New Year’s Resolutions?

Are you a New Year’s Resolution kind of person?

Well, I am not. I used to make New Year’s resolutions when I was younger, but as I have aged (like a fine wine I like to say!), I have realized that if something is worth doing, I need to get off my boat and do it! If you are someone who can set resolutions and stick to them, my hat is off to you!


I do think a new year, however, is a great time to reflect on what you accomplished the previous year and what goals you want to hit this year. 2017 turned out to be an exciting year for Sail Nelson as we really started to offer more courses in the Kootenays and we started our on-water sailing series. We taught over 100 people to be safer boaters in the Kootenay Region in 2017 and have reached hundreds of people around the world through our website, Facebook, Instagram and our blog. We are quite happy about this considering we are still figuring out what to offer, when and to whom! Clearly we are doing something right…


Sail Nelson has started to find it’s way in the Kootenay culture and has started to understand where we may fit in and how we can contribute to our community. We are working on many exciting community events for 2018 that we are really excited to share – watch Facebook for announcements!

The biggest addition to Sail Nelson in 2017 was our new boat Spindrift. We are so excited to have her out here on Kootenay Lake and we are looking forward to having her explore her new playground – a wee bit different from the salty Saint Lawrence! We are having fun getting to know her ins and outs.


If you make New Year’s resolutions good for you! If you are like me and you sit down and start writing up some goals, achievements or milestones, I hope your planning is going well! For those of you who do neither, enjoy the snow and see you at Whitewater!

Happy New Year from Sail Nelson and we hope 2018 brings great health, family, fun, and epic sailing!

Captain Penny


Feature photo courtesy of

20 Great Holiday Gift Ideas for Sailors

Guest blogger Melody provides her top 20 Holiday Gift ideas for sailors!

Knowing the perfect gift to give a sailor or boater can often be difficult for non-boaters. As a full-time cruiser and liveaboard, one of the biggest questions we got around the holidays or birthdays was, “What in the hell do we get you?”

Space on a boat is limited, so everything has to have a purpose, and even better if it has multiple uses!

So after 6 years of living and traveling on our sailboat, here’s a list of gifts for sailors that I think are practical and useful, and sometimes just plain fun. Feel free to share this with friends or family, or even use it to make your own “wish list” for the future.

I’ve used almost everything on this list (and if I haven’t, I’m clear about it). These are things that we’ve had and loved, and felt they were super useful, if not imperative, to have on a boat.

Handheld Depth Sounder

You don’t think you need one of these…until you do. Like the time when we ran aground right in the middle of a channel at mid-tide!

We weren’t sure which side had deeper water, and when another boater came by in a dinghy with his Vexilar hand-held depth sounder and told us where the good depth was, we swore we had to get one.


Dremel Tool Kit

I got my first Dremel as a gift from an old boyfriend. I think my reaction was, “A f%^&#n’ tool??”

At first, I thought he was a terrible gift-giver, then he explained what it could do, and said he thought it would help with my jewelry making. Ok, that’s sweet.

When Chris and I moved onto the boat, we kept mine (which was cordless) and got a corded version for when we needed a little more poop to party with.

I can’t tell you how many times our Dremels came in handy. We used it for everything from cutting stainless bolts to sanding wood in hard-to-get places, to filing the dog’s toenails. I even admit that I’ve used the sandpaper drums to give myself a pedicure! Smooth heels for the win! Seriously a must-have.


Portable USB Charger for Phone or iPad

I love these so much that I have 3 of them!

Seriously, they come in handy on and off a boat.

I can get 2+ full phone charges from a single charge on the charger. Great for when you’re sailing and don’t want to use the boat’s battery to charge your phone.  Use it to charge anything that has a USB charging cord.

You can stick it in your purse or drybag and bring along on shore excursions so you don’t run out of battery when you want to take that perfect photo!

Seriously, get a couple – you won’t regret it.


Online Classes by Udemy

Online classes are my absolute favorite way to learn new skills.

In fact, I’ve taken online classes to learn skills such as blogging, web design, social media marketing, writing, publishing, licensing music, getting publicity, starting an online business, and more!

