Published Topics

Topics are always open to additional contributions. If you've written a post that you'd like to share, click on the topic and make a comment there, with a brief description and the URL of the post.  You can also use our contact us page to recommend a specific link, a new topic, or to volunteer your services as a topic coordinator.


Sun Safety


A few sun protection essentials aboard
SV Chance:UPF protected rash guard
and hat, sunglasses, and proper skin
and lip protection
There is nothing that can sour a fun day in the sun than a nice, blistering burn. While some of us have been blessed with skin that browns beautifully without even a slight tint of red (my captain, for instance), others of us (myself included) are blonde, pretty much as white as they come and covered in freckles. While the sun is not exactly my BFF, I don’t let it stand in the way of my dreams. With just a few precautions I can have fun in the sun day after day.







Health Care Experiences Far From Home



Getting ready for surgery in Guatemala
(Matt and Jessica's Sailing Page)
If you're out cruising, it's pretty advisable that you have a good First Aid kit at your disposal.  We aren't always lucky enough to be near a health care center if something goes wrong, or even if we are, standards may not be what we were used to back on land.  When things go wrong, it's not as easy as a quick drive down the road to the med center.

Whether it's a virus traveling around, a finger caught or smashed in one of the many areas possible to do so on a boat, or a life-threatening emergency, health care can get a little bit tougher out on the water.




Advice for the Freshman Cruiser


Drena (Sailing Journey):
A new cruiser
asking for tips and tricks!
Whether you're leaving because you've finally retired, or you're leaving because you're young enough to not care about health insurance, YOU'RE FINALLY LEAVING! And anyone who has given it even an ounce of thought, knows that the amount of planning is insurmountable. There is just no way that you can think of every detail and plan for every mishap. This topic was created to use our MoFi resources and ask for tips.









Sailing Life Hacks


One of Tammy's Ten (ploddingINparadise)
Boat life has unique challenges,  and we all find our own ways to cope. What makes life onboard easier for you (besides alcohol)? Is it something as simple as soft, comfy sheets? Or maybe the way you triple purchased your dinghy davits?







Young Cruisers


A group of 30-something cruisers,
enjoying the spoils of Jamaica.

(Photo courtesy of s/v Tamarisk)
This topic is all about the 40 and under crowd. The ones that said, "I'm not going to wait for retirement before I fulfill my dreams of sailing off into the sunset. Nay, I'm not even going to wait for my 40th birthday to roll around before doing it." All of us that have done this fall into the 'young cruiser' category, and sadly, the least represented one out on the high seas. Being so young, we're usually the newbies out there. The ones just figuring it out for the first time. Making mistakes and learning, but hopefully, having a ball while we do it.

This topic is meant to inspire new young cruisers. Telling the how and why of, well, how and why other young cruisers are out or getting ready.



Boat Names


Here are some of our favorites
“Mayday, mayday, mayday, this is the Master Baitor. We are taking on water.” As we sailed along, listening to this distress call and the interaction with the local Coasties, all I could think of is if this boat owner ever envisioned having to call in a mayday with that boat name. Sure, he probably got a couple of laughs from his fishing buddies about the name. He may even have giggled a little to himself when he calls a marina or a friend calls him on the VHF. But did he ever consider how his boat name would sound in this situation? Collecting bad boat names has become something of a hobby for my Bride and me. We like to snap a quick photo of them.

When we purchased our Catalina she was named “Norm’s Place”. We knew that wouldn't do for us plus the seller wanted to keep the name for his next boat. When we started to come up with names we had several concerns in mind: How would the name sound over the radio in a distress call. We didn't want the name to add to any confusion in an already stressful time. We wanted a traditional name in that it was named after a woman. We wanted the name to be fun and have meaning to us.



Boatschooling 101


Although we’ve been away from our home on Bainbridge Island, Washington, for five years - the majority of elementary school years for our three children – one of the most common questions we get from families who are considering cruising is “Are you homeschooling?”

Perhaps it’s just a question of phrasing, or interpretation of what exactly homeschooling is. Perhaps this is because one parent’s view of an amazing learning experience is another parent’s view of feral kids running wild…and from the outside, I suppose we probably look more like the latter!

