"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

June 24, 2014

Living on a Boat

I found an article on another blog and thought I would share it. I know we have friends that think they might like to buy a boat and cruise off to exotic ports or maybe just do what we're doing and explore the coastlines of the United States. This article will let you know how life might be before you purchase that boat. If you're already spending your life cruising around on a boat, you'll have a laugh at how true some of these things are. The scenarios are more accurate if you plan to live on a sailboat and travel to far off destinations, rather than our life on The Pearl, but it gives you an idea of what to expect. We actually live in luxury compared to some sailboats, but living on a boat can be a challenge and everyday activities and comforts we take for granted on land become luxuries when you’re on a boat. The daily activities we do quickly at home can take all day on a boat. Life on a boat isn’t just glamorous locations and happy hours. 

Thank you Mark Roope for letting me use your article. You can follow his blog and travels at Cygnus III.

Practical live aboard boat tests
Move everything out of your living room. I know it is bigger than a boat but we have to break you in slowly. You can bring the fridge back provided you lay it down face up and put everything you will need first right at the bottom under everything else.

You are allowed a small mattress provided it is no thicker or comfortable than a slice of burnt toast. Spray it liberally with water to simulate condensation. Fire elastic bands repeatedly at any exposed skin to simulate a mosquito attack. Do not go back to sleep until you find the offending elastic band. Men should put their prized golf clubs on view in the front yard; this will simulate your anchor. It will guarantee that you are awake all night keeping watch. Set the alarm for 3am to simulate another boat coming in and anchoring on top of you. To make it more realistic go outside into the street wearing only a head torch, wave your arms around and point. It won’t make any difference but it looks good. This can also be done naked to prevent too much conversation.

Water is your most precious commodity on a boat. If it comes to a choice between your wife or water, I am afraid she will have to go, especially if like most women she likes to wash. If she is prepared to clean herself in seawater or the condensation from the windows this may be acceptable. If for some strange reason she needs to wash her underwear rather than wear them for a month, then wait for rain.

All meals are to be cooked on a camping gas stove but turn it off half way through the meal to simulate running out of gas. Break out a tin of cold baked beans. You may eat the neighbor’s prized “Coy Carp” provided you can catch it.

You are allowed a computer provided you use it on battery only and can pick up a dodgy Internet connection from the pub a mile down the road. Curse anyone who sends you a link to a “Youtube video” or an image that is bigger than a postage stamp. If you have mobile phones turn them off, because they aren’t going to work anyway and the cost will be astronomical.

Provisions are limited to what you can carry or drag back from a petrol station 2 miles away. This includes a cylinder of gas. All purchases have to be made by sign language to simulate your total inability to speak the local language. Let 20 people go in front of you to mimic those locals who will push in front of you or have just popped in for a chat. Check all produce for anything that can crawl, jump or eat you such as cockroaches and rats.

Every time you use the toilet throw at least two rolls of toilet paper down afterwards and push them in with a plunger. You might as well get used to dismantling a toilet now, as you will be doing it in the future…a lot.

Take the car engine out and put it in the smallest cupboard it the house. It has to only just fit and the oil filter and water pump has to be impossible to get at. Change both at regular intervals and learn to curse loudly. Have a first aid kit handy.

The live aboard has got to learn how to socialize. Go to a complete stranger’s house and invite them back to your house for drinks. You will either become instant lifelong friends or they will bore you to death and drink your year’s supply of alcohol. In either case once they have gone you’ll never see them again.

Use one light at once and only when absolutely necessary. Pretend your room thermostat is your battery monitor and casually glance at it every 10 minutes. Occasionally get the neighbor to run his mower outside your window for a couple of hours to simulate a generator. At these times you can use two lights but still continually check the thermostat.

Take deck chairs and a bottle of wine down to the local car park. Watch all the cars parking and comment how differently you would have done it. Tut or snigger when they cannot park first time. If there is only one vehicle in the car park, watch out for the French. You can tell them as they will come in at 40mph not knowing where the handbrake is and get out before the vehicle has stopped. They will also park within 2mm of the other car.

June 10, 2014

June 10 - Cruise Interruptions

"Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation." —Lois Wyse

We found out we were having another grandwonder on our way home from the boat last fall and knew we didn’t want to make any cruising plans for this summer. We wanted to have time to play with our granddaughter Mayven, and have time to help take care of the new baby. Some things are just more important than having fun on a boat…there aren’t too many things, but grandwonders certainly are! So this is going to be a transitional year for us…moving from the summer cruising we’ve been doing the past three years to winter cruising. For now our plan is to spend next January and February in Marathon (The Keys) and then go to Abaco in the spring…after that who knows.

We planned to be home by the time our new little grandwonder made his arrival, so we could be at the hospital for the joyful occasion. But this new little person had his own plan. We got the phone call last Wednesday morning at 3AM that Brytanie was in labor and he was making his appearance almost two weeks early. I’m sure it won’t be the last time he has plans of his own.

