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Posted on Aug 27, 2014 | 0 comments

Downsizing for the Boat: Part 2

Some games come in more travel friendly shapes and sizes. This is our Battleship game.

Some games come in more travel friendly shapes and sizes. This is our Battleship game.

In Downsizing for the Boat: Part 1, I talked about how we downsized our big ticket items. Today, I’ll show you something even more critical to living on a boat…entertainment! Board games, DVDs, CDs, and books all have the challenge of taking up a lot of space. I know some people with personal libraries at home that almost require half of their house in shelving (or have to be stored away in boxes)! How do you bring along plenty of entertainment for long days on the water without overwhelming your space requirements?

Most of the books we decided to bring were reference guides of some type.

Most of the books we decided to bring were reference guides of some type.

First, let’s talk about books. I am a total book lover, bordering at times on serious addiction. Someone on an online forum recently asked the question, “Could someone recommend a good short book that can be read in about 2 days?” I couldn’t help but laugh, as I had just devoured an entire series in the past two days. The problem with that habit is buying books is expensive and they take up a lot of space. Luckily, with the advent of the ebook (and libraries renting them) my appetite can be sated without breaking the bank or sinking the boat. Most libraries now have the ability to rent a large collection of ebooks at no charge to members, just make sure you have your account set up before leaving and your library card is not going to expire soon.

Before moving aboard, we went through each book in our physical library and asked the tough question, “Are we going to use this while cruising, or not?” If the answer was no, we attempted to sell it on Amazon and eBay. Most got bought up within a month or so and the rest we donated to our local library. (With the exception of our Harry Potter series. Too big for the boat, but no way we could get rid of a collection we grew up on…it’s now taking up precious space in our 2 trunks left behind.) We have 2-Nexus 7 tablets on board as well as a ink-reader Kindle for reading in bright sun. Ebooks are definitely the way to go whether you pay for them or not, as buying and storing books just doesn’t make sense even on a large boat.

Fitting all of our movies into one case...Inconceivable!

Fitting all of our movies into one case…Inconceivable!

Movies and CDs are a lot easier to downsize, as the main goal is to eliminate the overly large plastic jewel cases and consolidate the discs to a case. Another option is to eliminate the disks all together by transferring all of the movies and songs onto portable hard-drives that you can plug into a computer. We chose to just store our discs in a case since it really didn’t lose a lot of space overall to keep them, plus updating our music collection on our phones (default mp3 player!). One large case and a full recycling bin later and we’ve downsized without actually getting rid of anything. Once again, we couldn’t quite get rid of our collector’s edition Avatar case, because well…its Avatar. So yea.

From all of those boxes into the bags. Saving space has never been easier!

From all of those boxes into the bags. Saving space has never been easier!

Finally, we wanted to bring some board games along, but knew that we didn’t want to store huge game boxes. Luckily, most board games take up very little space once taken out of their original packaging. A few Ziploc bags of varying sizes changed a huge stack of game boxes into one tote bag of fun! Now we have all of our favorite games, i.e. Settlers of Catan, easily available with using up precious space on the boat. All part of the art of downsizing without dumping!

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Posted on Aug 22, 2014 | 0 comments

Downsizing for the Boat: Part 1

Even this set had been paired down by a few pieces before we moved aboard.

Even this set had been paired down by a few pieces before we moved aboard.

One of the biggest challenges when moving into a small space is trying to decide what to get rid of and what to keep. Over the course of our preparations, each time we moved we would slowly eliminate a few more items. Once we moved onto the boat however, we realized that even some necessary items were too big and bulky for storing on the boat. The top storage issues on the boat currently center around cooking and tools. Over the years together, we have gotten into the habit of purchasing high quality tools when needed and have accumulated quite a collection that is hard to downsize due to the amount of money we spent and the fact that we still need some just not all of them.

From sprawling to compact!

From sprawling to compact!

The biggest space consumer was our cookware. Full sized pots and pans just do not work well in tight spaces, regardless of how much you paid for them! We decided pretty quickly that we needed a better solution and decided on a nesting, nonstick cookware set from Magma. Suddenly, we went from filling up a huge cabinet to having all of the pieces in one small package. After a few months of using them, I am still impressed with the quality and the ease of cleaning. At first I thought that having the pieces nested would get annoying, but it really hasn’t been a problem in use.

 

We received this set as a wedding present. Great for a house, not so for the boat.

We received this set as a wedding present. Great for a house, not so for the boat.

This set is perfectly sized for our cabinets...small!

This set is perfectly sized for our cabinets…small!

