Recent Marina

  • by strathy

    This is part four in my Living on a Boat series.  It was originally going to be titled Who should NOT Live on a Boat, but recent events made me change the title and topic slightly.

    So this is Part 4 in out Living on a Boat Series:

    Part 1: Living on a Boat – Cheap Living.
    Part 2: Living on a Boat – Questions.
    Part 3: Living on a Boat – Family and All

    Morris's boat on the hard - flowers on deck.

    Morris's boat on the hard - flowers on deck.

    Last week the stark reminder that we are surrounded by danger was forcefully driven home with a brutally sad event.  One of our fellow live aboards fell in and drowned.

    I did not know Morris very well as he was new to our community.  I met him a couple of weeks ago when he invited me aboard his new boat to show me around.  He was excited and slightly apprehensive as this was going to be his first winter aboard his boat.  A tall, rugged, but nice looking man, Morris told me about his new boat/home, showing me his new electric fireplace and his galley setup.  We chatted about winters in Canada and he related some of his fears about not being able to stay warm enough and worries about the ice.  I reassured him that all would be well and that we loved winters on the boat, telling him that, in fact, we like winters better than summers on the boat.  We said our goodbyes assuring each other that we would keep in contact and check in on each other during the upcoming months.  That was the last time I saw him.
    This is the story as it was told to me.  By 9:30 Morris and his party friends were seen tottering up and down the dock on wobbly legs.  At midnight, when another boater on their dock came back from a late night pizza,  the party was going strong.  Around 1:30am, the party thought it would be fun to fire up the boat engines and gun them.  Somewhere around 3:30, Morris went out for a pee and never came back.
    The dirty little secret among  boaters is that there is an unacceptably high rate of alcoholism in our line of adventure.  Does boating attract alcoholics or do boaters become alcoholics; I don’t know.  (What came first the chicken or the egg?)  In the past I’ve ranted about the nocturnal comings and goings of our various drinking neighbours.  All this stems from alcohol.  There seems to be two types of people who enjoy alcohol on boats – those with the occasional glass of wine while sitting out on the back deck in the evening, and those who drink can after can of beer, chased by rum until they are stupid drunk.  Why are there so many stupid drunks on boats?Statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard show that alcohol was the lead contributing factor in 20% of all boating related deaths.  The total number of boating related fatalities in 2006 in the US was 710.  That means that if you removed the alcohol from the hands of boaters, you would have had 142 fewer deaths.  That is 142 fewer families grieving the loss of loved ones; fathers, mother, brothers, sister.  You get the picture.
    Of course, writing a post like this reminds me of my own brush with liquid death a couple of winters ago.  I was stupid, but not stupid drunk, or I would likely not be here today.  Read about it in Thoughts on Swimming, Mortality, etc.
    So what can we learn from another needless and tragic death?  This is what I came up with:
    • If you are an alcoholic, don’t even think about living on a boat.  You are surrounded by danger.
    • Don’t pee off your boat or dock, especially if you’ve been drinking.
    • Install ladders around your boat to get back onto the dock if you do go in.
    • Remember, remember REMEMBER – you are surrounded by danger.  Always be prepared for the worst and keep your head about you.
    Any that I missed?
  • by strathy

    I’ve received a couple of cool comments lately and don’t want them to get lost in the posts. I love hearing from everyone out there, especially when you’ve been inspired or encouraged to take the plunge. Feel free to comment or contact me with whatever comments or questions you might have.

    Reading your site has really firmed up our resolve to live aboard. We’re in Tennessee on The River, but we’re looking at buying a 38-to-41 footer and moving to the Gulf coast. So thanks for taking the time to do this, and we’ll be opening our own blog once we get the deed done. Gotta sell a house and all that first.

    Our biggest concern is…not knowing how to sail! But I’m sure we can learn from the other live-aboards around us. We’re eager to get good at it, Katie will cook for anyone and everyone, and I can fix stuff, mechanical and electrical.

    Cheers and thanks again!
    Mike


    Hi,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while and it has some excellent info and I always manage to spend an hour reading it every time I drop by here. It also inspired me to go through with living aboard.
    I am about to become a resident at the Port Credit Harbor Marina. I am bringing my new (first) boat there this weekend. Could you give me some info on how you get internet service. I am a web designer so this is a priority. I have heard that there is wifi service available but have not been able to track the company down.

