Sunday, March 3, 2013

Our life Aquatic, so far.

It has been over a month since I dropped out of the auto industry and the stress filled world of manufacturing. So, how's it going?

Days drift by, they don't have names...

First off, it's been great being back together again. We were separated far too long, and I never want to do that again. Funny how you have to get re-acquainted, and get used to all her little squeaks and groans after just a few months. Every noise she makes, I think, "Is that normal?" I should just give her a good bath and a wax, just to get familiar with her again.

Yes, I'm being a smart ass. I really missed Debra too, and I think she missed me. I am not so sure she is enjoying my month of complete and total worthlessness, or turning the boat into slackerville. I told myself going into this new lifestyle that I was going to at the very least do nothing, or not much of anything for about a month. Detox? So far I have been true to my word, and pretty much failed to do much of anything except laundry and dinners. It is starting to get to me though, and I feel the need to be busy. Boat projects await, and I've been digging in slowly. Mostly I hesitate because I'm without income, and any purchases require Deb to fork over some cash. I have a hard time spending money when I'm not contributing. That will change soon.

Projects await, and wait, and wait.

I read a blog post over at "Things we did today" about how cruising has some side affects. That got me thinking about our lifestyle, and how things have changed. We kind of did this whole liveaboard thing in stages. When we still had a house in the burbs of Rochester, we would abandon it for the  boat during the summer months. We did this for many years. (Let me take this moment to apologize to my old neighbors for not hiring a lawn care professional. At least it was green.) If we got a cold spell, or got sick of the boat, we could always bail out to the house. This only happened when we had an extended period of really bad weather. It was Rochester, it happens. We only managed to do this a few times.

After we ditched the two story colonial money pit, we rented an apartment in the city for the winter, and the summers continued on Sodus Bay. So, we never went cold turkey and dumped everything before jumping into the liveaboard lifestyle. We still had stuff in storage and the apartment. Lot's of stuff. The whole slow process of making it to the liveaboard stage revolved around work, which at the time seemed like a reasonable consideration. Looking back, we should have dumped the whole life on land all at once and left years ago. We got really lucky with the house sale, else we'd still be there snow blowing driveways and raking leaves. Sometimes luck finds you. For those still waiting, you know it will happen, so hang in there. You know, besides finding our boat, selling the house was the only bit o luck we've had in a long time.

So this change in lifestyle has been a gradual immersion up until this point. Give Deb credit, she was practically begging me to go many years ago. I wanted to hang in there for the pension, that eventually vaporized before our eyes. More on that later if I ever can type it all out without an aneurism. Deb kept asking, and I said fine, get a job down there and I'll follow. Well, she did, and here I am. It really was a mutual decision. I wanted to go, but needed a little push.

Now we are living on a boat, with nothing other than what we have onboard, and whatever can be stuffed in my old van. Amazing what that thing can hold. How does it feel? Kind of nice actually. We can move anywhere we want at any time, without a lot of worry. We travel lightly, mostly out of necessity, as our boat has so little storage space.  It's a good feeling to let go of your "normal" life and get out into the world, even though we only made it to Florida. All that stuff we accumulated over the years? Don't miss any of it. Maybe the rice cooker. Yes, and the old sound system. Pink Floyd and Genesis do not sound the same on the boat. I liked it when the windows rattled and I found new cracks in the drywall.

Life is not all care free however. There is also some stress involved with living on a boat. There is constant maintenance, especially in the salty environment. That was a huge change for us, as we were sailing in fresh water, cold, refreshing, salt free. Plenty of chemicals, but no salt. So watching things corrode before your eyes is worrisome, but it just requires more attention and work than in the past. All that polishing keeps the arthritis from flaring up.

Hurricane season is approaching, and I am tied to a dock in Florida. What could possibly go wrong with that scenario? Then again, being tied to a dock in Jersey seemed like a relatively safer spot before last October.
I have nightmares about this, and whales.

Also, because of my paranoid outlook on life, we are just one thru hull failure away from losing everything, which is a little disconcerting, for nuts people with my psychosis outlook. Shit happens on a boat as well as on land. But just when you think it's sketchy to be living on a boat, you read about the guy who got swallowed by a sink hole while in his bedroom. The earth just opened up and ate him. No life jacket will save you there. Other than those disastrous scenarios that are always on the back burner of my brain, we have to deal with some things we never had to worry about on land.

For one thing, we are living in a much smaller space. How small? Well I'm not sure. I suppose I could measure, but let's just say it's a bit bigger then the average kitchen and dinette combined.

