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Posted on Dec 12, 2014 | 1 comment

Finding Home

Our first apartment complex after the dorms at college.

Our first apartment complex after the dorms at college.

In 10 years together, Dan and I have changed dwellings 9 times. If you don’t think that’s a lot, just ask Dan’s parents (a.k.a. the ones with the truck and trailer.) In fact, I would guess that it isn’t even much of a surprise to the extended family that they are asking once again, “So where do we send the Christmas cards this year?”

One of our apartments had a mirror wall in every room. It was quite bizarre!

One of our apartments had a mirror wall in every room. It was quite bizarre!

They say “Home is where your Heart is,” but it’s hard to put your heart into a house that you see as just another financial transaction that happens to also be where you live. While I could be content living pretty much anywhere, the decision making process was always more about profitability than personal preference. We ended up with houses that were livable but never really appealed as a life-long home.

Renovations are a continuous part of our life. One of my favorites was Dan's kitchen masterpiece.

Renovations are a continuous part of our life. One of my favorites was Dan’s kitchen masterpiece.

When we first started boat shopping, all of our old tendencies were at play. We made lists of attributes, scrutinized sea-worthy aspects, evaluated resale value, and estimated upgrade costs (boy were we naive! but that’s another story.) We spent hour after hour crunching numbers and looking at pictures; the boats all began to blur together. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for but once we stepped onto our boat I knew. At lunch the day of our boat showings, I looked at Dan and said, “I know this sounds crazy, but that boat feels like home.”

We woke one morning to find Carter and Winston curled up together at the head of our bed.

We woke one morning to find Carter and Winston curled up together at the head of our v-berth.

Nine months later, I’m glad we made the decision to put up with our quirky bed that I can’t make properly and the ugly vinyl cushions. I’m glad because when the rain is hammering and I scramble down the companionway it’s like descending into a cozy cocoon of safety and warmth in the midst of the raging storm just above our heads. I’m thankful because each time we’ve moved, even though we are fighting through the mix of excitement and loneliness that comes with somewhere new, there is immense comfort in knowing that home has come with us. Finding home on a small moving object might be a little crazy, but maybe it just means we have found where we belong.

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Posted on Dec 6, 2014 | 0 comments

Far From Home for the Holidays

 

Carter still got plenty of presents from home, the start of a Lego collection!

Carter still got plenty of presents from home, the start of a Lego collection!

Being away from home is one of the biggest costs of this lifestyle and one that we took very seriously before making the decision to move away from a close family. Never has the distance been felt more acutely than going into this holiday season. Not only do we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this Thanksgiving also marked Carter’s fourth birthday and the first one not celebrated surrounded by extended family.

A veggie tray fit for a boat!

A veggie tray fit for a boat!

Luckily, we were able to spend Thanksgiving in boat style with our friends and boat kids on Viatori as well as a full fledged birthday party. Leah and I made the executive decision to allow Publix to do most of the Thanksgiving cooking for us, since a microwave and small boat oven collectively would have been quite the challenge/hassle to provide a full turkey dinner for 8, but it still turned out fantastic! Leah also saved the day by making brownies for Carter’s birthday since we had a surprise visit from a host of ant friends who decided they would like a taste of the Spiderman cake that we purchased for the occasion.

The boys had a lot of fun playing together.

The boys had a lot of fun playing together.

On Friday, we all went to a fun place called Cool-de-sac in Hallandale Beach. The kids all got to play for a few hours doing crafts, tumbling on gym equipment and playing video games while Leah, Richard, Dan and I were able to enjoy a nice adult dinner. Kid free dinners are a pretty hot commodity when babysitting on a boat is a logistical issue we haven’t quite been brave enough to face yet. Needless to say, we all had a great time and Carter had a fantastic birthday!

Christmas doesn't quite feel normal without the cold weather, but we'll survive somehow...

Christmas doesn’t quite feel normal without the cold weather, but we’ll survive somehow…

With the Viatori crew getting ready to head back to Canada before Christmas however, we’ll be on our own for the big day. Carter and I have taken up the banner of proper Christmas decorating on a boat: cheap, small, and fire-hazard free! We spent a whole day making construction paper garland, snowflakes for the ports and a homemade glitter Christmas tree. I even picked up a plug-in scented like spruce for a little extra cozy effect. Being away from family on Christmas won’t be easy, but we’re working on making it ours.

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Posted on Nov 14, 2014 | 2 comments

Invasion of the Boat Kids

Ethan and Carter making castles on the beach.

Ethan and Carter making castles on the beach.

Thud. I look up through the companionway to see two blonde heads peering down at Carter and I. “Are we invading?” asks James. They were, but I didn’t mind at all. Since last Thursday when we moved to the Hollywood City Marina, we’ve been in a near-constant state of invasion by the three boys of Viatori: James, Matthew, and Ethan. Carter is absolutely loving his time with other boat kids and we are having a great time talking to their parents, Richard and Leah!

Matthew helped Carter build his K'nex helicopter

Matthew helped Carter build his K’nex helicopter

Spending the last few days in the company of the Viatori crew has been a great pleasure for us. One of my favorite parts of watching the boys play together is realizing how free of boundaries they still are. No small talk necessary, only an imagination and permission from Mom to go play. Their enthusiasm for life is contagious and their energy seems unlimited at times!

The boys can't resist reading new books!

The boys can’t resist reading new books!

While we haven’t had extensive experience with other cruising families, what we have previously heard second-hand about boat kids seems to be fairly true. They are smart and fun, generally good natured, and are very socially adept. In comparison, Carter and I have spent a good amount of time in the company children these last six months who weren’t interested in playing without a screen, couldn’t be bothered by a kid of a different age, or who were downright mean when Carter attempted to join in their fun.

