Couple of updates first: the plastic wrap is off the boat and everything is ready for the summer. The engines started easily, the genny runs well and the AC units are both pumping out the cool when the days get hot.
Last week while A. and the kids were visiting grammy, I built bunk beds for the kids. The boy LOVES his upper bunk. He’s got all his stuff up there and loves climbing up and down. Plus he’s discovered a new game – when I’m laying on my bed, he crawls up into his bunk and starts throwing his stuffed toys at me while laughing his head of hysterically. At least one of us is having fun.
The girl is now 6 months old and growing like a weed. In fact she is in the 96th percentile for her length and her weight is off the chart. She’s still breastfeeding so I guess that is agreeing with her. She’s not mobile yet, but can roll over both ways, sit up by herself and jump like her pants are on fire in her exersaucer. That thing takes up a lot of space on a boat, but she loves it and the exercise is good for her chubby little legs.
I’ve begun to use the upper deck for my office in the evenings. The view from here is lovely but is more conducive to daydreaming than getting any actual work done. The weather has really warmed up, but is not too hot… yet. I will take advantage of my upper office as long a I can before the heat drives me back into my main floor office (kitchen table.)
I’m on the hunt for a dingy with a motor that the boy and I can tool around in this summer. If you know of any, let me know via email.
It began a couple of weeks ago with the arrival back of the seagulls. There was still a bit of ice here and there in the harbour which the seagulls used to conference on. Shreeking and calling at all hours of the night carrying on like drunken weekenders on a Canadian long weekend.
Next the brokers broke out of the winter funk and began to launch boats. It started with just one or two but now there are dozens of brand new sail boats lightly bobbing in slips without masts or the character that comes from use.
And now finally: water! It’s kind of funny – we live on water year round but miss it so badly when the supply gets shut off in the fall. Yesterday, we officially welcomed spring by taking a long hot shower on-board, wasting water and generally reveling in the luxury.
The final step in the spring dance will be the removal of the plastic. We’ve already cut some air holes to let out the heat during the day but in the next week or two we will go at it with razor knives and expose the River Queen in all her glory.
Tonight the moon was floating in the sky over Ridgetown – the water is still and the air is warm – harbingers of the days to come.
I suppose that most would consider our little family to be fairly computer literate. We have high speed internet on the boat which we access with 3 laptops and one Internet Tablet. We run a couple of personal blogs (WeLiveOnABoat.com, LifeAboard.ca) and two comercial sites (NeighboursAppliance.com, ScrapScene.com.) We use things like Skype (long distance phone calls) all the time, do our banking on-line and plan our days and lives with on-line tools such as Google Calendar and Remember the Milk. We use xDrive for our on-line backups.
I’ve been asked several times how get get internet on the boat. We have used 3 different internet suppliers here.
The marina where we are docked have a company that supplies wireless internet (for a fee) to the boaters in the bay. Their speeds are really good, especially the 2 meg uploads but their signal fades badly in various places around the marina including our winter slip here. I can use their access point in the front of the boat, but not in the back.
I also have an ‘air card’ that plugs into my laptop that I use primarily on the road at work. The speeds are Ok but not good enough for Skype – perfectly fine for basic surfing and email though. We use this connection when our other supplier is down.
Finally, our main internet supplier is a wireless modem unit called Rogers Portable Internet. The speeds are good to great for downloads but uploads can occasionally be a bit slow. It works good for Skype voice but can occasionally drag a bit on Skype video. We have it shared with a wireless router so that we can all be on the internet at the same time. (The Boy even has my old laptop which he uses to watch Bob the Builder, etc. videos on YouTube. He can pull his laptop out, turn it on and surf (via bookmarks) to his YouTube videos. He’s 3 yrs old…)
Others have expressed concerns about the moist environment on a boat being bad for computers. We have not experienced any problems with this while on board unless you count dropping a water bottle on one of the laptops shorting out the keyboard – oops. For the most part, laptops today seem to be fairly durable. The one I am writing on right now is 2 yrs old and travels with me in my service truck everyday. That means vibration, dust and constantly being slapped around and it is still working fine. Of course, tomorrow it will quit! I guess what I am saying is that we’ve have had good experiences with laptops on our boats.
“Now there’s something you don’t see every day!”
As I stepped off the boat to goto work (late, as usual) this big boy was sitting on an ice flow just behind the boat. While I went back in to grab my camera, he took up a perch on an electrical box on the dock across from us. I’m not sure how common Snowy Owl’s are here, but this is the first one I’ve seen in 17 years here in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area.)
Any ornithologists out there? How common is this bird in Toronto?
For those of you coming here to read about How To Live on a Boat – you might start with the Living on a Boat Series.
Yesterday, I contemplated how good life was living on the boat. Today, I’m warming up after going through one of the cons of living on a boat in the winter – filling the water tanks.
It is -17 deg C out and the wind is blowing hard and cold and the tank goes empty. The tank never empties on the warmer days – not when the wind is calm and the sun is shining – but when it is the most miserable out. So tonight I hauled 55 gallons in jugs from the laundry room and filled it again. This should last us about 10 days to two weeks depending on how water frugal we are. As an aside – I have no idea how much water the average 4 person family uses but I can guarantee that they will use more than 55 gallons. Those who live aboard boats live with a true conservation spirit – out of necessity.
I sit here now on a Saturday morning writing on my laptop, my baby girl laying beside me talking away and sucking her fingers. My stomach is pleasantly full of fresh croissants and coffee. The sun is shining brightly in the windows – the boat gently rocking. The boy and my wife are out and about. I’ve got several good books, just waiting for me to crack open. A day off work.
Ahhhh – life is good.
