Wintering Aboard in Maine Feed

Tidbits from St. Augustine


1. A hot summer here in St. Augustine is hotter than a hot summer in Grenada and Panama. One might have thought (as I did) that being closer to the equator would be warmer than being up here in the southern part of North America.

One would be wrong. For the past two weeks, every day we’ve had a warning of a “Heat Index” of 101 – 107.











2. The sun doesn’t set in St. Augustine until very late. (Well, late by Caribbean standards.) The phrase “cruisers’ midnight” refers to 9:00 or 10:00 PM when cruisers usually call it a night. After all, when sunset is around 6:30 PM, that’s about 3 hours of darkness. Here, the sun doesn’t set until around 8:30, so midnight is midnight. We rarely stay up that late, but we’ve had “issues” with our pizza/movie night. I’m just not ready to watch a movie before dark, while EW is definitely ready for pizza around 7:00. We have compromised. The pizza is usually in the oven by 7, and we start the movie during daylight, It’s not the same, and we can no longer set it up on deck unless we are prepared to actually stay up until midnight.

IMG_20160702_1807564. St. Augustine is a Destination Wedding town, about which many people say, “We’ve chosen our venue in St. Augustine”. Weddings have venues as if they were conferences or concerts. Though that began when we still lived in Maine, it has a whole new meaning here in St. Augustine. The marina office is across the street from one of the more popular venues, so we frequently see wedding parties, guests, limos, flower bedecked horse-drawn carriages, and tasteful wedding signs. This one amused us. Greatly. You’d think the person who had written it might have offered an edit of some sort. Ah well. I assume it is a happy union. (I could not resist.)

5. This is a music town. There are a whole bunch of singer/songwriters per capita, and we enjoy many of them. EW plays weekly at the open jam at the market. This week I performed as “Band-Aid” when I was asked to hold up some music for EW and four others who were learning new tunes after the event ended.

6. Working. Yeah. That job thing. It’s been a dry year in St. Augustine, but I am now moving forward with two jobs because this is a gig economy. Let me just state that St. Augustine is a tourist town not at all like Portland in that tourism is pretty much  the only industry. When you add the economy, interesting Florida labor practices, and my evidently advanced, unemployable—age the sum includes few job opportunities. I currently have two jobs, one in the store of the Black Raven Pirate Ship, and one as an HR consultant and sales for a Jacksonville company that represents the Predictive Index.

A. Black Raven Ship Store. First of all, they take pirates and colonial history very seriously in St. Augustine. At any point in time one can walk down the street and see a fully garbed pirate, or colonial muster. (And it is “garb”. Call them costumes at your peril. They carry real swords. I am not kidding.) I am not a garbed pirate. I sell tickets to the ship’s adventures, prepare the little treasure chests for the kids, and man the counter in the store three mornings a week. These are not Black Raven Pirates. This is a few from a Pirate Krew who dressed in garb to go out on the town. This kind of thing happens in St. Augustine.

B. Through the miracle of Maine networking, blogging, and Facebook, I was reconnected with Steve Waterhouse, who had been a consultant in Maine many years ago. That lovely man remembered me with favor and offered me a consulting gig with his organization, Predictive Results, which consults and sells the Predictive Index. I can work from the boat, and make calls on potential clients in Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, and nearly the entire country. I will most likely focus in North Florida and perhaps a bit in Maine. In the meantime, I’m learning more about this very interesting tool for employee assessment and strategic management. I am also learning a whole new business vocabulary, having nothing to do with belaying lines, hoisting sails, or navigating though coral heads. It is no secret that I’m a short-timer with the Pirate Store and will resign with plenty of notice once income from PI is a constant.

7. Technology. It’s been a recurring theme. Those five years created all sorts of gaps in our knowledge. We each have a cheap AT&T Android phone and I am beginning to grasp how smartphones have taken over. I actually said to someone this week that the best way to reach me for social things is to text. I used to hate texting. Texting was the way you could reach your refrigeration tech, and not good for much else. For some reason all marine refrigeration techs do not answer their phone, they text. Even the one in Guadeloupe who spoke very broken English. I digress. Frequently. The point is that I didn’t “get” texting until now… long after it had become a way of life. This five-year gap has caused me to be late to the party on most things technical. So I am delighted, delighted I tell you to actually witness a new technological fad in the making. Pokemon Go! I’m not playing (our cheap phones don’t have a lot of memory, and I really don’t need a new way to waste time) but I love hearing about something new as it is happening. Makes me feel all current.

8. Politics. Whoa! I’m actually happy to be here during this election year. If not, I would never have believed it. Plus now I can answer the questions on Wait Wait Don’t Tell me.

9. NPR. I am in NPR heaven. Kind of. Maine Public Radio will always be the NPR affiliate of my heart, but Florida does have many of our favorite national programs. I assure you that it’s not our fault that both Garrison Keillor and Michael Feldman both retired shortly after we returned to the US. I also had to break it to EW that Thomas Louis Magliozzi died while we were at sea and that the Car Talk shows we have been enjoying are all repeats.

10. Time marches on. Frankly, it’s dragged a bit here in St. Augustine. We are just now getting used to being back in the states. Transitions are tough. We are determined to make it work here, get the boat and cruising kitty fixed and go on another adventure.  In the meantime, we’ll make music and evidently party with pirates.

Pecha Kucha Portland - The Creative Process of Living Aboard In Maine

Forgive me for not writing a new post in days (weeks?). I have neglected you and feel like a bad person. 