We also found that our traditional dining dishes were too bulky and heavy, not to mention glass! When we first moved onto the boat we figured that the no glass rule was a little too harsh, but fragile things just don’t survive a moving environment. And so, we have officially replaced the dining set we got as a wedding present with a 4 person camping set from Bass Pro. Because they are designed for campers in mind, the entire set of plates, cups, mugs, and bowls all nest well and fit into our kitchen cabinets much better. We’ve only used them a few times so far so the durability is still unknown, but we like the turned up sides for the plates and the sip-top lids for the mugs for sailing.

The throw pillow in the picture gives you an idea of the size of these babies. Small but mighty!

The throw pillow in the picture gives you an idea of the size of these babies. Small but mighty!

Dan got some new compact tools as well. We decided to replace his large 18-volt set with a new 12-volt set from Milwaukee. The tools and batteries are much more compact and easier to store. While Dan has noticed the reduction in power from his drill, it hasn’t been a big detriment to the jobs he’s been doing. Unlike the kitchen items that we are in process of selling though, we’ve decided to keep his old power tools, but down into deeper storage. That way, if we need one of them in a pinch, we aren’t stuck without a way to fix the boat.

In Part 2, I’ll talk about how we downsized our entertainment items without actually eliminating them.

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Posted on Aug 4, 2014 | 0 comments

Learning the Meaning of Transience

Enjoying an evening with friends.

Enjoying an evening with friends.

Even though Dan and I have moved a lot in the last few years, our trip down the ICW was the first time that we moved our whole “house” with us. It was surreal to climb down onto a different dock and find ourselves in a place that we didn’t know. New neighborhood, new dock-mates, new stores and restaurants to find. We knew coming into cruising that moving frequently was going to become part of our lives, but I’m not sure that we really had understood what that would mean until this move.

Our friend Bill invited us to go fishing with him on many occasions.

Our friend Bill invited us to go fishing with him on many occasions.

The part that I think was the most surprising to us was how sad we where at leaving our old neighbors in Lantana. Though it was a realtively small marina, the community there was very tight-knit. You could find live-aboards enjoying drinks together on each other’s boats almost any night of the week in addition to group gatherings at the marina clubhouse many weekends. Invitations to go out on the water together were common place and always made for a good time.

The ladies of the marina were in love with Carter.

The ladies of the marina were in love with Carter.

We had always read that the cruising life made for fast friends and faster goodbyes, but I think we underestimated what that meant. We’ve quickly learned that everyone has a story to tell and when you share such a large part of your lives in common, the friendships that form defy traditional time lines. The only consolation to leaving so soon is the knowledge that in mobile community of so few individuals, we’re likely to run into our friends again in the future. We look forward to meeting new friends and reuniting with old ones in the future, but also know that leaving will always be a little bitter sweet.

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Posted on Jun 13, 2014 | 0 comments

Our Bout with Davy Jones

Don't let that innocent smile fool you, this is the face of a master of destruction

Don’t let that innocent smile fool you, this is the face of a master of destruction

Living on the water comes with the inherent risk of losing items to the drink. I just didn’t realize that it was more an inevitability than risk until we moved on board with a three year old and two dogs. Never mind my natural capacity for not paying enough attention to my surroundings (see Getting Our Sea Legs).

Can you tell he's excited about searching the mud for my keys?

Can you tell he’s excited about searching the mud for my keys?

One of the first rules that Dan instituted was “Never have your keys in your hand when getting on and off of the boat.” Alas, he knew me too well. One morning while Dan was at work, I was in the process of getting myself, Carter, and a large bag of laundry off of the boat. As I swung the bag of laundry onto the dock, I released the bag safely…and my car keys right into the water. I was honestly in shock and just stared at the ripples for a few moments before I could even think about anything. Our dock neighbor Gary, who I mentioned in the First Taste of the Cruising Community, graciously attempted to find my keys in the near zero visibility water but wasn’t able to locate them. Now I had to wait for Dan to get home and tell him that I had, in fact, done what he always told me not to do and that now he would have to dive in the disgusting water to find my keys. He only gave me a small “I told you so” and was able to find my keys, along with those of another unfortunate boater from the past.

Oops...

Oops…

On our first day in Lantana, the water and I had a rough time together. It was a beautiful day and so I allowed Carter and the dogs to stay out in the cockpit while I made lunch for us down below. I regularly checked on Carter and would find him looking out and the water or petting the dogs. All was well…or so I thought. What Carter was actually doing was taking every loose item in the cockpit and throwing them overboard one by one to see if they would float. This included our hose nozzle, the dogs’ 2 leashes and water dish.

Gavin after his little "swim" and bath. He had a rough day.

