• Uncategorized

    Leaving the Boat

    The View From Here

    The time has come for us to move on to our next adventure! We are leaving the boat and the live aboard life … shocked? Me too!

    I’ll get to the why’s and wherefores in a second, but first let me tell ya all what’s going on. We are moving our little family back to the prairies where I’m from. This will be back to my family … and my roots. This is back to the life, land and people that I am familiar with. It’s like going home to the comfort of ‘mom’s cooking’ both literally and figuratively. lol. My children (and the grandparents,) are ecstatic. I’m looking forward to a new path and my wife is definitely looking forward to this new direction we are taking. We’ve loved our time on the boat, but we are equally looking forward to new things (farming maybe?) and having some new experiences in a different part of the world. The prairies are pretty much as far as you can get from water here in Canada, although I always found that looking at a flat water horizon reminded me of the prairie wheat fields waving in the hazy summer breeze. However, boating is in our blood now … plus that land stuff is so disconcertingly stable – no give in it at all! It’s gonna be strange, but I’m sure we’ll adjust somehow.

    This was not a decision that came quickly or easily. It is actually a combination of factors that added up to this new direction. I don’t want to share too much of our private life, but here are some key points that we considered:

    • children growing and showing signs that they needed space to explore
    • ageing parents: we wanted our children to experience the joy of grandparents while everyone was still healthy and able
    • wanderlust: If you have it, you know what I’m talking about – if you don’t, it’s hard to explain
    • the need for a change of scenery (see wanderlust.)
    • a business opportunity that recently opened for me out there
    • several business doors that closed for me here
    • a desire to get out of the city and back into the country (Both my wife and I are small town kids.)

    So my wife and I sat down and went through these many points and factors and decided a move was the best option. This is the very same sort of decision process that people who are thinking of moving aboard should do: add up all the factors, pro’s and con’s and then decide what is the best course of action. It’s advice that I’ve given dozens of times to people who have emailed asking questions about moving aboard a boat.

    We are selling our boat.

    If you were ever thinking of moving aboard a boat in Toronto or the surrounding areas, this is the perfect boat! Yes, this is a bit of a sales pitch, but it could also be the answer for someone looking to take the live aboard leap.

    The boat is a 40′ River Queen house boat. All steel = heavy and stable. Lot’s of living space and all the common comforts that I believe a live aboard should have. These include:

    • hot and cold pressure water
    • toilet
    • shower
    • large (for a boat) fridge
    • propane gas stove with oven (there’s nothing like fresh baked pie on a boat!)
    • 2 heat/cool pumps (AC in the summer and heat in the spring and fall)
    • large cabin and bed
    • space to sprawl out and wrestle with the kids … build a fort … or just to relax after a hard day at work = as the commercial says: priceless!

    … basically all the stuff you expect to have if you live in a house. You see, my thoughts have changed a bit over time on the topic of creature comforts. I used to think that you can live life without all the extra’s, and I still believe that to be true for a while. But for someone living primarily at a dock, there is absolutely no reason not to have all the things that will make us comfortable. It makes the trade off (lack of space) much easier to deal with in the long term. Sure, if cost is an issue, then a boat without a lot of this stuff is still very doable and can be very comfortable. However, for a newbie especially if one was not used to an ‘outdoors’ type of life, the more comforts you have the easier the transition will be.

    The boat is literally 21 mins from Union Station via Go Train which means you can leave downtown Toronto and be sitting on the upper deck of your floating cottage with a cold drink in 1/2 an hour!  Whether you want to live aboard year round, or just hang out on the ‘dock of the bay’ after a long day at work, this boat in this marina is the ideal setup!

    Here are some pictures of our boat:

    Das Boat
    There she is in all her beauty!


    Upper Deck
    Prime Summer hangout area!


    The Helm and Nav area. Note the prairie scene on the monitor ... lol.


    Galley Area
    Nice bright kitchen with all the stuff to make good eats!


    Full shower - with hot water!
    Bedroom area
    Good night moon.


    Bedroom Panorama View
    This did not work very well - but this gives an idea of the cabin (Bedroom.)
































































































    Please do not email me with questions about the boat. All those should be addressed to Jack our broker from North Lakes Yachting. He can be reached by Email or by phone at 905-891-8207. A shout out to Slavek and Jack and the staff at North Lakes – if you ever wanted a live aboard boat or a great bluewater ocean cruiser (Delphia Yachts) these are the people to deal with!  