I have been writing though, as I was honored to be chosen to join some very talented and passionate Maine folk in presenting at the July Pecha Kucha Portland event on July 12. Don Elliot - a talented and committed Pecha Kucha Volunteer handled the technical side of things and posted this video of my presentation. When you have about 8 minutes, tune in and see why we moved aboard and what it's like to live aboard in Maine in the winter. 


Barbara Hart at Pecha Kucha Portland, Maine from Pecha Kucha Portland on Vimeo.

Leaving Portland Harbor for Great Island Boatyard in Casco Bay Maine

Good morning. This will be a quick post written just after seven AM on the 31st of March. We are getting ready to leave this marina in South Portland for the summer, heading to Great Island Boatyard in Harpswell Maine. EW is the yacht broker there and he will be the one without a commute this summer. I will use their wifi and commute to the Portland area 2 or 3 days a week. 

Last night was rough. Up to 30 MPH winds from NE. Not serious and not a severe NE storm but very, very uncomfortable. I got fewer than 3 hours of sleep and EW didn't get much more. Just talked with our neighbor across the dock - we are stern to stern. He said he got up in the night, thinking his boat was rolling a lot then he looked at ours and felt fortunate. We were mildly amused. He has a powerboat and should have been rolling much more than we were. This sailboat needs a mast. Can't wait. We rolled side to side from 11 to 2. 

Here's the plan for today: 

  1. EW is taking apart the last of the frame (the door) and tossing it.
  2. I'm stowing down below, doing breakfast dishes and packing to move ashore for 16 days
  3. I will enter two courses into our navigation software -  One, up inside of Chebeague then out by Bailey's Island and two, straight out past Portland Head then outside up to Ragged Island. If it isn't too rough we prefer the more direct outside passage and neither of us relishes navigating around the small rocky islands and the shoal area near Bailey's. 
  4. We will leave here between 8:30 and 9 - two + hours after low and hope that we can get right out the channel.
  5. We will probably head out the ship's channel and see what the seas are like. Right now they are 11 feet but if those are big swells from the south it won't be too uncomfortable. According to Passage Weather, those seas are supposed to subside very soon.  In this boat we will be safe, just hoping for some comfort. 

The winds have died down a lot -- just like Passage Weather said they would. It is raining lightly or misting heavily. Cool. I'll pretend we are in Scotland or the Pacific Northwest - two places on my sailing bucket list. It will be an adventure. (Are we having fun yet?)

I'll post tweets and photos to this blog as we go. Should take 3 - 4 hours. We'll be hauled this afternoon and I'll be painting La Luna's bottom during the sunny weather coming up at the end of the week.  The mast will be put in on the 5th and EW has knee surgery on the 6th. Thankfully we can stay at a friend's house until the 15th and we will (fingers crossed) be back in the water by then.

Wish us luck and stay tuned! It's going to be a bumpy ride. (Name that movie and actress!)

Working Together on Deck Maintenance: Live-Aboards Love and Get "R" Done

We are taking the cover off early this year because we must leave this marina on March 31 to head to Great Island Boatyard where La Luna will be hauled and have her mast put back in. If you saw the post about pulling the mast, you may remember that we have to work with the schedules of the independent crane operator and the boatyard. 

So this weekend we are completing two on-deck projects that need to be done before the deck is exposed to the elements. 

  1. Installing the sturdy new cleats on the stern
  2. Re-bedding our only two "windows" - those which aren't ports and don't open for air flow.

New Starboard Stern Cleat
 We had already installed the starboard cleat one evening this week and late Saturday afternoon we installed the port one.This time I had light and EW's camera to document the process. 

First, a shout out to Cheoy Lee Shipyards in Hong Kong. They haven't made this sailboat since the late 80's - in fact if you visit their site you'll see that they no longer make sailboats at all and focus on power yachts and ships. Yet, when EW called them to see whether they had two cleats to replace those which were compromised, the gentleman who talked with him checked the ware house, gave us a very reasonable price for the two they had on hand, and actually shipped them prior to receiving our bank draft. Furthermore, they fit perfectly. 

NOTE: We paid the price he asked, did not ask for or receive a discount, and are not being paid for this post. They don't know I am writing this post. 

Pad for Port Stern Cleat
 Installing the port cleat can be a bear because one has to get into the aft lazarette and work blind as the heater is between one and the cleat. While working blind, one is attempting to slip washers and nuts on each of four bolts without ever dropping a washer or nut behind the heater. Then one uses a socket ratchet to wind the nut onto the bolt while one's partner holds the bolt steady with a large screwdriver. 

When we hauled the boat for big projects three years ago, we had removed all the cleats and I was the person positioned in the lazarette. Yesterday, EW opted for that duty. I was on deck with the screw driver with an adjustable wrench fastened to the shaft to provide extra leverage. (Once again we have sailing and and physics. Oh, Mr. McDougall I surely wish I had paid more attention in your class.)

EW Reaching for the Bolt
 It is not a comfortable position, so we can perhaps excuse EW for his first ever lack of patience with "the press". He stretched with nut and washer for the first bolt, looked up... and instead of seeing his bride/crew ready with screwdriver and wrench, he saw "the press" seeking the best shot to get an image of his expression as he reached for the bolt.  

With a look of disgust and a "Will you PLEASE!?" I quickly switched roles. The photo you see here shows the distance between EW and the cleat but is a reenactment of the actual process, taken with all four bolts firmly in place. 

