryer and our Zojurushi bread maker. I absolutely love our Soda Stream. It saves space and money! We decided to make it a fun activity and journey of discovery while we wait this out.
We discovered some Korean, Caribbean, Japanese, and local independent grocery stores in and around Miami to stock up on interesting ingredients for our new recipes. We even found sanitizing wipes at a sketchy Seven-11! We made a fantastic adventure out of stocking our boat with provisions for the next month or so. (That was before movement was as restrictive as it is now, of course).
One thing I learned cruising from Puerto Vallarta to Colombia and back was that, in these developing countries, if you find something you like or need, buy several because it might not be there the next time you visit. That is exactly what we did when we visited these little grocery stores. This lesson has come in handy during this “pandemic”. However, I am not a hoarder. I leave some for others and I hope they do the same for me.
This “hunting” expedition was fun. But currently, a safer method of provisioning during these more restrictive times is to pre-order online (Instacart, Amazon Prime, etc.) with your favorite grocery stores and either have it delivered or pick it up. It is a great service specially since we stocked up on staples for the next month.
Some tips: I freeze citrus juice in smaller containers or even ice cube trays for lime and lemon juice for cocktails or food. That way I don’t have to carry too many lemons and limes. I buy dried mushrooms, legumes and fruit that we use in our recipes. Packaged in vacuum sealed bags, it will last forever.
Parsnips are becoming trendy, are inexpensive, and last long, so those are great on a boat. Plantains are good; green or ripe. We sliced green plantains on a mandolin and air fry them…delicious! A ripe plantain is great with pork or lamb or can be fried, sprinkled with brown sugar and served (with or without ice cream) for dessert. I bet they’d make an awesome addition to a pancake batter, too!
In anticipation of a big trip south to Granada later this year, we did some upgrades on our boat and it really will stand us in good stead now during this pandemic. The upgrades enhance our ability to be totally autonomous and to survive for a long time on anchor. Our Lagoon 450 came with the basics when we first boaught her: manual raw water heads, no water maker, one fridge, one freezer, four air conditioning units, a generator, an inverter and a charger.
Last year we had solar panels installed by Chris Spencer as part of our hardtop bimini installation. They are “smart panels” that can be run with an app. That, combined with our new Firefly batteries, installed by Maz Ocean, gives us ample power to run our high draw items (blow dryer for those days on shore…which will now be few and far between), microwave, bread maker, Nespresso coffee maker, etc. I have a folding solar battery bank which I love to use in the flybridge for charging our phones and iPads, 2500mAh.
We purchased and installed a Spectra water maker. In fact, it was just commissioned today. Maz Ocean installed it and HMY, a certified Spectra dealer, installer, and repair company gave us a detailed walk-through of the system and hands-on instructions on how to use it. So now we are self-sufficient and can live off the grid for longer periods of time without having to buy water.
We can do almost everything online, except for getting cash. We use St. Brendan’s Isle for mail service. They will scan your mail and deliver which items of mail and parcels you want.
I am a certified 200-hour yoga instructor. Today, I began reviewing my class formats so I can guide myself through my sequences. Yoga is calming and centering and helps quell the fear and surreal feeling of this “apocalyptic” situation we face. Long walks with our dog serve as exercise and a de-stressing practice. Along these walks we encounter others who greet us, which even at a distance, is a form of social interaction that we all need for a balanced life.
Working from a boat is easier and easier these days. When I was on my boat in South Carolina, I sold a boat in South Florida. It’s definitely more challenging but working remotely in most sectors is becoming common. We use Skyroam when GoogleFi is weak or unavailable. We also have our IridiumGo when we are offshore for weather and communications.
All of these projects and our cooking hobby have kept us busy and sane! We are well and our dog, Dexter, keeps us entertained and keeps us from going stir carzy. We communicate with our clients, friends, and the Catamaran Guru team regularly via Skype or phone and we give advice where we can. This worldwide pandemic seems a little crazy right now, but together we will get through this! Hang in there!