Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Week Ashore

We are back aboard after a week house sitting for some friends in New Castle, our old 'hood. This was first time since we moved aboard in September that we'd spent longer than an overnight off the boat. Jill was just coming off of some the most stressful, busy weeks at work she's ever had and Tim had just finished a BIG project deadline so needless to say it was a welcome respite. Not to mention over the course of the week we both got colds and were sick so having a big couch, a pellet stove and a big TV was nice. We also had 6 chickens to tend to, homemade egg nog to shake and a fish to feed. We decided we would blog about what it is we missed about land life and also what it is we missed about boat life while on shore. 

What we missed about Land Life:

  • Toast/Having a Toaster: on the boat a toaster is just too much counter space and eventually when we're cruising or on anchor it will also be too much power. So we do without. But it sure was nice to have a toasted English Muffin or slice of bread on the way out the door in the morning. 
  • A shower in the next room: it was quite nice to be able to fall out of our bed and stumble into the next room for a shower. At the marina we choose to use the showers up at the marina building to conserve water aboard and to keep the moisture introduced in the boat to a minimum to reduce condensation. So it was nice to be able to shower in the next room rather than get all dressed in clothes, jackets and hats and trudge up the dock. 
  • A full kitchen: The boat's galley is small, it's workable, but it is small, including the oven. It was nice to have a full sized oven to roast a chicken in. We liked the front loading fridge with french doors, rather than the 'bottomless pit' fridge we have aboard. It was nice to have counters to put things on and a dishwasher! That was a real treat! 
  • A couch: It was nice to have full sized, wide couch to lay out across, especially being sick. The boat's main salon has 2 benches or 'settees' and they are OK. They are meant to serve as 'couches' and as 'berths' while at sea. The current set up is something that is on our list to fix because the cushions are really stiff and the general flow of the salon is overall cramped. Tim's woodworking brain is scheming all the time for our plans. 

We want to push back the couch to flush up against the shelf to allow wider sit space. 
And though these few things seem so trivial, we love that life aboard a boat has allowed us to appreciate these trivial things and to be grateful for them. That's probably the best part of this whole experiment - it reminds us daily to appreciate life and most of all to be thankful for it.

What we missed about Being on the Boat:
This is mid-tide, the ramp is sort of steep

  • Rocking to sleep: Our aft cabin bed is so cozy and the gentle rocking of the boat in the water with the sound lapping against the hull is so soothing it lulls you right to sleep. 
  • Knowing what the tides are doing: Every time we come home to the boat you can't help but notice what phase the tide is at. The ramp that leads from the shore to the docks is either flat when it's high tide or STEEP when it's low tide or somewhere in between. We didn't even realize what the tide was when we were ashore and we missed that. 
  • Knowing what the weather is doing all the time: Same as the tides, we live in the weather, from the sound of rain on the hatch, to wind wooshing through the stays, to ice crystals coating the deck in the morning - we always know what the weather is up to. In the house we often found ourselves hardly ever looking outside to see what the weather was doing. We truly missed being connected to the environment around us. 
  •  Being surrounded by our dreams: The boat is the physical manifestation of our shared dreams of travel, adventure and freedom. We love sitting aboard and thinking about the places we'll go, the things we'll see, the projects we'll do to get ready. Living aboard the boat intimately connects us to our dreams and never allows us to lose sight of them. Being in the house we were disconnected, we felt less inspired, less excited. 
  • Living a life less ordinary: Though the boat comes with it's fair share of challenges (as I type this Tim's struggling with a drinking water faucet installation that is testing his perseverance and patience - another blog will have more detail, minus the expletives) we (almost) always love the challenges, we love the feeling of conquering the challenges, whether its learning how to cook dinner or how to stop a coolant leak, and in turn learning something new. While most folks write Christmas lists full of stuff, we can't. We don't have space for stuff. Our lists are full of the practical, the utilitarian, and experiences, rather than stuff. 
We don't doubt that some day maybe we'll move back ashore and be land dwellers once again but we'll have a  new sense of gratitude and until then we love living out a life less ordinary out here in the Piscataqua River. 

