life aboard

Superfluous Adults

16 Aug

I spent a lot of my childhood with my siblings down the ravine behind our house.  In summer, we found salamanders under rocks and built dams across the foot-deep stream.  In the winter, we slogged our way down the snowy slope to crack through the ice and always came home with wet snowpants.  And while my mom knew where we were, she was hardly lurking behind every tree.

Solving fractions and finding popcorn words.

So I kind of feel bad for my kids.  Living aboard means we get to spend a lot of fun time together, but it also means ...

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Should We Worry About the Youth of Today?

17 Jun
Summer 2010 – lemonade
Summer 2013 – handwashing

Last night was Family Movie Night.  We don’t do it often, but Grannie had taken a stroll through the local used DVD emporium, and sent us Ghostbusters as part of a care package.  And who can say no to that?

As the film started and books started floating through the library, Indy pasted herself to my side and Erik and I shared a look.  I suddenly remembered that a few of the ghosts in the film were pretty scary.  I had misgivings; I did not want to induce a Gremlins reaction.

I ...

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The Ninja Sailor

9 Jun

Stylish descended the companionway, muttering to herself.  “Lanacote, small brush, Lanacote, small brush…”
“Everything okay?”
She glanced up at me as she started rooting through the drawers in the nav desk.  “I had to pass Dad to get up the ladder.”
There are many obvious skills one needs to cultivate to live aboard.  Good seamanship.  Knots.  Basic weather analysis.  But ...
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What Do You Do All Day?

5 May

This is one of the most common questions I get from land folks.  It is usually accompanied by a wide-eyed look and a shake of the head, as though we wake up every morning in our floating prison cell, wondering how to fill the dark and heavy hours until lights-out.

Never.  Erik and I wake up every day, roll over, say good morning, and wonder, “What is going to break today?”  There are few things you can count on in this world, my friends, but I can promise you this: on a boat, there is always something advancing along the ...

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A Fork In The Road

18 Apr

The Papillon crew is a family divided at the moment.  While the girls and I visit long-lost friends and relatives, Erik is on the boat, hard at work welding fuel tanks and replacing swage fittings.  It is a little disconcerting to be so far apart after 2.5 years of togetherness.  The girls and I miss him.  But I also worry.  Because I get emails like this:

Subject: Think I just bought a car…

Of course, the car turned out to be free, but why put that in the subject line when you can give your wife a heart attack instead?...

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War On Corrosion

3 Apr
My can opener didn’t always have vice grips attached.  Once upon a time, it had a plastic handle.  And then one day last December, the handle simply fell off.  The plastic hadn’t broken – the metal underneath had rusted away.  And so, in fine cruiser fashion, I improvised.
Not to be cranky, but metal on a boat is a pain in the neck.  If it is metal, it will corrode.  Unless I build everything out of Platinum, the salt water is going to get to it eventually.
Our hull is made of Aluminum.  That’s great if you plan to ...
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Singing in the Rain

31 Mar

Rainy days are always a treat on board.  Well, okay.  Rainy days in the tropics are a treat,because it is warm outside.  Rainy days in, oh, I don’t know, New Zealand, when it’s Christmas and it’s freezing and your in-laws are visiting and a gale is blowing and the anchorage is too bumpy to take the dinghy to land and you’re all stuck below decks for five days and all you do is cook and peel excited children off the ceiling and cook and brew more tea and cook and cook… those days aren’t my number one choice.  But warm ...

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The Art Of Making It All Fit (with helpful how-to video)

20 Mar

One of the more common questions I get about life aboard is, “How do you make it all fit?”  That’s easy.  Step one: prioritize.  We follow a simple space allocation formula on Papillon.  I’ll draw you a pie chart.

A place for everything, and everything in its place.  Provided it is boat related, otherwise it’s out.

As I am (loudly) reminded every time we run out of something, I am the Provisioning Officer aboard.  We have lots of locker space so dry goods don’t present an issue, but I did used to think my fridge and freezer were too small.  ...

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What’s Cookin’?

16 Mar
The trouble with feeding a family is that it is relentless.  It can be fun to prepare a good meal – chopping vegetables, sniffing at the pot bubbling on the stove, watching everyone’s smiling face as they dig in.  And then, zip! it’s gone, you have a stack of dirty dishes in the sink and, four hours later, everyone is hungry again.  But the fact is, whether cooking is satisying or not, we all need to eat.  Even I can’t survive on crackers and cheese forever.
I have run the gamut on kitchens from Well-Equipped Western World Standard to Fire ...
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Making Ends Meet

2 Mar
Hand over your snap shackles, cotter pins and epoxy resin!

A reader recently asked me what we do for money on the boat.  I get this question from time to time; I write about the price of tinned beans often enough that people understand we aren’t living off a trust fund.  So they are curious.  How does ...

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