Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Harborview Holiday Cheer

Marinas are a great place to meet people. I sometimes compare the docks to dorms or an apartment building -- we all have our own room/house/boat -- but it's a big community. At Harborview we have the added benefit of the surrounding townhouses and condo buildings. Yay! More people to meet!
People think of marinas as a summer destination but we don't let a little wind and cold keep us from getting together. Last Saturday we had a community potluck to celebrate the holiday season.
This was the beginning of the amazing spread. The far end is crock-pot central. No one went hungry. There was ham, mac-n-cheese, a cheese plate, apple salad (I need that recipe), sauerkraut, etc., etc., etc.
And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the awesome oyster stew. This is only about half of the oysters I found in my bowl.
I wish I had taken a picture of the dessert table. Save me from the scrumptious Italian cookies.

I did find time to take a picture of the tree. I understand that at least one of our friends couldn't bear to part with her holiday decorations yet doesn't have room on her boat so she shares the wealth with the rest of us.
I think about 30 people showed up for the festivities. And we made new friends with some recent liveaboards.

I can't take credit for anything, but here are a few tips for hosting an event at your marina:
  • Choose a date and time. Remember that many people travel as the holidays get closer. Kudos to the team that chose a mid-December date.
  • Put a food sign-up sheet in a central location. For us, it was in the marina lounge. Everyone has access and could add their name whenever it was convenient. Sure, there are loads of electronic ways to do this but sometimes good ole paper and pencil makes life easy.
  • Don't forget plates, plasticware, cups, napkins, ice, and a BIG trash can.
  • Consider the electrical needs of certain dishes. Many crockpots will keep food warm but some people like to plug in.
  • Invite the marina staff! The staff at Harborview are part of the marina family. The party was held during office hours so they could participate.
Does your marina celebrate the holidays?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Baltimore Parade of Lights

You know how people drive around neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights? Well, holidays on the water means that you stand still and the lights come to you. It was cold and rainy but that didn't stop some diehard boaters and determined spectators from enjoying the Baltimore Parade of Lights this year. We still haven't managed to get it together enough to enter the parade in our own boat but we had a lot of fun cheering on friends that entered.

I apologize for water spots on some of the pictures. They were hard to avoid in the rain.
I just love seeing the city buildings in the background.
All winter holidays are welcome.


Yes, this is the same boat at the picture above it but I love the blue glow around the boat from the lights.

Even the tugboats got into the spirit.
Be sure to check out pictures from the 2013 Middle River Parade and 2012 Baltimore Parade.
Which boat is your favorite?

Monday, December 1, 2014

November Neighbors

Whereas we still took a trip last weekend, many of our weekend warrior friends are already "on the hard" for the winter so it's a special treat to get a new neighbor in November.

This sailboat plans to be with us all winter:
"Twelfth Night"
It's a safe bet to say that this will be the last Neighbor posting before next March or April, however, I will be thrilled to be proven wrong.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Last Trip of the Season

Unlike southern liveaboards, there comes a time when we must winterize our engines in preparation for the cold season. But we made sure to get one last trip in last weekend.

We watched the weather closely all week hoping that the rainy forecast would change. By Thursday the weather looked promising and we finalized plans for Luv'n Life IV and Grand Passion to make the trip to Annapolis for the weekend.

The first half of the trip was relatively uneventful. Then we hit the Bay Bridge and it was like a completely different Bay. We are accustomed to things getting a little rough around the Bridge but this time was different. The tide was coming in. The wind was coming up the bay. We were hitting waves and throwing water over our helm canvas. The worst part -- both cats were very unhappy. I spent a majority of the second half of the trip cleaning up after the cats. We slowly motored at 7 mph for the remainder of the trip.

Ego Alley is full with winter storage/liveaboards so we made a reservation at Annapolis Yacht Basin. We radioed in for our slip assignment and they told us we would be pulling bow in and tying off on the port side. Bow in? This was new. But we were too exhausted to argue.