Today, we will finish bedding the windows and I'll show you that when done. Already we have learned a couple of useful lessons. Ah well. The cleats are in!

Inquiring Minds Want to Know: Where do Live-Aboards Keep Their Shoes?

This morning one of my Twitter friends had a question about my blog. It seems that every time she reads my posts she wants to know where I keep my shoes.

That's a good question. When we were preparing to move aboard 8 years ago, there weren't any blogs to research. I did find an article about some live-aboards in San Francisco. An attorney and sailor who had to dress very well (think L.A. Law, if you are old enough) kept a lot of suits and silk blouses in a storage locker. Each week she would take the clothes she had worn to the dry cleaner, go to the locker and remove 5 outfits for the coming week and put back the outfits she had picked up from the dry cleaner. I'm not sure what she did with shoes.

As for me, my Twitter friend is not going to like the answer. We had renovated our home and our bedroom closet stretched from one wall to another. It wasn't a walk in closet, but I did install a closet system and it held quite a bit. I filled it up. That is what we Americans do. When we have the space we fill it up.

So I had a lot to get rid of when we moved aboard. Each year I get rid of more and more as things (and fashion) become less important to me. We have a shore side storage locker and until recently we had a garment "closet" in the locker to hold EW's suit, one or two good dresses, a nice coat, and out of season shoes. In addition I put out of season clothes in big plastic covered tubs and keep those in the storage locker. Finally, our local dry cleaner, Pratt Abbot, will store winter items for FREE if you pay to have them dry cleaned. (We used that service when we had a house, too.) 

(DISCLAIMER:    We pay full price for every Pratt Abbot service we have received.)

Over the past eight years, those dry-clean-only-dressy dresses, high heeled shoes, and dress coats have become less and less important to me. For the first 3 years of living aboard I was employed by a company in Portland's Old Port and while I didn't have to wear business suits often, I did have to have enough appropriate clothing to go to work 5 days a week. At that time I kept my business shoes in a cupboard in my office. 

Now, I work from home and only get "dressed up" for client and business meetings. Even at that, most of my business clothes can be washed in a machine and are easy to store. If you have met me, you know I will never be mistaken for a fashion-ista. When no meetings are scheduled, I'm in jeans or shorts working in my floating office.

So I don't need a lot of clothes. Which is a good thing. This is my closet (locker in boat speak):

My Locker

I didn't hold the measuring tape accurately; the locker is 22 inches wide. Just so you know the height is 40 inches from floor to the top of the rod. 

Even though I have lined our lockers with insulation, we have to be careful in the winter that condensation doesn't ruin our clothes. Throughout the winter we will -- not often enough this year -- move the de-humidifier into the master stateroom, open the locker doors and get the moisture out. 

There is also a locker in the forward (guest cabin). Shortly after moving in I took out the rod and put in shelving made off netting. We store extra towels and sheets there. And we have a shelf for winter sweaters. Each of us has five drawers in the master stateroom. They are small, 12-18 inches wide. 

And FB, my dear Twitter friend, as for shoes I have two pairs of boat shoes, a pair of walking shoes, boat sandals, foul weather boots, low hikers, L.L. Bean insulated boots for winter, and winter clogs for less snowy days. Plus, I pair of black flats, 1 pair of black pumps, 1 pair of dressy black sandals, shower sandals, and 1 pair of yoga slippers. In the winter the boots stay on deck in a boot tray. The dress shoes --  including EW's black dress shoes -- are in plastic shoe boxes in my car.  (In any marina you can tell a live-aboard's car by the amount of stuff in the back.) The boat shoes and sandals stay on the floor of my locker, the foul weather boots are in the hanging locker for coats and foul weather gear, and the yoga shoes are on my feet when I am home.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. This works for us, but it isn't for everyone!

Why the Stern Line Broke Three Times During the Northeaster of February 5

If you've been following the stories from the Northeaster -- you will know this is (finally) the last installment. Clearly I would much rather write about other folks' challenges than describe how we did not adequately prepare for the storm. Time to play fair.

Late last fall we hauled La Luna and had the mast pulled to be worked on this winter. The riggers at Great Island Boatyard also looked at the deck gear and found that two of our cleats (both stern cleats) had cracks and were compromised. At the time, we thought they could be repaired. So when EW and I got La Luna back to her winter slip we removed both stern cleats.

Stern cleats are important. When on the dock La Luna is tied with at least 4 lines: stern line, bow line, and fore and aft spring lines. The last two lines are attached to the same cleat that is near the middle of the boat - one line runs forward to a cleat on the dock and one line runs aft to a different cleat on the dock. Those lines keep us from moving to far forward or too far aft. In the winter we usually have an extra bow line. During storms we normally put on an extra stern line. 

During The Year From Hell - a few years back when we hauled out for what turned out to be an entire year - we did a lot of work on the deck and removed every single thing from the deck. Everything. Including all of the cleats, so I know what it takes to remove or install each cleat. The two easiest cleats to reach are those in the stern. The nuts and washers and backing plates can be accessed from the lazarettes. No big deal. The bow cleats are somewhat accessible - if I consent to playing a pretzel in the anchor locker. Getting to the cleats at the side of the boat require removing the inside of cabinets. Not fun at all. 

We coulda, shoulda replaced the starboard stern cleat with the port bow cleat -- a cleat that sees no use on this dock in the winter. But we didn't. I didn't want to go into the anchor locker. EW could have made a cleat out of scraps of hard wood from the boatyard. It had been discussed. But he didn't. Instead, we ran the dock line from the dock, through the chock (with chafe guard on it) and then took it in a hard right angle from that chock to a winch near the cockpit. Worked fine. Until we had 60+ MPH winds.

