Category Archives: Living in Beaufort, NC

Boatyard bunny’s mail call

About three weeks ago, my Dad told us to look for the Shpongle CD he had ordered as an anniversary gift. Oh boy! A present!

A day later, my brother called to tell me he was sending a card with some photos. He’d used up a disposable camera I’d gotten him, and now he was sending me some of the prints. Oh boy! Pictures!

I waited about four days, and then I started going into the office. Every day, I’d stick my head in an ask, “Any mail for us?” “No, not today.” After about ten days of this, I was a little embarrassed to ask. And I was starting to worry. What if both items were delivered on the same day, and the mail got stolen out of the box? It’s not a very secure mailbox.

Finally, I got a sheepish email from my Dad. He’d accidentally put his own address as the ship-to address. Just as I was writing him back, teasing him about his “senior moment,” my phone rang.

It was my brother, also sheepish. “You don’t have to look for that card any more,” he said. He’d put insufficient postage on it, so it got returned.

I sat back, laughing. Here I was, all excited about getting a couple of goodies in the mail, but they were just a tease — both senders had sent them to themselves!

On Friday, I had another “Oh boy! A care package” realization. I poked my head in the office. “I’m expecting another box…” I said. “Oh, sure, they probably sent it back to themselves,” Anique teased me. “No, really, it’s…” I broke off. I was afraid that if I told her what I was expecting, I might never see it.

Finally, I sort of mumbled, “It’s a box of homemade wine.” I didn’t tell her that it’s excellent pear, grape, and cherry wine from Yelm, Washington. But Anique’s reaction was completely unexpected. “You like homemade wine? Really? I have a jar of it in my car!” I looked at her askance, wondering why she would have a jar of wine in her car in the parking lot at work. I guess if she breaks down, like we did in Iowa, she could give it to her Good Samaritan instead of an inflatable space alien.

As it turns out, Anique and her boyfriend have a pear tree, so they made a batch of pear wine. They couldn’t even use all the pears, and they still ended up with a lot — a whole lot — of wine.

Boatyard bunny

Since it was Halloween, I went back to the boat and put on my costume — a big boatyard bunny, complete with Tyvek “bunny” suit and dust mask decorated with a Sharpie marker. The ears were real, though. I hopped across the yard, surprising a lot of serious, hard-working folks and making them laugh despite themselves. Nobody in the yard had any candy for me, so I played Easter bunny and gave candy away instead.

But when I got to the office, I got lucky. I held out my bag and said, “Trick or Treat!” Anique had fetched that promised jar of wine, which sure beats candy corn and little packages of Lifesavers.

I’m still waiting for my “Oh boy!” care packages — Dad’s Shpongle CD, and Hank’s card with the photos, and Tom’s excellent Washington wine. But the consolation prize, sweet North Carolina pear wine in a quart mason jar, was fabulous, and that makes the wait worthwhile.

Creature comforts

I felt really stupid last week. Most of you will be aware that this is not a rare occurrence.

A fellow boater, not a liveaboard, came by to purchase our old stove. He was curious about life on the hard, and he asked me, “Do you have AC?”

I thought to myself, “Gee, he’s kind of oblivious.” He was standing right next to the big yellow 30-amp cord that runs from the power pole up to the boat.

“Oh, yes,” I said, nodding vigorously and gesturing at the power cord. “We have both AC and DC!”

There was an awkward pause, and then everyone laughed politely. “Oh, you didn’t mean alternating current, you meant air conditioning … er, no, we don’t have air conditioning.”

But I felt embarrassed at the misunderstanding, and I wonder if living in 95-degree heat and 100-percent humidity without air conditioning has permanently addled my brain.

A certain member of my family, upon hearing that Barry and I are going to Burning Man in August to escape the humidity, said vehemently, “You guys are wimps!” This particular individual, who shall remain nameless (but his initials are HHS Jr), lives in an air-conditioned condominium and has a side-by-side refrigerator with an icemaker.