    Thanks for the good read,
    Robin

  • by strathy

    This is part 2 of 4 on the topic of Living on a Boat.

    Part 1: Living on a Boat – Cheap Living
    Part 3: Living on a Boat – Family and All
    Part 4: Living on Boat and Alcohol

    In this post I will try to answer some of the questions that I get about living on a boat. If you have other questions that are not addressed here, feel free to send me an email and I will try to answer them for you. This will also be the beginning of my FAQ. Occasionally I will add to the FAQ as I accumulate more questions and answers.

    How do you deal with the winter?

    The same way you do, except I shovel the dock instead of the walk. In the fall we wrap our boat in plastic so that it looks and acts like a greenhouse. During the day the temps can get up to over 90 F under the plastic, even in the middle of winter. We use a bubbler which is basically a big underwater fan to keep ice from

    Living on a Boat - Wrapped for Winter

    Living on a Boat - Wrapped for Winter

    forming on the lake in a little patch around our boat. There are some steel boats though, who don’t bubble and don’t seem to have any problems. We choose to bubble as we like the open water around the boat so that it still rocks and moves around a bit – just like every good home should. We heat the inside with electric heaters, but could use propane or even wood as some of our neighbours do. All in all, winters are very warm and snug aboard our boat and we actually look forward to it.

    Do you have running water – hot water – a shower – a tub, etc.

    Running water, hot water, showers, tubs, etc. are not essentials. We did not have any of them on the first boat we lived aboard – the Alberg 30. We managed just fine. The marina has showers available for us live aboards and so every morning (rain, shine, snow or sleet – just like the mailman) we would troop off to the marina bathrooms for a shower. It was a bit of a drag but you get used to it. Now, on our River Queen, we have running water, hot water and a full sized shower. Ahhh pure luxury! We don’t have a tub, but there are some boats that do. Our neighbours (Atlantic Grace) a couple of docks down from us do have a tub on their 40′ sailboat. Now, they are living the high life! See, even living on a boat has a bit of the ‘keep up with the Jones’ syndrome. Seriously though, you can get used to not having these things – I know that might be inconceivable to some people, but it is the truth. We did.

    Where do you go to the bathroom?

    We have two different seasons for the bathroom use – during the summer anything goes. We just have to go do a pumpout of the holding tank now and then. During the winter we try to limit #2 to the marina bathrooms. We can still get pumpouts in the winter but they cost a lot more and so we usually try to reserve as much of the holding tank as we can for those true emergencies – the midnight runs, so to speak.

    Don’t you miss…?

    We used to miss a lot of things, but to tell you the truth, I can’t, for the life of me, remember what they were now. I have everything I could want or need on this boat. We’ve adjusted to our space and lifestyle and those things we missed … we just don’t miss any more. It is a simpler life for us – less junk and clutter is a good thing.

    What about the boat always rocking and moving?

    That took some getting used to. Living on a boat that is always moving makes land feel kind of weird. When we first moved aboard, we would get onto land and have ‘spells’ where we would feel like the room or the ground was still rocking – it is a peculiar sensation. However, after a couple of months even that went away. I don’t even notice the boat moving now – in fact, if it stopped moving, I would probably feel that more.

    Don’t you worry about sinking?

    When we first moved aboard, every little sound made me imagine water was rushing into the boat and Davie Jones Locker was calling me … I haven’t thought that in a couple of years now. You get used to all the nosies and sounds and I know now what is a normal sound even if it is not a sound we hear very often. Plus I know my boat pretty well, it is not about to sink.

    What do your families think?

    I decided to poll our immediate families to answer this question. Here are there responses:

    My Father: “My father always said that you could get used to anything. He said, for example, “you could get used to hanging if you hang long enough.” That describes how we feel about you living on a boat : we are hanging in there getting used to the idea.
    I always tell my patients that I have a married son living in Toronto. Two kids. Living on a boat in a marina. When they realize what I just said, they say “oooh….coool! Then I launch into a description of the merits of shrink wrap plastic, describe how a bubbler works, tell how to break up the ice around the boat without falling in more than once, and tell how to go to the bathroom on a boat. They always ask about the children. I have told them about safety features, such as a water sensitive “turtle watch” which can also be used to test the kids salivation skill, and about life jackets. They always sound happily relieved when I tell them that the kids don’t have to wear them to bed at night. I have described the joy the kids get out of converting dried old bread crusts into goose guano on the dock.
    Yep, your living on a boat has provided a great deal of conversational fodder on what would otherwise be a dull afternoon.”