So, as described in the time line post at about 9:00 PM we heard a rather loud bang and scrambled up on deck. EW immediately realized that the stern line had snapped - those suckers are some loud when they snap. Our stern was being pushed off the dock and there was no way we were getting on the dock or that anyone on the dock would be able to haul us in. EW started the engine and used the spring line to pull us into the dock and to take some of the pressure off of the other lines. 

NOTE: Boaters will understand the reference to the spring line. This is yet another use of physics when boating. A good description of docking and spring lines can be found here -- where they use terms like "vector of force" and  "forward thrust". The short explanation is when we have a spring line tied from the mid cleat of the boat aft on the dock we can put the engine in forward and turn the wheel away from the dock and the boat will lay up parallel to the dock. Parallel is good. 

So, EW starts the engine and I got into my foul weather gear and then on the radio and asked for help from our neighbors. They came out in force. Bless them. EW stayed in the cockpit and I rigged a new line and got it on with help from our "dock crew".  Within minutes (seconds?) of turning off the engine that line snapped. Once again, our stern was pushed 10 - 15 feet off the dock. At one point one of our neighbors was trying to hold her steady by pulling on the power cord - not a preferred method - but better than having other lines break due to the angle and strain they were under.  EW started the engine again and we put a third stern line on.  That held and we all retired for the night again. Yeah, right.

About 10-ish, EW and I were below when we heard a very loud bang. This was a different sound than before and we both thought that the door had blown open. EW dashed up on deck and then started back down -- 

"No, the door's fine," he said, sounding relieved.

Me: "That's a bad thing."

EW: "Why would that be a bad thing?"

Me: "Because something banged and the door is the easiest to fix."

EW: "Oh, right." And EW went back on deck and said a bad word as I scrambled into my foul weather gear and he started the engine. Yes, the stern line had broken again -- as had the shrink wrap frame. Must have been one heck of a gust to break both at the same time but that explains the extra loud bang.

We agreed that I would call out the troops so I got on the radio, "South Port Live-Abaords, South Port Live Aboards, this is La Luna."  D came on the radio immediately. I told them we had a broken line (again) and they said they would be right over. 

Then EW told me to have them wait a minute while we talked -- so I relayed that. I think (and this is embarrassing to admit) I think I told them to "stand down". Definitely watching too many macho movies with EW. 

So we talked and EW said that the wind and waves were worse and weren't going to get any better. He knew he needed to find another way to rig a stern line, but that wasn't possible in the current conditions -- or until he had time to think it through. We decided to "drive" the boat through the worst of the storm. He would take the first shift, I would try to rest and relieve him at 11:30. By 1 or 2 the tide would be down and hopefully the winds would have lessened and we could rig a new line. 

If you've read the Saga of Windrifter's Broken Dock you know that plan worked but that at 11:00 I left EW to handle the boat alone while I went to help our neighbors on Windrifter. In the meantime, our door frame caved in and EW was alone in the cockpit with no communication "driving" La Luna and trying to hold various broken boards away from different parts of his body. Yeah, he had a great time. 

At some point, he tied the wheel hard over, leaving his hands free to hold the frame and his mind free to work out a new and better stern line rig. When I finally showed up to help him, he had come up with a brilliant plan. 

He took a very long, strong line and ran it from the port winch aft to a snatch block that he placed on the port toe rail directly across from the stern chock on the starboard side. 

Jury Rigged line from dock (at left) through block to winch.

He placed an extra hose on the deck to prevent the line from chafing the deck and then he tied this line to the broken line that had a snubber attached. 


The snubber acts as a shock absorber and there was no way we had time to get the snubber off the old line and onto the new one. A simple square knot connected the two lines and held (and is still holding). 

Old line with snubber tied to new line

Once the line was tied to the dock and through the chock (with chafe gear) we used the winch to tighten it. Perfect!  Or as EW says, pounding his chest, "I fix". 

Yes. He. Did. 

The next day he actually fixed the shrink wrap frame and door. I love EW. 

Thus ends ALL of the stories of the Northeaster of February 25. Aren't you glad? I know I am.

Here's the broken door and frame the next day. During the storm, EW was sitting just beyond the left top corner of the door. 

Broken Door and Frame

Here's a shot of the broken door from inside La Luna. That's one of our great neighbors.

C and Our Broken Door

Here's the fixed door.

Fixed Door

I'm ready for spring.  And let me remind you -- in the first post about this storm I said we would handle a good northeaster if it meant a great spring and summer. You can all thank me in July. 

From Living Aboard in Maine to the Iditarod in Alaska

What does living aboard a sailboat in Maine have to do with the Iditarod? Not much on the surface. 

When people hear we live aboard -- particularly after we've weathered a storm -- they think I'm "brave".  I'm not. I hate being scared and walk away from movies if I am uncomfortable. I'm not all that keen on camping or extreme physical challenges, either. As I told EW, as a live aboard, I'm not "No Maintenance" I'm "Low Maintenance". 

One of our neighbors (albeit a 6 month live aboard) has completed the Iditarod and his mom is competing right now in the 2010 Iditarod. Now that's brave. So this week we who live on the water in Maine are rooting for Cindy Gallea, a nurse practitioner with two grown sons, who is living her dream mushing a team in a grueling race. 