I protest. We are not wimps! It’s just that we need some attitude adjustment, despite a number of well-thought-out changes to improve our quality of life:

Refrigeration: After a month of driving to town every other day ($5 in gas) and spending $5 for block ice, we ran the numbers. At $60, a dorm-sized refrigerator in the cockpit would pay for itself in less than a month.

Our luxurious 1.3 cubic foot fridge has an ice cube tray that makes about 12 cubes the size of your thumbnail. With 12 ice cubes, who needs air conditioning? We even tried buying ice cream sandwiches, but that meant taking out the ice cube tray. Then the ice cream sandwiches melted into a gooey blob and refroze into a flat solid mass that had to be chipped out with a chisel.

Music: We got tired of the tinny speakers on the computer and bought a stereo that plays our iPods. Music is the best mood-enhancer, but the folks on nearby boats sometimes wonder about the belly dance music.

Communication: We picked up a used cell phone and signed up for prepaid service with Alltel, the only company with good signal in the boatyard. Now our phone actually rings on the boat, making it feel like home, thanks to the telemarketers.

And then came the best quality-of-life improvement of all, not even one we initiated. Last week, Bock Marine installed a satellite internet system, giving us access to the Web right here on the boat. No more driving to the Beaufort library, just to check Barry’s online comic strip. No more evenings sitting in the van, watching the tourists as we try to order power tools.

Just as we get all these quality of life improvements, we’re going to Burning Man. We’re exchanging humidity, hurricanes, and fiberglass dust for a week in the desert, with 110-degree days and overflowing porta-potties. But at Burning Man, there are no 2-inch flying cockroaches. And there’s the real reason I’m fleeing the boat. Go ahead, call me a wimp.

Why’d ya throw out your blow dryer?

A couple of months ago, passing through Tennessee, we spent a night in a campground intended for horse people. The facilities were great, especially the restrooms. I wandered over to use the ladies’ room, and while I was washing my hands, I chatted with a woman who was blow-drying her hair. About an hour later, I went back for a shower. She was still there, styling her hair. I could hardly believe it.

It turned out that she shows horses professionally. As such, she is judged on her appearance and performance, as well as the horse’s. That weekend, she was just going to be trail-riding in the woods with her family, but to her mind, there was no way she could ever go out on a horse without doing full hair and makeup.

It was a fascinating conversation, during which I admitted that I hadn’t owned a blow-dryer in many years — my hair is too long to benefit from such treatment. I held back any comments about wasting a large portion of one’s life in a public restroom with a blow-dryer for company.

What does this have to do with working on Flutterby? OK, I’m getting there.

We have a giant hole in our deck that’s become something of a sore spot. Giant is relative — the hole is about the size of my hand. We’ve had lots of gully-washer thunderstorms, and this hole holds about a cup of water, no matter how we try to cover it up. A couple of days ago, we looked at each other across the soggy hole and said “We need a blow dryer.”

More damned shopping. I gnashed my teeth.

I mentioned this to my friend Pat as we were making plans to meet for lunch. “Maybe we’ll find a blow dryer at the thrift store,” I said, hopefully. I love shopping at thrift stores, and I hate shopping at places like Target and Wal-Mart. But Pat had a very reasonable objection: “Why would someone give it away if it still worked?”

So we got into the Squid Wagon and drove into town with two goals. One, have lunch with Pat and Belinda (happy thought), and two, buy a brand-new blow-dryer (tooth-gnashing thought).

When we arrived in town, it was hot. But Beaufort is an old town, with nice big trees overhanging slightly narrow streets. Instead of taking the first Giant Squid-sized parking space, I circled a couple of blocks, looking for a shady spot. At one point, I had to pull way over to allow the garbage truck to go by. The garbage men were wearing orange vests that said “Inmate” on the back, and they had very, very short hair. Not the kind of guys who would need a blow-dryer.

Finally, I found a shady space, just past a couple of garbage cans waiting to be emptied.