    I will still continue to answer emails about living aboard. If you have questions about living on a boat or about decisions and decisions making, feel free to hit me with ‘em. I’m a little slow on the email replies right now as I’m working mostly from a tablet, but I will try to reply in a more timely manner than I have been.

    I hope you all enjoyed our lifelog here and I hope that our living on a boat inspires exploration and adventure in your own life! When we get going on our new adventure I’ll put something up here … until then, fair winds and happy trails!


  • Boat Life,  Books,  Opinions,  Simple Life,  Uncategorized

    Thoughts on Simple Living

    Living on a boat, done right, can be the very essence of living the simple life.  We make do with less of everything from food (fridge too small) to clothing (no closet space) to knick-knacks and frick-frack which we simply don’t have space to display/store.  We also consume much less than the average four person family, simply because we don’t have an unlimited supply.  For instance water; I have to haul all our water to the boat in jugs during the winter.  Because of that, I keep a very close eye on every drop that comes out of our taps and can really turn into the soup-nazi if I think for a second that my water is being wasted.  (NO WATER FOR YOU!!!) Our electricity is limited to 30amps during the summer and 60amps in the winter.  With that limited supply, we run our boat – heating, hot water, lights, TV’s, computers, radio, etc.  When we try to draw more than what we have purchased, we pop a breaker.  At that point I know that if I really want to heat up that slice of pizza in the microwave, I’m going to have to turn something else off.

    Last week, I was surfing around looking for other live aboard blogs and came across one that I had not seen before called Sailing, Simplicity and the Pursuit of Happiness.  Teresa is the owner of the blog and what is outstanding about her is that she is one of the few single females that participate in our way of life.  There are lots of single guys living on boats, lots of couples and many families like ours but a single woman living on a boat is a rarity.  She is a teacher, so her blog is very well written and a real joy to read.  Be sure to visit her blog and say hello.

    Teresa’s various blog posts on Voluntary Simplicity sent me down the road of thinking about how we live our lives in an increasingly complex and connected world.  As I described above, we are already living the simple life compared to most young families, but I still wonder and wish for simpler times.  Is it possible that we could make do with less?  Why is everything so complicated and convoluted?  Do I really need …. (insert widget, commitment or stuff here)?

    A couple of weeks ago the power went out in the middle of a dark and stormy night.  (It really was a dark and stormy night!)  I discovered one of the limitations of relying on shore power for our heat – when the power is out, there is no heat.  The next morning I sat down and made a list of what I would need to do to become more independent and less at the mercy of the local power company.  I came up with several options to make and store my own electricity, create my own heat and generally go ‘off grid.’  However, as I looked at that list, I very quickly saw two things.

    1.  Everything was going to cost money – and not just a little … a lot!

    2.  Each idea involved designing, installing and working with another ‘system’ on the boat.

    Systems are, by nature, complex – that is why they are called systems.  So, does adding new systems really make my life more simple or am I adding a level of complexity that in turn adds to the total load on my life?  Does it make sense to become more independent by becoming more complex?  I’m not sure the trade off is worth it.  As it stands now, it is far easier for me to make my yearly donation to the power company and simply endure the occasional power failure than it is to set up alternative energy sources.  So we remain plugged in.

    Now lets get down to the basic question:  What is Simplicity?

    The simple life for me is a paradox.  The less you have, the more you can do.  Does that make sense?  Let me ask this: if you didn’t have to take care of all the crap that you’ve accumulated in your life, would you have more time to do what you really want to do?  Another way to state the paradox is: fewer possessions equal greater potential for a richer life.  I don’t know who first said this, but it has been said many times before, “If you don’t control how much stuff you have, your stuff will control you.”  Stuff, be it gadgets, or so called necessities will suck up your time and suck the life out of you.  The converse of this is: it is the simple things in life that are often the most fulfilling.  A simple meal with your family, a good book on a rainy day, a walk in the park, time with friends, playing with your kids; these are the things that are peaceful and fulfilling.  These are the things that bring joy, or as the French say, “joie de vivre ” (joy of life.)   If you are committed to your stuff, be they time commitments, toys, gadgets or other miscellaneous stuff, you lose the time to spend on the simple things that do bring you joy.  It is your priorities that will control your actions, make your priority the simple things and leave the ‘stuff’ behind.  So, for me, simplicity is concentrating on less.  Less of everything, leaving time for the simple things that bring joy.

