Wintering Aboard in Maine Feed

What is Bold?

Oh man.  My very good friend Lynnelle Wilson (also the person who introduced me to social media and all of its trials and glories) has a new venture: BOLDBusiness TV -- "An internet series of interviews with people not doing business as usual."

She thinks I'm bold. She thinks I'm bold because I live and have a home office on the boat. A lot of people think I'm brave when they hear about our lifestyle. I'm not. I hate being scared. I cried during our first major thunderstorm at sea. I will not go to any scary movie. Ever. I worry. When another dear friend recently had a serious and sudden illness, I laid awake most of the night worrying about her -- and about what would happen if EW or I were similarly struck while at sea. These are not the actions of a bold woman.

I do like being a bit different, though, and I have learned that what is right for us is what matters. EW and I have decided together that we live on a boat and prepare to cross oceans in her. La Luna is our vehicle for seeing the world. We aren't going to participate in any races or tackle long distance solo sailing. We are going to wait for good weather, get constant weather updates and sail around storms that threaten us. We are purchasing safety equipment and will get immunizations when the time comes. I'm not sure if we are bold, but we do have a shared sense of adventure and we do plan to live into our old age and bore everyone with our stories. 

Some folks build companies from nothing and meet payroll week in and week out. Still others take their passion and develop successful non-profit organizations for service and the arts. Those folks are bold too. Lynnelle will talk with people like that in future episodes of BOLDBusiness TV (I know that for a fact because I know the first 4 episodes she taped.) Speaking of bold -- some people develop new careers and walk the talk by creating opportunities, hiring professional production talent and developing an internet TV show out of whole cloth. Lynnelle is bold like that. She's also great at interviews. I knew she would be. No one asks questions and probes like Lynnelle. 

So anyway. She thinks I'm bold and she put me in her show. Check us out. BOLDBusiness TV  She did great, so bookmark that video blog as a new interview comes out every two weeks. 

I appeared on Lynnelle's show. How will you be bold in 2010? 

Happy New Year

Greetings and welcome to the new decade. On Twitter yesterday afternoon, folks were sharing where they had been 10 years ago. Some responded with how they had spent the hours from 1999 to 2000, (can you say waiting for Y2K?) others described their lives -- families, careers, children. For most, the careers had changed, and children had certainly grown; some remarked on how far they had moved, others on the break up of their marriages.  It was a great reminder that we don't know what will happen in 10 years' time, but we can be assured that momentous changes will take place. 

EW and I are creating momentous change as we know that fairly early in this decade we will set sail for distant shores. That is such a cliche! "Set sail for distant shores!"  For thousands of years, coastal people have left their home port for near and distant shores and all the good phrases for that transition have been taken. We will not have new words to describe our experiences, but we look forward to living those experiences, and to trying to describe them in our own fashion.

Last night was a perfect New Year's Eve on La Luna. An impromptu casual dinner with two other live-aboard couples, one in their 20's and another in their 40's. We ate and drank and told stories. Stories of sailing, stories of friendly shores, and (in EW's case) perfectly recounted Marshall Dodge stories. 

The younger couple  --- well, they are both younger than we are -- so the youngest couple talked about how nice they found folks to be on the water.  They described landing at a marina in Maine and realizing that they needed provisions. They were dismayed to find out that no store was in walking distance. A guy said, "Here, take my truck," and gave them directions to the nearest store. It was a busy weekend and the store was full of locals, one of whom said to our friend, "So, you here on a sailboat?" Stunned, T. asked how he knew. "You're driving my truck. Figured my brother had loaned it to you." 

That is just the kind of experience we have enjoyed as we have sailed the Coast of Maine throughout our marriage. We look forward to telling similar stories about the people we meet on those distant shores in this next decade. 

At then end of the evening we rang in the new year with the ship's bell. The first 6 peals of the bell were struck by EW - the oldest on board. The last six by the youngest. A perfect way to begin the New Decade.

May you have fair winds and following seas -- no matter where you travel and no matter what your vessel. Happy New Year.

How We Get Water in the Winter

When we made the decision to move aboard, while EW immediately began the process of selling the house and finding a slip -- he also spent the next three weeks telling me all about the hard stuff we would encounter. Some of it I had thought of -- others, I am ashamed to say, never entered my mind. One of those was water. 

