the adventures of a girl, her dog, and two cats.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Finally became a homeowner yesterday; closed on my 37' Gulfstar sailboat. Tomorrow a friend will help me bring her across the bay to her new marina and pup dog, cats, and I will move aboard.

Still have not packed and now down to the wire; must get the house empty and clean by the end of the day tomorrow. Not sure how it will play out since I don't have movers lined up.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

almost there...

A very long day yesterday; about 7 hours straight for the survey. A nerve-wracking but enlightening experience. No major problems and we should proceed to closing tomorrow. Lots of heart palpitations today over the need to complete certain "essential repairs" within some timeframe (not yet revealed to me by the insurance company). While most of the repairs are simple quick fixes, a couple are more involved, "ought" to be done with the boat out of the water, and involve parts I can ill afford. Such is the life aquatic, I guess. I already pulled the trigger so time to buy some lottery tickets for boat repairs and upkeep!

Naturally, I have still not packed anything but need to get out of the house in only three days.

Monday, September 24, 2012

dear poseidon, please let us survive the survey

Wednesday is survey day! I am excited to learn about the boat, but also very nervous about getting through the survey and having an insurable vessel. Add to the mix that I have not packed one item in a house brimming with "stuff" and have to be out in six days! A variety of furniture and stuff that won't fit in the office or on the boat... Worried about whether the bottom job will be done in time to be aboard and moving the boat this coming weekend so the pets and I have somewhere to sleep. I can't run or sail the boat by myself, so fingers crossed she's ready for the weekend and my volunteer captain can help us fetch her.

Deep breath. Stay calm. The dog rolls with things; the cats pick up on any stress I'm under. I want the new experience of being boat cats and a boat dog to go as smoothly as possible. The crew needs to be happy... the last thing I need as a new liveaboard is a mutiny.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

under contract

My very first "home purchase" will be a boat, rather than a land-locked residence. And today I put a boat under contract. If all goes well, we will get through a survey early next week, have her blocked and bottom-painted, and then off to Annapolis we shall sail, or motor, or some combination thereof. Fingers crossed. And I must settle on a name, and conduct the appropriate de-naming and re-naming ceremonies, because angering the gods of wind and sea is foolhardy indeed.

where, oh where, will my little boat live?

Round and round I go trying to settle on a marina. I have toured several marinas, gathered information about slip rates, liveaboard fees, pump-out facilities, winter water, cable television, laundry, shower/head facilities, dog-friendliness, et cetera.  One marina I likely would have gone to took 72 hours to get back to me and still hadn't answered all the clear and simple questions I posed. In general, I could pay about the same amount and either have very nice amenities and facilities and large liveaboard communities, but be a little longer drive from nightlife than I am now, or I could forgo the amenities, have far fewer faciltities, but be walking distance to almost any nightlife in Annapolis (though I still frequently face driving to Baltimore for music). I would very much enjoy not having to drive when I go out, not having the worries about drinking and driving (though drinking and walking down docks is a very dangerous matter, too).

Heard from an acquaintance living aboard that his marina is nice, has facilities. Called the marina Tuesday to see about a slip and rates. Price and location are good, but no liveaboard spots available. I tried pleading my case that I know someone there who will be sailing off to the islands, so shouldn't that spot come open soon... Was told lots of folks say they are heading to the islands and we will have to wait and see; the owner takes my number to get back to me if something changes. I head to the local watering hole to meet up with a liveaboard for advice. Also hoping I might see the acquaintance and find out his travel plans and what I might do to get in the marina. Upon arriving at the pub I learn the acquaintance, a young and seemingly fit guy, had had a fatal heart attack Sunday. So young, so many dreams of sailing off to the islands; life is too short to waste, indeed. The next day the marina calls back; yes, a liveaboard slot is open--he had not wanted to break the bad news to me not knowing if we had been close or not. And so I have a sought-after liveaboard slip only due to the untimely death of another liveaboard. What dark happenstance. I hope he is resting peacefully and we will give him a special toast when we tie up there.

searching for some calm in the eye of the storm

Well, the past couple of weeks have been hectic and nerve-wracking. I have ten, (yes, ten!), days to vacate my house.

Uh, to live aboard I will need a boat. Walked away from the first boat; a leap of faith that the author's advice from The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat that "boats do grow on trees" will hold true. Have looked at hundreds of boats on Yacht World, Boat Trader, Craigslist, and Sailboat Listings. Here and there going and getting aboard for a look-see. Calling and/or emailing sellers only to rule boats out that are missing key necessities (such as galley components or running engines). Found a small power boat that is likely mechanically sound, needs a little cosmetic TLC, and is doable in my budget; however, the tight space would likely have me itching for more room to stretch my legs before long. On the other hand, I would surely spend time out on the water with her often--gas prices permitting. Keeping her in mind, and still on the hunt. Found a boat I was warned to be a "project" but the space would truly work for a liveaboard. Easy for me to board and I see the dog able to enjoy her and the deck space comfortably. Alas, the owners are going back and forth with me and another potential buyer so my patience and budget are wearing thin. I could have had a surveyor lined up for tomorrow had they accepted a deal with me three days ago. So, fingers crossed they will come to their senses and make the deal happen, but in case they do not: the boat shopping continues.

I found an office, so hooray, my furniture will not be homeless! Not in the downtown location I had hoped for, but that did pose parking hassles for clients (and myself), so everything has its pros and cons. Fortuitously, the office simplifies some of my liveaboard challenges since it is a converted apartment--I will have a walk-in closet for my clothes and my own full bath with a roman tub. And a shared kitchen and laundry in our suite. So, if I can't bake 3-layer red velvet cakes aboard, I can always bake them at the office. I'll post pix of the office set-up once I'm moved in.

Monday, September 3, 2012

second thoughts

Several days now having second thoughts about the boat I had been planning on. Feeling over-extended, feeling a lot of necessary creature comfort fixes would fall on me and never really get done right because I don't have the fix-it or build-it skills. I always see the project in its goal state, have the vision of what it will be. But when it comes to putting paint to canvas or needle and thread to fabric, the result is a sloppy mess. If you have the money to hire professionals to bring your vision to fruition, then all is well; I, however, am in a perpetual state of living hand to mouth with nothing to spare. 

And I certainly have the vision of my perfect boat, if there is such a thing. A nice old trawler, well-suited to economical cruising, beamy and spacious for a liveaboard, enough space and amenities for my galley to turn out delicacies.  The luxury of a stand-up shower with slatted teak.  Alas, most of these vessels are several hundred thousand dollars and far outside my reach.

In my soul-searching at the outset of this process trying to decide between power and sail, it became clear that my vision of boating always involves relaxing with a drink on the aft deck. I am also far more interested in getting where I want to go and dropping the anchor for the afternoon than in spending the entire day trying to get somewhere and turn around--I already get that type of mental, physical, and spiritual journey from running. So, deep down, I know I am a power boater. Power boats also offer far and away more living space for a liveaboard than a sailboat of the same length. Unfortunately, the number of seaworthy-looking power boats in my price range is far smaller than the number of sailboats in my price range. Sail would also offer the, however remote, possibility of someday heading south to Florida and the Caribbean. But sail means risking more interaction with the preppy-snobby sailboat-types I detest.

I am left feeling adrift. I have four weeks to vacate my house but no boat for me and the pets and no office for my belongings.