We've discovered that the evening lighting in our boat is very, very dim. Perfect for relaxing and, as it turns out, heading to bed around 7:00 pm. We have been in bed every night prior to 8:00 pm and sleeping soundly until the alarm goes off at 5:00 am. I feel so rested in the morning, and it's just another check in the box as to why it's so good to be back to this life.

My Love of Pop and Books

Relaxing in the airport waiting on a plane to take me home after a short visit with my grandpa. Shortly after my grandma passed, he had a stroke and he's been living with assistance ever since. I found a cheap ticket and realized a visit was due. I find that I get really sentimental and weepy when I come - memories flood my heart and I realize how lucky I am to have had such great family which has loved me so much. It's hard to see my Pop slowing down and have difficulty communicating with me; when he says, though, "I love you" and grabs my hand it takes everything I have not to erupt with emotion.

Pop, me, and my mama
A beneficial visit it was (short but sweet) and now I find myself in the airport, thankful for the trip and something more commercial - a new book.

On the way down, I finished the first library book I've borrowed in a long time. Back to the boat means back to the library because books are heavy (especially "those hardcovers" my husband says!). I read "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" on the way down, and I splurged on the above for the way home - "The End of Your Life Book Club".  I'd been wanting to read both (if you haven't had Polio or other serious diseases, you have to thank Henrietta Lacks). I love that the book above has uneven page edges. That's not why I bought it, but I just love when books do this : )

I'm a book reader and a "Kindle-tryer". I love books in my hand, I love to go back through the pages, peek at the last page, highlight and circle on the pages, and espeically hand the finished book to a good friend who I think will also love the read like it did. I think I can have both in my boat life, I just have to assure my "weight-concious" hubby that books are either from the library or in transit.

Dim but Very Bright

The dim light glows every morning and evening - NPR is the set station on the radio. We've traded countless choices on Hulu and Netflix for news and stories.  Without (reliable) internet service, NPR has become our go-to entertainment. Maybe entertainment isn't the right word; the station has become our comforting background and companion during breakfast and dinner. No more fear-generating news and drama on the tube.

We do hear the phrase "fiscal cliff" too often, but it's tempered by things like a societal analysis about the cancellation of the "Dirty Jobs" show (which shows happy hard-working men and women do jobs that are neccessary and filthy) while shows like "Honey Boo Boo" are all the rage. The reporter was validating how hard so many Americans work and a show that highlights that is increasingly becoming beat out by shows which glamorize less-than-stellar behavior. When this happens, our norm for living and life changes.

My husband said the other day that he realized how he had spent the last two years on land, and in front of the t.v. I talked about how much I ate. We both came to the conclusion that we heavily consumed while living on land. For us, boat life is healthier and more fulfilling. This wouldn't be the case for everyone, but it is true for us. Last night we took a one-mile walk with the pooch, partly hand-in-hand, among the setting sun and the falling leaves. It's been years since we've had walk like that.

It might seem to some that our life is less rich, but it's dim in a good way. Every morning and night we're lit by a few bulbs but our experience together is bright. Through DVDs from Netflix, NPR in the background, and at times pure silence, I feel like I'm talking deeper with my husband and definitely strengthening our bond. There's so much more time together and for us, it works!

And, the pooch is steadily getting over his "home"sickness. He no longer howls when we leave for work. I think he's realizing that trading stairs and windows for longer walks outside and chasing rabbits off the leash is a much better way to live. At least that's what my pooch-intuition is telling me.

Recipe: Rice with Cajun Shrimp and Black Eyed Peas

This is the first dish that I cooked aboard on the new boat. Excitedly, I succeeded in using only one cooking pan and the small rice cooker.  My husband brought home the rice cooker when we lived aboard the previous time, and it has been with us ever since. It's so easy to cook up some rice (if you're plugged in at the dock) and the make a simple topping.   This meal was just that  - Rice with Cajun Shrimp and Black Eyed Peas.