    On the boat here we’ve tried many strategies to control the ‘stuff.’  Of course, as already mentioned, we are limited by our space constraints, but we still try to stop the boat from overflowing.  One of our favorite policies is ‘one in, one out.’  That means whenever we want to bring something new on board, something else has to go.  Now, I will be perfectly honest here, I am the worst culprit breaking this rule, but it is something that helps slow the flow.

    A great book that I just finished about simplicity is called The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life by Leo Babauta.  It is an easy read full of practical ideas and instruction on how to slow down and reduce the stuff and commitments in your life.  He also shows that once you drop the non-essential stuff, you can get so much more done.  See, there’s the paradox again, less stuff – get more done.  My favorite question that he asks is, “What’s the alternative to information and task overload?  Must we follow the example of Thoreau, and build a cabin in the woods, shutting ourselves off from society and modern technology? ”  As much as I enjoy the thought of a Thoreauean life, I do enjoy being plugged into the web, running water, electricity and the horseless carriage.  So he proposes a middle ground, one that reduces but does not eliminate everything.  I really enjoyed the book and got a lot out of it.  Highly recommended.

    Well, that’s it – my litlle ‘self-help’ post.  It works for me.  Don’t forget to visit Sailing, Simplicity and the Pursuit of Happiness.

  • Uncategorized

    Cold Weather on the Boat

    We have been having some amazingly cold weather here for about a week. -20 deg C (-4 F) on and off for about 5 days. With the wind chill it has been as cold at -40 C (-40 F.)  On days like that, even the geese have had the good sense to stay in bed. The back end of the boat is now frozen in solid with ice about 20 cm (8″) thick back there.  The front of the boat is still clear from running the bubbler.  Not sure how much help the bubbler is right now, but I might be able to melt out the back end of the boat with it and have the boat floating again.  I really don’t like seeing my outdrives frozen in as I am afraid of what damage might be done.  Howver, there is little I can do with this right now – so I will not worry about it … (now, if I could only convince my mind to stop worrying … lol.)

    And tonight we are getting more. This is the current Weather Warning posted for the Toronto Area:

    City of Toronto
    12:42 PM EST Saturday 17 January 2009
    Snowfall warning for City of Toronto issued

    15 centimetres of snowfall beginning this afternoon.

    An approaching low pressure system will result in widespread snow for much of southern Ontario today, tonight and Sunday. Snow has already begun in southwestern Ontario and will spread eastward throughout the afternoon and evening. Current indications are that the greater Toronto area and regions surrounding it will receive the highest snowfall amounts, expected to be near 15 centimetres. The snow is expected to begin in these regions by late this afternoon and continue through the night before tapering off Sunday morning. The snowfall may be heavy at times and combined locally with blowing snow, resulting in occasionally very poor visibilities.

    Here are a couple of photo’s – the sleeping geese and a snow storm blowing in off the lake on a -25 C morning from last week.

    Geese stayed in bed this cold morning.
    Geese stayed in bed this cold morning.
    Snow storm blowing in off the lake on a cold winter morning.
    Snow storm blowing in off the lake on a cold winter morning.
  • Uncategorized

    The Mobile Life

    A couple of days ago we were contacted by someone from California who wanted to interview us for a report she was doing on Mobile Living. Because of some rather unscrupulous reporters we normally don’t do interviews, but because of the topic and … well, I really don’t know why, we decided to oblige. So, stay tuned for what comes of that.

