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February 2010
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March 2010

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!

Living Small - Small Space Living On Board

One of my favorite boating/harbor blogs is Casco Bay Boaters. I love the information and photos - and love- love- love the design. I am not an artist, but I know art when I see it and this blog is art.  

Today, on Casco Bay Boaters, there is an article about a proposed new style of small space living on houseboats in Barcelona. Beautiful living on the water in only 450 square feet. I am delighted that architects and communities are looking for ways to provide interesting housing on a smaller scale. At some point, I may want a land life again and will definitely want small and energy efficient.

In the meantime, we love La Luna and we love our version of living small. Since we have no "square" footage on board, I have absolutely no idea how much living space we actually have. (That would involve way too much science and math and I have no interest in figuring it out - thank you very much.)

My conclusion on the LoftFloat Houseboat -- beautiful but it's too small and spare for me. Love the concept -- would go crazy living there. See, for those of you non-boaters who read this blog and wonder how I can possibly live on a boat, I do have limits.

What I like about our space: 

  1. Teak. Love the teak interior. Love the warmth of the wood.
  2. Forward stateroom. We have space for guests -- and to store projects and to take naps on.
  3. Space for art and framed photos. Not a lot of space, but some
  4. Book shelves. We have a lot of space for books and a lot of books. 
  5. Storage. For a boat, we have a lot of storage. (Remind me of that we we get ready to set sail and I am finding room for all of the provisions.)
  6. Master Stateroom. With a door. Totally separate from the rest of the boat. EW can watch macho movies or play guitar and I can read or sleep in our room.

Give me those things in a 800 square foot LoftFloat or other space and I may be interested if we ever move off La Luna. In the meantime, I'll work on living small and more energy and environmentally conscious in my boat. This is just right. 

Women Sailors - I Am One!

I learned a valuable lesson at the boat show today.  This is the weekend for the Maine Boatbuilders Show  -- a show that is much better than the web page would indicate. This Portland Maine event began over 20 years ago as the brainchild of Phineas Sprague, owner of Portland Yacht Services. At the time I was selling radio advertising for a local station that attracted boat people (people with money) and EW was selling marine products to area boatyards. He insisted that Phin and I meet with the result being that my station was the media sponsor for the show for a couple of years. After that it was clear that the show was an world renown annual event and did not need local radio sponsorship as much as they needed booth space for boat builders. 

But I digress, big time.

For the past 8 years, we have exhibited at the show as part of Great Island Boatyard and Great Island Yacht Brokerage. I have an active role in the booth.

Since this show is in Portland we see a lot of folks we know - customers, neighbors, members of our yacht club, clients of my business, fellow chamber members ... the list goes on and on.  OK -- I will get to the topic of this post -- really. A couple we know stopped by the booth and as EW was chatting with Him about boats She and I chatted about a lot of things - which led to when we first met over 25 years ago.

As has been (and will be) discussed frequently in this blog, I had never sailed until I met EW. As I have related a lot here and in real life, on our third date, EW looked me deep in the eyes and said, "I sail and all of my friends sail." I said, "I"m sure I can learn."

Twenty five years later I'm still working on it -- though increasingly I realize that I am a woman sailor -- not a woman who is learning to sail. That was brought home once again today. Rather forcefully.

When EW and I were dating, we briefly met a woman who had recently divorced and who had kept the sailboat. She was sailing and racing the boat on her own. My recollection of this meeting was that EW was astounded and agog that a woman like that existed. I admit that I carried inside me this kernel of doubt as in "Wow, he could have met her first -- a woman who knows how to sail and who has a sailboat." Yet here he was, stuck with me who knew nothing.

We later became casual boating friends with this woman and the man who is her husband now. They've been married nearly 20 years and sailed together on her boat, then on a larger sailboat, and now they have a power boat. For over 25 years in my mind I have lifted her up onto a pedestal and have certainly felt she was a better, more accomplished boater than I. 

She is a lovely, fun woman. She is a good boater. She may know more than I about some things but she is not the uber-boater/sailing paragon/holy grail of potential boating spouses to whom I had been comparing myself these 25 years. 

