Tag Archives: living aboard

Doing “Salty” Stuff

Spent several hours doing “Salty” stuff here by the Coquina Beach North Boat Ramp on Anna Maria Island, FL, this sunny Sunday afternoon.

In the last year, here, with the storms of winter and the squalls of summer, my Manson Boss anchor with its 20 feet of ¼-inch chain has dragged through the muddy/sandy bottom about 100 feet or so from where I originally dropped the hook. That doesn’t seem like much, but when you have severe COPD like I do rowing a cockleshell dinghy into a stiff breeze is difficult. I’ve been contemplating relocating the boat for the last couple of weeks. Today was a good time to attempt it. The breeze was only about 5 mph out of the SE and the tide was flooding. The combination will work at helping the anchor dig in.

What I meant about “Salty” stuff is that I didn’t lower the outboard motor into position, start it up, and let it idle while going forward to raise the anchor and then rush back to the helm to then motor a hundred feet or so isn’t what I did. Where’s the seamanship in that? Instead I used the millennia-old system of moving a boat known as “Kedging.” 

kedge (kɛdʒ) nautical


(Nautical Terms) to draw (a vessel) along by hauling in on the cable of a light anchor that has been dropped at some distance from it, or (of a vessel) to be drawn in this fashion.

I did it in three stages. The first two got me further to the south to about where I was originally and then I pulled myself closer to the shore. The way it worked was: I’d haul in the big anchor until the chain was “up and down.” Into the dinghy with the small Danforth “Lunch Hook” and row it forward to the full extent of the line I had attached to it. About 100 feet. Then back on board the big boat and haul the big anchor until it was clear of the bottom. No need to bring it on board since I was going to be dropping it right away. Just clear of the bottom was good enough. Then I hauled on the lunch hook line until IT was up and down. Drop the big anchor and wait for it to set.

Watch the shoreline to see if I’m drifting and my breathing has returned to what passes for normal these days. Did it a second time to get where I wanted to be but in looking aft I was right in line with the derelict Carver. So I took the lunch hook in towards shore and got it out of the way. I may have brought in a bit TOO CLOSE and will possibly take the ground at low tide But since the retractable keel it all the way up, the boat is basically flat bottomed, and the bottom of the bay is soft sand and mud without any rocks it’s okay. I’ve taken the ground before. We’ll see.

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Filed under Anchor, Anchoring, Anna Maria Island, Bradenton Beach, FL, Coping with COPD, Living on the hook, Microcruising, Minimalist Cruising

Staying Aboard

I often write about how I’m confined on my boat anchored here at the lower end of Anna Maria Island, Florida, because high winds prevent me from being able to paddle my dinghy the 130 yards to the boat ramp dock…

But then there are beautiful days like today. There’s a pretty blue sky filled with puffy white clouds and hardly a breath of air. I’m not leaving the boat simply because there’s no reason to. I have food, water and there’s a plague still raging on the land. I’m content being where I am…So I’ll just sit here picking at my ukulele from time to time and arguing with people I don’t know about politics on Facebook.


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Another Blustery Day

Third blustery, windy day in a row anchored at the southern end of Anna Maria Island, Florida Thankfully I have water on board and enough food for several days. It’s been a week since I did any grocery shopping, though.

Two days ago I had to get towed out to the boat. I’d gone ashore to the hardware store to buy some fiberglass resin to make repairs to my shopping cart. I bought it last September because it was supposed to be aluminum. Maybe some part is, but I don’t know which. Overall I’ve been satisfied with it. It’s the fourth cart I’ve had in three years. The others rusted out fast and literally collapsed. This one had the wheels fall off on a trip one time but the Chinese company that makes the carts sent me replacement parts for free. It did take a couple of weeks to get the though.

Trying to stop the cart from rusting out I’ve been keeping it encased in a heavy-duty construction-grade plastic trash bag. I have to keep it in the dinghy, after all, because there’s no room for it on the boat. Not completely successful but it has slowed the deterioration down some. Not entirely, though. There’s lots of rust all over. On my last trip to Publix, last week, lifting it onto the trolley I felt something give way. On inspection back at the boat I found there are several rust-through spots as you can see.



The wind was a bit blustery and gusting into the teens but it was blowing directly from the east; ninety degrees across the path to the dock. I paddled ashore to go to the hardware store and buy some polyester resin to make some fiberglass repairs to the holes while adding strength. I already had matt and cloth in my tool locker.

The trolley is only running once an hour so, after the hardware excursion and a stop at Dollar Tree for junk food replenishment it was over two hours since I’d started. The wind had shifted into the NNE and increased to a steady mid-teens range.