1 15 oz can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed but reserve the liquid (I like Eden's beans, no BPA in the cans.)
1/2 lb. of cooked shrimp
1 packet taco seasoning
1/2 cup of salsa (divided)
2 tbsp. olive oil (divided)
1 tbsp. cumin
1/2 cup water
1 cup of rice, or more, cooked
Assorted toppings: avocado, sour cream, cheese

1. Cook rice in rice cooker or on stove top. Set aside.
2. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in pan over medium high heat.
3. Add 1/4 cup of salsa and 1 tbsp. cumin to pan, cook for 5 minutes and stir often.
4. Add drained beans, bean liquid, and water to pan. Cook for about 12 minutes until water has boiled away.
5. Remove bean mixture from pan.
6. In a plastic bag, place shrimp and taco seasoning (I used 1/2 of the packet) and 1 tbsp. olive oil.
7. Add the shrimp mixture to hot pan and cook until heated.
8. Add bean  mixture back to the pan to heat up.
9. Divide rice into bowls, top with bean-shrimp mix, and then top with toppings. Enjoy!

My Morning

I'm incredibly blessed to have these things be part of my mornings : )

Coming Home

Successful trip down the Chesapeake, bringing our new boat home. We spent Thanksgiving aboard and had a great meal made by my husband. Over two days, we enjoyed clear skies, calm water, and the beautiful bay. We're so excited to be doing this adventure again!

Sew I Go...

Tomorrow, good friends come to collect our furniture: couches, chairs, dressers, beds, lamps, rugs, and various little decorative pieces we've amassed during our brief stint with land life. I'm really okay with seeing our things go. Since my first experience living aboard, my attachment to things changed dramatically. I appreciate things and what they can do for me and my life, but I no longer love things like I did pre-liveaboard life.  I have found that even when I'm in lust with something, I reason myself away from that feeling. Things are things and there are more important places (and people) that warrant my love.

Quilting is one thing I really, really enjoy and I'm working furiously on finishing three quilts due by Christmas. I volunteer for our local Hospice, doing bereavement work, and I met a lady whose husband died last year. Together, they have three wonderful children (two in high school, one living away at college). I was asked if I could take the father's clothes and sew them into quilts for each of the children. So far, I have one top done for the daughter (the purple) and working today on finishing the top for one of the sons (the yellow, burgundy, white, gray).

I'm thinking about and hoping to find ways to continue sewing aboard. Our new boat has a little cubby area in the salon that will store a sewing machine and a Tupperware bin of notions and fabric. My next quilt is another t-shirt quilt for a good friend who recently competed in the recent Olympic Games in London. She is a professional windsurfer and has collected so many t-shirts through the years from her various competitions and regattas. She asked me if I would make a quilt for her but then retracted her question since we were moving aboard soon. I told her that I could cut up the shirts, take those with me, and recycle the scraps. Her big black bag of shirts keeps me thinking about the best way to accomplish her project aboard. I'll figure out and I'm sure the final product will be great.


We are not aboard during Hurricane Sandy. I get to sit here and hear the wind gusts flap my window screens. Good friends are aboard and keeping us all posted on Facebook. So far, the worst is finding out that there is some leaking happening but that will be fixed. The piers are close to being underwater and surely will be after Sandy comes ashore.

Wishing all luck and safety during this storm.

Survey and Renters

Tonight the husband uses up my Marriott points to stay free overnight in order to sleep well and arrive on time for the boat survey, tomorrow morning.  Our soon-to-be boat is located about four hours north of us, so the husband will drive up tonight, have hotel waffles for breakfast, and participate in the survey and sea trial. We are hopeful that all is well, especially the engine. One of the considerations of this boat is that she has over 3000 hours on the engine. Everything else looks good, but we believe that we are able to offer and get accepted at a lower price because of the engine hours. We can work on the engine in the future, should it sound and run well right now.