And now, I use this bundle of skills to help me make money while we travel!

It’s never too soon (or too late) to develop new skills and learn new things. If you’re a sailor and have a dream of being able to work while you travel, online classes are hands down one of the best ways to get started.

And through December 8, 2017, Udemy is offering ALL CLASSES for just $15! Udemy has courses on just about anything you can imagine, so check them out and save up to hundreds of dollars if you enroll this week.


Yeti Mug

My friend Wanda had a Yeti mug and always had ice water inside. For the longest time, I never knew what made it soooo special until the time she had me drop her off at the Tampa airport using her car one hot summer day. She wanted me to drive her car while she was gone (and it was an adorable little sports car – sweet!).

She left her ice water in the console when she got out and the next day, I got in her car and I’ll be damned if the mug didn’t still have ice in it – after almost 24 hours of sitting inside a locked car in South Florida in August.

Boom. I was sold.


Sea to Summit Dry Bag

These come in several sizes. We have two of the 4L sizes (one red, one blue) and I love them so much!

I started carrying one of these instead of a real purse because I never had to worry about dropping it into the water and ruining all the contents inside. It floats, it keeps your phone, money, etc. dry, and comes in several colors.

Each of ours was given to us as a gift and honestly, we’ve probably used these more than just about anything else on the boat. Literally almost every day.

It says it’s not for heavy marine use, and I’ll admit that it’s not a super heavy-duty dry bag. The 4L is simply a small bag that holds and protects all of our essentials when traveling to shore by dinghy.


Deluxe Rigging Knife

This is one of those essential tools that is a must-have on a sailboat.

It has so many practical uses, and it’s one of those tools I like to call “insurance tools.” When shit hits the fan and you need that certain something to quickly cut or unknot, this is the tool you’re going to want to have.


Quick-Dry Microfiber Towels

I’m not gonna lie – these feel super weird when you use them to dry off, because it’s so different than what we’re used to.

But because of the microfiber, they are excellent for drying off yourself, the dog, a big spill, whatever. AND they dry really quickly.

You get used to the texture after a few times, and they’re super soft. Great for any kind of travel.

Be sure to look at the sizes and get a nice large size if you plan on using it for a bath towel.


Lunatec Self-Cleaning Quick-Dry Washcloths

Ok, at first I wasn’t completely sold on these, but I decided to try them anyway because I hate that mildew smell that regular washcloths get, even when you dry them well.

Now, it’s the only washcloth I use.

They come 2 to a package and actually feel really nice on your skin. They have a scrubby loofah-like feel that makes your skin really clean and soft.

I’ve had these for almost 2 years and there is ZERO smell, they dry within minutes, and you never have to wash them – just give them a good rinse in hot water after using and hang them to dry.



Kindle Paperwhite

I could go on and on about how much I love my Kindle.

No, it’s not as fun as turning the pages on an actual book, but on a boat, it’s a must-have if you enjoy reading.

Load it up with hundreds, even thousands of your favorite titles to keep you company while on a passage, or even just to read at the beach.

The Paperwhite version is great because there’s no glare, and no strain on your eyes. Almost (but not quite) like reading the real deal!


SeaView 180 GoPro Compatible Snorkel Mask

What I love about this mask is that you don’t have to hold the damn snorkel in your mouth and it allows you to remain hands-free while using your GoPro when snorkeling.

This full-face mask sits comfortably and gives you a much better view than a regular mask and snorkel. It’s also GoPro compatible which is really nice for those times when you want to capture the underwater magic.

I don’t have one, but they get great reviews. I definitely wish I would have had one when we were snorkeling in Belize!


GoPro Hero 5

Speaking of GoPro… We love our GoPro so much that we have two of them!

If you’re sailing and blogging or vlogging, it’s practically an essential part of your toolkit.

We’ve got amazing footage of dolphin, shark, and even a Goliath grouper that decided to camp out beneath our boat for a couple of days with the help of our GoPro.

Great for snorkeling and sailing footage to show off your amazing lifestyle!