I started paddling out to my boat about 100 yards away and struggled to get a third of the way when a strong gust pushed me back a good 15 to 20 yards despite my putting everything I had into fighting back. It was no use. So I quickly drifted back to the dock and waited. Perhaps a half hour later a pontoon boat came in to be recovered to its trailer. I asked if they would give an old man with COPD a hand and tow me out to my boat. They were understanding and a few minutes later I was tied off and back on board my boat.

I didn’t try and go ashore at all yesterday (May 13th) as it was blowing steadily in the mid teens. And I’m definitely not going anywhere today. I just took a reading on my handheld anemometer and got a gust of 24 mph!!!

Since I’m bouncing around on the waves, as you can see from the video, I can’t get up on the foredeck where I put the cart to repair it until things settle down some.

p.s. I just ordered an ALL ALUMINUM cart. Will be up to two weeks before it gets here.

The joys of living on the hook full time…I’m fine, thanks.

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A Journey Begun

Three years ago, today, May, 3, 2017, I set out from Ft. Lauderdale, FL., on my little Venture22 sailboat and eventually ended up anchored at the southern end of Anna Maria Island over on the Gulf side of the peninsula.

first day


The original destination was to be Breton Island, Louisiana, where I’d worked running a crew boat in the Kerr-McGee oil production field back in ’77/’78. I actually LIVED on the island for nearly a year…working 7 days on and 7 days at home.

Back then the island was about a half mile long and, perhaps, a quarter mile wide at its widest. But over the intervening years hurricanes had reduced it to a sand spit a couple of hundred yards long. I wanted to see it.


I made it as far as Carrabelle in the eastern panhandle of the state.That’s where, 18 miles off the coast, on July 6, 2017, a Coast Guard-dispatched boat took me aboard their boat and dropped me off at the dock in Panacea, Florida where an ambulance was waiting to take me to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital suffering from total kidney shutdown due to severe dehydration. I spent 17 days at TMH and Health South, a rehab facility, until I’d regained enough strength before returning to the boat to continue my voyage. I decided to head south.


I made it to Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria Island where I’ve been ever since with one excursion, last year, to Cayo Costa to the south. About a 200 mile round trip.



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I absolutely HATE days like this as I sit anchored at the south end of Anna Maria Island, Florida. Wind is out of the NNE gusting into the upper teens and low twenties. Heavily overcast. Overall there’s a 60% chance of rain and it’s been sixty percenting off and on so far this morning. But what I REALLY hate is that I’ve been up for a couple of hours (It’s now 9:30) and I just put on a sweat shirt. A bit earlier I donned the bottoms of my long johns. It’s the MIDDLE OF APRIL, DAMNIT!!!

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Filed under Anna Maria Island, boats, Bradenton Beach, FL, Coquina Beach, cruising, Living off the grid, Living on the hook, Microcruising, Minimalist Cruising, Retirement Afloat, Uncategorized

The Cruising Life

Some wag once said, “The cruising life is repairing your boat with inadequate tools in exotic locations.” The fact that I have only “cruised” about a third of a mile in the last six months does NOT negate that statement.

I’ve been struggling to remove the original outboard motor bracket on the port side of the transom. The boat had a 25hp Yamaha when I bought it. Much too big and heavy for such a small, light boat as a Venture 22.  It as a lousy engine, too boot. Broke down THREE TIMES between Ft. Lauderdale and Stuart. First time was in Boca Raton, about 20 miles from the start of my venture. It broke down again another 20 miles or so up in West Palm and finally in Stuart. If you searched for the term “hunk of junk” in the dictionary there’d be a picture of that outboard.

I replaced it with an old model 9.9 Mercury outboard. It took me from Stuart, across the state via the Okeechobee Waterway up to Carabelle in the eastern panhandle, and back down to Bradenton Beach where I live at anchor. Last year it took me from here to Cayo Costa and back, a journey of nearly 200 miles. The engine has worked like a charm for close to 2,000 miles. Its single shortcoming is that it’s a “short shaft” outboard and the prop cavitates when I’m rocked with the wakes of other boats and I really can’t use it when the seas are over 2 feet.

To work properly as auxiliary power for these small sailboats the outboards really need to be “long shaft.” Twenty inches, minimum, from where the engine attaches to the motor bracket to the cavitation plate rather than the 15 inches on the “short shaft” outboards. Five inches doesn’t seem like a lot. In fact, most women would scoff at that, but it makes a huge difference with an outboard motor. 

A little over a year ago I bought a second-hand Honda 9.9 long shaft 4 stroke outboard. I had another bracket, sometimes called a “jack stand” that I attached to the starboard side of the transom, and moved the Mercury to it, and put the Honda on the original bracket. 

