Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Reasons Why Wednesday: One with Nature, One with Eachother

Reason Why #8: The Connection to Nature

"You hear that? It's raining."
"I love how I can feel the wind pick up because the boat gets rocked in her slip and then just like that it dies off."
"Is that frost on the hatch?"
"My towel won't dry in the cockpit, the humidity is up."
"Oh the sun's out - open up the porthole in the head, it needs to air out."

Life aboard a boat is as close to nature as you'll get outside of being in a tent in the woods. Our awareness of the outside world is heightened daily because we're out in it with just a layer of fiberglass between us and the rolling sea, a rope of nylon protecting us from currents and tides trying to pull us out there. We hear the first drop of rain on the vinyl cockpit enclosure and furiously run around closing hatches and putting the tarp over our bed (fixing the leaking hatch is on the fix-it list). Our halyard starts to slap the mast and we know the winds have gotten up above 20 knots. The shorebirds caw at night and we know its a mild enough night for them to be fishing for dinner. Toby crawls up on us during the night we know...well, that happens every night so who knows what's up!

This is from her listing - we've MUCH improved since then
But it's funny how the connection to the outside world which seems so interwoven into our lives also breeds a wonderfully warm and welcoming inside world. Our 'main salon' is comfy, the warm teak interior reflects the light and creates an ambiance that is so welcoming and comfortable. The little galley has its share of frustrations (you pretty much have to be double jointed to get a pot out from under the oven). But meals taste better when they come out and the smells from sauteing garlic or baking bread fills our whole living space. We live communally - like it or not (mostly love it) - we are literally always around one another. We do at times trip over each other or each other's belongings (Tim Feet) and it's a great lesson in patience, life aboard is a continual lesson in patience. There's no frills or foyers, no sitting rooms or verandas - when you enter our boat, you enter our lives and we really do love it (so far...)!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"You'll Learn"

I'd love to say the reason we haven't written in a while is because we've been too busy sailing the high seas but the reality is life has been VERY busy! Work commitments, family commitments, friends visits and a 32nd birthday for Jill have all been taking up our time. Not to mention life aboard as the temperature is dropping and the fall rainy season commences has been QUITE the learning lesson. The marina is thinning out around us, every day there's less and less boats and people. This past weekend was full of folks off loading their boats gear for winter storage - long faces of folks who are sad to see the season over. 

For us, it's just beginning. With the arrival of fall means the arrival of the need for heat aboard and with heat comes the dreaded word that is the bane of every liveaboard's existence - condensation. You may remember this concept from high school physics - when the air temperature outside is colder than the air temperature inside and heat rises and creates moisture it will create condensation also known as rain inside the cabin! Boiling water for pasta, moisture in the bilge, even Toby panting (which he does a lot since he's rather nervous when the boat sways) can add to the problem substantially. 

Now we'd been dealing with the dripping windows above our bed for a few weeks now (nothing like waking up to a cold drip on your face at 4am), naively thinking it was just wet at night and then it would dry out in the day once we opened up hatches - silly us! Because what does condensation cause when allowed to fester in closed spaces? MILDEW! This weekend as we were preparing the boat to go sailing on a GORGEOUSLY warm sunny Saturday we lifted our aft cabin mattress to find horrendous mildew stains, Jill's bottom pillow was 50% black with mildew, the walls around the window hatches had spores of had attacked us! Granted it had rained for 6 days straight, we'd been forced to keep hatches closed and we were heating at night causing warm air AKA condensation. But still it wasn't good. We quickly realized this had to be dealt with and fast. Jill's allergies + a dank smell + just plain nasty = a Saturday spent bleaching, airing out, sunning, bleaching some more.

The contents of our bed laying out in the sun drying

These now appear in every corner of our boat
This is when we realized the rub of being liveaboards as opposed to just owning a recreational boat. If we had a house to go home to then upon realizing we had a mildew problem we'd say, "Well, let's go out for a sail and we'll deal with it later." And then happily we'd go sailing, come back in, work on it some then go home to our non-mildew bed and come back the next day and work on it some more. BUT as a liveaboard we don't have another 'non-mildew' bed to sleep on, we don't have a 'non-mildew' kitchen to cook in, what we have is all we got - a stinky, wet boat that has to be dried out and bleached. We must have spent $50 in quarters at the marina laundry washing and bleaching all the covers from the cushions and another who knows how much in buying "Damp Rid" buckets and bleach. 

We have been posting and reading the volume of opinions and tips on the message boards - as I said this is the bane of every live aboard's existence. The options range from completely gutting the boat to install insulation between the hull and the inside walls to setting off a "mold bomb" and vacating the vessel for days. 

What we have realized is that it is an intricate combination of insulation, moisture prevention AND ventilation. The boat needs to breathe! And like it or not it truly is a constant battle. Quick fixes like opening the companionway hatch when we cook and lifting up the mattress off the bed when we get up in the morning to more involved (read: expensive) things like installing a dehumidifier and mattress mats are now in the works. 
Bought this book today
Our mantra the last month (it was 1 month ago today that we arrived home to New Castle in our new home) has been, "You'll learn". We say it to each other as we rub the new egg on our head from bumping the passage way ceiling, neighbors say it us as we practice docking, we say it to Toby as he struggles up the companionway ladder. It truly has been our mantra. And this experience with the dreaded M-word is no different - we will learn! 

But there's something great about that - it seems like in modern adult life it's often rare that we are learning something new ALL THE TIME. Or rather we don't give ourselves the chance to do it, we don't allow ourselves the vulnerability to try something new, something we're not good at, something that we struggle at, something we could risk failing at. We are trained to master everything - our positions at work, our skills at home, our abilities in life. We don't often open ourselves up to failure but it's in inviting that vulnerability that we end up succeeding far more than if we hadn't. So Tim and I have really opened ourselves up here, we are very much living life with the "trial by error" mentality and hoping it doesn't result in disaster or frostbite! 

Any condensation tips? We are sponges right now - both literally & figuratively!