I have been reading blogs from live-aboard’s for years. Even before I ever set this dream into motion, or had children, I wanted to know if the lifestyle could be done with small kids. I was surprised to find that there are many people with families aboard and many are small children. I have been taking notes all these years and one of the first things I wanted to install was netting on the lifelines.
People have mixed reviews about it and some go so far as to say it’s a “false sense of security”. But many moms, myself included, think it is an absolute no brainer- and a must have. The netting was one of our first projects aboard along with re-lacing the trampoline.
I ordered the netting from Sailrite.
Both jobs were tedious and time consuming. The netting is basically woven onto the lifelines and an important part is securing it to the toe rails (I have read of dogs slipping through the bottom and going overboard- most likely from improper installation and not securing the bottom). There are special clips for that. All the cut edges of the netting must be heated and special consideration made for the gateways (of which we have 4). With very sore rope burnt hands, we were very happy to be done with those projects and also very happy with the results.
Another project was removing the decals on the vessel and getting our new decals and business logo on while she is hauled-out. There is a special tool called the “Lil’ Chizler” for removing decals off any surface that won’t scratch it. I also used Goo Gone which worked pretty well. We are very happy with the way the Nauti Mermaid business logos turned out on both sides of the bow and the new decal on the stern. We chose Fort Lauderdale as our hailing port as its both where I am from and where we will set sail from.
We got the boat pretty well baby proofed using our tried and proven favorite baby proofing devices. Munchkin Xtraguard Dual Action Multi Use Latches, 2 Count . Got two new Raritan marine heads installed by Tomas. We changed out some running rigging that were chafed. Got a lot of equipment moved aboard and had to take off to Puerto Rico to take the Department of Natural Resources and The Environment’s (DRNA) required navigation course.
The DRNA is the PR equivalent of Fish and Wildlife. There is a double jurisdiction between the USCG and the DRNA in Puerto Ricos waters. The law in Puerto Rico is anyone born after July 1st 1972 must take this navigation course to operate a vessel (including Jet-skis) in their waters regardless of what USCG license you have.
The most convenient option for the course is over the duration of a week, offered about once a month, for five nights 6-10pm (in San Juan- NOT VIEQUES). The other options were one night a week for five weeks and god only knows when they would offer the course in Vieques. So, we had to fly back to San Juan, loaded up with the kids and have my mother in-law meet us there to babysit for us in order to take the course.
I was actually pretty impressed with the course and think it is great that they require it for people operating a vessel. In Florida they don’t require anything and you see a real shit show on the water of people who have no idea what they are doing let alone the Rules of The Road. However, it was also very redundant and basic in comparison to all you are required to study for a USCG captain license. With the exception of a few laws that are Puerto Rico specific.
It costs $50/per person and you receive a license and certificate once tested. The DRNA even passes out rope and teaches everyone to do a bowline knot and a clove hitch (two versatile and very useful knots). You must pass the test with an 80% or retake the course. Attendance with photo id is mandatory. They have you sign-in each night and cover a lot of information including basic navigation, Rules of The Road, the environment and safety equipment. There were a few different people giving the course and one spent a lot of time in the USCG so was very knowledgeable. It is illegal to photograph or film so we were unable to record anything. At the end of the week they gave us the test and then the results shortly after. And of course we both passed;)
We then headed over to Vieques on the ferry to try to meet the mayor (another requirement in order for him to sign a municipal endorsement). That didn’t happen, but we did meet with someone official looking from his office “Fabian”. And supposedly we are good to go on the endorsement now.
We did newly discover from the DRNA that we need another paper from a municipal office (CRIM), though unrelated to the mayor, for proof that we don’t owe municipal back taxes as a requirement for our DRNA permits. That has been an ongoing saga of a wild goose chase of unanswered phones, emails and different offices.
And the other not so wonderful news from the DRNA was that the boat must be inspected by them prior to giving us the permits. A USCG inspection will not suffice. So basically even though all other requirements have been met, we cant proceed with the permit until after we deliver the vessel to PR and have it inspected by the DRNA. Subsequently we are challenging the bank on the requirement to obtain the permits prior to dispensing the working capital portion of the loan. Grrrrrr.
On the bright side, at the end our trip we went to my soul sister- Patricia’s wedding in Condado and had an amazing time. We came back to Florida filled to the brim with love.
Onward …through the red tape..chasing our dream!