The Saga of The Live-Aboards and the Broken Dock During the Northeaster of February 25

This is a story mostly about communication - and how we pretty much failed miserably on the the night of February 25th. We have no excuse as we have a system and we had used that system successfully three times during the storm. But we all failed totally during our biggest and longest challenge, when Windrifter's dock broke away from Dock A, the main dock. (Confession: This is also a story about how much we live-aboards love our shrink wrap. We hate to give it up before its time.)

As was recounted in the storm timeline article , at 11:00 PM EW was in the cockpit driving our boat as we had broken three stern lines and decided not to try another repair until the winds and waves had diminished. I was trying to get some rest -- if not sleep -- and had my alarm set for 11:30 to relieve EW. I had our marine handheld radio to communicate with other live-aboards and one of our personal communicator radios so EW could call me if he needed me. (He could also bellow.) He would not be able to hear me call him on those radios as the winds and broken shrink wrap cover made it very hard to communicate unless I was right next to him and yelling. (As I write this on March 4, my throat is still sore.)

D called me on the marine radio and asked whether I could hear yelling and whistles. I could not but told her I would head out immediately - got my foul weather gear on and did so. D and J also left their cabin immediately -- J without full foul weather gear as we was afraid that yelling and whistles meant someone was in the water. (That is what we all thought.) I very briefly told EW why I was leaving the boat and did not take any radio device with me. 

On the dock were R and C - owners of two large sailboats farther out A on our side of the main dock. They let me know that they had been making the noise in order to get J and D's attention as their dock and hence Windrifter, their Westsail 42, was breaking away from Dock A. We three agreed that we needed to get the boat yard crew down -- with heavy lines, work boat and come-alongs so R and C went to shore to make that call. I thought J and D had been apprised of their situation, but they did not understand what was happening.  J thought I had company on the dock, but I was now alone. 

Let's have a bit of back story here -- Three Important Things

  1. D and J had realized prior to the storm that A Dock had weakened where one of the two connectors attaches their pier to the dock. D had called the marina and the crew had attached a very heavy line from their pier diagonally across A Dock to provide extra holding power. In retrospect, she wishes she had asked for chain instead of line.
  2. R - who has the beautiful schooner at the end of the dock on our side of A Dock had discovered that the storm had caused a plank to be pulled up from his dock. He had pretty much decided that he had done all he could to tie off and protect his boat, and that he thought his pier may break free so he was going home.  Plank Pulled from Dock 2.25.10 C was on the main dock as he had decided on his last trip out not to get back on his boat. It was being pushed so far off the dock that he didn't think it was safe to get on and off alone. R also had that problem. They were both going to let the rest of us know they were leaving but discovered that D and J's dock had broken.
  3. Shrink wrap is very, very important to us. It keeps the boat warmer, it prevents ice from forming on the inside off the hatches, it allows us to work on deck during inclement weather. It lets us get spring deck projects done in March and April instead of May and June. On the other hand, in a storm it creates a lot of windage, in high winds it can be difficult/impossible to hear what people on the docks are saying, and - though we use clear shrink wrap, it is not transparent. You cannot see what is happening through it. 

OK, back to our previously interrupted saga:

I could see that Windrifter's pier had totally separated on one side and the other connection was compromised. J is on deck and I thought he knew what was going on. By looking out his door he could see that Windrifter  was now 10 - 15 feet off the dock so he was trying to determine what line had broken and how to get secure. He asked me to move  a line from the cleat closest to the main dock to a cleat farther out his pier. (It was a foolish request and stupid of me to comply but he is the captain of his ship and I did it.) I crawled out the narrow, compromised pier completed my task and crawled back and then and only then thought about what he had asked and why and came to the correct conclusion that J had no idea his dock had broken. 

By jumping up and down and waving my arms, I got his attention. Then by shouting foolish wordy sentences such as "THAT LINE IS NOT YOUR ISSUE! YOU HAVE WORSE ISSUES THAN THIS!" I conveyed no real information but I got him to look out his door to see what I was yelling at. Then he realized his dock had broken. 

    NOTE: Communication Fail # 1. This was stupid and foolish. R or C or I should have immediately gotten aboard a boat and called J and D via radio. R and C did not tell me that they had good reason not to get onto their own boats and that they were going on shore to make the call. You certainly couldn't use a cell phone outside that night. 60 MPH winds and rain don't make for good cell calls. I however, had a boat that was being driven to keep it on the dock. While our shrink cover frame had partially collapsed and I had to crawl through the wreckage, I had no safety issues getting on and off our boat. The wise woman would have gone back to La Luna, told EW what was up, and gotten on the radio with J and D. Not telling EW was Communication Fail # 2. The less ego driven wise woman would have gone onto our boat, told EW what was up. Called J & D and sent EW back to help them. He knows more than I do.

About the time I am yelling at J, he realizes that the light on the dock power post is much closer to his boat than normal. He's a smart guy so he started putting two and two together. Then he realizes that the post isn't just closer to him than normal, his bow pulpit is banging into it and it's clear the post will be knocked over (into the water?). Separately, (since we can't communicate) J and I are both very concerned about what can happen if the post is knocked over and the power isn't killed. One of us could be. I'm all over that like white on rice. 