Today She told me -- "Oh when we got divorced, I would sail with girlfriends. But only on sunny days where I knew the area. I can't navigate." I asked her, if she had learned to navigate now. "Not really." 

Wow. We talked some more and there is no reason to go into the differences about what we know and what we each enjoy about boating. Suffice it to say, that this very neat, smart woman is not the perfect woman sailor I had thought her to be. I'm certainly not the perfect woman sailing spouse either -- the point is that at this late post-50 stage of my life I still need to stop comparing myself to others and focus on what I know and on what I want. 

I am a woman sailor and I know a lot. I will learn a lot more. I want to go sailing around the world with EW. EW married the right woman and that woman is a sailor. He's a lucky man. 

On Board Refrigeration -- Usually It Works Great!

I had a lot going on this AM - walked three miles, put laundry in the washers and planned to vacuum as I was expecting someone from Portland Mattress Company to pattern the cockpit and main salon - and I have to work sometime -  and write this blog  - and finish the taxes and --- well anyway what I did not want to hear was EW calling to me as I stepped on board -- "Bubs, go out and unplug the shore power cord, will you?"  This could not be a good thing. 

    DIGRESSION: "Bubs" is EW's endearing name for me. I don't know where he came up with it, but it started when we were dating. He is not a honey, dear, sweetheart kind of guy. He calls me Bubs. When Favorite was young and EW and I were serious , Favorite wanted to call me something special and we settled on Bubs for him, too.  Both of them will also use the diminutive of Bubs, which is "Bubsie". EW's cousin (with the same last name) married a Barbara who is Barbara the First. They call me Bubs because no one told them not to and it helps to ease the confusion. No one else calls me Bubs. It's not really a nickname. It's really 'sweetheart". Now you know.  Don't call me Bubs. I am not your sweetheart or step-mom. I like you, just not in that way.
Back to this morning. So I unplugged the shore power and went back on board to see what was going on. "We've lost refrigeration." Said EW. "The freezer is reading 25 degrees." We had purchased these ten dollar remote thermometer thingies at WalMart because EW had a fascination with what our Cool Blue fridge/freezer was keeping for temperature. He checks them daily which is great because I've never thought of it. Not once. In this case, checking them allowed him to find the problem A)before he left for work and B)before anything in the freezer had melted. Guess I'll start checking them.

EW had tools out, had already checked the control panel near the fridge and was now working on the breaker panel. "I think it may be a broken breaker." (Isn't that a funny sentence? - I wanted to say that I didn't think breakers broke but I didn't think he would see the humor.) "Oh?" I said. "Yes," said EW, but I have a spare breaker and am going to move the wires to that." I told him that if it didn't work I'd take the frozen stuff to our friend Lynnelle's house. She is out of town and I have her key. He told me to "stand by" to do that. 

It didn't work. Before we discovered that, he was miss-placing tools and muttering and being a bit exasperated. Over the weekend he had been cleaning in the engine compartment and we both wondered whether he had pulled a wire or something at the Cool Blue compressor. He had looked but couldn't find anything there and for some technical/electrical reason he didn't think/doesn't think that's where today's problem originated. 

So I took the water and soda out of the small AC/DC fridge we have and loaded that with eggs and cheese and yogurt and fresh veggies. I put the too many jars of stuff we  have into a small cooler with an ice pack, and I packed up everything from the freezer to go across town. As I am doing this - cheerfully (really!) - he say's "I"m sorry, Bubs." And I said, "Don't worry about it, Honey, it isn't your fault."

Then I thought of the work he did in the engine compartment this weekend and said, "And if it is your fault, it isn't your fault."  <Long Pause> We looked at each other and laughed. "Well," he said, "that's a new way of looking at things. I like it." 

At Lynnelle's I had to move some things around to make room for our stuff. I put two half bags of ice into her sink but still couldn't make my stuff fit until I opted to leave some of her freezer items on the kitchen island. That's not as nasty as you might think -- This is what took up 1/2 the space in her freezer: 

Lynnelles vodka

I'll put them back before she returns. They'll be nice and cold for her -- but really --- THREE bottles????

Once I did that, and moved some things around -- I had all of this space:

Empty freezer
 I filled it. Our little Freezer holds a bunch of stuff!