Barry got out of the van first, but for some reason, he was standing behind the vehicle. I could hear the chuckles start, then full-on belly-laughter, and when I walked around, he was pointing at the garbage can.

Sitting on top of the lid was a blow-dryer, the cord neatly-coiled. We looked at each other, and Barry’s laughter faded to a slight frown. “How will we know if it works?” he worried. “I’d hate to drive back to the boatyard, thinking we’ve solved our problem, only to find it’s useless.” I stared at the strange, miraculous find and thought about it.

“If it was broken, they would have put it inside the trash can. They put it on top, with the cord neatly coiled, hoping somebody would take it,” I said, slowly. “I bet it still works!”

With a shrug, Barry picked it up. Then he opened the door and placed it in the back of the van without taking a single step. It was meant to be. Perfect synchronicity.

Today, I took the blow-dryer up on the foredeck and tackled the giant hole (which I now call “the blow-dryer hole”). I put on my iPod and sat in the sunshine, watching the boats on the Waterway and the birds and the dolphins and our Finnish boatyard neighbors. As I blow-dried the hole, I thought of the woman in the Tennessee restroom. Thanks to a strange coincidence, I, too, have a blow-dryer, and I spend hours with it each day. I wonder if she could give me some tips for styling fiberglass?

Social flutterbies

The “lounge” here at the boatyard isn’t much. It’s back behind the office, in a cinderblock building. There’s a soda machine, a coin-operated washer and dryer, and a couple of cast-off tables and chairs. One corner has a shelf full of books to trade, and under the sink is the “free table,” where boaters can swap their unneeded junk for other boaters’ unneeded junk. Mainly, the lounge is an air-conditioned, grubby space that provides access to the restrooms and showers and a reliable old-fashioned landline telephone.

So when a small incongruous sign appeared in the lounge one Friday evening, saying “Potluck, Saturday 6 pm. BYO everything,” I chuckled. “That must be the Australians,” I commented to Barry.

Boats here in the yard come and go by way of the Travelift, which plucks them out of the water and gently carries them, in woven slings, to their assigned place in the yard. A few mornings earlier, alerted by the distinctive sound of the Travelift nearby, I popped my head out, prairie dog-style, and reported to Barry down below. “Honey Moon, Mooloolaba, Australia. Definitely a world cruiser.” We met Don and Aggie a little later. “Welcome to the neighborhood,” I said.

The two of them have been cruising for decades. They’ve been on their current circumnavigation for a few years, having done the Red Sea route to the Mediterranean and then cruised the French Canals and Holland before coming across to the Caribbean. Down in Trinidad, they were looking for a spot to store their boat while they flew home, and they heard about Bock Marine. It was just what they were looking for, and only a few thousand miles away. No problem for someone who had sailed halfway around the world from Australia.

Once they were established in the yard, they launched into their list of projects, Aggie toting vast quantities of laundry on a small folding bike to the lounge. Whenever I walked past the washing machine, her distinctive koala-print bag was sitting on top. Don stayed close to the boat, working and supervising the sandblasting and welding. But they’d been through this process before, many times, so they paced themselves, allowing time for a social life. Hence the potluck.

That Saturday evening in the lounge, we discovered a number of people living and working in their boats who we hadn’t met. Albertine and Joop, from the Netherlands, were parked right next to the Travelift. Walter’s boat is near the bridge. We knew Dan, whose Alberg 35 is over in our area, but we hadn’t yet met Kevin, on Dynamic Duo. His catamaran was next to Dan. There’s a fellow named Steven, whose Irish accent is almost incomprehensible, and his partner, a woman from Taiwan who never speaks at all. They’re working on a huge mysterious sailboat back in the “sandpit,” as Steven calls it.

In addition to the folks at the potluck, I knew of five others who hadn’t attended. That meant that even on a Saturday evening, when the boatyard was closed, there were about 20 people working and staying on their boats here. We are all grinding and sanding and painting and building, and at the same time, we all have to sleep and eat and carry things up and down a ladder a hundred times a day. It’s a crazy lifestyle, and it’s nice to know we’re not alone.