 Our neighbor A -- on the power boat one slip down from J and D had arrived home just before 11. I had mentioned in my pre-storm post that it would be a miracle if his shrink wrap frame held. It didn't hold. A attends MBA classes in Boston and by the time he got home, his frame and plastic were destroyed. He immediately did what he could to prevent the frame from damaging his boat and then offered to help us. He is friends with the dock master so I asked him call him directly - not through the answering service - and to find out how to turn the breaker off on that side of A Dock. A had it done in less than 10 minutes. Score 1 for our side.  Good thing -- at left is the power post - post storm. This happened shortly after A turned off the breaker. 

At this point, R and C have come back from calling the boat yard and the stern of Windrifter has come close to the next pier down. We cut some fenders off the near end of J & D's pier where they are now of no use and tied them to the far end of the down wind pier so their stern won't bang against the dock unprotected. Since just prior to R and C's return, Windrifter's shrink wrap door blew off (a story told in the post about how I injured my arm) J can see us move the fenders and he begins to understand that he has no idea where his boat is in the slip. So - as much as he loves his shrink wrap (remember, we all love our shrink wrap) he decides to cut two "windows" in order to get a clear picture of what is happening -- because we still haven't gotten on a radio and called him. He tells D to cut a window on port side of the stern and he cuts one in the bow pulpit. J's window is small and low.(J loves his shrink wrap.) D cut a large picture window - more the size of a sliding door. In J's shrink wrap. I think it physically hurt him at that point.

R & C tell us all that they are planning to leave when they are no longer needed and they suggest that we all leave. I relay that to Alex and EW but I know that EW isn't leaving - nor are J and D and I don't see any reason for us to. I would still have felt that way even if I knew they were worried about the schooner's dock holding. Pulling up a plank with a cleat on it is a new thing for us. It does not inspire confidence that the dock will be able to hold the schooner, resulting in dock dominoes. I saw dock dominoes once and it isn't pretty. In the post storm discussion, it was felt that running La Luna and providing pressure on our pier helped to ease things on our side of A dock. I'm not sure that would have an affect on R's pier, but maybe. (?)

D isn't leaving without Romeo, their very handsome Maine Coon Cat. Of course she isn't -- but Romeo should leave without D. In a storm like this, the late great Jake would have been in EW's car at 7:00 PM when we could have easily gotten him off the boat and up the dock. We call these "dog storms" for a reason. When a bad storm was imminent the dog went to shore, leaving us without that worry. I told J to have D put Romeo in his carrier and hand him to me out the bow window as the bow pulpit was right over the dock. No problem. A very vocal Romeo and I went up to headquarters where I left him in his carrier under the laundry table. Then, there really was nothing to be done until the boatyard crew arrived. 

R, C and Sam secured the bow line of a wooden sailboat that is berthed a bit closer to shore but was pressing down on Sam's dock. Then, R and C left. By this time, it was 4 hours past high tide and the waves were finally calming down. The winds were still very high but I knew that EW may be ready to fix our stern line issue, so I left to help with that, staying behind afterward to watch the boat while EW went to help J and D. 

By that time, the boat yard crew had arrived. Kip, the owner of the yard is very good in these situations. He has an uncanny knowledge of how to move boats and docks in high winds. They took one very long line that Sam offered up for the cause and used a dinghy to tie the line from Windrifter across to a cleat on a pier on C dock, across from where A where all winter live-aboards stay. C dock is empty in the winter. 

At some point, the piling on the end of Windrifter's home pier started to tilt. This has never happened and at first Kip thought the piling had broken, but the pressure from the wind and and the pull of Windrifter ultimately caused the piling to fall onto the boat's aft starboard quarter, into the lifelines.  As this became a potential and then a real problem, lines were tied to that piling were taken out two the end pier and J tried to use his come-along to right the piling. That didn't work. 

Remember, how much we love our shrink wrap? Well the first thing Kip wanted to do was get a line on Windrifter to another piling. Kip wanted J to put the line around his winch so he could haul on it. So J got the line through the "window' he cut in the bow pulpit, then had D go before him as they took the line aft. She would cut a slit in the shrink wrap, J would put his hand out and grab the line and move it aft incrementally. D would cut another slit and J would hand himself the line from hand to hand, moving from slit to slit until the line pulled the boat at the correct angle. I can only imagine EW and the four boat yard crew guys standing on the dock in 60+ MPH winds waiting for them to complete their surgical cuts and move the line. As J said later, "I have spring projects left and we had a lot of stuff on deck. I worked really hard to get this boat covered properly this year and didn't want to give up my shrink wrap." We know how he feels. In any event, while Kip and J were able to secure the line from another piling to a winch on Windrifter, that line wasn't able to help them move the boat at all. 

J & D had to cut their lines from the boat to the broken dock. As D says -- "We had problems that night, but our lines held. The dock didn't." The first plan was to move their boat to C Dock.  First though, we had to get them in a position to move and we had to wait for the wind to die down a bit. While the weather liars were totally wrong about the intensity of the winds -- and somewhat wrong about the direction (they were ENE not straight NE), they were totally right about the time of intensity and when the winds would start to abate. 

Communication Fail # Whatever -- Still and again, no one thought to get on the radio to J & D. While they were able to get off the boat via the pulpit, they were busy with lines (and cutting slits) and did not do so at that moment. When we had our post-storm discussion, J and D expressed how frustrated they were to not be involved in the discussions about their boat. In fact while the shrink wrap was on, they didn't know everything they were dealing with. As D said, "The worst part for me is seeing all these men on the dock talking about how to save our boat while we weren't involved in the discussion at all."