I just never got the Honda working right. Problem with the idle speed. Since the Merc worked fine I never did what needed to be done to get the Honda working properly. So it sat on the stand for over a year. The bracket was never very good, either. I had to rig it with a block and tackle so I could raise and lower it when the Merc was on it. Over the year as the sailboat rocked and rolled in the wakes of passing boats and waves from storms the engine swayed back and forth on the stand. Sometimes worryingly so. Nothing I did with ropes got it to stay stationary.

I’ve been thinking about getting a BRAND NEW four stroke, long shaft motor for a long time. Actually since from about the time I bought the boat in the first place. But I needed to get rid of the Honda so I’d have a place to put a new motor. I DON’T want a used one. I want something BRAND NEW! I want something that if it poops I can take it in, after using the Merc to get me to the repair shop, and say, “Fix it! It’s on warranty!!!” 

Well, I sold the Honda a couple of weeks ago for almost as much as I paid for it. Damned thing was HEAVY. When it came off the bracket the rear end of the boat rose  a bit over two inches! I know, because the barnacles grow just at the waterline and there were over two inches of the buggers above the waterline with the engine gone.

Then I found that the bracket was frozen. The arms are slightly bent from the side to side action of the motor riding the waves. It’s impossible to raise or lower it. I bought a big breaker bar to try and get the bolts loosened up but no go. So the thing to do was to remove the bracket from the boat and see if I can straighten it out on shore. Easier said than done…

Heaven only knows how old the bracket is. Could be as old as the boat which was built in 1980! It’s attached to the transom by four bolts. Now, since I’m doing this unassisted, I have to slither through a small opening into the space beneath the cockpit seat to get to where the nuts are.

Once through that the space opens up a bit, but not a whole lot. Not enough to be able to sit up, so everything is done lying on my stomach. Here you can see where three of the bolts have been removed.

I got plenty of practice doing this sort of thing working as a rigger at a boatyard in New Orleans. But I’m 36 years older now, have arthritic hands, and less than 40% of normal lung capacity.

If everything goes well, HA! You work your way aft with your wrenches and take the bolt off. Easy Peasy, no? NO! These are lock-tight nuts. They have a plastic insert in the hole so they can’t vibrate loose.

I get the two lower bolts off easy enough. The top, inside nut is on an extra long bolt and the ratchet socket won’t fit over it. Of course I’m not prepared for this. I don’t have a box wrench or pliers with me . The top outside nut turns the bolt so it’s not coming loose.

Here’s why this is happening. Take a look at this more modern bracket.

See how the holes are square? They take bolts like these…

The square shoulders fit down into the squares on the bracket holes. This makes it easy to then go on the nut side of the bolt and fasten the nut without having someone on the outside holding it with a wrench to keep it from turning like happens with THESE…



Now I have to slither BACKWARDS out into the cabin to work out my next plan of attack. And don’t forget, I have serious COPD problems. I’m operating on about 40% of normal lung capacity so after doing something like getting out of the hole I have to sit for five minutes until my breathing gets back to what passes for normal.

I delve into my tool locker and dig out a pair of Vice Grips and my channel lock pliers. I don’t have a box wrench the proper size.  Over the side, into the dinghy and around to the bracket. I need to attach the Vice Grips to the bolt head. As the bolt is going to turn when I work on the nut, inside, the plier’s handle will also rotate until it comes to rest against one of the arms  keeping the bolt from turning further. OOOOPS. I know from experience that there’s a good chance the pliers might come loose. If that happens they’d fall into the water and be lost. So it’s back around to the side of the boat, up into the cockpit. Rest and catch my breath. Now, where the hell is that ball of twine? I’m not a super organized guy so it takes a while to find it. Back over the side into the dinghy. Around to the bracket. Hold on for a few minutes till my breathing is relaxed again.

After tying the twine to the pliers and securing it to a cleat,  I tighten the pliers onto the bolt head using both hands to lock them on. Back around to the side and up into the cockpit. Sit to catch my breath. Slither into the 16 inch hole and up to the transom. Rest to catch my breath. Use the channel locks to unfasten the nut. When it’s off I take the small hammer and whack away until the bolt end is flush with the transom. That sucker’s really in there. Rest for a few minutes to catch my breath. Agonizingly back out of the pit. Rest. Over the side into the dinghy and back to the bracket. pull the bolt the rest of the way out of the hole and reattach it to the remaining bolt head. Around to the side of the boat. Climb into the cockpit. Rest to catch my breath. Into the hole and work my way to the transom in a motion resembling an inch worm. Rest to catch my breath. Using the channel locks the nut starts working itself off the bolt. CLUNK! The Vice Grips have fallen off the bolt head. SHIT! F WORD! F WORD! F WORD!!!