Once we got to our slip we discovered why. The slip was HUGE! They could have fit three of us in that one slip and they figured we would want the view off the stern.
We don't look too bad from the stern.
Then again, maybe we are super tiny in this slip.
The Marina is on the opposite side of the Marriott and Pussers from Ego Alley. In other words, it was still very convenient for our needs -- one last round of Painkillers from Pussers, one last round of oyster shooters for Middleton's, and a bit of shopping on Main Street.

The ride home on Sunday was just about as perfect as it gets. The seas were calm -- almost like glass. No kitties got sick. It was the best possible way to end the season.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Avoiding Wardrobe Malfunctions

I have been living without a full length mirror for a year-and-a-half. That's right ladies, I apologize to anyone I have offended by wearing the wrong shoes with the wrong outfit since moving aboard. This has been something that has been driving me bonkers since April 2013. Installing a full length mirror has typically been one of the first things I have done in any place I have lived. It's simple -- I go to a chain hardware store, buy a mirror, hang it on the back of a door, and presto! I have an instant outfit checker.

One of my hanging locker doors is the ideal spot for a mirror onboard especially since I have a few feet of unobstructed floor space in front of it. Unfortunately, the door is only 14 1/2 inches wide and I have struggled with finding a mirror thin enough for the door. Instead I have made sad attempts at using two other mirrors on board for assessing outfit choices.
This is the mirror at the head of my bed. Even without the pillows I can only see how my top fits.
This mirror is in the guest head. It's a nice large mirror but I can't get far enough back to see my whole outfit.
After a year-and-a-half of complaining, I finally did something about it. I contacted Mirror Crafters, Inc. and asked if they could custom cut and install a mirror for me. I immediately liked them when they asked for more clarification about the project in relation to the boat -- they wanted to know if there would be a time constraint? Would this be a situation where the boat pulled up to the dock, they did a quick install, and then the boat pulled away? I liked that they seemed to know at least a little about boats.

We took the door off the hanging locker and I drove it to the mirror place. I then found out they have worked on glass and mirrors in boat heads. My confidence in them increased. I left the door with them and was told to come back the next day for the finished product.

I am thrilled with their work!
The price was right. The quality is wonderful. They even drilled holes through the mirror to re-attach the door pull.

The best part is the mirror is glued on. It's not going anywhere. In fact, he told me it would ruin the finish on the door to try to remove it and I'm perfectly fine with that. Seriously, if we ever try to sell this boat why wouldn't someone want another mirror? The install is much better than anything we could have accomplished on our own.

From here on out, any wardrobe malfunctions are completely my fault.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Boats, Buses, and Running Shoes

How often do you get to boat under, ride over, and walk on the same bridge in a 24 hour period? That was us last weekend when we moved the boat to the Bay Bridge Marina in order to run the Across the Bay 10K. Sure, we could have drove to a parking lot like everyone else. But where is the fun in that?

This isn't the first time we've traveled over water for a race. In May 2012 we took a group to St. Michaels for the running festival. This trip was a bit colder but we had the best possible weather for a November trip and race.

We left Saturday afternoon with a crew of four (three runners and one cheerleader). From Baltimore we ventured south on the Chesapeake Bay and under the Bay Bridge.
Here we are directly underneath the bridge we would be running on the next day.
We had a fantastic view of the Bridge from our slip.
We were also very close to Hemingway's where we shared a delightful meal of multiple appetizers. I'm sure their outdoor seating area gets really packed during the summer months as this restaurant has an amazing view.
We spent a quiet evening looking at the Bridge.
And watching planes land at the Bay Bridge Airport.
We loved being on the outer edge of the marina for the view, however, I have to admit that I wasn't planning to rock around so much. There are break walls but they seemed to funnel all of the waves right at our boat. Not an issue - just an observation.

The race ran from the west side to the east side of the bridge. The race organizers were thorough and thoughtful in the logistics. There were shuttles to the start line from both sides of the bridge. The closest race shuttle to the marina was 6 miles away but Kent Island Transportation rescued us with a very early morning taxi ride. From there we boarded a school bus to the other side of the bridge.