After the potluck, the ice was broken. Every few evenings, we’d hear laughter coming from one boat or another, evidence of a little get-together. Albertine and Joop invited us to dinner on their boat, along with Don and Aggie. We watched the sun set over the water from the cockpit, enjoying drinks and Indonesian food. It was just like having dinner in a little marina, except for the 10-foot ladder. The next day, the Travelift picked them up and dropped them back in the water, and they headed north to New England.

Kevin launched a few days later. He spent the first night tied to the dock, and we went aboard for beers and conversation. What a joy to be on a boat that was actually floating!

I wanted to host a gathering, too, but our interior is so bad, we’re not even sleeping in the boat. So I hauled the barbecue out of storage and invited Gigi and Val and Don and Aggie over for hamburgers. There were two challenges: Where to attach the marine barbecue, and how to deal with a 25-knot breeze. I parked the van sideways as a giant windbreak, and then we rolled a 10-foot-tall scaffold over to it. Barry clamped the barbecue onto the scaffold (marine barbecues are designed to attach to rails or pipes and don’t have legs), and we spread our fixings and watermelon and beverages out on the scaffold. Then we made a circle of chairs and sat under the stars, eating and talking in the shadow of the boats.

When a boat goes back into the water, it’s a happy time. But it’s hard for me, because it means another friend is gone. What I find most depressing is when friends leave, but their boats stay here. I was depressed for a couple of days when Don and Aggie flew home to Australia, leaving their boat silent and tarped. And for another couple of days when Gigi and Val drove north to Quebec. This week was the worst, when the yard workers took their summer vacation as well. I miss the smiling faces of Randy and Larry and Dale!

But we are not completely alone. Over in the sandpit, we often see Steven working at the top of his mast, the tallest in the boatyard. He’s strangely attired in full foul-weather gear as he reeves halyards and adjusts rigging. Last year, he says, he went up unprotected and discovered a wasp’s nest. “The bastards never die, they just kept stinging me over and over, all the way down,” he complained.

Dan, on Arima, hurried to launch his boat before the yard closed for the week. But the next day, he found that his shaft was leaking, so he didn’t actually leave. He’s tied to the dock, bilge pumps running, waiting for the yard workers to return. I’m sorry for his misfortune, but it’s nice to see his smiling face around the place.

The best company in the boatyard right now is not even human. I don’t mean the palmetto bugs — we had a fat brown 2-inch visitor to the boat last week, and I could do without him. I mean the kitties.

When we arrived, the boatyard had three cats. Now that Gigi has gone north, I’ve taken on the job of feeding them early in the morning — 5:30 am, to be precise. “Hello, kitty!” I sing, coaxing a white-and-gray calico closer with treats. She nervously stuffs herself with dry cat food, her belly close to the ground. Then she stands up, looks around, and begins to make a strange meeowing-yowling noise.

It’s a kitten call! From across the parking lot, four babies tumble out of the “kitten hole” a small irregular opening that Dale cut for them in the wall of the steel work building. They scamper out and hide under the crane, and the black one ventures halfway across the parking lot. Then a big scary garbage truck comes by, and Mom quickly leads them back to safety.

Play time is over, both for us and for them. But it’s a gentle reminder that it’s not all work here in the boatyard. Social butterflies that we are, we will always find company, even of the feline kind.

The high cost of fuel for flying pigs

A couple of weeks ago, we were sitting in the air-conditioned lounge between fiberglassing projects. We were wearing what Barry and I call our “itchy-scratchy” clothes, ratty things we only wear for the nastiest, messiest jobs. For me, that means denim shorts with a hole in the rear, an old t-shirt large enough to fit an elephant, and sandals.

A fellow walked in, and I glanced up from my notebook and said hello, absently. Then I looked at him again.