Delorme Garmin InReach SE

As I write this, my husband is messaging me from Roatan, Honduras using our InReach so I can see where he is and know that all is well on the boat he’s helping deliver to Mexico.

The great thing about the InReach is that you can send and receive messages, get weather reports, and send location updates to friends and family who want to follow your sailing track. Not to mention the SOS feature that allows you to call the Coast Guard for help should the worst happen.

We pair ours with our iPad to make messaging easier (so you don’t have to scroll through and select each letter one at a time on the device).

It was a lifesaver in Cuba when we couldn’t get wifi to get weather updates, and offshore since we didn’t have radar. Definitely worth having on a boat.


Tower Inflatable Paddleboard

My absolute favorite boat toy. Not only is it easy to use as a beginner (never once have I fallen off mine), it’s also really well made – much better than I would have expected for an inflatable.

I used to have a blast taking our dog out for a ride (and he loved it, too!) It’s a super fun way to exercise. Here’s a video I posted a while back of me and my dog Jet paddleboarding around on the Chesapeake Bay.

The fact that you can deflate it and roll it up for storage makes it a perfect accessory for a sailboat of any size.


AeroPress Espresso and Coffee Maker

The AeroPress is smaller, more compact, and makes better coffee than a French Press in my humble opinion.

This baby never leaves our side. Seriously – if it were to ever fall overboard, we’d set our “man overboard” alarm and waypoint so we could go back and get it.

It makes a perfect cup of coffee and doesn’t over-extract the bean like a French Press can (the hot water and long duration of contact with a French Press causes a more acidic taste).

It’s the perfect coffee maker for a boat since it uses no power, and you can almost always get hot water somewhere.


Silicone Storage Covers

These silicone storage covers are perfect to have on hand when you need a cover for a random bowl or lose one of your tupperware tops. Which I still can’t figure out how that happens!

Easy to pack and store away, they’re super handy to have in the galley for when you don’t want to waste food.


Turkish Bath and Beach Towels

I love love love our Turkish bath and beach towels!

Not only are they so soft, they are super absorbent, they look pretty, and they have multiple uses. I’ve used mine as a bath towel, a beach towel, a sarong, a blanket, and have clipped them to the bimini to block the sun and provide some shade in the cockpit.

We love the bright colors and quality of the ones shown here.  They’re very plush.


Luci Inflatable Solar Light

If you don’t already own these, they are so handy to have on a boat.

They’re inflatable (so they take up very little room when deflated), solar-powered (so you don’t have to use your battery power to charge them), and they give off the perfect amount of light.

Keep ‘em on hand and hang them in the cockpit, on the shrouds, and even use it as an anchor light in a pinch (although I don’t recommend it for a permanent solution). We love Luci Lights!


Mantus Marine Snap-On Light

There are so many cool things about this light from Mantus.

It’s a great all-around light that has 4 different light settings. On the white light, it has both a dim and bright option. It also has a solid red and an SOS flashing red option for night or emergency use.

It can clip onto a rail or bimini frame, allowing you to move it wherever it best suits your needs. It has a USB charging port, so there are no batteries to replace. You can even charge it with the portable USB charger I mentioned earlier!

Last, but not least, it also acts as a charger for your phone! Yes, it has a port that you can plug your phone into to get a charge. Those ladies and gents at Mantus are crushing it with their innovative marine products.


Sharkbanz Magnetic Shark Repellent Bracelet

I’ll admit that I don’t have one of these, but I saw someone post about it recently in a Facebook group and I was intrigued.

As an avid snorkeler, one thing I was keen on while in Belize was being aware of my surroundings and what to do if I see a shark.

I love sharks, and understand how important they are to the ocean’s ecosystem, but since I’m not experienced in shark behavior, I don’t want to risk being in the water and doing the wrong thing, provoking an attack, or even causing stress to the shark.

I think having something like this would definitely be a safe way to feel more secure, although you should still always be aware of your surroundings any time you’re in the water.




Hey! I’m Melody, and I’m obsessed with helping people learn to make money online, giving them the freedom to live on a boat and travel the world!

