Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Adult Trick-or-Treating on the Docks

Halloween! That magical time when you get to pretend to be someone or something else. A time when it's okay to accept candy from strangers. And a time when you get to stay up past your bedtime eating your sugary treasure.

Alas, it is typically frowned upon for adults to trick-or-treat. Instead, we get to ooh and aah over adorable or scary costumes and be the givers of candy.

Until you move onto a boat.

Let's face it, the docks aren't the best place for a bunch of children running around in the dark. So, this year I decided to do something about it and arranged an adult event called "Trick or Drinks." Essentially, it was a roaming happy hour for marina liveaboards and guests. The group visited 6 different boats over a couple hour time period. Mimicking trick-or-treating, host boats provided an alcoholic beverage of their choice. Don't like beer? Tough! That's the "candy" at this boat. And just like kids that don't like Mounds bars but take them anyway, we drank and enjoyed the offerings at each location.

The best part? No one was left behind. The owners of host boats didn't have to wait around for us to come to them. They roamed with us so everyone could enjoy the festivities.

And, of course, costumes were encouraged!

A couple thoughts if you choose to coordinate a similar event:
  1. Limit the number of host boats. This is mainly a safety concern as you don't want people imbibing too much alcohol when boats and water are involved.
  2. Allow ample time for everyone to enjoy their drinks at each boat. Again, this is partially a safety concern. If you rush from boat to boat, people will end up drinking 6 or more drinks in an hour or less. That doesn't make for a safe night or a fun morning after.
  3. Encourage all size boats to participate. People can hang out on the dock near boats that are too small to have everyone on board.
  4. Choose a costume that allows you to easily get on and off any type of boat.
  5. Add decorations for extra fun (see pictures below).
How do other marinas celebrate Halloween?
Classic games -- Twister and the Magic 8 Ball.
Boats provide the space (and the means) to hang things easily.
I love using the windows as a backdrop for decorations (especially at Christmas).
Our neighbor's boat.

The pumpkins on the docks will always make it through the night since there aren't random strangers passing by that wish to smash them.
Another neighbor's boat. Not sure I'd trust this captain.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Cape Town Boat Show

We found a special treat while recently on vacation in South Africa. The Cape Town Boat Show coincided with our final day in the city. Did we go? The better question is -- could we possibly resist?
The show featured indoor space in the Civic Center and boats in the water at the V&A Waterfront. Overall, I would say that the show is smaller than the Baltimore Boat Show but the in-water part showcased larger boats than we can see at the Baltimore show. We did find a couple vendors with intriguing products.

We are constantly having to clean build-up out of our grey water tanks. These guys provide a pump that sends it directly overboard avoiding the middleman.
Dirty hull? Clean it with a remote control robot. While I don't thing this handy gadget would work too well on the tough barnacles that attack our hull in the Chesapeake Bay, it is a cool idea.
Catamarans were the main focus of the in-water part of the show. We see some catamarans at the big Annapolis Power Boat Show, and perhaps a few more at TrawlerFest, but they don't seem to be a focus in this part of the States.
While these may seem silly, we made a couple observations about the boats in the show. 1) We wondered, since the driver's side of South African cars is opposite of the driver's side in American cars, would the captain's seat also be placed on the opposite side?

Answer: No. Looks like boats are made the same wherever you go.

2) Would boat length be measured in meters rather than feet.

Answer: Yes and no. In the picture below, the boat is still called a 620 (62 feet) but the length specification first lists meters.
You may be wondering why we would think boats would be any different in South Africa. People in the U.S. buy foreign made boats all the time and they look just like the boats made in the States. Yes, that is true. However, if you buy a Volkswagen in the U.S. the driver's side will be on the left. If you buy the same model Volkswagen in South Africa, the driver's side will be on the right. Same car, different configuration.

One final interesting observation -- Prices are prominently displayed at every boat show we have attended in the U.S. The number is in large, bold font, sometimes on brightly colored paper. Prices were not as obvious for the boats in this show. Some boats had prices, but most did not. Which is better? I don't know.