Out of the hole. Rest. Into the dinghy and back to the bracket. See, I needed that twine. An eighth of a turn on the knob at the base of the pliers and a mighty squeeze with both hands gets them back on the bolt head. Around to the side of the boat, back in the cockpit. Rest. Back into the hole and inch worm my way to the transom. Rest. This time all’s good and the nut’s off. Back out of the hole. Rest. Over the side. Into the dinghy. Back to the bracket. Pull the bolt from the hole. Back to the side of the boat and into the cockpit. Rest. That part of the job is done.

Now I have to pry the bracket off of the transom. It’s stuck on, now, with silicone. Thank heaven it’s not done with 5200 which is the most tenacious adhesive sealant ever created. Silicone has the least adhesive properties of all the sealants, but there’s no telling how much was used when the bracket was attached. In any case, it won’t be easy getting it off. Since the holes on the old bracket are simply round, and not square like the new ones I’m not going to reuse it. I’ll buy a new bracket.

I’ve found a nearby marina down in Longboat Key has four stroke, 6 hp long shafts for sale for $1,650. That’s $200 less than the equivalent Mercury or Suzuki which will cover the cost of a new bracket. And, they’ll bring it up to me. They have to order it first, so it will take a while. Meanwhile I’ll work on removing the old bracket, order and install a new one.



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Dead Computer…

I’m writing this on bright but chilly morning here in the Bradenton Beach, FL, anchorage on my new “almost” a computer. An Acer R11 Chromebook.

The day before yesterday (Friday 1-4) my Macbook Air took a bath. Don’t ask…It’s the second time that’s happened. I took it apart for the second time and dried everything off but it won’t start. There’s a good possibility that it needs a needs a new I/O board like the last time. They’re cheap so I’ll try and get an new one. BUT the thing is I NEED a computer. I LIVE on my computer because there are days when I can’t get ashore, as you know.

Yes, I have my iPad but it’s getting kind of funny and having problems charging. Sometimes I have to wiggle the connection around to get it to work properly. The problem may be in the pad itself, or it could be in the plug. There are 16 gold contacts (eight on each side) and after a while they wear down and problems arise. I’ve gone through probably a dozen sets of chords since I bought the thing down in Panama about six years ago.

The Macbook Air is maybe a year older and that’s ancient in computer terms. But I loved it. Best computer I ever owned and I’ve owned a bunch. But after the first drenching and getting it up and running again it had problems that I didn’t bother to correct. The keyboard no longer worked so I bought a cheap one to plug into the computer. For some reason the Bluetooth program disappeared so I had to go with a keyboard with a cord. A pain in the ass, frankly, but it worked. Also left-hand speaker died as did the fan. But it was still kinda workable.

So, when the thing went down for the second time I knew it was time for a replacement. But I sure didn’t have $1,300 lying around doing nothing so a new Macbook Air was certainly out of the question. Even a regular Windows computer runs around $600 which is half of what I get each month in Social Security. Why not stick with the iPad until I can save enough? Well, the virtual keyboard thing sucks. That’s why some of my posts are riddled with spelling errors. I do have a Bluetooth keyboard but it’s big and clunky and doesn’t work very well.

Looking at computer ads the most reasonably price jobber doos were Chromebooks. They’re “Almost” computers but everything is done on the “Cloud.” Maybe I’m a 21st century Luddite, but I’ve never grasped the concept of the “Cloud” and I don’t trust it. And Chromebooks really need to be online to work. But the Chromebooks only cost a couple of hundred bucks and, with my Christmas largesse and some money I actually had left over from last month’s economic life I could swing that. And I gave serious consideration to how I actually use my computer.

First of all I’m almost always online. That’s why I spend $70/month for a hotspot on my phone although right now I’m piggybacking on a nearby open wifi site and my phone is turned off. Most of what I do is zero in on Facebook, news sites like Yahoo, emails, and writing like now. A “real” computer is a bit of overkill for what I do. I don’t play a lot of games other than Angry Birds 2 and some card games like Spades Plus, so a Chromebook will do okay.  I went over to the mainland in the afternoon and, as much as I hate to admit it, went to Wally World that advertised the lowest prices for Chromebooks.

I’d done some research via the iPad on different models. Acer has a good reputation and the R11 model has some things I like. Such as a touch screen so I can embiggen (as the Simpsons would say) what’s on the page to help my feeble eyesight. Looking at the array in the store, the Acer had the sharpest, most vibrant display of any, and at just over $200 it was something I could afford. So, here I am happily pecking away on a decent keyboard and content.