It was over 100 degrees, and he looked cool as a cucumber. He was wearing tooled leather cowboy boots and black jeans, with the kind of dress shirt you see at a country and western dance, or a square dance. It had shiny button covers and fancy trim along the yoke.

I realized I was staring, and I blurted out, “You sure don’t look like you’re working on a boat today!”

“No, I came on my motorcycle to show my boat to a prospective buyer,” he replied. He explained that he had a powerboat for sale out in the storage lot, the place we jokingly call “the field of broken dreams.”

A few years ago, when shopping for a boat, he was that extremely rare breed of boater who would consider either a powerboat or sailboat. He’d found a sailboat he liked, but the asking price was too high. He thought of making a lowball offer, but didn’t want to offend the seller. So he walked away from the sailboat. Later, it sold for the amount he would have offered. He kicked himself, but it was too late. He’d just bought a powerboat, a tri-cabin cruiser.

Now his powerboat is for sale. He can’t afford to use it, his dream broken by the high cost of fuel.

Occasionally, sailors buy powerboats, when they get old and tired of hoisting and trimming sails. Rarely does a powerboater buy a sailboat, but these are unusual times.

There was a very large Hunter sailboat tied up at the dock last week, and Val and Gigi wandered out to see it. “We were surprised to see all the lights on, but none of the hatches were open,” she said. “Then we realized it had two air conditioners, so of course the hatches were closed!”

They chatted with the couple on board, who were taking their new boat home to Texas and had recently run aground and needed repairs. They had sold their powerboat, because the cost of fuel was so high, and now they were going to try sailing. Given the size and complexity of the boat, they were certainly jumping in with both feet. But it was what Barry and I call a “furniture boat,” lots of pretty woodwork and fancy electrical systems, designed for the dock, not the waves.

The problem is, it’s just not natural to make a sailor out of a powerboater. A few years back, I had a coworker with a 25-foot planing powerboat. At the time, we had the Northern Crow, a gutsy little 25-foot sailboat.

Initially, I’d come in on Monday and compare notes with Gary. We’d spent a day ghosting to Poulsbo, watching for favorable currents, while he’d zipped up to Port Townsend in a couple of hours. But after a few months, I started coming in on Monday and seeing a long face. “How was your weekend, Gary? Did you take the boat out?” I’d ask. And his answer was always, “No, I couldn’t afford the fuel this weekend. The kids needed…” At the time, gas prices were half of what they are today, but he had teenaged boys in the house who ate up all his money.

I often teased him, saying, “How about a sailboat?” but it was a joke. He’d take up sailing when pigs fly.

Eventually, Gary got fired and had a mid-life crisis. He ran off with his stepson’s girlfriend, and his wife bitterly filed for divorce. She sold the boat.

I wonder if Gary or the fellow in the cowboy boots will ever have another boat. Given the price of fuel — high and going higher — the answer might just be, when pigs fly.


Barry came to me with a long face. “Er, I have some bad news.” He paused, leaving me to wonder just how bad this news was going to be. Sometimes, I wish he would just blurt it out, instead of making me wonder how bad it was. I found myself checking to make sure all his fingers were still attached.

“I killed your Dremel.”

Well, that wasn’t so terrible. I was a little sentimental about it, because it was a gift from my sister, and it was the only power tool in our arsenal that Barry and I both called “mine.” But we could easily buy another one.

So the next day, we got in the van and drove to the hardware store, about 15 miles, to buy another Dremel. Mission accomplished, we headed for a nearby restaurant for lunch. I was driving, and then Barry said, from the passenger seat, “Uh-oh.”

The only thing I hate more than “I have some bad news” is “Uh-oh.”

And one more thing we both hate is power windows. Unfortunately, the Squid Wagon has them. For months, I’d refused to use the one on the driver’s side. It was so slow, I was sure it was going to break and get stuck in the “down” position, and then it would rain. Now Barry followed his “Uh-oh” by telling me that the passenger window was stuck in the down position. This was followed by a rumble of thunder.

The window was going to be a much bigger headache than the Dremel. Frantic, we drove to the nearest Ford dealer.