As parents, raising our children responsibly is pretty much the most important “work” we have, so their growth and learning is really important. But the ways of approaching learning on board can be as wildly different as they are for homeschooling families on land.




Relationships on Board


Living on a small boat, being full time with a significant other or a young family, presents unique challenges to a relationship. These bloggers have found ways to make it work and shared their insights.










Passage Making


"Cruisers'' actually spend most of their time staying put - whether at anchor or in a marina. But when they are on the move... well, as Capt. Ron famously proclaimed, "If it's going to happen, it's going to happen out there." In the posts linked below, you can read about the pleasure and the pain of passagemaking. Some of these posts contain practical advice. In all you will sense the joy and the despair, the boredom and terror, and above all a sense of wonder that we small humans, in our tiny specks that we call boats, can be carried from one port to the next.



Sewing Sailors


Sailing is expensive! We all know that a big way to cut costs in the boating world is to DIY! Teak,boat systems, and bottom paint are things many of us have figured out how to do in order to save cash, but have you ever thought about sewing? Canvas covers are expensive! CUSTOM canvas covers are really expensive! What about those cockpit cushions!? Expensive! Whether you're a stitching stranger or a skillful seamstress, here are some posts to inspire you and hopefully save you a few bucks!



Energy Management


Side solar panels
installed on 
S.V. Cambria
In our very plugged-in world, managing energy aboard and prioritizing systems can be especially challenging. How do we satisfy the seemingly boundless demand for electricity? What amenities do you choose to limit or do without? What power sources work best where?

 Check out this variety of posts on solar, wind, and how to manage energy demands. One common theme is the desire to be self-sufficient, off the grid, and environmentally responsible. But being independent types, we each plot our own course to get there.



The New Normal


Sole-less shoes: one of the benefits
of cruiser "normal,"
according to Holli (s/v Shiloh)
When you're a landlubber, living on land is "normal." But if you live on a boat, the old "normal" goes out the window porthole. For example, boaters often note the drastic lifestyle changes required by space limitations. Also, we know that we are much more energy/resource aware, living on a boat. But on the other hand, there are definite benefits to the liveaboard lifestyle. The bottom line: if you live aboard, you adjust to a "new normal," for better and for worse.

In this collection of links, bloggers explore the differences between shore-based normal and ship-based normal.



Warning! Cruising May Have Hidden Side Effects


Whether you are a new Live-Aboard or a seasoned Cruiser with many miles beneath your keel, you've probably experienced changes or "Side Effects" brought on by the Lifestyle.  The obvious ones are changes in health, both physical and mental, reduced stress, previously undiscovered hobbies and interests, etc.  In the links we have collected here, bloggers have written about both the common and the unexpected side effects of cruising.




Anchoring: Tips, Tricks and Tales


Anchoring: Ultimately the reason we go cruising; to get away from land. To be "anchored out" is to be self sufficient, separate from the amenities of land and to enjoy the world that surrounds us on a shoestring budget. Yet, anchoring is a touchy subject for many, there are endless forum posts and articles written about how to, why not and what for so we went looking for real salts - the ones who rely on their anchors day after day, in bay after bay - to weigh in on the subject!



Altourism: Doing the world and doing it good


Jamie of s/v Totem repairing sewing
machines in the Hermit Islands
Author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader, Howard Thurman wrote:

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

For some it comes by choice: trips planned for the express purpose of volunteer work somewhere in the world. For others or at other times it is more a matter of chance, of being in the right place at the right time with the right skill or staple food. But one thing is certain: whenever, whatever we offer, we come away with more.



The Hard Life


The kids aboard SV Papillon
during their time on the hard
If you own a boat and and want to keep her in ship shape it is inevitable that you will have to spend some time on the hard. Being on the hard is, well, hard! Aboard Chance we’ve spent way too much time in the yard while we redesign the interior to make it more liveaboard friendly and life hasn’t exactly been easy. Yard life is stressful - from money woes (being in a yard costs mega moola), to living in a construction site, to being overtired from working all hours to get out as quickly as possible (which obviously causes stupid arguments). Landlubbing friends don’t quite understand - hey, you’re in a tropical location, it can’t be that bad! - and sometimes you may even forget there is a light at the end of the tunnel depending on how long your to-do list is.