We did find reference to home (top left corner):
And, wouldn't you love to spend a lazy afternoon here?
Anyone else attended both a U.S. and foreign boat show? What other similarities and differences have you found?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Getting Mail and Packages

When I tell people I live on a boat, "How do you get mail?" always seems to fall in the first ten questions I am asked. It's a valid question, especially since most people don't realize how many amenities are offered by marinas (and by "amenities" I mean basic necessities -- electricity, water, bathrooms, mail AND resort features -- pools, bars, boaters lounge, etc.). I also happen to live at a marina that offers a large number of amenities. Just check out my post from August 2013 to see what Harborview has to offer.

When it comes to mail it's really not that confusing if you think of the marina as a great big apartment complex. We collect our mail from a communal post box.
We also have the added benefit of getting packages delivered to the marina office. No worries about who is home to sign for a package. The fear of packages mysteriously walking off of a rowhouse stoop is seriously diminished. I simply go to the marina office during open hours to collect whatever has arrived for me. It's a great system.

Of course, all of this is in a perfect world and sometimes things don't follow the expected plan.

Recently a package arrived after normal marina business hours. At 8:35pm I checked on an expected package and noticed that it had been delivered at 8:15pm and "Left at glass doors." No problem, the old boater's lounge is outside the main marina gate. That must mean that the package is near those doors since the delivery company couldn't get onto the pier.

I walked up to the gate but no package was in sight. Okay, time to check the laundry room as many of us will put packages in there when we notice they are delivered off hours. Again, no package in sight. At this point there was nothing I could do before the marina office opened in the morning.

Next morning: I checked with the office on the off chance that the package has made its way in there. Nope, no package. I rechecked everything from the night before thinking I must have missed it. Still no package.

I went online prepared to claim the package as lost/stolen and found that I couldn't make any claims for another 48 hours because it "might still be out for delivery." So, why say it was delivered if it might not be? Back to the waiting game.

This is when it's great to have fantastic marina staff. A couple hours later I was returning from yoga. One of the staff members said he had found the package and it was now sitting on my boat. What? Where was it? It had made it's way through the main gate and was sitting at the top of B pier. Why B pier? Well, my address is Slip 6B. The "6B" designates my box in the communal post box, not my actual slip at the marina. The delivery person must have made it through the main gate and then assumed he/she was placing the package somewhere it would be found.
Thanks, Danny, for finding my package. By the way, the box was pretty small -- that's my iPhone 4 sitting next to it.
For those of you who are truly interested in the liveaboard lifestyle, our mail situation only works because Baltimore and Harborview are our permanent slip. People who are continuously cruising use mail forwarding services like St. Brendan's Isle. One day I'll know more about that service. :)

Sorry for the mundane topic but it sure seems that lots of people want to know how the mundane things work in this life.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Pirates of Swan Creek

We rafted up with three other boats last weekend in Swan Creek. But this wasn't just any old Rock Hall weekend. It was Pirates & Wenches Weekend - an annual event that brings hoards of people in costume to Rock Hall seeking fun.

In the past, we've always docked at Rock Hall Landing or did a quick lunch cruise to Waterman's. Why had we never ventured into Swan Creek? I don't have a good answer for that. However, this being our first trip and having heard stories of Pirates & Wenches Weekend, we didn't know what to expect.

The first "obstacle" we had to overcome was a swarm of pirate kayakers blocking our path into the creek:

Next came the pirate dinghies with their vuvuzelas:

I guess we looked harmless enough because they let us pass. We finally made it safely into the creek and rafted up.

After that things were pretty calm. We saw boats full of people in costume heading into town for the festivities. And there were many boats in the creek proudly displaying their flags. There was certainly plenty of space for boaters that wanted to anchor out and tender in to town.
The creek was so pretty that we can't wait to go back. Perhaps we'll even go into town for the next P&W weekend in the search of booty. This year it was fun being on the outskirts of the festivities enjoying the quiet scenery and the warm water - that is saltier than most of the places we frequent in the Bay.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

More Boating, Less Fighting

"I could never live in such tight quarters with my husband."
"Do you ever get time alone?"
"Gee, you must REALLY love your husband."
"You guys are crazy. I would have killed my wife by now."

Those are the types of things I hear all the time from people that still live in houses. Yet, my husband had an neat epiphany recently -- Since moving on board two years ago, we have fought less with each other. In fact, I would say that our relationship is stronger than ever.