When the tide comes in a bit more so I can easily get up on the dinghy dock I’ll go ashore and do a little grocery shopping. I need to do laundry but that can wait until tomorrow.

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Spending Christmas Largesse

It’s a stay aboard, stay warm kind of day here at the Bradenton Beach, FL anchorage. Temperature nearly 20F below yesterday’s high. Heavily overcast and winds gusting up into the mid 20 mph range. Lumpy seas and a 90% chance of rain forecast.
I’ve een over on the mainland a couple of times in the last few days spending some of my Christmas largesse. It’s all stuff I’ve truly needed but haven’t had enough extra cash to follow through on my wants.
One of the most difficult things to do when living on a small boat on the hook is staying clean. It’s easy during the summer. Just hop on the trolley, go down to Coquina Beach where there are a dozen showers for bathers to rinse the salt off after swimming in the Gulf. Naturally you can use it for keeping clean, too. This time of year, though, it’s often too cold to take an outdoor shower PLUS the fact that the water is really cold now as well.
Last year I had a membership to the Y. It’s right on the #6 bus route. The problem I have with it is that if I catch the bus RIGHT ON TIME the trip to the Y, some exercising, and a shower, it was a FOUR HOUR excursion. Miss the bus over at the Y and we’re looking at FIVE HOURS.
A better alternative is one of the several health clubs that dot Manatee Avenue. There’s a bus running along IT every half hour so missing one isn’t as bad. One of the clubs has a $10/month plan so I’m going to sign in on that. But in order to use facilities like this you need sneakers or running shoes. I didn’t have those. All I have is a pair of sandals and they’re held together with cable ties! So I went out Monday and fitted myself out with a rather inexpensive pair of shoes.
I then walked a mile, taking a few of rest stops to catch my breath, damn it, and went to West Marine. I bought a quart of bottom paint for the dinghy and some epoxy to make a repair to the dinghy as well. That blew a chunk of a $76 bill all over the counter. But it was necessary. You wouldn’t believe how fast barnacles and vegetable gunk grows here at the anchorage. I’ve been taking the dinghy in once a month or so and scraping an inch of junk off and I’m tired of it.
Wednesday I went to the mainland and bought three pairs of jeans. I absolutely detest shopping for clothes and was down to a single pair of jeans with huge holes around the knees. Used to be when our pants got to that stage we’d cut them down for shorts and now the rips and tears are effin’ FASHION STATEMENTS!!! So got those and I’m probably good for the rest of my life as far as clothing is concerned.

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Live Aboard Simulator

This is FUNNY… Thanks to Larry at Google rec.boats.cruising

The Liveaboard Simulator”

Just for fun, park your cars in the lot of the convenience store
at least 2 blocks from your house. (Make believe the sidewalk is a
floating dock between your car and the house.

Move yourself and your family (If applicable) into 2 bedrooms and 1
bathroom. Measure the DECK space INSIDE your boat. Make sure the
occupied house has no more space, or closet space, or drawer space.

Boats don’t have room for “beds”, as such. Fold your Sealy
Posturepedic up against a wall, it won’t fit on a boat. Go to a hobby
fabric store and buy a foam pad 5′ 10″ long and 4′ wide AND NO MORE
THAN 3″ THICK. Cut it into a triangle so the little end is only 12″
wide. This simulates the foam pad in the V-berth up in the pointy bow
of the sailboat. Bring in the kitchen table from the kitchen you’re
not allowed to use. Put the pad UNDER the table, on the floor, so you
can simulate the 3′ of headroom over the pad.
Block off both long sides of the pad, and the pointy end so you have
to climb aboard the V-berth from the wide end where your pillows will
be. The hull blocks off the sides of a V-berth and you have to climb
up over the end of it through a narrow opening (hatch to main cabin)
on a boat. You’ll climb over your mate’s head to go to the potty in
the night. No fun for either party. Test her mettle and resolve by
getting up this way right after you go to bed at night. There are lots
of things to do on a boat and you’ll forget at least one of them,
thinking about it laying in bed, like “Did I remember to tie off the
dingy better?” or “Is that spring line (at the dock) or anchor line
(anchored out) as tight as it should be?” Boaters who don’t worry
about things like this laying in bed are soon aground or on
fire or the laughing stock of an anchorage…. You need to find out
how much climbing over her she will tolerate BEFORE you’re stuck with
a big boat and big marina bills and she refuses to sleep aboard it any

Bring a coleman stove into the bathroom and set it next to the
bathroom sink. Your boat’s sink is smaller, but we’ll let you use the
bathroom sink, anyways. Do all your cooking in the bathroom, WITHOUT
using the bathroom power vent. If you have a boat vent, it’ll be a
useless 12v one that doesn’t draw near the air your bathroom power
vent draws to take away cooking odors. Leave the hall door open to
simulate the open hatch. Take all the screens off your 2 bedroom’s
windows. Leave the windows open to let in the bugs that will invade
your boat at dusk, and the flies attracted to the cooking.

