All photos contributed by Brooke Bass
If you follow a variety of sailors on Instagram, chances are you may have come across the gorgeous profile of today’s feature. Introducing, Brooke Bass.
Brooke Bass is the founder of the blog Chocolate + Marrow, where she writes about food and travel. She currently lives on a catamaran with her husband Barrett and their chocolate lab Bourré. Prior to moving aboard, she lived in Portland, Oregon where she worked as a food blogger. Bass has partnered with huge brands like Whole Foods, Tabasco, and Lacanche to develop recipes using their products.
Bass once had reservations about moving onto a sailboat. She questioned weather or not she would be able to feasibly continue to cook and eat healthy while living on a boat. Three years later, not only has she realized that healthy cooking is possible on a boat, but she loves exploring local markets and experimenting with new ingredients (like soursop, chayote squash and breadfruit) at all of the places they cruise to.
While food is her expertise, like many others, the sailing/boat owning learning curve has been steep for bass. I can relate. She grew up sailing small boats on rivers and lakes, but nothing at the level of a cruising/liveaboard vessel. Brooke and Barrett’s cruising lifestyle began in 2016 in New Orleans, where they are both born and bred, on a 1994 Hunter Legend 40. Slowly but surely they have figured it all out and have cruised US Gulf Coast, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean for the last few years.
The Bass’ are currently cruising in Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe and will eventually make their way back to Florida to plan their next adventure. For anyone in the sailing lifestyle, passion is key. As Bass said, “Like anything worth doing, we’ve had our challenges in cruising but I wouldn’t trade the memories we’ve made for anything else in the world.”
Check out the interview below and be sure to follow Brooke Bass on Instagram @brookebasspdx!
When did you first get into sailing?
I first started sailing on Sunfish at summer camp in Tennessee when I was seven years old. I didn’t do it often — just for the one month out of the year that I was at camp — but I remember being enthralled with the way the boat moved and responded to the wind. When I got older, I kind of forgot about sailing and it wasn’t until my husband (who had also sailed a lot as a kid) renewed his own interest in sailing that I began to come back around to it myself, remembering the magic of wind and water and boats. Partners are great for things like that! 😉
You sail a Leopard Catamaran. Tell us about her, and how you came to the decision of choosing a catamaran.
Funny thing is we actually didn’t choose a catamaran at first! We started cruising from New Orleans, Louisiana on a monohull. It was a 1994 Hunter Legend 40 and we loved her! Unfortunately, about five months into our cruise, she was struck by lightning while we were in Georgetown, the Bahamas and it fried all of her (brand new!) electronics. So we sailed her back to Fort Lauderdale and decided to take it as an opportunity for a fresh start.
We knew we loved cruising and since at that point we’d had lots more experience with it than we did initially, we also knew a lot more about what we wanted out of the cruising experience, out of a boat, and out of ourselves. For us, that meant switching to a Catamaran. We had a few friends with Leopards and loved their livable layout and quality entertainment space. We also knew they were sturdy, capable boats. So when a friend of ours (another Leopard owner) said he knew of a couple who was getting ready to put theirs on the market, and that that couple just so happened to be making their way back to Fort Lauderdale, and the boat had everything we were looking for plus so much more, we knew it was a sign. Within three weeks of hearing from our friend, we had closed on this new boat and were happily ready to set sail. (Again!)
What are the best and worst things about living aboard? The good/The bad/The ugly?
The best is having no need for alarm clocks or schedules or plans in general. You keep a close eye on weather, sure, but other than that no one is telling you what to do or how to spend your days. There’s nothing like waking up in the morning and saying to your partner, “What should we do today?” and having them respond with something like, “Well, we could hike or go for a snorkel or work on XYZ boat project or walk around town or take the boat out for a day of deep sea fishing or sail to another island or just lime it and read on the boat all day.” It’s pure magic!
I guess the bad and ugly parts really come with those aforementioned XYZ boat projects. Inevitably, as with all boats, things break. A LOT. It seems like every single day we’re dealing with something — and if several days go by without anything breaking we hold our breath because we know it’s coming! Since we’ve started cruising on this boat a year ago, we’ve had to troubleshoot/fix: the radar, the windlass, the batteries, the chart plotter, the depth sounder, the inboard motors, the outboard motor, the generator, the hot water heaters, the air con, the fridge, both heads, both shower sumps, leaking hatches, broken hatches, and the list goes on and on. But everyone else out here is dealing with the same headaches so we don’t feel too alone in having to troubleshoot things as we cruise. That said, the absolute worst thing I’ve dealt with living aboard has been a case of roaches. (Barf!) We picked them up from a cereal box in Grenada (they like to lay eggs in the cardboard glue) and it was the absolute worst. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Thankfully, I think we’ve successfully done away with them but that phase was bad. I was literally dreaming about roaches I was so freaked out!
What is your favorite place you have cruised to?
That is SO hard to say because every single place has had its own kind of magic. But if I had to narrow it down I’d say Grenada for its awesome outdoor adventures (hiking, hashing, sulphur springs!) and it’s amazing cruiser community. My other favorite place is probably Martinique. I’m pretty food and cooking obsessed so being in a place where you can get pate, baguettes, cheese, caviar, and great wine was sort of magical. Plus Martinique has beautiful beaches, hiking, and architecture to compliment all of that amazing food — does it get any better?
What are your future cruising plans?
We’re not 100% sure what our plans are but think that we’ll slowly cruise our way back to Florida. We need to get back to earning some money for the cruising kitty and start saving for our next adventure! And now that we’ve successfully cruised the Bahamas and Caribbean for a few years we both feel like we’re ready for another challenge — there’s definitely been some talk about a circumnavigation!