    My Mothers 1st response was: “You sure you want to hear?”

    But then she said this, “No problem with you living on the houseboat. It’s like a very small apartment. The sail boat was pretty small and always the worry that you were going to “sail the 7 seas”. I was also concerned about the safety of the grandchildren on the boat, especially when I saw the picture of [The Boy] learning how to walk on the dock, but you take precautions with life jackets and now “the watch”. Where you want to live is between A. and you and you both seem to be very happy where you are. When your great grandparents on your father’s side came to Canada they lived in a sod house on the prairies. I wonder what their parents thought? You saw the house in Ireland where your grandfather lived as a child, only it was only a small house with one room upstairs then and 12 children lived there. Also your great, great grandparents house at Armaghbrague where another 12 children were raised. How did they do it? I would love to see you in a comfortable house with room for the children to play outside without worrying about them and not necessarily a view of Toronto, but that’s up to you.”

    My Sister: “I too, have enjoyed my visits to ‘the boats’. My fave experience was when we moved you onto the sailboat and we picked up anchor and puttered out of the marina into the lake and just sat and watched the sun set. My most recent visit was in winter which meant for me hiking up to the showers in the marina and although it was fun like a ‘camping weekend’ I am glad that I don’t have to do it on a regular basis. As well I was ‘woozy’ for a few days after I returned home – as I guess I was not used to the gentle swaying of the boat from the waves and wind. All in all this Auntie would just rather have you living CLOSER – boat or no boat !! :)”

    Mother-in-Law: “I see shocked faces when I mention that my daughter and her husband live on a boat. They seem relieved when I quickly mention that it is really like a small apartment.
    I do love all the new modern conveniences you are bringing on the boat. The hand run washing machine is very exciting especially due to the fact that the daddy and 3 year old son do the washing now. When are you going to get a butter churner and make your own butter?”

    Brother-in-Law #1: “well i think it’s great! there is no disadvantage to this visiting relative as long as i have flexibility in my requirements for sleeping arrangements and no expectations of privacy.”

    If I wanted to move on a boat, where should I start?

    This question is actually a huge topic that I cannot fully and completely address here. However, here are three important areas of concern for you to consider before you actually make the move:

    • Do you have a body of water nearby that has space and facilities for living aboard a boat? If not, why not? Is your weather not conducive to living on a boat i.e. do you live in Tuktoyaktuk? Is there some sort of by-law in place that disallows live aboards? i.e. Oakville, Ontario. Basically, if others are doing it in your area, then there is no reason why you can’t. Ask around, especially at the marinas. If they point you to someone who is living on a boat – bring a small gift, i.e. a bottle of wine or a hunk of cheese and crackers and tell them you would like to chat about living aboard. Most will accommodate you especially with the added incentive of your little heart (or stomach) warming gift. Simply walking up to a live aboard and firing questions, will get you little useful information.
    • Do you own a boat? If not, are you ready to own a boat? Is money the issue – if so, how will you solve this problem? Is there a “creative” solution to the money issue? A land living friend of ours just told us that he was moving aboard a 38′ powerboat a couple of docks down from us. Our first comment was, “Wow, contrats on buying a new boat!” He replied, “Oh, I didn’t buy it, I’m just boat sitting for a year. The owner does not have time to take care of the boat right now. All I have to pay is the dock fees.” That is what I mean by creative.
    • Are you single – fine. If not, is your family/other half ready for this type of change?

    These three areas of concern: the Where, the How, and the Others are right at the top of the list of practical considerations if your are looking to explore the adventure of moving aboard a boat.

    How do I convince my Significant Other to move aboard with me?

    First of all, I don’t think you should convince you Sig O that this is what you should do. If they don’t want to do it, and you force the issue, they won’t be your S.O. for long. Find some other dream to live with them or figure out some way of changing their mind, but if they are not commited to the living on a boat lifestyle, then you are headed for trouble. In my case, my wife initially moved aboard as an adventure – now, she wants to live on a boat as much as I do. In fact when she was pregnant with The Girl, she was the one who convinced me that moving into a larger boat was the way to go rather than moving back onto dirt. She’s a special one – and I’m keeping her all to myself!

