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What I learned.....
by Mary

There were some practical lessons plus some psychological lessons for me. I found that being at anchor at uninhabited foreign islands feels much different to me than being at solitary anchorages in the US - in the wilderness of the North Carolina ICW, for example. Both situations have a sense of peaceful isolation. But away from the US, I realized just how crucial it is for us to be as completely self-sufficient as possible. While the Bahamas has BASRA - equivalent to the US Coast Guard, my lack of familiarity with the Bahamian infrastructure had me feeling more alone and on my own than I feel within the familiar safety net of the US. It brought home the reality of the necessity for adequate spares and tools on board; something I'd always understood but not at such a gut level.

Internet access was something we both missed - me more than Neal. Internet using our satellite phone is possible but somewhat iffy and very very slow when connected. The sat phone data connection is very useful for getting weather info, but is very limited for anything else.

We learned a lot about provisioning. When we moved aboard, we acquired a lot of food. I initially tried to provision for 6 months. But we shopped with mostly just ideas of what we like to eat and no in-depth meal planning. While we were just going up and down the east coast of the US, this wasn't a problem because we were always within easy reach of supermarkets. It's a different story being away from first-rate supermarkets - or even third-rate markets. Relying on just our grocery inventory taught us a lot about what's practical and what's not.

I need to learn to make bread!!!

The kind of cooking I'm doing now is not what I like to do. I've always disliked having to get an adequate dinner on the table every evening. Left to my own devices, I simply eat mostly junk or canned soup, etc. Neal is also been learning that my meal planning is often conditional on the amount of clean-up required. I hate dishwashing. So it's an ongoing challenge to satisfy both of us. That being said, I have come up with a couple of interesting new creations, one of which is found here.. This is definitely an evolutionary exercise for us.

The social side of the cruising life has its own demands on provisions. There are invitations to pot luck dinners and other gatherings that require food. We were not well prepared to come up with contributions, but we managed and we learned a lot seeing what other cruisers brought. I'm accustomed to being able to get fresh ingredients for these occasions but it's a challenge out in the middle of nowhere. So I've scoured the cookbooks and have a growing grocery list that should have us better prepared to contribute something tasty when we socialize.

We have too much stuff on board. But how long do we carry this stuff around before we're reasonably certain that we won't need it? And will we be needing an item within a few days of when we finally discard it? Of course.

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