Gavin after his little “swim” and bath. He had a rough day.

I was so angry I could hardly see straight, so I sent Carter to his room before I overreacted and went back to making lunch. That’s when I heard a very strange noise from outside. I went into the cockpit to investigate and found only Winston topside looking straight down off of the transom at the water. Gavin had attempted to jump onto the dock to catch some landing ducks and, as his coordination is about as advanced as mine, fell straight into the water. I quickly climbed down the dock ladder and called him over to me as he sloppily dog-paddled his way around the boat. I’m sure the two of us would have been quite the sight to see as I had to get in waist deep to hoist him out as he flailed desperately trying to get out of the water, which he hates. He was none too happy with me as I had to spray him down with fresh water again.

At least I was able to rescue my shoe!

At least I was able to rescue my shoe!

Our current tally is as follows:

Lost
1 bottle of lemon juice (thrown by Carter)
1 dog dish (thrown by Carter)
2 dog leashes (thrown by Carter)
1 hose nozzle (thrown by Carter)
1 small toy car (accidently driven in by Carter)

Dropped and Recovered
1 fishing net (bumped in by a friend)
1 car key (dropped by Michele)
1 wet dog (jumped/fell in)
1 shoe (knocked off by Michele)

Found
1 car key

I think that makes the score Davey Jones 6: Us 1: Tie 4. We’re hoping to even the score with some fishing and lobster diving in the near future.

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Posted on May 29, 2014 | 0 comments

First Taste of the Cruising Community

Dan going up the mast for the first time after borrowing a neighbor's block and tackle.

Dan going up the mast for the first time after borrowing a neighbor’s block and tackle.

Over the last 3 years of planning, Dan and I have talked with multiple cruisers in person and through email, getting A Little Help from our Friends. Everyone we talked to was more than willing to help us in whatever way they could. It’s only logical that we would see the same kind of spirit in the community once we started living aboard, but to be honest we have been awed by the help we’ve received in these first few weeks aboard. It’s amazing how magnanimous people can be towards complete strangers simply because we are now part of the boating community.

As I mentioned in The First Move, Dan and I received our first taste of the friendliness of boaters as we were entering the marina in Stuart. Since we were coming in after hours, there were no marina employees available to help us pull in but we got expert help from other boaters instead. I honestly don’t know if we would’ve made it into our slip safely without the help of Jim and Sandra on Alpha Lady and Gary and Georgette on Two G’s. As we all started introducing ourselves, Georgette brought her cats out and Sandra mentioned that she had been looking for a new cat since their last one had passed a year before. We instantly brought out our cat, Nala, who we had been looking to find a new home for since we had accepted Dan’s new job. She was a good cat, but 2 dogs, a cat, and a 3 year old on a boat was just too much for me to handle. Sandra and Jim instantly fell in love with her and told us that if we were really serious, to bring her over to their boat later that night with whatever cat paraphernalia we wanted to get rid of.

We were serious and after grabbing dinner and talking to Carter about the situation, brought Nala over to Alpha Lady (a beautiful 61 foot 1981 Hatteras). Nala would certainly be living in luxury here. Jim and Sandra invited us to stay for drinks and I’m glad they did. After the stress of the day, we were nearing the end of our rope. In fact, if it weren’t for the ability to relax with them and laugh off the crazy events of our car that morning and our difficult parking I believe that we may have thrown in the towel that night. Luckily, we’re still moving and were treated to even more kindness by others through out the next week that we stayed in Stuart.

Gary and Georgette on Two G’s were incredibly helpful to us as well. They were parked in the slip directly next door and generously offered their help on multiple occasions. We decided after Friday night on Alpha Lady that we would stay in the Stuart marina until we could hire a captain to help us move the rest of the way to Lantana. However, that left us with the problem that we had no car to get Dan to work on Monday. We had spent Thursday night dropping off our Jeep in Lantana since we believed we would only be in Stuart for one night and we left our Scion in Indiantown. Gary and Georgette graciously offered us the use of their car to go pick up our Scion so that we didn’t have to rent a car for the day. Multiple times during the week Gary helped me to load and unload Carter and the dogs while Dan was at work and even went snorkeling to help me find my keys that I dropped next to the dock! That’s way above the typical neighborly friendliness that I’ve been accustomed to in the past!

Dan was able to help our neighbor in Lantana park his boat as others had done for us in Stuart.

Dan was able to help our neighbor in Lantana park his boat as others had done for us in Stuart.

We are very happy to be a part of a community that looks out for each other and was so quick to include us. We hope to be able to “pay it forward” to others in the future.

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