Borrow a 25 gallon drum mounted on a trailer. Flush your
toilets into the drums. Trailer the drums to the convenience store to
dump them when they get full. Turn off your sewer, you won’t have
one. This will simulate going to the “pump out station” every time the
tiny drum is full. 25 gallons is actually LARGER than most holding
tanks.They’re more like 15 gallons on small sailboats under 40′ because they
were added to the boat after the law changed requiring them and there
was no place to put it or a bigger one. They fill up really fast if
you liveaboard!

Unless your boat is large enough to have a big “head” with full bath,
make believe your showers/bathtubs don’t work. Make a deal with
someone next door to the convenience store to use THEIR bathroom for
bathing at the OTHER end of the DOCK. (Marina rest room) If you use
this rest room to potty, while you’re there, make believe it has no
paper towels or toilet paper. Bring your own. Bring your own soap
and anything else you’d like to use there, too.

If your boat HAS a shower in its little head, we’ll let you use the
shower end of the bathtub, but only as much tub as the boat has FREE
shower space for standing to shower. As the boat’s shower drains into a little pan
in the bilge, be sure to leave the soapy shower water in the bottom of
the tub for a few days before draining it. Boat shower sumps always
smell like spent soap growing exotic living organisms science hasn’t
actually discovered or named, yet. Make sure your simulated V-berth is
less than 3′ from this soapy water for sleeping. The shower sump is
under the passageway to the V-berth next to your pillows.

Run you whole house through a 20 amp breaker to simulate available
dock power at the marina. If you’re thinking of anchoring out, turn
off the main breaker and “make do” with a boat battery and
flashlights. Don’t forget you have to heat your house on this 20A
supply and try to keep the water from freezing in winter.

Turn off the water main valve in front of your house. Run a hose from
your neighbor’s lawn spigot over to your lawn spigot and get all your
water from there. Try to keep the hose from freezing all winter.

As your boat won’t have a laundry, disconnect yours. Go to a boat
supply place, like West Marine, and buy you a dock cart. Haul ALL
your supplies, laundry, garbage, etc. between the car at the
convenience store and house in this cart. Once a week, haul your
outboard motor to the car, leave it a day then haul it back to the
house, in the cart, to simulate “boat problems” that require “boat
parts” to be removed/replaced on your “dock”. If ANYTHING ever comes
out of that cart between the convenience store and the house, put it
in your garage and forget about it. (Simulates losing it over the
side of the dock, where it sank in 23′ of water and was dragged off by
the current.)

Each morning, about 5AM, have someone you don’t know run a weedeater
back and forth under your bedroom windows to simulate the fishermen
leaving the marina to go fishing. Have him slam trunk lids, doors,
blow car horns and bang some heavy pans together from 4AM to 5AM
before lighting off the weedeater. (Simulates loading boats
with booze and fishing gear and gas cans.) Once a week, have him bang
the running weedeater into your bedroom wall to simulate the idiot who
drove his boat into the one you’re sleeping in because he was half
asleep leaving the dock. Put a rope over a big hook in the ceiling
over your coffee table “bed”. Hook one end of the rope to the coffee
table siderail and the other end out where he can pull on it. As soon
as he shuts off the weedeater, have him pull hard 9 times on the rope
to tilt your bed at least 30 degrees. (Simulates the wakes of the
fishermen blasting off trying to beat each other to the fishing.)
Anytime there is a storm in your area, have someone constantly pull on
the rope. It’s rough riding storms in the marina! If your boat is a
sailboat, install a big wire from the top of the tallest tree to your
electrical ground in the house to simulate mast lightning strikes in
the marina, or to give you the thought of potential lightning strikes.

Each time you “go out”, or think of going boating away from your
marina, disconnect the neighbor’s water hose, your electric wires, all
the umbilicals your new boat will use to make life more bearable in the marina.

Use bottled drinking water for 2 days for everything. Get one of those
5 gallon jugs with the airpump on top from a bottled water company.
This is your boat’s “at sea” water system simulator. You’ll learn to
conserve water this way. Of course, not having the marina’s AC power
supply, you’ll be lighting and all from a car battery, your only
source of power. If you own or can borrow a generator, feel free to
leave it running to provide AC power up to the limit of the generator.
If you’re thinking about a 30′ sailboat, you won’t have room for a
generator so don’t use it.