In the summer, the boat yard has a large plastic pipe under the dock decking that goes to the individual posts by each boat. We can each hang our hose on the post and add water to the tanks whenever we want. In the winter in Maine the water to the docks would freeze and is turned off. I knew that -- but hadn't processed what it would mean for us. 

The live-aboards keep and maintain garden hoses underwater that go from the end of the ramp to 2/3 way out the dock. In the past we have maintained them farther out the dock but have found this to be adequate - plus we are lazy and cheap.

In a perfect world 3 or 4 of us will need water on a sunny Saturday and undertake the task as a group. On La Luna this year, we are off kilter with the rest of the dock and have been going it alone so far. EW is out of town and I knew we were going to need water soon. Looking at the weather yesterday, I also knew that the window of opportunity was Monday morning. It poured on Sunday, Monday was nice, with snow in the afternoon followed by the big chill, high winds and more snow later in the week. So yesterday I got water and documented the steps, just in case you are thinking about living aboard in a cold climate. 

1. We have a long red hose that we keep on deck for this purpose. We all make sure to get the water out of it after use and it has only rarely frozen. Usually the sun through the plastic will keep it usable. Here is the hose on the aft deck of La Luna. The white hose belongs to someone on the end of the dock who needs extra length for this process. Evidently we are storing all of it this year. Whatever.

2. While the hose wasn't frozen yesterday. It was cold. View from the dock- Cold chilled hose Getting water while the weather is nice 12-28-09 

I like this shot. Looks like an agility course for Pablo.

3. I hauled up the hose at the boat end of our underwater line (greenish hose on the right of the top left photo). Thankfully I was not the first person of the year to do so. That person must scrape off bladders and mussels and other slimy underwater growth. I have special 'winter hose gloves' but still hate the slime. The bottom left photo of this collage shows how the hose is tied to the dock for easy retrieval.

Setting up the Hose

Line holding hose on the land end Next I headed to shore where the hose is tied to a small line attached to the railing of the sea wall. 

I raised the hose, and attached it to a hose that is supplied by the boat yard. They also installed an all weather outdoor faucet that works great as long as we remember to remove the hose from the faucet every time. If the faucet freezes we are out of luck. If the hose freezes we haul it into 'headquarters' and stick it in under a hot shower. 

I had left the dock hose hanging over the edge of the dock - this is REALLY important as on cold days you can create a skating rink by running water onto the dock. I hate it when that happens. We let the water run through the hose for about 10 minutes, cleaning out most of the ocean life and dirt. Some of us have filters that are used as we put water into our tanks. We put a bit of bleach in the tanks and have not used the water for drinking or cooking. This winter we will install a hefty water filter from the tanks to the galley sink (stay tuned) and will then drink from the tanks. 

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Now, here is the most important part: make sure that the hose goes into the correct tank. There are many horror stories about people putting diesel into the water tanks or water into the diesel tanks. Not on my watch. I am so paranoid (and so prone to rushing mistakes) that I read the tank label out loud and trace the letters with my finger EVERY TIME -- Even tho the diesel fills are different and with large shiny letters in the center of the screw top. 

That's it. We fill the tanks normally -- and truthfully that takes longer than setting up the hose. I think writing about it and getting the photos up took as long or longer than setting up the hose. So it seems laborious - but it is just part of life aboard. We don't shower on board in the winter, and fill about every three weeks when the weather is nice -- or niceish. 

Keeping Warm on a Cold Day Afloat

When people learn that we live aboard year round in Maine .. yada yada yada .. there are predictable questions. This time of year the most frequently asked question is  ... "How do you keep warm?" or some variation thereof.

The answer is very well, thank you. 

Oops --  before I go any farther let me say that we paid for our heating system -- bought it long before blogging was in my vocabulary. EW does the normal maintenace and we hire someone and pay for parts when we have more advanced issues. The company who made our system had an issue a number of years ago and our unit was one of those that got too hot. They corrected it for us as they did for all others who had the same problem. We are customers and I have not been paid to endorse the product. 

May I continue? Thank you.

Before I knew that living aboard was probable or even possible for us, EW had been aware of the Hurricane Heating Systems. He'd seen them on display at a boat show and was intrigued. I was oblivious. He had brought home material.

Fast forward a few months. On Saturday, January 19, 2002, we fall for La Luna and make an appointment with a real estate agent to sell our house. On Sunday, we spend a LOT of time talking about this momentous move and where we would dock the boat. So we hop in the car and drive to the area marinas. We don't see anyone on the docks to talk to except at one marina where there are only two boats in slips. (Turns out that marina had stopped allowing liveaboards. The boats belonged to two folks who owned condominiums on the property.) One of those boat owners was on board ... wait for it ... drum roll ... installing a Hurricane Heating System.  Really. The whole move aboard was full of those serendipitous moments. 