“We don’t keep such old motors in stock, but I can order you one,” said the parts manager, smiling.

“I’m not certain the motor’s what I need…” said Barry.

“Electrical parts are non-returnable,” said the parts manager, and I realized the smile was robotic.

“I’ll go home and figure it out, and we’ll call you to order it in the morning,” said Barry.

“Nope, I can’t accept a credit card over the phone,” said the smiling, robotic parts manager. So we’d have to come back in person to order it, then come back in person to pick it up? At this point, Barry had to leave the store, unable to say anything besides, “Grrrrrrrrrrr.”

Luckily, the motor was in stock, cheaper, at an auto parts store.

The rain held off; it hadn’t actually rained in two week. Then, that night, before Barry could figure out how to install the new motor, it poured buckets on our sorry plastic-covered window. He finished the installation between showers the next day. He said “Grrrrrrrrrr” a lot.

And then it was my turn. I was using our tiny, lame saber saw to cut some aluminum backing plates. The motor started running more and more slowly, until it couldn’t cut any more. Well, it might still cut butter, but only if it was soft, and you wanted to cut butter with a saber saw.

This was turning into a bad week for motors.

At this point, I had to decide what to say to Barry. Should I start with “I have some bad news,” or simply “Uh-oh?” I opted for a different method.

“Barry!” I hollered. An alien looked down at me from the deck, wearing a white Tyvek bunny suit, full-face respirator, and ear muffs. His mouth was invisible behind the respirator, but I saw his jaw move. I guess he said, “What?”

“I killed the saber saw,” I shouted, twice, three times, waving the dead saw at him. Suddenly, he took off the respirator and the ear muffs. He was grinning.

“You killed it? Really? That’s great!”

He’d been wanting to replace that lame piece of junk for years, and I had just given him the excuse. The next day, he was exceedingly cheerful as we got into the van, and I got into the mood by playing with the passenger window. Up, down, up, down…wheeeee! We tooled around town and finally chose a 6.0 amp Skil brand saber saw. Then we rewarded ourselves some more with dinner, internet, and a phone chat with a Seattle friend. A lovely day, unlike the one when we replaced the Dremel.

It would have been an appropriate coincidence for the driver’s window motor to die that day, but it’s still working, although only fast enough to cut soft butter. So maybe our run of bad motor luck is over. May all the other motors on the boat live long and prosper, and best of luck with your motors, too.

How’s my driving?

When it was all over, and we were driving back to the boat, Barry asked me, “Do you want to write about it, or should I?”

I did it. I guess I should write about it. Ouch.

We’d just enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Jon’s house. It was the kind of relaxed evening where we all chopped vegetables and peeled shrimp around the huge kitchen island, then Jon whipped up a yummy stir-fry. He’s the kind of guy who ranges from expert to downright capable in everything he does.

In November, I’d called him about surveying our boat, despite the fact his North Carolina office was about 350 miles from the South Carolina boat.

Once we’d cleared up the fact that I knew the difference between Beaufort (Bow-furt) and Beaufort (Byoo-fort), he checked his schedule and found a coincidence, or maybe a miracle. He and his girlfriend had plans to drive to Florida. On the day we needed a survey, they would be returning, right past Hilton Head.

So we lucked into the best surveyor on the east coast, and then found that we had more in common than boats. We also decided that Beaufort seemed like the best place to refit our boat.

So this is how I happened to go aground in the driveway of my marine surveyor. He had an early morning planned, so a little after dinner, we said our thanks and farewells.

It was an untimely time to leave.

The storm began after dinner. We peered out the front door at thunder, lightning, sheets of rain, and the all-pervasive darkness that comes with heavy rain at night in North Carolina. I got drenched running to the van, even though the driver’s door was only about ten feet away.

Then I realized I was going to have a tough time driving out of there. In the dark and pouring rain, my mirrors were useless. I backed out slowly and carefully, not wanting to hit Jon’s nice truck, or his nice house, or his nice landscaping. Then I put the van in forward, still creeping slowly, so it all happened in s-l-o-w–m-o-t-i-o-n.

