Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | May 23, 2012


N 14° 27.69′   W 60° 52.25′

Marin, Martinique.


We will be leaving the beautiful, protected Marin harbor soon. Don’t think I can eat another filling crepe for a long time, but will surely miss the French Islands. Americans tend to give the French Caribbean a mixed review and some feel the reception is less than friendly.  We have felt welcomed and enjoyed every bit of our time here. 

Bob spent lots of time here online, working on the battery project and planning to update our spares inventory. Lin and Larry Pardey, experienced cruisers and authors of “The Self-Sufficient Sailor” advise that if you can’t fix something yourself you should think twice about bringing it aboard. Even though we have made very different cruising choices than the Pardeys, they have a lot of wisdom to offer. Finding mechanics and repair technicians is often impractical and difficult, and what happens when something vital fails at sea? I’m lucky to have a Captain who has good mechanical and electrical knowledge and problem-solving skills. He is able to make most repairs himself. If I was in charge of those tasks, our vessel would need to be much simpler. Oars for propulsion, an icebox for refrigeration, bottled gas for cooking, a bucket for the head, and a sunshower for hot water would be about all I could manage.

Finding parts away from home is another dilemma. The sailors, who are in the majority out here, have enough difficulty in this regard, and as I have mentioned before, there aren’t many trawler boaters like us along this route. There aren’t boat stores along the way filled with every specialized item we need. The lack of universal sizes (i.e. the metric issue) and differing power and voltage standards used in other countries makes local supply shopping harder still. Besides the time delay, if we have an item shipped to us it can be very costly plus logistically challenging. FedEx, DHL and UPS can get things to most places, but at $75 for a single letter to be “overnighted” in three to five days, you can imagine the cost as items get heavier. Shipping by freighter can be cheaper but takes time. Meeting up with packages and dealing with various Customs and duty rules can present more hurdles.

Compared to other DeFever boaters I have compared notes with, I sense I am giving up food and household storage space in the interest of the spares inventory. But the Captain is adamant that we should have a comprehensive supply. I admit that we have not been horribly inconvenienced by any system problem to date. Duplicity whenever possible and making timely repairs has been an effective strategy. We have lockers and bins full of all sorts of filters, belts, hoses, pumps and miscellaneous parts – some that are routinely changed and some are replacements in case of failure. We don’t have the room nor the budget to have a spare of everything so we have to prioritize and try to figure out the highest risk/most problem prone items. For parts that are too large or costly to carry a spare, we have the possibility of a major hassle ahead. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the transmissions, sometimes problematic on similarly aged DeFevers, are going to make it back to Florida.

This was a good time to reassess our spares inventory. With our upcoming route, we want to avoid having a critical need in some really remote place like the San Blas Islands. Our friend Chuck who is coming to visit soon generously offered to bring anything we need that he could fit in his luggage. He might regret that offer. We started out with a couple of things on the list – seasickness medications we can’t find here, some DVD’s, a pair of Tevas. As his visit nears the list has grown. After discussing the fact that we don’t have spare pumps for the master marine toilet, and marine toilets tend to be problem prone, Bob had a new marine toilet shipped to Chuck. Actually, two were shipped, and one an on-line ordering error that must be returned. He asked Chuck to disassemble the other one and remove the two attached pumps from the porcelain. It is cheaper to order the whole toilet than the separate parts, although that seems wasteful. I think we are pushing the limits of friendship here. Chuck is going to have some rather interesting “gifts” for us when he arrives and an unusual souvenir at home.

AM coffee is a comfort item we would hate to do without, even in the tropics, so a spare was high on the Captain’s list. The back-up percolator came in handy this week when the Braun decided to brew its last pot. Finding a spare is going to be another complicated matter since this part of the world has different electrical standards.  Might have to deal with instant coffee as the back-up plan until we get to Colombia – I think Chuck’s suitcase is full! 

Next stop: St. Lucia.




  1. A wise man once said, “Failure to prepare, is like preparing to fail”, but a spare toilet is too much Bob! HA!HA! Good thing your friend Chuck does not have to bring the entire toilet! As Elaine said, if the pumps fail, a bucket can always be used for the head!

    • Believe it or not, when we purchased the Mar Azul, replacing the small marine head with a full-sized one with a large seat and electric flush was one of the Captain’s first projects. His priority, not mine 🙂 But still a nice comfort item.

  2. I just bought a bigger suitcase ahab

    • You got off easy visiting in St. Martin! Was not as hard to get stuff there. What passage shall we schedule you for?

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