    Living on a boat is as much about being happy with your choice as it is about saving money or living an adventure. The topic of who you share your adventure with is one that I’ve tried to address before. Check out the post called So You Want to Live on A Boat for more information including the following.:

    “There is one other topic that I would urge you to do some real soul searching about before you take the plunge. That is, your marriage. How strong is your bond with your wife – how much does she really want to participate in this adventure? Living aboard a small boat means that you really cannot get away from each other – your bedroom is also your living room which is also the kitchen which is also the bathroom, etc. More marriages have been ruined by moving aboard a boat – just look at all the boats for sale in Florida. Talk with some of the sales people down there and they will tell you story after story broken marriages and busted dreams. Husbands sort of hanging around trying to sell the boat while the wife flies home to try to find normalcy in her life again. Read some of the stories that are out there about the conflict that couples go through when living in a confined space. Then have a face to face with Mrs. about how you are going to deal with these conflicts when they arise (and they will arise – believe me.)”

    Work out your issues before you move aboard because you will be working out your problems sooner rather than later if you do move aboard.

    Don’t you worry about keeping your kids safe?

    Yes – big time! This is one that I’ve spent a lot of thought time on. The Boy is not a swimmer … yet. It is something that I’ve been working on with him, but have not yet reached the point where he is comfortable in the water. It is a process. It is hard for him to learn how to swim if he is not happy just being in the water, so we work on that first. But, even if he were a great swimmer and loved the water, I would still work through the problem and set up the various systems to keep him safe on the boat. Life jackets are a must anytime he goes out the door. His “Turtle Watch” is used whenever he is playing on deck. On the Alberg, we used netting and jacklines with a tether to his life jacket. With The Girl, it is currently door baby gates (the kind used to keep kids from falling down stairs.) Soon she will be walking and then it will be life jackets and tethers for her as well. Having a set of rules, staying fully aware of where the kids are and what the possibilities for trouble are is the biggest defense in keeping kids safe on a boat.

    Will you ever go back to living on land?

    Yes – probably, however, moving back onto dirt is not in the immediate future for us. I suppose at some point we will, but for now – this is our life.

  • by strathy

    I often get emails from various people asking all sorts of questions about Living on a Boat. Many are from people who are contemplating moving aboard themselves and are looking for information and knowledge from those of us who have already taken the plunge (so to speak.) With that is mind, I plan to do a short four post series on the topic of Living on a Boat touching on the topics that I get asked the most often.

    This then is Part 1 in our Living on Boat Series.

    Part 2: Living on a Boat – Questions.
    Part 3: Living on a Boat – Family and All
    Part 4: Living on Boat and Alcohol

    Living on a Boat – Cheap Living

    I recently worked my way though the book by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin called Your Money Or Your Life – Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence. I had probably purchased the book 10 years ago, and while I had previously applied some of the ideas found in the book, this time I’ve really taken the philosophy to heart and have applied a greater part of the book to our life here on the boat. Just by living on a boat we already lived a more frugal life than most, but even with our already reduced housing expenses, I’ve found many ways to control both the amount of money coming into my life and more importantly the money going out. I highly recommend Joe and Vicki’s book to anyone who has a desire to get away from the consumer lifestyle that so many of us have been sucked into. It is especially good for those who are contemplating how to reduce their expenses so that living on a boat might be an option. Ok, enough of that.

    We are living on a boat in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Mississauga a major city right next to Toronto, Ontario although without signs nobody would know where Toronto ends and Mississauga begins. Before moving aboard our boat 4 years ago, we lived in a little brick bungalow in Toronto. So, we’ve lived (and owned) on land and lived on the water … we prefer the water. As I look back at my old budgets from the house, and compare them to what I am spending today, I figure that my housing costs are approximately 2/3’s less today. Living in the house with the mortgage, taxes, gas, hydro and water came to around $1600.00 per month and that would be considered living cheap compared to most people living in Toronto. Here on the the boat we average out at about $600.00 a month living year round. The living on a boat number could be further reduced by converting to propane heat for the winter – a move that I am thinking about for this upcoming winter. Without the extra hydro required for the winter, our slip costs for the year would go down to a little over $350.00 per month! We also live in one of the more expensive marina’s on Lake Ontario – slips can be had for a fair amount less if you are further away from Toronto. Finally, I don’t

    The view out my kitchen window.