I cringed as my side of the van brushed a nice bush. What I didn’t realize was that it was not a nice bush. It was mean, nasty bush, camouflaging a deep, not-so-nice ditch. The left front wheel went down, and down, and down, and then the van stopped moving. I turned off the engine and turned to Barry, saying, “We’re stuck. Let’s go back to the house.”

I was sitting the driver’s seat, and he was in the passenger seat. The strange thing was, he wasn’t sitting next to me. He was above me.

Barry clambered up to the passenger door and out. I was briefly alone, and then I frantically scrambled up to the passenger door, too. There is little more terrifying than being left alone in a vehicle that feels like it’s about to roll over. The driver’s door seemed to be dangling over a cliff.

Then I stood, openmouthed, in the pouring rain and stared at Squidley’s right rear wheel. It was about three feet off the ground.

Hysteria set in. I started laughing, and I couldn’t stop. Our stately Squid Wagon was nose-down in a ditch, with one wheel thrown up in the air. It was like seeing a prim and proper lady on her back with her skirts askew. In the flashes of lightning, I could see things on her underside that I usually don’t see.

We went back to the house and knocked. When Jon opened the door, my face was red with embarrassment, and rain was streaming down from my hair.

“I hate to say this, but I’ve gone aground in your driveway,” I said. Over my shoulder, he sized up the situation. We had his driveway completely blocked, no way to get his truck out. He gave us some towels to dry off, then phoned dozens of places, trying to find a tow truck. Finally an outfit in Havelock, 20 miles up the road, sent a truck.

The nice thing was, the tow truck driver wasn’t just effective at extricating 1-ton vehicles, he also knew what to say to make an embarrassed driver — me — feel better. “Wow, is this a 1990 van? It’s in such great condition!” he enthused. I wondered if wrecker driving school included a section on psychology.

In the pouring rain, the three of us stood behind the van, watching the process. Suddenly, my eye fell on our row of bumper stickers — and I started giggling all over again. The second one from the left, bright yellow, with a picture of an alien and a crashed spaceship. The text says it all: “How’s my driving?”

You don’t have to answer that question. Barry drove us home.

The true badge of a liveaboard boater

Years before we counted many liveaboards as friends, I was very reluctant to buy a boat large enough to live aboard. Thus we chose the 25 foot Northern Crow, which was obviously too small for two people to live on. This was my insurance against being begged, nagged or pushed into moving aboard before I was ready.

We have lived aboard for several-month periods before, but never on our own boat. The longest period was seven months, with Brian on Cayenne, and shorter times on Vger, Complexity, and Indigo. We even lived on Flutterby briefly while we did insurance company-required repairs and transported it from South Carolina to North Carolina. But we always had our “home” elsewhere, or if not an entire “home,” we had something like 75% of our stuff in storage.

This time, it is different. We don’t have anything but a few boxes of photographs, wedding china, and other irreplaceable memories–we have all the things we need right here with us, either on the boat or packed up inside the Squid Wagon. And this time, moving aboard took us by surprise–we thought we knew what living aboard is all about, but life always smacks you in the face with a lesson pretty quick.

Before we arrived in the boatyard, I had been thinking of all the projects we had to do to make Flutterby ready to cruise, starting with re-finishing the bottom and fixing leaking hardware in the deck, along with any damage it had done. It has now been four full days and the only project we have completed is plumbing the icebox drain so it gets pumped overboard instead of draining into the bilge.

What have we been doing? Trying to carry our stuff up the ladder from Squidley into the boat, and find a place for it inside.

It didn’t take us three days to succumb. In fact, we would have done it in two and a half, if our cellphone had better signal in the boatyard. We are now the proud renters of a storage unit. I hope that when we are ready to sail we can fit everything aboard, but for now, this is the cheapest way to protect our sanity that I can think of.