 I know it sounds small, but you know, in a house everyone ends up in the kitchen anyway. It works for us. We are not too freaked out about the space constraints. Hell, we just go out to the deck if we feel claustrophobic. We also have an enclosed cockpit which protects us from weather and bugs, so think of it as a sun room. See, not so bad is it?
See how cozy it is in there.
We did not move far enough south. The temperatures in north Florida can get below freezing at night, and we really need to bundle up. No thermostat in here! We have a portable heater that keeps us warm, but it takes a while to make it comfy. Should we step out to run some errands, then the temperature drops because you never leave a space heater running while you're away. Adding heat and air conditioning will turn us into wimps, so we are not interested. Attitudes could change this summer as we start to melt.

Everyday life can be a bit different from that of dirt dwellers.  Mornings are probably the most changed from land life. Currently the water heater is toast, so we walk to the clubhouse showers. Kind of a drag waking up and putting clothes on, so that you can walk to the shower to take them off again. Rainy cold days make it even more uncomfortable, as it's not a short walk. Who needs coffee after all that! Weekend mornings are great as we sleep in a little, then relax to some reading and caffeine ingestion. Most mornings I like my tea in the cockpit, watching nature wake up, and people stumble to the bathrooms. The bathrooms get filled quickly at certain times, so it's best to train your body to perform waste management during a lull. I will not reveal that time, but I can tell you there has been some frantic tugging at the door handle from time to time. Occupied!

Non boaters wonder about bathroom breaks, and how we deal with this. Simply, number one can easily be taken care of aboard. Number two is best taken care of somewhere else. We have tanks that hold our waste, and having solids bouncing around in there is something to avoid if you can. It's that whole methane thing. By the way, the nasty stuff gets sucked out every few weeks by some poor bastard here at the marina. It foamed out the vent of his portable tank the other day. Looked like beer. So, you may get the urge to purge, but the seats may all have butts on them. Most houses without teenagers don't have this problem. Timing. It's all in the timing.

Our water supply comes from the marina dock. They have clean water, that we run through a filter and fill our tank with. When we open a faucet, water comes out just like on land, only you hear a pump running. Without showers we can go about a week without filling the tank. Not that we go a week without showers. Three days tops. No really, we shower everyday. Well, Deb does.
We have a six gallon water heater, or will soon. We take short hot showers, standing in our tub. Did I mention we have a tub?  :)  Not much changed for us here. We had a small tub/shower in the apartment. You should be conserving water anyway. Precious stuff these days.

Not for tall people.

We are very conservative with our water. Even at the dock. When you are out cruising, if you run out of water it means you have to pull in somewhere and refill. We don't like to pull in somewhere. We would rather be nowhere as much as possible. So now we are well trained. Hell I don't even leave the water running when brushing my teeth, even in the marina bathroom. A water maker is on the list for us, otherwise we'll be lugging Jerry jugs of water in the dinghy once or twice a week while cruising. We may be doing that anyway as most harbors are too polluted to make water from. See, more adjustments.

My afternoons are great so far. I'm here doing nothing while Deb works. We'll leave it at that for now.

Evenings I have dinner ready, usually, when the working girl arrives back at the yacht. By the way, if you saw our boat you would see she is a pretty boat, but one of few luxuries, and more than a few scrapes on her hull, so you would be hard pressed to fill that image of "yacht" with our well used sloop. In fact we sail her with less equipment and finery than your average cruiser. If Deb was not so claustrophobic, and could sleep in a much smaller space, we would have a much smaller boat.

Cooking in our galley is quite a struggle, and I make quite a mess, so this was a major adjustment for me. I have to be conservative in preparation. I also have to reuse many utensils, as I only have four small drawers for stuff. We have a three burner propane stove with oven. Not a problem. Counter space is horrible on this boat, not like the Catalina Morgan 45 we had our eyes on. Again, we adjust. Oh, and Deb cooks too. I just like to cook, so she lets me.

Dinner is relaxed and comfortable at a large table inside, or a stupid little cockpit table outside. I hate that damn thing. We do dishes by hand, and let them dry on a Chamois like pad. Quite a bit different from your modern kitchen with a dishwasher and plenty of storage. I miss a few kitchen items, but we can cook anything in here just fine. You should see me doing mashed potatoes with the old hand mixer. Quite a workout. No wonder my Grandmother was so strong.