My job has been advertising and communicating with possible renters for our townhouse. So far, two have really shown interest to learn more about the house. Some anxiety has attacked thinking of myself becoming a landlord, especially working through lease and application documents. I do not like and avoid conflict, so I've been praying to St. Anthony (the saint/finder of lost things) ... St. Anthony, St. Anthony, St. Anthony, Please find good people who are the right people to rent our house. Mabye he's already sent them. We'll see.

Feel very blessed, though, that we are underway on this new life and adventure. As a good friend of mine says, you just never know what's around the corner. Keep your eyes and your heart open. Things arrive when you need them.

And this one's just right!

One nice boat had a single aft cabin that located directly under the cockpit. My first thought was - Bang! - when waking quickly and sitting up after a crazy dream. Another was without shower (not a problem for me) which for my husband is a non-negotiable. A hot shower aboard in the winter is a great experience for him. A third boat had an engine with low hours, was in our price range, had the creature comforts we both wanted but the lack of care over the years and the dreadful cushion fabric didn't sit well with me. I understood that buying a boat at the price we wanted would mean compromise and clean-up but the boat just didn't feel right.

Truth be told, I also wasn't 100% about moving aboard again. I like my house, bathtub, backyard, big tv, sewing room, etc. I like having my family come to stay with me and being able to have breakfast together. There's things that are really nice to have.

With a long, good talk with a friend, I came to think realistically about the divergent path that lay ahead.  I read a statement about when you want something, it's good to think about how many hours of your life that thing will cost you (if it's $90, how many hours of work is that?)   The house is a thing, it will cost 30 years of working. Additionally, my family visits only a few times a year. Being aboard again means that living with one income is feasible. One job means that we can travel more (to see my family) and we have a way to travel on the water. The path toward the boat is more about experience and meaning. Once I decided on that path, things started to fall into place. Steps in the process have occurred seamlessly - including finding our  boat.

She has creature comforts (including a place to store my sewing machine and a drop down salon table that is big enough to sew on). The cushions are a cool blue and in great condition. One thing we really liked about this boat is that she's ready for us to move aboard :) No scrubbing with Grease Lighting or immediate cushion replacement.

The galley has a drop down refrigerator, a compartment for a trash basket, a gas stove, and lots of storage. Underway, the tightness of the galley's space will assist me in successfully making sandwiches. In some boats, the galley is wide open and it's difficult to stay in one place. I agree with my mom who loves the way canisters can sit down along the perimeter of the galley. I can have one to store our tea, our sugar, our flour, our quinoa and rice. This will allow me to continue shopping locally at the health food store where I can buy the amount that I need - not a big box that would have to find its own place to live.

Another major like about this boat was that she is lined with wood inside. Our last boat had a liner that quickly could be overrun with mold or dirt. The wood makes it feel like home and it's a breeze to take care of. In each of the berths, we have ample storage in hanging lockers and drawers. This will assist with work clothes and accessories. Everything will have its own place.

No picture for this, but the head has a shampoo and conditioner dispenser. We can squirt our hair items in there instead of having to store big bottles. The owners of this boat really did a nice job of taking care of her for us. I look forward to continuing the job.

Still looking...

Looked at a beautiful boat this past weekend. A 35 foot, older boat that had an immaculate interior, on-board heater and many creature comforts as the current owner lives aboard. Yet, again, much work to be done on the exterior and the comforts inside did not include a full size berth or a shower (two things that my husband deems neccessary). We'll look at another, a bit more expensive, boat this weekend.

Hopefully we're getting close to finding the one.... winter's coming and I'd like to be settled and warm!

The pooch during his first marina winter.

Looking out for Ms. Right

Our trip to see a possible liveaboard boat was successful. The boat we looked at needs a lot of work, but for a low price we could take on that work and be able to afford it. There is rot beneath the floorboards, the boat desperately needs new cushions, there are some chain plate and upper deck issues, and the teak inside is thirsty for some TLC. We made an offer that we think is fair, considering the time, work and money that we would have to invest into the boat to get her where we need her to be. We're just waiting on the owner's response.