Now, don't let your mind go too far. We didn't argue a lot before moving on board. But we did have fights. I may have even stomped away from an argument. They were typical, low-key disagreements.

During the past two years we haven't had more than a minor tiff. I guess we could attribute this to a few things:
  • With limited space communication is a must!
  • If you are unhappy, you can go down to the stateroom or walk the docks but you can't stew for hours in another wing of a McMansion.
  • We've now been married 14 years and have finally figured it out.
  • We have less physical stuff so there isn't as much to argue about.
  • A life that seems less complex.
  • Life on boat is less stressful.
  • And my personal favorite -- WE ARE JUST SO HAPPY IN LIVEABOARD LIFE.
I'm not saying that living on a boat is the secret to all marriage woes. If one of you doesn't like boats it may even push you further apart. But, for those of you called by the sea. Those that need to be rocked to sleep by the waves. Those that believe that flip flops, bathing suits, and maybe a pair of shorts and a t-shirt are a perfectly acceptable weekend wardrobe. Buy a boat! Move on board!

Note: I did get Doug's approval before publishing this post. We don't want the blog to start causing fights. :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Preventing Abuse of Tasty Adult Beverages

Nobody wants to drink wine from a red solo cup. Glass or crystal seems like the preferred way to go but both are easily breakable on a boat (remember my post about new "unbreakable" dinnerware?). Many stores sell acrylic wine glasses for patio parties and picnics. Acrylic is great - it's durable and easy to store. There's one small problem:

White wine gets warm very quickly in an acrylic wine glass. Martinis are disgustingly warm within seconds (ok, maybe minutes).

When we moved aboard two years ago, the old owners left their acrylic wine and martini glasses. We used them, begrudgingly, for about eight months. All the while we were on the lookout for the perfect boat wine glass.

We finally found the solution about a year-and-a-half ago: STAINLESS STEEL!
New glasses in the front. Old acrylic glasses in the back.
They are made by Cuisinox and work like a charm. We requested a set of four of each for Christmas that year and have been using them ever since. Frankly, I can't find anything wrong with them:
  • White wine and martinis stay as cold as they would in glass vessels (perhaps even longer).
  • Red wine keeps a good temperature, too.
  • They look classy.
  • We get lots of comments on them while walking the docks. (Some people refer to them as our "pimp glasses.")
  • I would recommend these to people even if they aren't living on a boat.
We've kept a couple of the acrylic glasses around in case we want a drink while floating in the water during a raft-up. I don't want to send one of the stainless steel glasses into the deep for the fish to enjoy.

What tricks have you found to make liveaboard life more elegant?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

May Neighbors

We had one new neighbor in May. However, Memorial Day is the unofficial start of boating season so we expect to see many more neighbors in the next few months.

Wing and Wing

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

April Neighbors

Sorry for the slight delay in posting. We had only one new neighbor in April 2015:
"Skookum" - Carver 39 Motoryacht
They are fellow liveaboards!

The season is ramping up. There are currently five open slips on our dock. Who is coming to visit?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Two Year Anniversary!

We've done it! We've been onboard for two years now.

When we first made the decision we promised each other that we would give this lifestyle at least three years. We weren't allowed to give up after the first winter no matter how bad it got.

And now? Two winters (and two glorious springs, summers, and autumns) later? We can't imagine going back to a non-floating residence.

Check out all that we have accomplished in 730 days:

Interior Renovations/Redecorating
Exterior Maintenance, Safeguards, and Fun
  • The purchase of an ice-eater to protect us during an extremely cold Baltimore winter.
  • Winter water prep and protection of outdoor pipes.
  • A Lehr propane motor for the dinghy.
  • Four short hauls.
  • A few days "on the hard."
  • A new name.
  • Figuring out how to change the oil, fuel filters, impellers on the engines and generator.
  • Four new house batteries.
  • A couple fresh coats of wax.
  • New LED lights (with the option of blue or white).
  • Replacement helm stereo, speakers, and a new TV.
  • New valves for the VacuFlush system.
  • Repair of one holding tank sensor and replacement of the other (aren't you glad there aren't pictures of that?).
  • Using Starbrite Waterproofing to seal the canvas against leaks.
Marina Celebrations, Activities, and Community
  • We ventured to Annapolis, Fairlee Creek, Kent Narrows, Rock Hall, Saint Michaels, Seneca Creek, Sparrows Point, Stevensville, Sue Creek, and Tolchester for a total of 125 engine and 457 generator hours.
Curious what other projects boaters are tackling? Take a look at this list from Chicago liveaboards after their first year:

Monday, April 6, 2015

Making Space for a Home Office

As many of you know, I work from home as a Freelance Writer and Library Consultant (check out my webpage: - shameless self promotion done). For the past two years, this has been my office.
I'm ashamed to say that it almost always looked like that (however, they say that a messy desk is a sign of genius). It simply isn't conducive to organizational possibilities. It also became our dumping ground. So, for the past two years we have tossed around a multitude of home office ideas. The biggest ones being:
  • Renovate the dinette into a cubicle-type office.
  • Remove the loveseat and install a desk.
Renovating the dinette always seemed like the better option. We hardly use the dinette in the warmer months, opting instead to eat at the helm station table or on the pier (why be inside?).

The loveseat provides extra seating in the salon and also pulls out into a single sleeper giving us more space for guests. In all honesty, we've only had six people sleep on board twice since we bought the boat. Does it really make sense to keep a sleeper sofa for a once-a-year need?
Yet, the idea of a full blown reno scared us both a bit. There is already limited space onboard and a reno would take up space. We also have fear of making drastic changes no matter how much we love our floating home. So, we just continued with the status quo. I would clear off space as I needed it or just sit on the sofa and work.

Everything changed on a serendipitous trip to Office Depot. I found a desk that would fit and was extremely reasonably priced. If we could get the loveseat out and store it there would be no fear of drastic change.

Doug got to work taking the loveseat apart. Our biggest challenge was fitting the frame out the salon door. That is the frame sitting outside the salon door: it barely, and I mean barely, fit.
But once everything was out and the floor vacuumed we were ready to move ahead with Project Home Office. Just look at all this beautiful empty floor space!
We now have a useable desk:
I'm still working on figuring out the right seating for it. I don't want a large overbearing desk chair and the bar stool isn't the right height.

We also still have lots of salon seating on the starboard side:
Plus, the dinette is useable again (just in time for it to be ignored all summer).
In this age of technology, even if you don't work from home there are certain computer related needs on board. How do you manage your onboard "office?"

Monday, March 9, 2015

Spring? Is that you?

Here's the funny thing about spring at a Baltimore marina -- it's confused!

The marina is still iced in:
There is still snow on the ground:
And birds are still standing on the ice as they eat their dinner:
But! It's a wonderful 65 degrees inside the boat!
Want to know what's even better than that delightful temperature? It was that warm without any heat on inside the boat. And the cabin door was open. If you've ever wondered what it's like to live inside a greenhouse, move onto a boat. We face the perfect direction for the sun to do all the work and heat up the salon.
Well, if it's that warm inside the boat, just imagine the helm station.
Yup! That says 79 degrees. At one o'clock in the afternoon on March 9 in Baltimore. It was 55 degrees outside (according to my handy iPhone weather app) but I felt like I needed to open a window to make the helm station comfortable. Keep in mind that we had 7 inches of snow just 4 days ago.
Spring is right around the corner and I can't wait.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Scenes from a Winter Wonderland

As most of the East Coast is painfully aware, this has been a bitterly cold winter. Here are a few scenes from the past few weeks at the marina:

Most of the marina is iced in.
We bought an ice eater at the boat show this past fall.
It's been getting quite a workout keeping the ice from around our hull.
The boys fished this piece of ice out while adding an ice eater to another boat. It's a few inches thick.
I've always liked how icicles look hanging from the roof of a house. They are just as pretty on a boat.
Thanks to Doug for taking this picture early one morning before anyone added footprints to the snow.
An unexpected 8 inches on top of the ice makes boats appear to be sitting on land.
Frozen drink anyone?
Kayak? Or sled?
Looking out the salon windows after the snow storm.
This bird likes to keep his dinner on ice.