    The article is also going to feature another family who is mobile who is living in their R.V. You can check them out at Cage Free Family. Reading through their site got me thinking about the mobile life. After going through their story I started to surf other R.V and camper van sites. Some are families – mostly in R.V.’s and some are singles – both male and female, mostly in vans. After reading a bunch of sites on various mobile lives, I realized that there was a pattern in the writing. The first 10 or 15 posts tend to excitedly describe ‘life on the road!’ All the wild times, beautiful sites and close calls that are the draw to this life style. They post almost everyday, describing every little detail ala Kerouac – not realizing their mindless, mundane, monotony is kind of … boring. Then the posts become more sporadic… and less detailed. The trumped up edge seems to be gone and exquisite meals of canned beans on pasta while looking out on an ocean view becomes Ramen noodles (sometimes drained, sometimes not) in a Publix parking lot. Many of them, especially the younger ones have begun to tire of ‘the life.’ I would say by about 6 months in, they seem to hit the wall; a continental divide. Many, if not most, don’t make it all the way over that final hump. They slide back home to their parents or old jobs or just their old local stomping grounds … local hero’s for breaking out, but wounded and broken for not really breaking free. They revel in the recall of their freedom on the road, regaling friends and strangers with stories of their bravery and exploits, preferring to forget the reasons why they quit. A mobile life is not like a fixed life. It requires a different mindset, it operates with a different set of rules, it is … a different game. Some figure it out, some don’t. It’s hard to describe.

    Those that do make it over the hump change too. No longer occupied by what they are doing, seeing or feeling they become travelogues – story tellers – seeing, interpreting and reporting on life and humanity. You no longer read about how good life is on the road; they don’t have to say it, you can just feel it in their stories. Posts are somewhat regular but separated by time and by distance. Descriptions are of life patterns – the everyday, with a twist. The swirling emotions of leaving the stability of a fixed address are gone, replaced by the wonders of a way of living that develops with time and experience. They are more or less immune to the shock that the mobile life causes others to feel. Instead they wonder back, in the same way, at those who seem to want to uproot, but don’t.

    As I look back over this blog, I see the same trend. Except I never really let go; still with a terrestrial job, a slip we call home and a local mailing address. Yep, we are living the mobile life in a kind of fixed way – a blend of both worlds, but not really part of either. Are we in limbo, a proverbial no-fly-zone, or are we part of a 3rd category? Not sure. All I know is that we ARE truly free from the fixed life in our minds, that is, we think free, just not in our circumstances.

    Those that don’t break free; that don’t follow their dreams and what excites them tend to become the sheeple of the world … and there are a lot of them. Somehow proud of having a good job and a nice house, without realizing that the majority of the people around them have good jobs and nice houses too. They’ve drunk the cool-aide. They succomed to the lie that this is what life is supposed to be like: school, college, work, house, family, kids, kids off to college, retire, get sick, die … maybe throw a couple of holidays to Europe or a Cancun cruise in there, but that is the normal North American life. Reminds me of that song:

    And did they get you to trade
    Your heros for ghosts?
    Hot ashes for trees?
    Hot air for a cool breeze?
    Cold comfort for change?
    And did you exchange
    A walk on part in the war
    For a lead role in a cage?

    We’re just two lost souls
    Swimming in a fish bowl,
    Year after year,
    Running over the same old ground.
    What have we found?
    The same old fears.
    Wish you were here.

    (P.F. – Wish You Were Here.)

    So, if that’s what you want, (what you really, really want) … then go for it. Follow the herd. But, if/when you realize that happiness is less about your state and more about what you are doing, then … Break free from the fear. Break the pattern. Do something!

  • Boat Life,  Uncategorized

    Boats and Computers

    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.

  • Uncategorized

    Sunset at the new Slip

    We moved to our summer slip this afternoon. It’s good to be finally moved over here. It will be darker at night as we are away from the building plus we should have less bird poo everywhere for the same reason.

    Tonight there was a beautiful sunset. We did not get to see much of it though because The Boy was blocking the view. Nice posterior…

  • Uncategorized

    Thanks for the Thanks

    Many thanks to all those of you who put in your 2 cents about our ‘crossroads’ issue. We are a little further along the path of deciding… but are not yet ready to reveal what our plans are. For now – it’s summertime and I live on a boat!!!

    The mast is finally back up (I had taken it down for the winter to do some repairs) and everything is working the way it should. I’ve put on the boom and the mainsail – but still have to pick up the jib from the sail repair shop where it spent the winter. We plan to be sailing this weekend.

    We have not yet moved to our summer slip which is a little further out from the main building, but plan to move at the latest this weekend. More likely Thursday.

    Stay tuned for a review of the The 4 – Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.

  • Uncategorized

    Baby Swans

    Our local Ma and Pa swan now have 7 little swans (signets? I have been corrected – cygnets) to take care of.

    The boy loves feeding them – plus it is a way to get rid of our old mouldy bread. The swans seem to love it.

    “Please sir, may I have some more?”