So we met Mike, who was the area's unofficial ambassador of Hurricane Heaters. He invited us back on Monday evening to bask in the warmth and discuss living aboard -- something he and his wife had done .. year round .. in Maine. 

Fast forward 9 months to September 2002. We were now in a slip in South Portland -- at the marina Mike recommended. We had neighbors -- many with Hurricane Heaters -- and it was time to purchase and install ours. EW and Mike were going to handle most or all of the installation. I was going to offer opinions, stay out of the way -- but be on hand for snaking. (I hate real snakes but am a whiz at sending one of those metal ones through holes. It's a talent and I have it.)

First, we had to plan the heating system. Well, first EW had to plan the heating system -- but I helped. My big contribution occurred when I was listening as Mike and EW were talking. I'm not a mechanical genius but I did get the gist of what was being decided as they were discussing thermostats. "So how many of these thermostat things can we have?" I asked. MIke glanced at EW and said, "Um, how many do you want?" 

"Four," I said.

Mike looked stunned, but EW only rolled his eyes and smiled (He is used to me.)and asked, "Where would you put four thermostats?" 

"One in the master stateroom, one in the main saloon, one in the forward (guest) cabin, and one in the master head." 


And that is how I became known as a "High Maintenance" live-aboard wife. I don't care. I'm warm.

More on the actual units -- now made and sold by ITR - International Thermal Research - in a later post.  It is Friday and nearing 5:00 PM or 1700 hours and time to make the pizza. 






What Is It Really Like In a Storm on the Dock?

I am going to try to write eloquently and tell you what it feels like to live aboard today. We are having a winter storm -- certainly not a horrible storm as they go. The winds aren't from the Northeast, but more East. It is nearing high tide and we are getting some wave action but we have had much worse. 

This storm is uncomfortable and it is hard to concentrate on detail tasks -- the boat is rocking, there are lots of noises: 

  • Our sharp knives move a bit in their wall container and clatter not quite in unison as the boat moves. 
  • We have no mast in this winter as it is being repaired. The wooden support EW installed in its place dances a bit on the mast collar, creating a wood-scraping-and-bouncing-on-metal sound. 
  • The shrink wrap cover is holding well, I can hear the sleet hit the plastic and hear the cover and PVC supports flex. 
  • EW is taking a nap on the other end of the dinette and I can hear his sleeping/breathing sounds when the wind abates for seconds. 
  • When we are rocked by a group of large swells there are a myriad of items wiggling and jiggling.
  • And underneath it all, the cause of all of theses sounds, the wind which has blown over 20 all day and now appears to be closer to 30 with stronger gusts. 

At this close to high tide the boat rocks constantly from side to side with little hops (if a 47 foot, 19 ton boat can be said to hop) fore and aft depending on the direction of a particular gust. The six lines that hold us to the dock are doing a great job. Three have snubbers on them and I suspect that those lines have stretched some. When the snubbers are working properly the action as we are blown away from the dock is slowed a bit with a slightly more gentle end point before the boat rolls back towards the dock. When the snubbed lines are stretched, the other lines catch us with a hard jerk to port and an immediate roll to starboard.

This is the kind of day when I think i am getting exercise just by remaining upright in my seat, making minute shifts with my upper body to keep myself where I want to be. (Who am I kidding? Minute - as in tiny - and my upper body have nothing in common!) But I do have to make constant physical adjustments to remain upright at the table -- especially since I had to use my back cushion to keep a cupboard door from banging. The door is open for my computer cables and while I can fix it so that the cables can be used with the door shut -- I don't want to go off line to do that.

We have heard voices on the dock today, mostly folks checking their lines. When we hear that, we go out and offer to help -- we don't want anyone out there alone today. The docks are slippery with snow and icy rain and it is wise to wear cleats when we leave the boat.

For the most part, we have stayed inside this bouncing cocoon. It is nasty out there. We have worked, planned a shopping trip, and eaten chocolate. Much like those of you who are home today. The difference -- our home is definitely on the move -- out and back, up and down, as the wind and tide try to free her from the dock and she gets pulled back by our desire and lines to keep her attached to shore. For now.