See Melody’s site at


Morgan’s Pirate Adventure

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. ~ W. Ward

I’d like to tell you a story. A story about a boy who wanted to learn to sail, and he would not take no for an answer… his name is Morgan.

I began teaching at a pretty young age and I began as many instructors do: summer sailing camp. It was the BEST. JOB. EVER. I mean I was paid to go out in a zodiac and run around the bay corralling kids and helping them understand the fine art of heading up and bearing away. Doesn’t get much better than that!

I spent several summers teaching in Hamilton, and then I went out West to visit my uncle in Vancouver and was spellbound by the mountains. I knew what I had to do. Move West.

Since I was the ripe ol’ age of 16, there was no way my parents were letting me leave for good, so we agreed on a summer job. The Royal Vancouver Yacht Club (RVYC) answered my call and I became a dinghy coach for the summer. This is where I met Morgan.


I was on my third or fourth week of summer camp and so far everything was going great. The kids were great. The boats were great. My colleagues were great. The Mountains were majestic. You get the picture.

This week ended up being the most rewarding week of my teaching career thus far. You see, Morgan was here to learn to sail, but he had no hands and no feet.

Each day Morgan shared a boat with a partner and went out sailing with a huge grin on his face. He was the hardest working and most resilient kid I had ever met. He loved every minute he was out there and unless you paid close attention you would really not know that he was having to work a bit harder than everyone else.


I asked Morgan one morning if he was tired of sailing with other kids and if he wanted to sail on his own. Absolutely!

That evening I set to work with an arson of cleats, pulleys, and ropes, and I re-rigged one of our optis. I don’t even know if I asked RVYC if they were ok with it… I just decided it needed to be done.

The next day I presented Morgan with his new boat and off he went! He sailed circles around the other kids hooting and hollering the entire time. He even pirated another boat and jumped into their sail capsizing them in the process. I have never felt my heart so full.

The last day of our camp Morgan presented me with this card:


It is my most prized sailing possession to date and I keep it on my bedside table to remind myself that anyone can do anything when someone believes in them. My goal as a teacher is not just to be good. My goal is to be great and to inspire others one “Morgan” at a time.

Fair winds,

Captain Penny

The Bundle of Joy has Arrived!

Well a lot has happened since my last post… Sail Nelson has acquired a new addition to our fleet!

Welcome to Nelson!

Spindrift is her name and she is a 28 foot Aloha. She made the trek across Canada from Montreal to Nelson thanks to Ron Alexander Contracting and she was launched October 2 with the help of GWIL Crane. I could not recommend them both enough. Ron was extremely knowledgeable, communicated with us throughout the shipment and greatly assisted when it was time to launch her. Kelly, from GWIL cranes in Genelle, had immense amounts of patience with us while we figured out the depths, how to secure Spindrift once she was in, and then we muddled around with the mast.


I must say that this was a very stressful ordeal for me. I knew that we would be launching her in a way that I was not accustomed to. Back east every marina has a lift available and you stand on a solid dock while the boat is lifted in or out. Here, we had to launch her out into the open water (eek). We then used a very long bow line to secure her to land and had two anchors 45 degrees astern as, of course, the wind shifted 180 degrees just as we were dropping her in (of course!).

We also had to organize the variety of watercraft that we commandeered for the project. You see, as we were launching into the water with no dock around, I knew that we needed to have access to and from the boat. Which turned out to be in the form of a small motorboat, a SUP, and a kayak. We probably looked like an offbeat Cirque du Soleil show gone wrong, but we got ‘er done!


We managed to get her secured well enough to start the process of stepping the 35 foot mast. This proved to be a challenge as we had to figure out how to get the pivot point just right, but still be able to access the crane straps to return them to Kelly. The spreaders on the mast are a bit low, so the mast is top-heavy. We thought we had found the right solution only to realize we miscalculated which meant we had to send a valuable crew member up the mast using the bosun chair (thanks to Mike Bowick for the chair)! Good thing it was on our crew’s bucket list! Or so she said…


Finally, we had the boat somewhat organized and ready to head to her mooring for further rig tuning and unpacking – we only got access to her for the first time at 7 pm the evening before, so there was a lot of digging and unpacking to be completed.