Full freezer
After all this, I got back to my previously planned day.  

Live Aboard Pets -- Dogs and Cats on the Dock and On Board

When we moved aboard in 2002, we had a 6 year old Black Labrador, Jake. AKA Jakie-Bubba, Jake the Sailor Dog and The Black Vac. He was a great live-aboard dog who passed away in September of 08

Jake was the quintessential boating dog and won the Maine Boats Homes and Harbors Boatyard Dog of the Year contest in 2005. He was featured in this article in Coastal Living Magazine. Jakie was simply the best. Ever. (I know you may disagree, but for us, he was the best live-aboard and boat yard dog every.)

Jake Hanging in the Cockpit July 08
 EW had rescued him when he was two years old and Jake had very quickly become an important member of our household and neighborhood. We didn't have an ocean going boat at that time, but Jake's first person was a lobster man, so he knew and liked boats. We had restored an old Penn Yanand Jake loved to sit on the fore deck a small perch with a great view.

When we moved aboard, I was worried about Jake's dock manners. He wasn't a "barker" but he did let us know when company called. He also watch four neighbor houses as he seemed to feel he deserved a compound not just a home. We could not have a barking dog on the dock so I consulted our trainer who suggested that we let Jake bark once, as in "woof" when someone came down the dock. With just a little training, he figured out that boat manners were different than house manners. 

Jake went to work with EW, but we could leave him home alone for a day or evening. He'd sleep on our bed (and on our pillows) but he was fine. As I've mentioned during the recent posts about the February 25 storm, we had a policy of putting Jake in one of the cars when we had severe weather on the dock. That way if something happened and we had to evacuate we didn't have to worry about him. We still call severe storms "Dog Storms" to this day.  

Through the years we have had many year round pet neighbors on the dock: Logan,  Romeo, Sir Frances, Katy, Pablo the Pug and others.P3060002  


In addition, Pablo Ruiz the labradoodledoodle visits so often and stays with us without "mom" Lynnelle, that he has become a part time boat dog and is very adept at it.

What makes a good live aboard pet? Certainly one that is laid back and adaptable. I prefer dogs partly because I'm allergic to cats and partly because I prefer animals that don't poop where they live. (In other words I'm not fond of dealing with cat litter.) We have neighbors who have wonderful on board cats -- currently two Maine Coon Cats: Romeo on Windrifter, a Westsail 42, and Sir Frances (Frankie) on a Catalina 27. Frankie is a young cat who has been raised aboard, Romeo is a senior statesman who has adapted very well. 

Just like pets anywhere in most cases the attitude and actions of the owner are the primary indicators of whether a pet will be a good dock neighbor. 

  • Don't leave your pet alone on the boat (particularly on deck) if he or she will bark the entire time you are gone. 
  • On land or dock, clean up after your pet. 
  • Don't let the pet roam the docks unsupervised. (Though we make allowances for spring days when we are all out on the docks and decks. Loving having Frankie stop by for a visit. Katy used to stick her nose in the open galley port looking for a treat.)
  • Train your dog not to jump -- especially as a bouncing jumping dog could push someone, particularly a child, into the water. 
  • Let your vet know about the living arrangements. Our vet is a sailor and loved our lifestyle and that was a big help. Romeo's vet has prescribed kitty downers for rough days. 
  • Don't expect too much from an older pet. Jake never learned that it was OK to use the poop deck on long passages. After one sail to Nova Scotia we never again put him through anything longer than an eight hour day. 
  • Just as when you are boating with kids, leave time for trips ashore and to play. 
  • The Cham Wow and those similar products sold at boat shows are the best dog driers ever. Ever.
  • Get a life jacket or lifting harness for your pet. Jakie had a super special harness used by rescue dogs. He could swim and do all in it and we could have used it to lift him from the sea if necessary. 
  • Get a good vacuum. Or a pet that doesn't shed. I miss Jake, but don't miss the dog hair. 

We are not getting another dog as we had long ago decided not to take one when we set sail for our cruise. So we knew Jake would be our last dog for some time. I'm glad our neighbors and friends have great dogs and cats - because I prefer to have a fur fix every day. 

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!