If you would have asked me a couple of years ago what I would have thought of living in a giant bubble – I would have told you how I though It would be horrible, claustrophobic and confining. But today as I look out through my semi-transparent windows into a wavy kind of smoky world, I can tell you I love it. You have the illusion of privacy while still looking out over the whole marina able to see (sort of) and what you can’t see your mind kind of fills in the blanks.
The boy and I have had grand times playing soccer on the back deck all within the safety and warmth of the bubble. During the day the inside of the boat heats up when the sun is shinning sometimes to where it is too hot. It acts like a greenhouse and traps the warm sun rays inside. Although I have recounted the several times that Ive worried about losing the bubble during wind storms, watching the rain and freezing rain bounce off the outside of the bubble makes one thankful to not only be inside but still have dry decks.
Many of the boats around the marina strung Christmas lights up inside their bubbles making everything very festive. Of course, many of us will leave our lights up till spring although it likely won’t bother the neighbours like on a street somewhere in the ´burbs.
The picture here is my neighbour down the dock who is also in a River Queen with his Christmas lights merrily lighting up the sky at night. That is a peaceful scene!
Well now … as you can see I’ve finally migrated my blog over from Blogger to WordPress. What a job it was! They don’t make it easy for a non-techie – that is for sure! If people are interested in how I did it – just leave a comment and I’ll do up a post on it. I also purchased a new theme for this blog – Shifter. Shifter is amazing. It allows me to set the format and look of my blog just by turning features on or off. No programming – no ‘geek squad’ stuff, just on or off. That – I can do! Anyway, I urge anyone who is looking for a quality WordPress Theme to check out Shifter – it is the most versitile theme I’ve found to date.
Yes – we survived the storm! I left off my last post early in the morning after a night of watching the storm and hoping that everything would hold together. In the morning light, I went out back to where the most of my frame is to discover that I had a few rips and that the whole plastic canopy had shifted position and no longer sat tight against the frame. So, I hopped into the car (big mistake) and headed off into the blizzard and drifts to get some shrink tape from my supplier. He lives about 10 mins away, but the trip took half an hour. I was plowing drifts the whole way and going down his street I was literally floating on top the snow most of the time. I made it back without mishap and plastered tape over all the rips and stretched areas. I also reinforced most of the corners and anywhere where the plastic was touching boat to prevent chafing. The short version is – we survived.
Now we are dealing with a cold snap. Last night it went down to -16 C which is cold for this time of year. The ice is growing thicker, but the bubbler is keeping it at bay. This morning the lake was smoking – at least that is what it looked like, as the heat left the open water. It won’t be long if this cold lasts and we will be walking on water again.
Having the baby on board has been wonderful. We’ve really settled into a nice rhythm with her. A and I are learning again how versatile babies are – basically, they are happy if you are happy. The boy lived in a house until he was 8 months old although he does not remember it at all. This child will not know anything but the boat – at least for the next couple of years anyway. What a life she will have! Not many kids can say they live on the water – I think it’s pretty cool – I hope they do too.
Finally, I’ve resurrected my business website (with that new Shifter Theme – I just couldn’t help myself.) So that has also been sucking up my time. Check it out at neighboursappliance.com – let me know what you think.
I live on a boat with a 3 week old baby, a 3 year old who still ‘stains’ his underwear, a 55 gallon holding tank, an old electric toilet and 2 adults, one of whom occasionally ‘rips one’, and … my boat smells! The smell I am smelling, however, is none of the above (I don’t think so anyway.) I can’t figure out where the smell is coming from. We can go days without smelling a thing, then all of a sudden, in the middle of the night the main cabin of the boat smells like something curled up and died. We’ve searched high and low – looking for something that might be going bad. We’ve pulled all the drawers out – pulled out the fridge and checked all the nooks and crannies – nothing. Even though I don’t smell it down below decks, today I’m going to shop vac out the bilge and dry everything up again – hoping that the smell might be from down there somehow.
I usually get the blame for the off odours around here, and most of the time I deserve it, but this time – IT AIN’T ME!
So, I’m off the bilge with my vac and hoses … queue the Ghostbuster music!
We have received a fair amount of questioning from friends and family about what our plans are. I knew that at some point a decision about our future would need to be made but I kind of shoved it out of my mind for a couple of weeks. However, every day The Boy needs a bit more space, A is a touch plumper (in the good pregnancy way) and I’m still, well … fleshy. So, it has become rather obvious to me that one of the requirements that we need to fill is: – we need more room.
Initially, in a fit of spittle spraying panic, I strongly suggested that we had to start looking for a furnished apartment. Of course, the panic was a result of my putting the problem out of my mind for two weeks, and then feeling the pressure of it. A. gamely played along, but I suspect that even then she knew what the plan was. The next day, she called me at work and suggested that she had an idea that she wanted to present but NOT have me shoot down without hearing it. (That’s what she has to do when I get all lathered up about something.)
When I got home she sat me down and said that not only did she NOT want to move into an apartment but that she still wanted to stay on the water. How cool is that? She then proceeded to show me a series of houseboats on Yachtworld. At first, I was thinking – “oh no, not a stinkpot” (thats what sailors call powerboaters – while we sailors are called blowhards) but A. presented the logic to me.
- We are not going to sail around the world in the next few years, not at least until the kids are 4 or 5 yrs old.
- Sailing the 10 or so times a season does not justify us living in such a cramped space even if this is a great bluewater boat.
- Even though I love sailing – the sails up, sun shining, the water whispering past the hull – my family needs more room.
So, we are officially on the hunt for a houseboat. This past weekend we went to look at a couple of 40′ foot steel houseboats – River Queens. They are houseboats with a hull as opposed to pontoons – twin engine … but no sails. Oh well … dream postponed, not dream over.