Any extra family members must be sleeping on the settees in the main
cabin or in the quarter berth under the cockpit….unless you intend
to get a boat over 40-something feet with an aft cabin. Smaller boats
have quarter berths. Cut a pad out of the same pad material that is no
more than 2′ wide by 6′ long. Get a cardboard box from an appliance
store that a SMALL refridgerator came in. Put the pad in the box, cut
to fit, and make sure only one end of the box is open. The box can be
no more than 2 feet above the pad. Quarter berths are really tight.
Make them sleep in there, with little or no air circulation. That’s
what sleeping in a quarterberth is all about.

Of course, to simulate sleeping anchored out for the weekend, no heat
or air conditioning will be used and all windows will be open without
screens so the bugs can get in.

In the mornings, everybody gets up and goes out on the patio to enjoy
the sunrise. Then, one person at a time goes back inside to dress,
shave, clean themselves in the tiny cabin unless you’re a family of
nudists who don’t mind looking at each other in the buff. You can’t
get dressed in the stinky little head with the door closed on a
sailboat. Hell, there’s barely room to bend over so you can sit on the
commode. So, everyone will dress in the main cabin….one at a time.

Boat tables are 2′ x 4′ and mounted next to the settee. There’s no
room for chairs in a boat. So, eat off a 2X4′ space on that kitchen
table you slept under while sitting on a couch (settee simulator). You
can also go out with breakfast and sit on the patio (cockpit), if you

Ok, breakfast is over. Crank up the lawnmower under the window for 2
hours. It’s time to recharge the batteries from last night’s usage and
to freeze the coldplate in the boat’s icebox which runs off a
compressor on the engine. Get everybody to clean up your little hovel.
Don’t forget to make the beds from ONE END ONLY. You can’t get to the
other 3 sides of a boat bed pad.

All hands go outside and washdown the first fiberglass UPS truck that
passes by. That’s about how big the deck is on your 35′ sailboat that
needs to have the ocean cleaned off it daily or it’ll turn the white
fiberglass all brown like the UPS truck. Now, doesn’t the UPS truck
look nice like your main deck?

Ok, we’re going to need some food, do the laundry, buy some boat parts
that failed because the manufacturer’s bean counters got cheap and
used plastics and the wife wants to “eat out, I’m fed up with cooking
on the Coleman stove” today. Let’s make believe we’re not at home, but
in some exotic port like Ft Lauderdale, today….on our cruise to Key
West……Before “going ashore”, plan on buying all the food you’ll
want to eat that will:

A – Fit into the Coleman Cooler on the floor
B – You can cook on the Coleman stove without an oven or all those
fancy kitchen tools you don’t have on the boat
C – And will last you for 10 days, in case the wind drops and it takes
more time than we planned at sea.
Plan meals carefully in a boat. We can’t buy more than we can STORE,

You haven’t washed clothes since you left home and everything is
dirty. Even if it’s not, pretend it is for the boater-away-from-home
simulator. Put all the clothes in your simulated boat in a huge
dufflebag so we can take it to the LAUNDRY! Manny’s Marina HAS a
laundromat, but the hot water heater is busted (for the last 8 months)
and Manny has “parts on order” for it…..saving Manny $$$$ on the
electric bill! Don’t forget to carry the big dufflebag with us on our
“excursion”. God that bag stinks, doesn’t it?….PU!

Of course, we came here by BOAT, so we don’t have a car. Some nice
marinas have a shuttle bus, but they’re not a taxi. The shuttle bus
will only go to West Marine or the tourist traps, so we’ll be either
taking the city bus, if there is one or taxi cabs or shopping at the
marina store which has almost nothing to buy at enormous prices.

Walk to the 7-11 store, where you have your car stored, but ignore the
car. Make believe it isn’t there. No one drove it to Ft Lauderdale for you.
Use the payphone at the 7-11 and call a cab. Don’t give the cab driver
ANY instructions because in Ft Lauderdale you haven’t the foggiest
idea where West Marine is located or how to get there, unlike at home.
We’ll go to West Marine, first, because if we don’t the “head” back on
the boat won’t be working for a week because little Suzy broke a valve
in it trying to flush some paper towels. This is your MOST important
project, today….that valve in the toilet!! After the cab drivers
drives around for an hour looking for West Marine and asking his
dispatcher how to get there. Don’t forget to UNLOAD your stuff from
the cab, including the dirty clothes in the dufflebag then go into
West Marine and give the clerk a $100 bill, simulating the cost of
toilet parts. Lexus parts are cheaper than toilet parts at West
Marine. See for yourself! The valve she broke, the
seals that will have to be replaced on the way into the valve will
come to $100 easy. Tell the clerk you’re using my liveaboard simulator
and to take his girlfriend out to dinner on your $100 greenback. If
you DO buy the boat, this’ll come in handy when you DO need boat parts
because he’ll remember you for the great time his girlfriend gave him
on your $100 tip. Hard-to-find boat parts will arrive in DAYS, not months like the rest
of us. It’s just a good political move while in simulation mode.

