Mistakes And Mishaps: Lessons Learned Sailing Sava


Here’s another edition of the things we’ve done wrong on our boat. Everybody makes mistakes, and we’ve made some whoppers. We’re learning from our mistakes and we’ll take these lessons learned to heart so we don’t repeat them.

We Lost our Dinghy

We will never forget the night we made friends with Dennis and Karen. When we were in Nevis and went to Sunshine’s Beach bar we introduced ourselves to them when they rode up on their dinghy. We had a few drinks and chatted at the bar and then it was time to return to Sava. When we got back to the beach, our dinghy wasn’t there! We had thrown down the anchor on the sand when we arrived and the dinghy was nowhere to be seen.

Dennis and Karen saved us! They brought us into their dinghy, Dennis shone his powerful spotlight (added to our shopping list), and drove around in search of our essential transportation.

After a bit of searching and seeing only mooring balls, Dennis spotted our dinghy floating about a mile out from shore. Huge relief!

A dinghy is one of the most important boat accessories. Without it, you are trapped on your boat in harbor. We use it to get to shore multiple times a day. We need our dinghy!

Our dinghy

The anchor wasn’t secure in the sand of the beach and came loose and our dinghy floated out to sea.

Lesson learned: Now we tie to something as well as dig the anchor. We were lucky it was a really calm night or our dinghy would have been gone. We were also lucky to meet Dennis and Karen from s/v Toes in The Water.

We Wasted Water

We didn’t know that some marinas, including the one we stayed at in Dominican Republic, offer only non-potable water. We filled one of our tanks with that non-drinkable water.

When the marina manager informed us of our error, we made it even worse by emptying the wrong tank. We poured out ALL of the good water. We had no drinkable water on the boat and had to buy about 20 5-gallon jugs from the marina market, cart then to our boat and manually pour them into our tanks.

lessons learned including don't waste water
A very small portion of the water we bought to fill Sava’s tanks

Two lessons learned: Ask if it’s drinking water AND check which tank you are using! That was hard work I don’t want to repeat.

We Learned What Not to Eat While Sailing

Usually when we are under way, we eat simple foods: carrots, sliced apples, sandwiches. These are easy to make and easy to eat while the boat is moving. A couple weeks ago, we got a little cocky. The sea was flat and we had a very ripe avocado, so I made guacamole.

Making the guacamole was easy, but after only a few minutes of scooping tortilla chips from one bowl into the bowl of guac, the wind picked up and the boat tilted. You get the idea.

I was on the lee side, so when Sava tilted, everything slid my way. I caught the chips, but the guac spilled all over the boat, smearing everything green and gloopy.

Lesson Learned: Stick to simple food while we’re moving. Sandwiches it is.

We Forgot to Fill the Propane

We ran out of propane for our dinghy in the large Marin Harbour in Martinique. We have a weird dinghy engine: most run on gas, but ours runs on propane. This is not a problem except we can never tell when we are running low.

Sometimes, we guess we are low and bring a spare tank with us. This time, on our way to town to do laundry, we did not bring a spare tank. Brian had to row about a 1/4 mile to get us to the dock.

After walking around the harbour looking for propane we decided to take a break and make a plan. It turns out you can’t buy propane in Martinique for some weird reason. Brian emailed our sailor friend Chuck, who found him as he was rowing back to the boat and gave him one of our other propane tanks.

Lesson Learned: Keep backup propane on the dinghy

The Kindness of Cruisers

A common theme in our mishaps is the kindness of cruisers. Dennis and Karen and Chuck are part of a long line of sailors who have helped us when we did dumb things. I think a big part of why everyone is so helpful is everybody’s been through it or something else and is now paying it back.

Living on a boat isn’t easy, but thankfully other cruisers are helpful and there’s always a good story.

Lesson Learned: Help Other Cruisers!

Cruiser friends make life better
Us with our cruiser friends Dennis, Karen and Chuck in Antigua

I hope you enjoyed reading our lessons learned in our new adventures living on a sailboat. Hopefully we get better. We’ll always be learning! 

pin it Mistakes and Mishaps lessons learned

Author: Mel

Living aboard a sailboat, blogging about the places we visit and the adventures we have. Love hiking, cycling, scuba, animals and adventure.

2 thoughts on “Mistakes And Mishaps: Lessons Learned Sailing Sava”

  1. I don’t know if you’ve tried this one yet but we tried to leave a very windy marina berth with a stern line still attached! Tried to pull the concrete dock along with us for at least a minute before the boat finally swung sideways and I finally made the connection that something was wrong.

    By the way we saved another dinghy two weeks ago. We were in the Saintes and heard this rather large French guy yelling at us from the water. Seems his dinghy got away from the boat and he decided to swim after it. He was losing the race, out of breath, and was almost outside of the mooring field by the time we picked him up.

    We decide to head back to BVI after the Saintes and head to Bonaire from there. A little less downwind from here and keeps us farther from Venezuela. Have a few boat jobs to take care of and hopefully we are off in a week or so.

    Love your blog entries and so glad we got to meet you two. Hopefully we’ll see you again.

    Dennis and Karen

    1. So great to hear from you! Safe travels to Bonaire – we heard such good things about the island and the diving! Hope to see you again. Keep saving dinghies!

Leave a Reply