My favorite characteristic of this boat is the onboard liquor and wine cabinet.

As we wait for the offer's response, we are still looking for other options. I have a few things that I like to see in other possibilities.

I like newer cushions.

I also like a clean head. This one, below, has a separate little area for the shower. I like that.

To water, to land, and back to water again?

Like my father says, we might just be water people. We is my husband, my dog, and me - former liveaboards who sold the boat and bought a pretty new townhouse on land. Our 35.5 boat had gotten a bit small and we were unsure of what our futures held. When people asked me when we were going to have children, I always responded with, "when I have bedrooms". On our first boat, the V-berth and aft cabin didn't provide enough space for sleeping a growing family.

Our first boat, Furyan, was renamaned because my husband felt the orignal name, Somewhere, was too tempting for pirates (should we ever decide to sail the seven seas). Furyan is the name of an ancient warrior race found in sci-fi, and apparantly a deterrent of danger. Yet, having to explain the name to too many who walked by on the dock, we decided to be inspired by our minituature schanauzer and revise our name to, Doggie Paddle.

This name worked well for the boat and us. I felt that I only "doggie paddled" when it came to sailing. My husband is a life-long sailor, growing up on the Chesapeake Bay and spending his free time in boats of all shapes and sizes. I'm a Michigan girl and living aboard was an extreme adventure to me - one that I really enjoyed. The simplicity of living aboard is refreshing. Yes, sometimes common chores and errands take more time but time just feels different when a home is aboard a boat. Once we sold Doggie Paddle and bought our townhouse, it didn't take much time for us to miss having a place on the water. So, we purchased a 23 ft Beneteau boat as a fix-her-up.

She needed work, and much of it my husband has completed. Yet, in almost two years we've only spent one miserble night aboard and haven't spent much time working and sailing on her. Having a dirt dwelling is a lot of work in itself and we just haven't been able to be back on the water as much as we like....and that time is missed. Our lives now involve the opposite of what it was like on the boat - lots of money going out, so much time consumed by upkeep of the house, countless hours spent in front of the television while on the couch, etc.  We find that the majority of our time is spent indoors, when in the past views like below were every night occurances.

I've heard people say that "you have to be careful because the stuff you own ends up owning you". It's happened! Our outgoing bills for "easy living" (as my husband says) are abundant. We work to pay for the house that holds our clothes that we wear to work. We have two cars that get us to and from work. Work has to occur for us to have our stuff.  We live to work right now. To each his own, of course, and we are just finding that we want to feel like we're doing more living than working.

We have been married for seven years. We still have conflicting answers when people who love us ask about the kids that they think should have been here by now. At this point in our life we really are at a turning point - keep going with the "you shoulds" and work to keep up a house and the life that provides (which is, easy living) or plunge back into liveaboard life so we can head in a different direction. The new direction includes an exploration of new careers that feel purposeful, a decrease in bills that have to be paid, and a reconfiguration of time. My husband and I feel ready and we're looking at a good old boat this weekend - a 1983 sturdy and structurally sound 40ft cruiser that needs a lot of TLC. There's room for us, for a new member of the family (should s/he come in a few years), and the opportunity for a revision of our lives. Edward (the pooch) may not be very happy as he's come to love his couch, stairs, and pillows in the house.

The miserable night aboard, mentioned earlier, was caused in fact by Edward whining all night. He wasn't comfortable on the 23 foot boat. Hopefully a larger boat will help him to feel cozy and at  home. Plus, I think he too will enjoy all the time that he'll again spend outdoors. His favorite space was on top of the boat, sniffing the air and watching the birds.

And, I can bring along some pillows....

A home is where your heart is. Ours is with one another, our lives, and we're realizing now, with the water and the comfort it brings. I'm excited to see what happens this weekend. I'll keep you posted.