Call another cab from West Marine’s phone, saving 50c on payphone
charges. Load the cab with all your stuff, toilet parts, DIRTY CLOTHES then
tell the cabbie to take you to the laundromat so we can wash the
stinky clothes in the trunk. The luxury marina’s laundry in Ft
Lauderdale has a broken hot water heater. They’re working on it, the
girl at the store counter, said, yesterday. Mentioning the $12/ft you
paid to park the boat at their dock won’t get the laundry working
before we leave for Key West. Do your laundry in the laundromat the
cabbie found for you. Just because noone speaks English in this
neighborhood, don’t worry. You’ll be fine this time of day near noon.

Call another cab to take us out of here to a supermarket. When you get
there, resist the temptation to “load up” because your boat has
limited storage and very limited refridgeration space (remember?
Coleman Cooler).

Buy from the list we made early this morning. Another package of
cookies is OK. Leave one of the kids guarding the pile of clean
laundry just inside the supermarket’s front door….We learned our
lesson and DIDN’T forget and leave it in the cab, again!

Call another cab to take us back to the marina, loaded up with clean
clothes and food and all-important boat parts. Isn’t Ft Lauderdale
beautiful from a cab? It’s too late to go exploring, today. Maybe
tomorrow…. Don’t forget to tell the cab to go to the 7-11 (marina
parking lot)….not your front door….cabs don’t float well.

Ok, haul all the stuff in the dock cart from the 7-11 store the two
blocks to the “boat” bedroom. Wait 20 minutes before starting out for
the house. This simulates waiting for someone to bring back a marina-owned dock
cart from down the docks…..They always leave them outside their
boats, until the marina “crew” get fed up with newbies like us asking
why there aren’t any carts and go down the docks to retrieve them.

Put all the stuff away, food and clothes, in the tiny drawer space
provided. Have a beer on the patio (cockpit) and watch the sunset.
THIS is living!

Now, disassemble the toilet in your bathroom, take out the wax ring
under it and put it back. Reassemble the toilet. This completes the
simulation of putting the new valve in the “head” on the boat. Uh, uh,
GET YOUR HAND OFF THAT SWITCH! The whole “boat” smells like the inside
of the holding tank for hours after fixing the toilet in a real boat,
too! Spray some Lysol if you got it….

After getting up, tomorrow morning, from your “V-Berth”, take the
whole family out to breakfast by WALKING to the nearest restaurant,
then take a cab to any local park or attraction you like. We’re off
today to see the sights of Ft Lauderdale…..before heading out to
sea, again, to Key West. Take a cab back home after dinner out and go to bed, exhausted, on
your little foam pad under the table…..

Get up this morning and disconnect all hoses, electrical wires, etc.
Get ready for “sea”. Crank up the lawn mower under the open bedroom
window for 4 hours while we motor out to find some wind. ONE
responsible adult MUST be sitting on the hot patio all day, in shifts,
“on watch” looking out for other boats, ships, etc. If you have a
riding lawn mower, let the person “on watch” drive it around the yard
all day to simulate driving the boat down the ICW in heavy traffic.
About 2PM, turn off the engine and just have them sit on the mower
“steering” it on the patio. We’re under sail, now. Every hour or so,
take everyone out in the yard with a big rope and have a tug-of-war to
simulate the work involved with setting sail, changing sail, trimming
sail. Make sure everyone gets all sweaty in the heat.
Sailors working on sailboats are always all sweaty or we’re not going
anywhere fast! Do this all day, today, all night, tonight, all day,
tomorrow, all night tomorrow night and all day the following day until
5PM when you “arrive” at the next port you’re going to. Make sure
no one in the family leaves the confines of the little bedroom or the
patio during our “trip”. Make sure everyone conserves water, battery
power, etc., things you’ll want to conserve while being at sea on a
trip somewhere. Everyone can go up to the 7-11 for an icecream as soon
as we get the “boat” docked on day 3, the first time anyone has left
the confines of the bedroom/patio in 3 days.

Question – Was anyone suicidal during our simulated voyage? Keep an
eye out for anyone with a problem being cooped up with other family
members. If anyone is attacked, any major fights break out, any
threats to throw the captain to the fish…..forget all about boats
and buy a motorhome, instead.

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