I am happy to report that Spindrift is now safe and snug at the Prestige Marina where she will spend her winter getting acquainted with her new family. We are looking forward to many adventures and new sailors in the years ahead! Thanks to all who helped bring her here, and especially to Adrian and Heather who passed her down the family tree so she could move out here to beautiful Nelson BC!

Captain Penny


The double meaning of Aloha!

Aloha! So I have been super excited about the Vic-Maui 2018 race! I have been reading offshore sailing forums and reaching out to fellow sailors to see what challenges they faced when they were offshore. Did you know that a sailor needs over 3,500 calories in a day to maintain their weight while sailing offshore?

I have also been reading several nautical themed books… Here’s a few:

  1. Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings – Jonathan Raban
  2. Fastnet, Force 10: The Deadliest Storm in the History of Modern Sailing – John Rousmaniere
  3. The Proving Ground: The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race – G. Bruce Knecht
  4. Sailing Alone around the World – Joshua Slocum

vic maui

So, back to Vic-Maui…

I have been very excited about the thought of doing an offshore race. However, an unexpected phone call from my grandfather a few weeks ago has changed everything. You see, he has an Aloha 8.2 Spindrift that he has been hoping to pass on to me. Great! The challenge is that it is located in Montreal. Yikes. So, as much as this is SO exciting for my family and I, we now have to figure out how to safely get her out here – and no I am not interested in sailing the North West Passage! So, land shipping it is! Hello mucho dinero…


With this unexpected gift comes the realization that I cannot afford to do it all. As such, I have had to re-evaluate my offshore racing goals and have decided to put off the Vic-Maui Race to 2020. I am disappointed, but now I can get Spindrift in order, brush up on my celestial navigation (joking!), get new foul weather gear, and prepare myself for the race so I can fully appreciate and embrace the experience. And, even more exciting, Sail Nelson is expanding its fleet and Irish Mist II will have a new buddy to sail with!

The next adventure will be shipping her out here… Stay tuned for lessons learned!

Captain Penny



Training for the big leagues…

Back in March I went out to the Coast to re-certify my Basic Cruising Instructor level. I used to be an Advanced Cruising Instructor however kids and a “real job” got in the way and I let my certifications lapse. So, now that the kiddies are older and I have a new playground (Nelson BC) I have decided it was time to jump back on the sailing bandwagon. Hence the birth of Sail Nelson.

I was fortunate enough to get slotted into a Basic Cruising Instructor course with a school on the Coast called Simply Sailing. Christof and Bob welcomed me to the course with open arms and off I went.

I was a bit hesitant to head out as I had no idea if I still had what it took to be an instructor. I mean I taught all over Ontario and Quebec for years, but I had not taught in almost 10 years. What was I getting myself into? What if my skills had diminished? What if I could not remember the theory? What if I could not plot a course?


My first classroom lesson was Tide Tables (yawn) and Bob announced after I finished that it was the best and most interesting Tide lesson he’s ever seen in his 20+ years of coaching instructors. Phew! Maybe I’ve still got it?!

The other instructors in the course were all racers. Man, the language they were using was SO foreign to me! “I’m in the pit” “Punch it” “Pinch it” blah blah swearing… what the heck are they talking about? So, needless to say I was a bit interested in this land o’ racing. I raced dinghies back in Hamilton and Montreal, but never really got into serious racing with keelboats. However, a big Ocean race has always been on my to-do list…


So, as I have done with many other things in life, I’ve decided to jump in with both feet and I am planning to compete in the Vic-Maui Yacht Race next season! I will have to get a few courses under my belt (Safety At Sea, Coastal Nav brush-up), but overall I am excited for my first Ocean voyage. I’ll be blogging about my preparations for this journey, so feel free to tag along!

Safe seas,

Captain Penny


Photo Credit: Al McLeod

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”
~ Jawaharlal Nehru