In 10 waves, separated by 15 minutes each, we ran across the bridge with 15,000 other hearty souls. The only "spectators" on the bridge were the police officers stationed along the way for safety. A big kudos and thanks to the pair of officers blaring Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" about halfway across. I highly recommend this race. It was so cool to run across a 4 mile bridge that I have driven on so many times.

The finish line was a short mile from the marina. We were able to cheer on those still running as we walked back for our trip back to Baltimore.

Perhaps we should coordinate an Annapolis trip around a race next year?

Before you ask -- no, we are not moving the boat to Bermuda for their marathon.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Living on a boat isn't all sunshine and bikinis. Sure, there is lots of that. There is also real life and that means laundry. I'm one of the lucky ones. I have a washer and dryer onboard.
Yup, that's it. My washer AND my dryer. It's smaller than a typical home washer, perhaps a bit more stackable apartment-style size. It washes just fine. As for drying, well, not so much. It can take one hour to dry two dress shirts. Even if I ran the dryer 24 hours a day I don't think I could ever dry all of our clothes.

So, we go a bit old school. Bed, Bath and Beyond carries these fantastic clips.
They are just the right size for holding towels or sheets that are hanging on the bow rails.
Everything else dries on a rack at the helm station. With all the isinglass up there it turns into a greenhouse and everything dries quickly.
A few added benefits:
  • It's more eco-friendly to dry clothes this way.
  • Clothes last longer and don't shrink.
  • Sheets hung out to dry are soft and fresh.
The Boat Galley has a post on clothespins if you want a few more ideas on drying laundry.

As the weather gets colder life will change a bit. We don't carry enough water in our tank to do laundry onboard during the winter. So, it will be back to the marina office for laundry. But I will relish these last few weeks  of "easy" laundry.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Replacing the Water Heater

How big is your hot water heater? 40 gallons? 50 gallons? Mine is 11 gallons. Yes, that is correct, eleven. And it provides plenty of hot water for dishes, laundry, and showers (even for someone with long hair).

When we discovered that our hot water heater had a leak we jumped right into problem solving mode. Seriously, who wants to take a cold shower or even just wash their hands in cold water.

The leak was small. The stream of water was so fine it looked more like a spider web. The leak might not have been large but the water had good aim; it was spraying right onto an electrical box. This is where the Facebook Live Aboard Boats group came to our rescue. I put out a request for suggestions on a temporary fix and found out about JB Waterweld.
Sorry that I can't say exactly how long the patch lasted. We are fully aware that one leak just means that that the hot water heater is on its last leg. Our hope was that the leak would get us through a week or so while we researched new water heaters. I'm happy to say that it did its job.

This is where we ran into a snag. I know I bragged about my huge 11 gallon tank at the beginning of the post. Well, we actually started with a 20 gallon tank. The problem is that our water heater model is no longer being made and we struggled to find something else that would fit into the space allocated. Our old unit was tall and thin. Most of the units being made today are short and wide. After another plea for answers from the online group, we decided to take the plunge and purchase a smaller unit.
Old unit on the left. New unit on the right.
The new (smaller capacity) tank has been installed for a few months now and I really don't feel like I'm missing anything. I have literally stood in the shower waiting to see if the hot water would run out. I usually end up giving up when there is no end to warm water in sight. I often find myself wondering how I ever used all the hot water in a huge home tank.

So, how large is your hot water heater? And do you really think you need one that large?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

September Neighbors

Thanks to the Star-Spangled Spectacular and TrawlerFest we had many new neighbors in September. But first, I have to pay respects to an old girl that was towed away from the marina this month.
The Impulsive Dreamer III has been on H dock since long before we arrived. I hear she was really lovely at one point. I hope that someone saves her before she meets her final end.