A sample size of one family certainly isn’t enough to make any scientific comparison, but it is enough for me to know that I’m glad Carter can be counted among the boat kids.

If you’d like to read more about the Viatori crew, check out their blog: exceedingthedrift.com.

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Posted on Oct 24, 2014 | 0 comments

How To Defeat the Leak

Nothing better than spending a rainy day snuggling in a warm, dry bed

Nothing better than spending a rainy day snuggling in a warm, dry bed

At some point or another, most of us have had to deal with having a small leak in our home or business. A window or even a roof dripping a bit during a flooding spell in springtime is cause for a check up and a few buckets, but not any real concern for most people. Not so on a boat. A primal fear is awakened when you find yourself on a leaking boat in bad weather, even if you clearly are in no danger of sinking or drowning or in fact any horrible fate at all other than a few sopping beach towels lying around and some wrinkled book pages.

Our first big rainstorm on the boat happened just a week or so after moving aboard. Dan was working and I was attempting to turn a very foreign space into our home. As the heavy rain started to fall and the boat began to sway on our dock lines, I started to hear the tell-tale sound of dripping, something I had (naively) never considered when moving aboard. My heart started to beat faster but I decided that the most logical thing to do was to find the leak and write it down so that I could tell Dan about it when he got home in an hour or two. And thus began the hunt, me with my flashlight and notebook scouring every inch of cabinet, hatch and window, all the while becoming more and more panicked as 1 leak become 2, and then 3, and then 10. After my final count of around 15 of so separate dripping areas, I finally sat down on our settee with my face in my hands and sobbed. What had I gotten myself into?

Luckily, Dan had no such fears of our leaking boat and went immediately to work checking out the problem once he had assured me that our boat was, of course, not in danger of sinking. Nearly 6 months later, I’m quite dry while writing this post during a lovely wet spell to say that we’ve finally located and eliminated all of those leaks (for now at least), though we weren’t able to completely accomplish that feat until just a week or two ago. It is amazing how difficult it can be to locate the source of a leak on a rolling object, especially one in which you can rarely see the direct underside of the deck.  Now that we are leak free however, the boat feels like a totally different place in a storm; a cozy refuge for our family rather than a derelict tent.

A few things that we have learned through the process of finding our many water intrusions:

  1. Start with any leaks that are at risk of affecting the integrity of your hull or decks. Luckily we didn’t have any majors so we moved onto the leaks that were easily assessed and fixed, followed closely by those that were the most negatively affecting our comfort. A small leak in the galley is a lot easier to live with than one directly above your bed or bookcase.
  2. Many times 1 leak can manifest in many different areas of the boat. One of the first and easiest fixes that we found was intrusion where a cable/phone hookup had been removed and not properly covered again. A couple of pieces of duct tape (and replacing the hook-up a few days later) completely eliminated at least 4 different spots that I had marked in one shot.
  3. Check which way your boat is leaning. To go along with #2, one of our leaks would find its way port or starboard depending on which way the wind was coming from, causing us to think we had separate leaks to fix when there was really only one.
  4. If you are having trouble locating a leak, you can try using a hose directly on suspected spots. Always check for leaks from the highest point first and make your way down. We started with the cockpit hardware mountings, then moved to the cabin top, etc. before finally getting down to the deck. A word of warning though: make sure that you give enough time for the water to potentially get through before moving on and test it with your boat leaning in different ways otherwise you could miss your leaks if the water is pooling somewhere first (see #3).
  5. Finally, make sure that when you do find the leak, you fix it properly to avoid any (further) damage, especially in the case of cored decks or hulls. You do not want your leaky hatch bedding turning into a soggy deck!

Hopefully, you’ll find that you look forward to getting out of the rain when you get home, rather than spending the night in it!

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Posted on Sep 26, 2014 | 2 comments

Dream vs. Reality

This boat was recently dismasted in an accident involving a drawbridge. I'm sure that's not exactly the dream that the captain imagined.

This boat was recently dismasted in an accident involving a drawbridge. I’m sure that’s not exactly the dream that the captain imagined.

Dan and I are not cut out to be live-aboards. And by that I mean living on a boat in a metro area while working full time. Over the last few months, both of us started to become increasingly disillusioned with our dream of cruising and even started discussing what we might do after cruising was over (something that is decidedly not on a set time-line).  We are living in a small tiny space with 2 and a half people and 2 dogs, fighting crazy traffic every time we try to go anywhere, Dan working worse hours than anytime in his career, 2,000 miles away from close friends and family, and our marina rent is the same price that we were paying for our mortgage, taxes, and insurance on our pre-downsized house! Conclusion: live-aboard city life is definitely not for us.

It’s easy to see why we might be slightly disappointed. However, when we recently purchased a cruising guide for the Bahamas and started planning the beginnings of our trip for this winter, suddenly a huge light bulb turned on. The reason why both of us had been feeling so discouraged was because we had subconsciously equated our current living arrangements with the dream we had been working and saving towards for the last three years, when the goal was still just around the corner! We want to get away from big cities and stressed out, high-speed life, so it makes perfect sense why we weren’t exactly feeling like we’d found ourselves in Paradise yet.

Now that we’ve realized what was causing some of our uncertainty about cruising, we’re able to move forward with our plans for this winter. The more that we read about and plan for actual cruising, the more energized we’re becoming again. A lot of our biggest projects stopping us from leaving are getting wrapped up and the official hurricane season will soon be over. Let’s just say that we’re getting to the point where the To-Do list is partially getting smaller due to completion and partially due to us making strategic decisions like “new cushions or leaving sooner…screw the cushions they’re fine.” Hopefully sometime soon we’ll be rounding that corner into the final stretch before heading out!

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