Eat to Sail, Sail to Eat


“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.”
 ― Charles M. Schulz

(photo credit: sv Totem)
Food is not just what we need to consume to keep moving, but a filter for experiences; just a taste or a whiff can transport us back to a favorite place we've visited in the past, or better understand a place where we find ourselves.

When do parts of your cruising experience become inextricably linked with what you eat or drink? Is there something you always prepare before making a passage? What about a recipe you've picked up that has become a signature offering from your boat?



Fitness on Board


Rebecca of Zero to Cruising!
Let's face it. Our cruising lifestyle is intense. We must be mentally prepared but we must maintain
physical strength as well! We spend long days in the elements, we raise sails, lift over sized laundry bags, climb out of our tenders and lug provisions to and fro. BUT we are also blessed with some amazing locations to burn some calories!! We could go for a swim, a hike or a paddle even! What do you do to stay "ship shape"?








Rubbish!


Rubbish! No matter how simply we try to live we still create it. Living on land or at the marina disposing of it requires just a short walk to the rubbish bin. But what about when we're at sea or at anchor in beautiful, remote parts of the world? What do we do with our rubbish then? Burn it? Dump it over the side? or stash it on the boat somewhere? Or a combination of all three?






What I Learned on My First Cruise


(photo credit: Plodding in Paradise
It doesn't matter how much - or how little - experience you had before you set out, there was something, or many somethings, that you didn't expect. The lessons our bloggers learned on their first trip were in some cases about nautical technique, and in other cases philosophical.








Dogs on Board


Dyna and Dylan keep tabs
on marina comings and goings
(photo credit: 
TakingPaws)
Call me Ishmael. Or, Fido, or even Spot. No matter, a dog by any other name is a sailor's soulmate upon the sea. Brave, loyal, trustworthy and enthusiastic--always. You couldn't ask for a better crewmate. Still, there are times when finding our best friend a safer harbor is the most loving--and hardest--thing to do. In this topic, our bloggers talk about the dog days of cruising.








Kids as Crew


Here at The Monkey's Fist, our goal is to continually provide a place for newbies, wanna-be's, dreamers and planners to find information from real cruisers with experience. The topic "Kids as Crew" explores what it's like to have our children aboard and what types of jobs, responsibilities and chores they assume. Because like my mother always said, "Why do you think I had three girls? So, I'd never have to do the dishes again!!"





More Moving Aboard Transitions


Photo from The Life Nomadik 
Wow! We got so many great responses to our first call for blog posts on moving aboard, that we decided to make a second post! Here are more stories written by folks who are in that confusing, high-energy period as they became new liveaboards.







Living Aboard in Winter


Photo by Helen McAdory
Sure, the most comfortable way to live on your boat in wintertime is to sail it to the tropics in
autumn, but not everyone has that luxury. If instead you stay aboard as the snow flies and the water beneath your hull turns hard, tell us how you make it work!











Does Size Really Matter?


We have all fantasized about a bigger... boat, right?! Be honest. But does size really matter? When utilizing our small spaces to our advantage is the name of the cruising game what's to be said for the size of the ship? Is it really all about the motion in the ocean? Is it really about square footage? Can sailing around the on a 27' boat be just as comfortable as say, a 50' boat? Let's see what you  - the people, had to say.





Protection Against Thieves: What Are Your Safety Precautions?


Permanent markings on a dinghy
help deter thieves.
(Matt & Jessica's Sailing Page)
It's a sad but true fact. Any place you travel, there is a chance you might encounter thieves. They may be after all kinds of different things in varying degrees: your wallet; your outboard, your dinghy, or anything they can get their hands on should they board your boat. What precautions do you take to keep yourself, your belongings and your boat safe? Whether it's locking everything down, traveling in groups, or staying away from certain locations, almost everyone has some kind of safety plan. Read below to find out what others are doing, and tips you could pick up for yourself.