And here is the line-up of the boats that joined us this past month.
"Miss Bay Haven" - Sundancer 370
"Bullfrog" - Sundancer 370
"Opus" - Bertram 42
"Curragh D IV" - Silverton 43 Sport Bridge
This couple has owned this beauty for only 3 weeks. They upgraded from a 20 foot boat.
Congratulations to them!
"Walkabout" - Regal 3880

Friday, September 19, 2014

Star-Spangled Spectacular - Part 3

Baltimore sure knows how to throw a party: the Star-Spangled Spectacular brought amazing airshows by the Blue Angels; majestic naval and tall ships filled the Inner Harbor and Fell's Point; there were rides, carnival food, and concerts; and, of course, the absolute best fireworks display (and reportedly most expensive ever done in Maryland). If you weren't here, I'm very sorry to report that you will have to wait 98 years for the next Star-Spangled celebration. Luckily, you can get a taste of it all here. (Be sure to check Star-Spangled Spectacular - Part 1 and Part 2 for pictures of the Blue Angels and visiting ships.)

Rash Field is typically home to sand volleyball courts. It was transformed into a Family Fun Zone for the week:

There was a contest for the best dog costume. We are happy to report that one of our boat neighbors won. Congratulations Honey!

Pier 6 hosted a star-studded concert Saturday evening before the fireworks. We didn't have tickets but the whole event was simulcast on PBS. Check out the lineup! The concert was hosted by John Lithgow and Jordin Sparks with performances by Kristin Chenoweth, Melissa Etheridge, Denyce Graves-Montgomery, Little Big Town, Pentatonix, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Train, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

And lastly, the fireworks! Thanks to the good folks at West Marine that provided me with a copy of the fireworks map. I've labeled our marina (Harborview) in red so you can get an idea of our view.

The barges were set up sometime on Friday. I assume someone had to stay aboard each barge overnight for security reasons. The smallest barge was placed directly in the Inner Harbor.

We could see the fireworks from five of the barges (with occasional views of the ones furthest inland in the Inner Harbor). All six shows were synchronized! It's truly impossible to capture the beauty, intensity, and vibrations from six barges of fireworks going off. But here is my feeble attempt.
Fireworks from two separate barges going off in sync.
We could see the fireworks being set off from the barge directly in front of our marina. For any local Baltimore folks - yes that is Boh in the background.
Watching fireworks near water gives the added beauty of reflection.
"The bombs bursting in air"
Baltimore's iconic Domino Sugars sign.
There were fireworks that we have never seen before! (However, they were a little hard to capture on film.)
The American Flag
I believe that I have been spoiled. I can't imagine any fireworks display living up to this. Thank you Baltimore for a wonderful celebration.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Star-Spangled Spectacular - Part 2

The Star-Spangled Spectacular brought more than the Blue Angels. It brought a plethora of visiting ships. I did not get a chance to tour any of these beauties but many were open for public tours. Here is a sample of the floating amazingness that filled Baltimore for the past week.

Tall Ships

Kalmar Nyckel
Home Port: Wilmington, Delaware

Such beautiful details.
I want to drink coffee on the stern of this boat. Even if it looks a bit like Disney World.
Home Port: New London, Connecticut

Gazela (with the USCGC Eagle behind her)
Home Port: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

El Galeón Andalucía
Home Port: Seville, Spain
I'm pretty sure that's not the safest way to add a tire fender.
Naval Vessels

USNS Choctaw County
This massive beast looks more like a building than a ship. Then again, it is an entire "county." The ship looks like raw metal but they said they don't plan to paint her because of the weight of the paint. This 338 foot ship can cruise at 43 knots (that's twice the speed of my "tiny" 46 foot vessel).

Imagine needing fenders this large!
Even if they aren't going to paint the rest of the ship, it's nice to see they are fans of Derek Jeter.

The Choctaw County was well protected.

Private Vessels

Baltimore felt a bit like Miami with mega yachts everywhere!



Anchored Vessels

All Baltimore Marine Center marinas were completely booked for the weekend. I'm sure every other marina in the city had the same good fortune. Those that could not get a slip, or chose to come just for the day, anchored outside the Blue Angels restricted zone for the airshow. Many thanks to my friend Dawn who shared this photo. I've never seen this many boats outside of Fort McHenry.

Stay tuned for one more post this week about the fireworks and festival atmosphere.