It was about this time -- and while I was still on La Luna, so the winds were still high -- that one of the boat yard crew (having discussed it on the docks) asked J and D whether they could cut their shrink wrap off to reduce the windage.  J and D realized this was required and readily agreed. D still had the knife and started cutting herself. She also worked to get things below decks so that they wouldn't get soaked or blow away. She would cut and grab stuff and throw it down, cut and grab stuff and throw it down. In the meantime the boat yard worker, who is apparently an expert at shrink wrap cutting was decimating the wrap. Ultimately D left him to that part of the job and she threw stuff below as quickly as possible.  

Right after the shrink wrap was cut from the boat, the piling fell farther into Windrifter, getting entangled in the life lines. J removed the life lines, but the piling remained one with the boat.

At about 1:30, I arrived back on the docks, having decided that La Luna was doing just fine with the new, brilliant spring line arrangement EW had designed and immediately joined D and EW as they worked to hold Windrifter's bow off the dock. Windrifter has a bow pulpit and a bob stay.

The bowsprit extends from the bow of the boat, creating a lovely area to watch dolphins -- but I digress. The forestay which helps to hold the mast upright is attached to the bowsprit on Winddrifter. (La Luna has no bowsprit and our forestay is attached to the deck of the boat.) A bobstay is a rod that goesBobstay damage on the dock
  from underneath the bowsprit back to attach to the hull of the boat to provide a downward force to counteract the forestay. As you can see in this photo, Windrifter's bob stay was grinding against the dock. It didn't do much for the dock and J was very (and rightly) concerned that damage to the bobstay could bring the mast down. That would be a bad thing.

In addition, there was a metal electrical box on the dock down wind of the now knocked down power post and we were struggling to keep the bobstay from bashing into that. 

Now, imagine this all taking place with at least 60 MPH winds (we think more). Windrifter's crew was more easily able to hear us with the shrink wrap off, and they could get on and off the boat to talk with the crew and check out the situation. But it was still very windy and raining. At that point, it was decided that we were going to wait for the wind to lessen and take the boat to a slip across the way on C Dock. With the crew working to secure the boat and hold it off from the dock, D and I decided to head up to Headquarters to take a break and visit with the traumatized cat.

While we were on shore, someone figured out that the bow line that had been rigged to prevent Windrifter from taking out the electrical box, was also preventing the boat from reversing to get free of that box. Different lines were rigged and somehow the crew, J and EW got Windrifter down wind of the box.

Life on shore in the laundry room was much more pleasant than life on the docks at that exact moment, so we gave Romeo time out of is carrier and we gave ourselves time to talk and decompress. Lovely. As our thirty minute respite came to a close, I suggested that we take Romeo back to the boat, saying that if they were going to C dock, having him along for the ride would be easier than crossing the dock bridge with an upset cat in a storm. 

But once we arrived back to the boat, Windrifter was securely tied to the next pier down on A Dock, the same pier that the power boat is tied to. For a brief moment in time that is where they planned to remain for the night. We put the cat aboard, helped with the remaining lines and fenders, and EW and I hugged J and D and went to bed. As we were crawling into our bed at about 3:30 AM, I heard voices on the dock, but thought it was simply the boatyard crew doing a final check. Not so.

J and D had removed the lifelines that had entangled the fallen piling. But when they moved down a slip, the piling simply followed them, falling farther into their boat. With the life lines removed the got the piling positioned differently, but now it was threatening their hard dodger.  Understandably, they were not comfortable with that arrangement and felt the piling would cause a lot of problems as the tide rose. J said later, "I think everyone felt we would be fine in this slip for the night -- except us. It seemed to me that at one point we went from 7 people on the dock helping us to just D and me and this giant piling in our boat. There was something wrong with that." 

J got off the boat and had a conversation with Kip, discussing what would happen to the piling as the tide rose. Kip agreed that J was right and their boat was still in danger. So just after EW and I had gone to bed, the crew got the large workboat, tied on to the piling and held it off of Windrifter so J & D could get free -- and back into a different slip during the storm. 

Umptiupmph Communication Fail: The crew really didn't take a lot of time to let J & D know what was planned. D wouldn't move the boat until she was sure there was enough water at low tide in their new slip. They had already cut all of their dock lines to get free of the broken dock and had juryrigged lines and fenders for the temporary slip. Now they had to get free from this arrangement and move out quickly, as the boatyard crew called out, "We can't hold this thing up all night, you know!" Also, J & D did not call us for help -- even though we told them we were sleeping with the radio. One boatyard crew person helped to catch their lines and one other part-time live-aboard arrived in time to carry their fenders over the bridge to them. 

J was at the helm, "The waves were say down but it was still pretty windy. This boat doesn't back well on a good day. I had to back it across the way in to a slip; it took a little of fore and aft work, but one of the crew said for me to just get it between the piers and they would catch me." D was running on decking getting the lines untied as quickly as possible. They had no time to get the fenders which were tied to the dock and D had little time to get fenders and lines from one side of the boat to the other. Must have been a lot of fun. 

Afterward, one of the crew said that he had noticed Windrifter still had a lot of stuff hanging in the water -- most of it bands to hold the shrink wrap in place. He realized that any of it could have gotten tangled in the boat's prop -- but decided it was too late to do anything and that they were due a little luck. No harm, no foul. 

Shortly after 4:00 AM Windrifter was safe in her new slip on C Dock, ending her saga. The crew went to bed at 4:30.

The photo below shows the boat in the new slip, looking toward their destroyed pier. 