We had finished all the work we wanted to get done on the boat while we were waiting for his arrival, but we hadn’t quite taken the time to get home. I had a feeling we might need to leave a little earlier, so I packed all our clothes and took inventory of what we were leaving on Tuesday. After our son, Kyle, called with the good news, we loaded the car and shut down the boat in record time and were on our way home by 5 AM. It’s a 16 hour drive from Jacksonville, FL to Temple, TX and although we wanted to be there for the birth I hoped the baby would come quickly…and he did, very quickly. We weren’t even out of Florida when we heard he’d arrived. Thanks to modern technology we got to keep up with the progress and had a picture of our new grandson minutes after his birth. Not quite as good as being there, but still very exciting.

Graham Thomas Marshall arrived at 8:06AM (central time) weighing 7lbs. 8oz. and 20.5” long. Neither Brytanie’s parents coming from California or us from Florida could make it in time for Graham’s birth, but Stan’s sister got there just moments after he arrived and she made a great stand-in Mom and Grandma until all of us got there. He joins a large family on both sides and will definitely be surrounded by a lot of love the rest of his life.

We plan to return to the boat in the fall or even a short trip later this summer, but for now we are going to enjoy being grandparents to two of the most amazing little people in the world. We have a lot of hugging and kissing to catch up on.

Graham Thomas Marshall

June 3, 2014

June 3 – Small Vessel Reporting System

Lamb’s Yacht Center

Our plan is to go to the Bahamas next spring, so we’ve been doing a lot of research…reading everything we can online, in books and magazines plus talking to anyone we meet that has been there on their boat. One thing we knew we wanted to take care of this year was registering for the SVRS (Small Vessel Reporting System). This program is offered by the U.S. Customs & Border Protection agency to make immigration clearance for low risk recreational boaters easier on their arrival from a foreign port.

It’s a painless process…if you know a few things that aren’t explained well on the CBP (Customs & Border Protection) website. We tried several times to register online when we were in Charleston, but ran into the same problem each time. Their site would lock up when we tried to enter the information on our vessel. We tried calling the number on the website for information and even sent an email, but we got no response. Later we talked to a CBP officer on the dock, he told us we could register without the vessel and add it later. That seems weird…isn’t this called Small Vessel Reporting System? He also told us everyone on board needs to register…no where on their website does it tell you that! Maybe it should be called the Passenger Reporting System. So the secret is to register each person and schedule a time for an interview and bring your vessel information with you.

The SVRS is a free program. If you have a SVRS number all you have to do is call the CBP when you arrive back in an U.S. port. They will ask you a few questions and clear you, your passengers and vessel by phone. If you DON’T have a SVRS number you have to report in person to the nearest CBP office within 24 hours of your arrival. Our interview wasn’t much of an interview…we had heard they would take our pictures and fingerprint us, but that didn’t happen. All they did was take our boat information and issue each of us a SVRS number. The process was simple and painless.

We wanted to get registered in this program while we had our car, because the interviews are only done at certain CBP locations. Those locations can be hard to get to when you arrive on a boat. We found out that one of the easiest places to register if you don’t have a car would be Fernandina Beach, their office is close to the marina.

Vessels also need to have a DTOPS (Decal/Transponder Online Procurement System) decal. It’s a yearly decal (cost $27.50) that is required by the CBP for vessels 30 ft. or more in length that travel in and out of US waters. The decal will be displayed on our boat and lessen our chances of being detained or boarded for inspection by CBP. We’ll go online this fall and apply for the 2015 DTOPS decal, because it can take 4-6 weeks to arrive and we want everything done before we leave for the Keys after Christmas.

June 2, 2014

June 2 – Jacksonville, FL

Lamb's Yacht Center

"Sounds of the wind or sounds of the sea; Make me happy just to be."—June Polis

This past week Stan stayed busy compounding and waxing the upper portion of the boat. It’s been at least two years since he’s had time to do the job completely at one time. Once that job was done the boat had to be washed and scrubbed to remove all the dust that compounding creates. While he washed the boat I cleaned the inside of the boat…vacuumed, dusted and even cleaned cabinets. The Pearl is clean inside and out. Stan has a few little projects to finish this week and then we will be heading home to play with our grand daughter and welcoming the new addition to our family. Our cruising adventure will continue later in the year.

We took a little time to play this past week…well, maybe not really playing all that much, but at least we did go out to eat a few times. We were told the Japanese restaurant, Okinawa, was very good, so we gave it a try. It was our first experience at a Japanese grill house and we truly enjoyed the food and the show. I’m sure we’ll go back before we leave the area. Saturday we went to the farmers market on Riverside Avenue and enjoyed the free music and lunch overlooking the river. Saturday afternoon we drove down to St. Augustine to check out the Downtown Bazar the have the last Saturday of the month. The bazar didn’t turn out to be very impressive, but we had fun wandering around this great little city, doing a little shopping, looking at boats and enjoying a snack at Harry’s. St. Augustine was one of our favorite places on our way up the coast in 2011 and we look forward to stopping here when we move the boat south later in the year.

A few pictures of the completed cap rail
Stan hard at work waxing the boat...can you see that shine? 
Our chef at Okinawa...he was very entertaining 
Historic St. George Street in St. Augustine 
One artist's display at the Downtown Bazar 
The El Galeon and the Noa docked in St. Augustine