Panama Canal Transit


Bill and Caroline (s/v Juffa)
celebrate a successful transit
In Google Reader, you can "star" posts that you want to save for later. And when you know you're eventually going to transit the Panama Canal, the transit stories get "starred," right? So here we are in Shelter Bay Marina, finally, and we'll be heading through the canal as soon as most of the broken things are fixed, so... we're reading all the starred transit stories. Here are the ones we've collected so far; they're in chronological order, with the most recent transits at the top. Great pictures, lots of details and advice, a bit of humor and terror mixed in.





Shoppers in a Strange Land


Welcome to Odd-Mart! (Whether they know it or not) our buyers scour the globe to bring you an ever-expanding selection of products to meet all your provisioning needs.






Going it Alone


Bruce Glass of s/v Scuttle Butt
clips to a jackline
Singlehanders go it alone. What does that mean for them regarding relationships, friendships, and family? Was it a choice or did the other half back out? Would you rather be alone, are you looking for a long-term partner, or perhaps looking for the occasional buddy boat? What are the emotional and practical realities of going it alone in what is often a coupled-up cruising world?






Moving Aboard: Transitions


People move onto boats for a surprising variety of reasons: to live close to nature, to go cruising and see the world, to save money, and more. The practical aspects of the transition were, in many cases, easier to manage than the emotional.




Cats on Board


Charlie on the hunt, s/v Ceilydh
For nearly as long as sailors have been going to sea, their cats have been going with them. Whether as miracle workers, mousers, or mates, nary a crew member has been more valued than the ship's cat. Certainly, why we live aboard has changed throughout the course of history, but who we bring along to keep us company appears to be timeless.







Divisions of Labor: Who does what on board?


Are cruiser jobs colorblind?
The ladies, they fix the head while men are baking bread and women deal with feds but guys are making beds and everyone sews...

(with sincerest apologies to Cole Porter's, Anything Goes)

Oh, these modren times we live in! On a boat, traditional gender roles get tossed right out the porthole...or do they?






Did We Leave that Behind?


Space splurges on more JOY everywhere
"Wow, this boat is so much bigger than our house!" said no cruiser, ever. If there's one thing cruisers have in common, it's that we gave up a lot to do this: not just our relationships and our careers, but our stuff. Every thing that was culled fell victim to a sometimes painful decision-making process. In this post, our bloggers discuss how they decided what "made the cut."






Is There Jif in Vanuatu?


Stocking up on S/V Bella Vita
"Old Mother Hubbard went to her cupboard...And when she got there, the cupboard was bare..." Or maybe not. When it comes to provisioning, our bloggers explain that there are a lot more options than the weevil-y hardtack and grog that sailors survived on in the olden days.








What are you afraid of?


Fear, the many-headed beast
 (plodding in paradise)
Mariners have always known it: life at sea has its dangers. Things can happen out here.  We take every precaution to make sure they don't, but still....  In this collection of posts, our bloggers write candidly about their fears, great and small, and a few that might surprise you.








How do you do laundry on a boat? Clothes for Cruisers


s/v Ceilydh
all-hands-on-deck 
No, we don't beat them against a rock. (It's nearly impossible to secure a rock on a moving vessel.) So how do cruisers do laundry on a boat? And what about those now dreaded events? You know, like going out in public. In this combined topic, cruisers discuss how they wash and what they wear.











Are we sailors or travelers


This way or that way?
 (Life Afloat Archives)
"Sailors or travelers?" Sailing is more about the journey - do you enjoy your time at sea? Traveling is about the destination - is it the ports that you look forward to? Are the passages your passion, or are they just a way to get from point A to point B? Cruisers mostly agree that they enjoy both the sailing and the traveling; but the question is: which way do you lean? Are you a seafarer who travels, or a traveler who sails to get there?










What do cruisers DO all day?


"What cruisers do" on s/v Totem
Contrary to popular belief, living aboard doesn't have to be all work and no play. Here are some of the ways cruisers spend their spare time. (Spoiler Alert: reading is a biggie.)