Windrifter in C Dock looking toward the destroyed dock

Here's a view from A dock, also the next morning:


By the way, EW says there are Sou'westers and Northeasters and no Nor'easters. He's the captain. If you have an opinion, I welcome them in the comments.

Final note: There is not big finish for this article, just like there is not big finish for a storm night. Once things are secure we go to bed. Then we talk about the storm for the next three days. That's just the way it is. 

Boston Globe Article About Living Aboard Focuses on Cheap

Did you see this Boston Globe article about living aboard?  

I wasn't thrilled with it, particularly the often erroneous impression of how cheap it is to live aboard. In the current economy cheap living on the water seems to be the focus of most non-boating publications when they talk about our lifestyle.

I spent a long time reading the many comments generated by this article and found that quite a few regular old live-aboards like us had also been less than pleased with it's tone. Instead of leaving yet another comment there I endorsed some of those comments and decided to write my rebuttal here.  

First of all, I have a great deal of respect for the young college professor who has chosen to give up his apartment in order to be able to help his family during these tough economic times. It also looked like he had some skills in boat repair -- or at least in lifting up a hatch and checking wires. Other than that they didn't discuss his boating skills or knowledge. 

Can he tie a line? Use the radio? Check the batteries? Find a broken hose? Does he truly understand and can he fix the stove and the heating and refrigeration systems? What does he know about general safety on board and on the docks?

Who in heaven's name would rent their "baby" out to a live-aboard for the winter? I can't even imagine it! 

Yes, living aboard can be cost effective (cheap) and we have had young neighbors over the years and currently who have chosen to purchase a boat after college and live aboard year round. Each of them knows how to sail and/or motor their vessel and each understands her systems and can make some repairs. They can dock the boat, are fanatic about keeping the lines tied properly and chafe free and stand by their vessel and their neighbors during storms. These people are part of the community, not just because they live here, but because they want to be part of this community of people who love being on the water. 

None of these issues were addressed with the gentleman who has chosen this lifestyle because he didn't want roommates. He may actually be an excellent live-aboard neighbor. He may be willing to learn and have a support system in place of willing experienced helpers. By not addressing these issues, the author made living aboard seem too easy and too cheap and that is dangerous.

I have said repeatedly that this is not a lifestyle for most and it is a lifestyle -- not a flop. I would never attempt to talk anyone into living aboard. Instead, I do my best to talk some folks out of it. 

Chocolate Bark - A Live Aboard "Cooks" During a Storm

As mentioned in my previous posts about the Nor'easter of February 25, at one point fairly early in the evening I did a bit of cooking. We had eaten a meal of small foods at a neighborhood mixer and were sitting on the boat between 8 and 9 - I think -  when EW asked, "Is any of that chocolate left?"

Very silly question from a man who used to legitimately hide snack food from me so he would be able to have some. That was in the house, on the boat there aren't as many hiding options. (Truth time: I was so desperate for the potato chips I knew were in the house that I did search for them. And I did search his bureau drawers. I just didn't paw through them and could not believe he put them under his t-shirts!) 

Anyway, the chocolate in question - or the late chocolate in question - had last been viewed by EW almost two weeks prior to his inquiry. No, it was not still on board.

I did feel guilty and I did have baking chocolate and I had recently read a boat article about making chocolate bark so told him I would make us some chocolate. He protested (weakly) that I shouldn't go to any trouble, but I am Boat Woman after all and immediately gathered the materials. Four squares of baking chocolate, canned milk, sugar, raisins, chopped walnuts, and the double boiler. Also three cookbooks - none of which had a recipe for making chocolate bark from scratch.

Let me remind you, Gentle Reader, that this was all during a nor-easter (ENE) with winds gusting at 50 MPH at least at that point and some bouncy seas. We don't have the mast in and tend to roll more because of that. The article I had read had used large dark chocolate candy bars to make bark -- all that boating woman did was melt chocolate, put it in a plate and sprinkle nuts and dried fruit on it. I had to add sugar to this concoction and am not a chef.

I successfully melted the chocolate and sugar and milk together, tasted for flavor -- added vanilla and a pinch of salt and was pleased. I poured this onto a dinner plate covered with parchment paper, sprinkled the nuts and raisins and let her sit.

In my imagination I saw myself lovingly offering this brilliant creation to EW and packing some in zip lock bags to share with our neighbors during the storm. (During other, less severe storms I have made ginger cookies and tossed a bag of them into everyone's cockpit. The operative phrase is "Cookies in the Cockpit!")

Of course the bark didn't harden, in fact it moved on the plate with each wave. It was really mesmerizing. The nuts and raisins were mired (or moored) in the chocolate goo and all moved together from one side of the plate to the other and back again and to.. and fro ..  and .. well you get the idea.

EW suggested I place it on the gimbaled stove to lessen the motion and give it a chance to cure. I did and at that point we were called out to help with Charlie's lines (or that was the first time our line broke -- whatever). When we came back it was clear that the now cool "bark" was forever to be a soft bark. I dished it up into small bowls and provide each of us with a spoon.  It was not suitable for sharing with neighbors but tasted great and would have been perfect with ice cream underneath. 

I've since found on-line that folks make bark from semi-sweet morsels. That could work. I've also read (in a 10 year old sailing cookbook) that chocolate morsels are hard to find in some provisioning stops around the world. I see myself packing a whole lot of chocolate morsels in vacuum bags and storing them all over the boat. 

When we want chocolate. We. Want. Chocolate.