Evenings we get out for walks or sit in and read, or watch some sports on the tube until we're too tired, then we hit the sack, which is an almost queen size comfy mattress where we sleep like babies because, we live on a boat. Seriously, I never sleep better than when I'm on the boat, unless we're at anchor and the wind is blowing, or the tide is changing, or I hear another boat, or...
A big difference I noticed is the amount of fresh air we get used to. We can't even drive our cars with the windows closed anymore. If we're at someone's house we get itchy being locked up indoors, and we may have to pop outside for some air. Living on a boat exposes you to the outdoors. There is no way to avoid it.
Things we do when not working in an office, or on the boat? So far it's been long walks on the beach, dinners out, and some bike riding and hiking of trails. Sounds like a personal ad. We would like to get out and sail but we are on the ICW, and have quite a hike to get to the ocean. About two hours in the right conditions. This bothers us very much, as we love to sail. This will change I'm sure. So for now we sit in dock and work on the boat, getting her ready for some cruising.

Nothing but sea and sky. Ahh.
So, aside from that sinking feeling, we are pretty happy and carefree about this life aquatic. No snow.  Did I say NO SNOW? I never want to see that white stuff falling from the sky, unless it's on the weather channel while I'm in a Tiki bar on the beach.

One look at the old place reminds me of why I'm here. Never, ever, will I shovel snow again.

It really is nice being out here. We don't feel like we're giving up much to live this way, and once we get cruising it will be something special.

Living on a boat. It's a little like camping, only you can drown.



  1. Great post! Glad to hear ya'll are enjoying the "new life", and you've really given us a good idea of what it's been like so far ... bathroom stuff and everything! We hope we get some of your good luck and sell our house soon so we can catch up. Congrats!

    1. Thank you.
      Maybe a little TMI with the bathroom stuff, but life in a marina can be a waiting game. Might as well tell it like it is.

      Good vibes, and luck heading your way :)

  2. I had one of those hand beaters and finally threw it away. Too hard. For potatoes I use an old fashioned potato masher. I find it works great for mixing up a batch of chocolate chip cookies as well. For whipped cream? I use a whisk. I've been getting by without the mixer just fine.

    S/V Kintala

    1. You are right, the mixer is a pain. Next time I mash. Maybe if they are mashed first, then it might be easier as I don't like the lumps. Hell of a workout though. My parents had a springy potato masher. The springs would compress as you pressed down. I was always in charge of potato mashing. I would have arms like Popeye if the electric mixer hadn't come along.

      Nice job on those cushions! You think Deb would get mad if I bought her a good sewing machine? Would it be like buying your wife a vacuum cleaner? Maybe I should get a job first.

  3. Snow... I never liked LIVING in it. But I do love to GO to it for a "visit" (such as for skiing). Snow is pretty rare in Vancouver (OK, usually snow falls 1-2 times per year and lasts1-3 days) -- but it is always close by in the mountains surrounding us.

    Will likely miss it in Mexico!

    1. Not sure anyone likes living in it. Do not know how I lasted all these years living through the dark winters up on Lake Ontario. I will not miss it at all. They do not get much sunshine up there. Very depressing.
      Debra is a good skier, I was a hockey player. No snow, just smooth ice and cold beer. I got wiped out on the slopes a few times and that was it for me. Damn expensive too. I would love to visit Vancouver. We got as far as Portland, but then my Daughter moved back east, so we missed out on your city. Hear it a great place to visit.
      Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy Mexico. Be safe out there.

  4. Vancouver (well, the surrounding sea and islands)... a great place to sail :-)

  5. Great Post! Just keepin' it real... I love the little funny bits scattered around... Thanks for the mention and thanks for the submission. I'll get your post on the MoFi site for sure. Keep an eye out for other subjects that might interest you. You could become "a regular"!

    Maybe we'll meet some day soon when we get over to Florida. I think I like Deb already! We plan to head that way in the late summer/early fall. What kind of boat did you end up with? I noticed the mention of the CM45 (which is what we have). Yours looks roomy enough. Congrats on your move!

    1. Thanks guys. We finally selected a Morgan 44 1989 vintage. We looked at a nice CM45 in Tampa many years back. Very nice, but not in our budget. They are huge inside! We are very happy with the Morgan. She sails well. My only complaint is lack of storage, and she basically can't maneuver in reverse. Not at all. It's embarrassing.

  6. Great Story!
    We were in Florida with the Davis's last weeek (Engelwood south of Sarasota). Only hit 70 on 2 days, high of 56 the second day we were there!Pretty cold in SW Florida, must have been freezing in JAX.

    1. Thanks Mike. Being near the ocean helps a little, but I expected a little more warmth this time of year. Might have to reconsider our location for next winter.

      Next time you're down this way stop by.

  7. Next time I am down that way I won't be working so careful what you ask for!