The chickens were a constant source of entertainment for Toby 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Decking the Halls (ah, Decks?)

One thing that I was worried about missing moving onto a boat was the feeling of a warm, toasty home decorated for the holidays. Our old Duplex had a fireplace and every year Tim would scavenge for greenery to decorate the mantel. Last year we did the whole cut your own Christmas tree and strung big, bright colored lights on the tree out front. I made a "spray" for the front door and a dried fruit garland. The fire would roar, the Christmas lights would twinkle and we'd cozy up on the couch. I was worried that being on a boat would mean all of this would go away...but like everything throughout this experience, it's not gone away, it's changed form. 

This past weekend we made it our mission to outfit the boat for Christmas. Our boat neighbor Trolf (tee-rolf) had strung lights up his mast, then our neighbor Justin did the mast plus his lifelines, there was beginning to be a 'light war' at Badger's Island. We were inspired, especially since we own the only ketch in the marina we thought, we "have string lights from the mizzen mast to the main mast and highlight our girl's attributes!". So off we went to Walmart to buy 7 strands of LED white lights, 4 strands of LED colored bulbs and a little, mini Christmas tree. 

Bringing the Christmas tree down the docks in the
dock cart - the wood was used to build a front door
for our shrinkwrapping which is happening
this week - and yes, it was snowing. 

Our girl has her support beams up for her shrinkwrap, loving the snow! 
As Tim built the frame for our new 'front door' out in the snow I dug through our boxes of decorations trying to see what could fit on our little Charlie Brown tree. Back when I lived on Cape Cod I had no money and so I made all my ornaments out of shells, those simple ornaments were PERFECT for our little sailor tree. Add to that the fantastic stockings made out of sailcloth I bought from my friend Alex at Nautical Notions and we had the best little nautical Christmas display I could ever have imagined. 

We also strung lights all around our main salon (aka living room) and we (finally) hung our photographs & artwork (thank you Velcro, no holes in the boat), polished & hung our barometer and boat clock and our living room is now so peaceful, cozy and yes, VERY warm - thanks to West Marine box furnaces. We love coming home to this peaceful scene. 
Yes, Toby especially loves it! Notice his gray coat? It's his "Thunder Shirt" - look it up, it's a game changer for nervous puppies!

After Tim successfully installed the door, frame and sill we took to stringing the lights outside the boat. We were again reminded how much more fun doing things on boats is than in a house. As we worked, water was lapping against the boat, we were fussing with halyards and boat hooks, figuring this, engineering that and a seal popped his head up as we worked! It was a blast, a challenge and the reward was AWESOME! 
Fussing with halyards

Stringing up the mizzen

Figuring out the Main mast - Navy Yard aglow in the background 

Holding all the lights so they don't end up in the drink with the seal! 

Badger's Island Light Wars - Ours is on the left & our neighbors are on the right 

All aglow - above and below deck -- you can see the new "front door" Tim mounted! 
So like I said, the experience of decking our decks was different but no less full of cheer and joy. This week (maybe today) the boat will be getting shrink wrapped and a whole new phase of life aboard will begin - life in the bubble. 

A Boaty Carol...for us Live Aboards
Sing to the tune of 

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Gone away
are the bat rays
Here to stay
is a nutcase
In slip 34
He’s the sloop next door
Livin’ on a dock by the bay

Seagulls open fire
Bombadiers here for hire
Hey do me a favor and
Poop on my neighbor
Livin’ on a dock by the bay

Who says every liveaboard is crazy
On the lam or maybe on the dole
Not all of us are whackamoles or lazy
Or psychopaths out briefly on parole

Later on we will have some
Margaritas or buttered hot rum
Pretend we are cruisers ‘stead of
Slip-bound losers
Livin on a dock by the bay