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  • 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

    Paul Allan's little 414' yacht named Octopus.

    Paul Allan's little 414' yacht named Octopus. Parked at a commercial wharf .. how's that for ambiance? I guess he likes the industrial look.

    In the rarefied world of the ultra-ULTRA Rich, not having all ones toys within arms length (or at least within a couple of nautical miles) would simply not do. But how does one bring the Bentley or the Rolls or the Range Rover, or maybe even all three along on a little jaunt to Tahiti? Why, one would put them in the Shadow Yacht of course … what a silly question.

    So that give us a little hint … a shadow yacht must be something like a garage – a big, floating garage. What’s next, a basement?

    I’ve been listening to the audio version of Robert Frank’s book, Richistan, (a great read by the way) which tells the story of the New Rich in America and their ode to opulence which is basically a richmans version of the old school yard taunt, “Mine’s bigger than yours, na na, nana, na.” They seem to live their lives with the goal of “he who dies with the most toys, wins.” And they have introduced us to a whole new category of boat – the Shadow Yacht. Part boat, part garage but all extravagance, these boats carry the toys; the chopper, the cutter, the Rolls, assorted motorcycles, Jet Ski’s and whatever else the uber-Rich need to show that they are indeed … rich – as if the 500′ ocean liner would not give it away. Kind of a supply ship – with just the non-essential stuff.

    To fill the demand for this new necessity, boat builders are accommodating their clients wishes and repurposing tugs, or building new Shadows Boats. Ranging from 150′ to almost 300′ these boats are the ultimate add-on feature. Where you and I might get a dinghy to support our boating experience – they get another yacht … just a big dinghy, so to speak. One company who’s sole purpose is to supply Shadow Yachts says, “Our goal is to provide our clients with the ultimate yachting experience, without limitations.” And that pretty much says it all.

  • by strathy

    What a busy time it has been for us!

    First, some updates…

    We are living on the houseboat. We finally finished all the upgrades and then reapplied with PCHM. After a couple of phone calls and submitting our upgraded survey along with some pictures of the work done – we were accepted in! We are currently in our winter slip but have not yet winterized the engines so we can still go out for another run or even a pumpout yet. I will likely winterize them in the next week or so. Last night we had a hard frost on the water bucket out on deck so I will have to get the engines ready soon.

    I will get some pictures up soon of the new slip and the boat and work we did on it.

    Next – A is still pregnant – now 3 days overdue. At this point she just wants the business over with! So many aches and pains – stretching and pulling – peeing all hours of the day and night – and frankly … COME ON, enough already! Anyway, the doc has told her that they will go a week past the due date, then induce her. Hopefully, things just start on their own sooner than that. I am so glad that we are on the new boat for these final couple of weeks – it would have been too hard for A on the sailboat. She is a real trooper though.

    Finally – about the Alberg – I love that boat!! I hate to even think of selling her – but…

    I’ll have to decide soon. I think I’m big dog in the marina right now with 70′ of boat!

  • by strathy

    If you are a US politician and are in the middle of a bribery scandal or maybe a sex-solicitation investigation, you might just be a live-aboard.

    This article in the N.Y. Times reveals how many US politicians who are in trouble for something live on boats. It is kind of uncanny but I suppose understandable. There certainly is a bit of a code among live-aboards – one that says you don’t broadcast around who owns the ‘gold platter’ down the dock or who you saw in the shower this morning. Many of us also guard the lifestyle by not granting interviews to reporters – we’ve been asked for an interview at least half a dozen times.

    Capital Yacht Club might be a place to avoid if you are looking to keep your nose clean!

  • 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

    Terribly sorry for the lack of updates re: the new (old) houseboat.

    We are currently on holidays – visiting my parents in Manitoba, and so I’ve kind of put everything on hold while we unwind for a week. We’ve been fishing several times – caught 1 big old Crappie in Mary Jane Reservoir and a Winnipeg GoldenEye in the Pembina River. I know – not much in the way of fish – but much of the fun of fishing is the just go’n fishn’ part. We also spent a night at my parents cabin – no electricity or running water – almost like being on the boat!

    About the new houseboat – things are going a bit slowly. We’ve had a survey done which showed up a couple of things that we need to get done. The bottom needs to be redone as there is a fair amount of corrosion from improperly applied anti-fouling paint. When you apply a copper based anti-fouling paint to a steel boat, you must put some sort of barrier coat between the two so that you don’t get any electrolysis or electrolytic action happening. This was not done when the anti-fouling was applied by the previous owner. So we have to sandblast the bottom – apply about 10 mils of epoxy to provide a barrier and then the anti-fouling. This is not a real hard job and is really just a logistical pain in the butt – it is supposed to be done tomorrow (Friday). We will see – it has been delayed a couple of times.

    We also need to fix some wiring issues – some of the wires were not soldered properly and twisted wire covered in electrical tape is a no-no on a boat. I will hire out this work and get everything cleaned up.

    And finally, the propane system is not up to todays standards. It is just basically a tank with a hose going to the stove. What I need to do is install a regulator, new gas line, a gas sniffer in the bilge, an electronic shutoff and the tanks must be installed in a sealed box with an overflow that goes overboard. Whew – sounds like a lot of work, but in reality is again just logistics. I will likely do most of this work myself and then get it inspected and signed off on by one of the gas tech’s from my work.

    So, we are still at least a couple of weeks away from getting the boat down to Toronto – but things are looking up. I would say by September, we should have a brand new (old) houseboat to live in.

  • by strathy

    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.






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