    The view out my kitchen window.

    think there are any cheaper living accommodation’s any closer to Toronto that where I am. Right now, I am sitting at my kitchen table on the boat looking out the window with a full view of downtown Toronto. If I were to hop in my car, I could be at the corner of Yonge and Dundas (right in the heart of downtown Toronto) in about 20 mins. There are a number of business people who are my neighbours here (a couple of lawyers, a teacher, a banker, etc) that work either downtown or in some other part of the city. They are earning city incomes while living cheaply in one of the most expensive cities in Canada. Somehow, I would say that they’ve got it figured out in a way that most never do; high income with low expenses. Now, if you did not need or want to live close to a major city center, you’re living on a boat expenses can be even less. Say you are living on Canada Pension Plan or your retirement income – I’m willing to bet you could have your housing expenses down to less than $200 a month.

    So I say again, there is no way anyone is living on land for $600 a month within 20 mins of downtown Toronto. Further, we are a 5 minute walk from the GO train which will take us to Union Station in 1/2 an hour for $8 bucks. So – Yes, living on a boat is cheap living.

    Other Options for even Cheaper Living on a Boat

    Anchoring. Depending on where you are in world you may also find a place to anchor out or ‘live on the hook’ as it is called. This would mean that you have have to be self-sufficient – able to generate your own electricity and haul your own water and waste but there are many who live on the hook for $0 per month – yep, it can cost you nothing to live on the anchor! Where we are, this would not work for winter living as we need the electricity and the safety of the harbor to be able to combat the ice that forms on the lake, but this would be feasible in many southern or more temperate locals. A dinghy is essential for this living situation as a method of getting ashore for work, supplies, etc. A couple of years ago, we anchored out in a little bay just off the Leslie Spit in the Toronto Harbor Islands area and met a gentleman who was living there during the week. He worked at one of the hospitals downtown and took his dingy to and from work each day. I think he was American and went home to the US each weekend, but during the week – his housing costs were …$0. Smart man.

    The view of downtown Toronto from the entrance to the Aquatic Sailing Park

    The view of downtown Toronto from the entrance to the Aquatic Sailing Park

    Mooring. Again, depending on your particular water situation there may be mooring balls or a mooring field available for very low cost. A mooring ball is a method of anchoring without using an anchor. Usually someone has sunk a heavy cement block down to the bottom and attached a chain to it and a big ball or float of some sort. All you do is grab the chain and attach your boat and you are ‘home.’ The owner of the mooring ball (or mooring field, if there are a bunch of them in one area) usually charges some small fee to use that particular mooring. There is a mooring field just off of downtown Toronto called the Aquatic Sailing Park. It is absolutely lovely there – so private, yet so close to downtown Toronto. After an initiation fee of $650.00, their fees work out to $73.00 a month (summer only, unfortunately) and there is a work requirement of 16 hours in the Park itself. Hows that for living on a boat – cheap?!? Again, you would have to be self-sufficient as there are no hookups, electricity or anything like that. Plus a dinghy is a must have to get to shore.

    Private Dock. This option may be available in your area but will likely require some searching around. Many rivers and lakes are growing private docks like seaweeds. Many of those docks are either virtually unused or only used a couple of times a year or on weekends when the owners are there. With a little creative negotiating maybe with cash in hand or on a trial basis you should be able to rent a dock or slip for a small fee for a month or two. I would suggest even trying for free in exchange for say a bit of yard work if it is a someones cottage or maybe even just to keep and eye on the place. Creativity and personal negotiation skills will be your biggest assets here.

    House vs. Boat

    Now let me say this before you say it, because I know you are thinking it … yes, the boat is much smaller than a house. I know it, believe me I know it! However, my backyard is bigger than yours I likely have a better view, and if I don’t like my neighbours, I just move. Can you say that? There are trade offs – some people may not be willing to live in a smaller place to be able to live more cheaply and to have more freedom. For us, the trade off is more than worth it. I’ve commented on Living on a Boat vs A House before.

    Other Living Costs

    • No Hydro bill.
    • No Water bill.
    • No gas bill (although you will have to fill the propane tank a couple of times a season.)
    • No land tax.
    • No cable bill.
    • No phone bill – no land line, so you will likely need a cell phone.
    • If you live on a sailboat, your fuel bill will be very low. As it is, our boat is a house first – and a boat second, so we don’t use much fuel either. Of course, that means we don’t go far.

