What to Bring
Visitors to Ocelot shouldn't need to bring much. Be sure to pack airy & light - it's warm down here! Typical temperatures are 74‑92°F (24‑34°C) year round.
We don't really have room to store hard sided suitcases, so please pack in duffels or day-packs, or other soft-sided (collapsible) containers that we can store away. If you can keep it to hand-carry, so much the better, as the airlines are less likely to lose or delay it (as they did to us & to one set of guests).
Note that we do not have life-jackets for small children. We have some netting up for toddlers, and we can put up more if necessary, but the cockpit is sunken and completely enclosed, far from the water, and we don't tip over like monohulls do.
Laundry is a hassle, taking about 1 hour (and 20 gallons of valuable water) for a small 5-lb load. But we usually have enough fresh water on board for small quantities of hand washing. If you can, please bring clothes that you can hand wash easily, and that dry quickly. We can supply your towels and linens. That said, here's a basic checklist for a 7-10 day visit:
Light short-sleeved shirts &/or T-shirts - 3 or 4. Underwear - 3 sets (you can wash them as you shower). Pajamas - as you like. (We don't). Nice shorts, with pockets for wallet, etc. - 1 pair. Running type shorts, light & comfortable - 1 pair. Thongs &/or Teva type sandals (synthetic) - 1 pair (see below). Light evening attire for going out to dinner (usually informal) Polarized Sunglasses, Prescription if necessary (or clip-on) - 1-2 pair. Sun hat that can take wind (sailing and dinghy) - 1. Sun goop and chap stick - waterproof SPF 45 or better. Camera - Digital is best (bring your download cable and battery charger!) Swim suits - 1-2 as you prefer. Sun dresses / skirts - only if desired (see below). Windbreaker if you can't stand warm rain. Toiletries - whatever you need, including medications, reading glasses, etc. Passport - Check with your airline for visa requirements. $ - Credit/debit card that works in an ATM is probably fine (see below). Snorkeling gear - If you have some you like, bring it.
Please ask us first before bringing:
Appliances that require 115v (or 230v) AC house current. Computers are probably OK, but are also probably unnecessary. Drugs (except for prescription medications - in original bottle)
Entertainment (when you're not in the water, or exploring ashore!) We have lots of books on board (we're drowning in them) which you are welcome to borrow (but our kids might object if you try to take some home). We also have lots of games (Scrabble, UpWords, Boggle, cards, Cribbage, Chess, etc). We have some DVDs, and we can play them on our computers, but we're always looking for more. Feel free to bring some if you like. You might even be allowed to take them home!
As for water sports, we currently have an 8' sailing dinghy, some snorkeling gear and 3 sets of scuba gear. Learning to sail a dinghy is fun and relaxing.
Shoes: To protect our varnished floor and to keep the boat clean, we do not wear shoes on board, so shoes tend to accumulate in the dinghy. Make sure that what you bring can take getting wet. Please don't bring leather or fully enclosed shoes (unless you just have to go jogging, a masochistic activity down here.)
Skirts & Dresses: Some areas down here are fairly conservative, especially the Muslim and ex-British countries. When we go to town in such places, Sue will usually wear a sun-dress or a skirt. We are very cognizant that we are all ambassadors here, and we try not to offend the local population.
Money: We get our money down here by using the ubiquitous ATMs and our credit/debit cards. We do not recommend travelers cheques of any sort as they are usually difficult to convert to local currency. The ink is also water soluble, a little known fact. U.S. cash dollars are much better, and work most places.
While we're on the subject of money, many friends ask us how much money we want for them to visit us. We're not running a charter business, so we won't ask for money, but we have no real income, so we appreciate contributions. We've found that it costs us about $25-30 per person per day to live down here (about double what it did in the 1980s!) That figure includes all food and consumables, but no shore excursions like drinks ashore, meals out, or rental cars. Some friends prefer to make such a donation at the beginning of their stay and let us take care of them, which is fine with us. You won't see us spend that much because we'll have done our repairs (which can be quite expensive and always increase when we have friends on board) and much of the shopping before you come.
Note that this is not a charter rate! We've had complete strangers email us to say they'd like to come sail with us for $25/day. Sorry, no. Charter boats like ours go for at least US $1,000/person/week. If you're looking for a good, inexpensive charter, contact us and we'll see what we can do.
Snorkeling gear: We spend a lot of time in the water - it's one of our favorite activities out here. We have some spare snorkeling gear on board, but if you have a set (or even pieces) that you like, bring them down. Our spares are rather used, and we may not have your size. If you email us your sizes, we'll let you know.
If you wear glasses and you want to snorkel, you should think about these options. You can not wear normal glasses inside a mask because the glasses ears cause the mask to leak. Contact lenses work fine in a mask. Some people can take the ears off an old pair of glasses and drop the eyepieces in the mask before putting it on. The mask sometimes holds them in place. Prescription masks are available, and are the best solution if you need them, but they're pretty expensive (about $200).
Food: If you have special food needs, write to us about it. Depending on where we are, the grocery stores vary widely in selections, so let us know what you need or want. Vegetarian is no problem. Gluten-free is difficult. Some friends have come with a little stash of special treats: like dark chocolate-covered cranberries. We never complain!
What not to bring:
Please ask us first before bringing any appliances that require 115vAC (normal "house" current). We live in a 12vDC world here and generate most of our electricity from solar panels. We can generate 115vAC if we have to, but it's expensive and not on all the time. (For those visiting from outside the US, at this time we can not generate 230vAC at all.) Appliances that generate heat (like hair-dryers) are especially expensive to run, and totally unnecessary in this warm climate. Even battery operated appliances that require AC to recharge can be a problem, so please ask first. There is usually a 12vDC alternative.
If you want to bring a computer, please ask us first. We probably have a special 12v power supply that will work for you, but this environment is not especially friendly to computers and you're welcome to use one of ours (we have several).
If you want to download your digital camera, it's probably easier to just put the pictures on our computer and we'll make you a CD or DVD when you leave. To send email from Ocelot, you'll have to use our computers anyway, as it requires a special program. You're welcome to bring a computer if you have a special need, but it's probably not necessary (and it could hurt your computer).
We shouldn't have to say this, but we've found we have to: Please do not bring any drugs down here, not even marijuana. You're not in the U.S. anymore. Most of these places have never heard of (or don't believe in) advanced concepts like "innocent until proven guilty", "rights of the accused", or even "due process". If they find drugs (and even morphine in a medicine chest could be a problem) you're guilty. Some SE Asia countries have the death penalty for drug possession. Other countries throw people in a jail you wouldn't want your dog in, throw away the key, and confiscate the boat. And since the Customs agents themselves typically get 1/3 of the take, they can be highly motivated. If you can't get high on the joys of Paradise, perhaps you shouldn't be here. 'Nuff said.
If you bring prescription medications, it's a good idea to bring them in the original prescription bottle. This could save you considerable hassle at the airport.
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