    Food. Depending on what your boat is equipped with, you may or may not spend a lot of money on food. When we were living on our sailboat (Alberg 30) we did not really have a proper kitchen. We had an Origo non-pressurized 2 burner alcohol cooktop and a nice sized toaster oven. Our fridge was very small – and only a fridge – no freezer. What ended up happening is we started to bring more and more purchased and prepared food onto the boat – just because the cooking and food storage was such a hassle. That is NOT the way to save money and live cheaply! We were spending a fortune on food. When we moved aboard the River Queen, we got a very nice 3 burner propane stove with oven and a full size fridge with a top mount freezer. Perfect for just normal every day, live on land type cooking. Unfortunately, we were so used to just bringing home take out that we did not use our new kitchen to its full potential and were still spending a pile of money on food. Since reading Your Money Or Your Life though – we’ve cut our food bill down to a quarter of what it was. We are cooking a lot more simple food – purchasing more in bulk and generally being aware of what we are spending on food. So the trick with food is – use what facilities you have and keep it simple. If you have limited cooking facilities and limited refrigeration – then you don’t have to buy expensive food because you have no way of cooking it or keeping it. Simple foods are better for you anyway. If people are interested, I will do a follow up to this and give greater detail about how much we spend on food and how we cook. Let me know if you want to see this.

    Yachty Magazines

    One final comment that I would like to make about living on a boat cheaply is this: you don’t need, nor will you ever use all the crap you see for sale in all those glossy naughty yachty magazines. I’m not even sure what is all being touted in those rag mags these days as I don’t read them anymore, but back when we were looking to purchase a boat we got sucked in by all the ‘must haves’ that populate those mags. If it is shiny and electronic, you likely don’t need it. A simple $50.00 hand held GPS works just as well as the $3000.00 binical mounted model. Your boat will likely come with a VHF radio – it will work just fine, you don’t need that new hand held model which is waterproof down to 2000′ (why?) and will call the cows home from pasture at the same time. You don’t need all those extras and unless you are the guy buying the gold plated yacht, you can’t afford it anyway – and from what I’ve seen, he likely can’t afford it either. I talked about this issue way back when I first started living on a boat:

    I’ll admit that I had read one too many of The Magazines and Books and that I was beginning to think that I would need a complete refit before sailing. (I no longer believe this.) So, we went to boat shows and priced out and bought those things that we just felt we could not do without. Things like a handheld VHF, self-inflating life jackets, etc., you know, just the bare essentials. Now I wish that I had spent that money on more important thing; things that would have made us more comfortable. A bimini cover and dodger for instance. But you just have to have a VHF in your hand when sailing, right? And you must have a self-inflating life jacket on at all times, right? Well, here’s the truth. I’ve used the handheld VHF maybe half a dozen times in two years and have only put on the jackets when in rough weather which we normally don’t sail in anyways. The VHF already on the boat would have worked just fine and the Canadian Tire life vest for 40 bucks would have worked just as well and could have provided a butt pad when not in use. Oh well, live and learn. What The Magazines and The Books say you need and what you really need are two very different things!

    Other things you can do to save money on a boat:

    • Build your own wind generator out of scraps. My neighbour did this – works great!
    • Do your laundry in a hand washer – and hang everything out to dry – we do this.
    • Haul out your own waste in jugs and dump down the nearest toilet to save on pump outs. See this post on how I managed the holding tank on the Alberg.

    And finally – just stay home. You live on the water – you don’t need a cottage or a boat or all the hassle of going north or south or whatever direction cottage country is. Just brew a cup of coffee and sit out on deck, enjoy the view, suck in the clean air and enjoy the gentle rocking of your home.

    Next up in our Living on a Boat series will be: Living on a Boat – Family and all. Until then, would love to have any questions or comments you might have on this topic.

  • by strathy

    Ain't that pretty?

    Aww – ain’t that cute? All those pretty little birdies all lined up nice like that. Birds are beautiful – nature is just wonderful! Awwww.

    Of course, you don’t have to clean up the line of crap left behind by Tweetie and friends. Not so cute!

  • by strathy

    Docking Lesson No 1: When maneuvering your boat in strong winds, always be aware of your bow. It is the lightest part of your boat and is usually the furthest point from you and easily forgotten when looking for your slip or trying to set up your dock lines. Like the children’s song says, “When the wind blows, the bow will break,” (I know – it’s bough) and before you know it, the mad scramble begins to try to regain control of it and ultimately your boat.

    On Sunday our neighbour went out in his beautiful (and new) Delphia 33. Beautiful boat! The sun was shinning, the wind was blowing a good 20 knots – basically a great day for a sail. Getting back into his slip became the tricky part. His plan was to back into his slip with the wind blowing straight down the slip. His initial approach was perfect – he came slightly past his slip, jammed it into reverse and with the wind blowing the bow to line up the boat began to back in. This is where he made his first mistake – he had the wheel turned the wrong way which made his boat go sideways instead of backwards. Back into gear and pull forward – no problem yet. Then he made his 2nd mistake (and the more costly one) instead of turning straight out into the channel and realigning the boat to back up for another approach, he just went forward a short distance and then tried to reverse back into the slip again. Only now because of the wind, prop-walk and momentum he was no longer lined up with his slip. Back into forward again, but now it was too late. The wind had caught his bow and swung him straight out, so that when he went into forward he was going straight at the boats in their slips on the dock across the channel. He tried to correct with hard port rudder and more gas but the bow was too far gone. CRASH. After unhooking himself from the boat anchor that he was hung up on, he went down the channel a ways and then reversed into his slip perfectly.

    However, the damage was already done.

    Delphia Damage

    Bow Damage

    Some tips when working in a wind:

    • Use the wind to your advantage. Be aware of exactly where the wind is coming from. Use your experience to know what that wind is going to do to your boat and then use the wind to your best advantage.
    • Sometimes when the wind is blowing, it is easier to just go in bow first rather than losing your momentum and stability in the wind by going into reverse. It is far more fun coming back tomorrow to switch your boat around than doing repairs (and paying for other boat repairs.)
    • When trying to dock directly into the wind, reverse might be the best option. Your bow will simply follow where you go – the wind will keep it in line – you don’t have to hardly even think about it anymore.
    • When everything goes to crap – simply pull out – go down the channel a ways – catch your breath, and then get everything lined up for another shot. The reverse – CRAP … forward hard – reverse again – AH NOOOO … forward will full gas scenario is not what you want. If you bung it up, start over.

    Maybe humming Rock-a-bye-baby will help you to Take Care of Your Bow.

    Rock-a-bye baby, in the water channel,
    When the wind blows, the boat will rock,
    When the bow breaks, the boat will crash,
    And down will go baby, bow and all.
  • by strathy


    Just a quick note to thank those who have sent me emails and comments about our problems getting our boat ready for launch. I have chosen to not publish some of the comments as some are quite – shall we say – ‘expressive.’ I would however love to continue to hear about your experiences with not only this marina but others anywhere. It would seem that there might be some common themes that, if known ahead of time, could be recognized and avoided if possible.

  • by strathy

    The whole houseboat move thing hit another snag today. Our marina here will not allow me to bring the boat into the yard to finish the work. In fact, I’m not sure if he is even going to let us bring it into the Marina even after the last of the upgrade work is done. It seems that the management here knows better than both the surveyor and our insurance company as to what is a safe boat and what is not. His exact words were “under no circumstances will I allow that boat into my Marina.” Now he did not specify whether that included after all the work is done or not, but he did not say that either. I’m kinda depressed about this whole thing now – and not exactly sure how to deal with it.

    I’ve hired a local marine electrical professional to go up to where the boat is tomorrow and together we will hopefully correct any and all defects that he finds. There really is not much, so hopefully we can get it done in a day. He will also advise me on the propane system and supply the parts needed for upgrades. I will install them and then get one of my appliance repair colleagues to pressure test the propane system and sign off on it.

    Then, I will get my surveyor back up there to reinspect the boat and provide me with a clean survey.

    With that I can get full in-water insurance for the boat and reapply to the marina here.

    If, at that point, the management here is still a no-go, then we will move to another marina. We don’t want to, our lives are here and this is where we want to live, but there is literally nothing that I can do if they won’t let me stay here. The funny thing is, there are boats all around me here that are in far worse shape and with many more defects than mine, yet they can get a slip. Strange.




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