• By Gene Henson

On Living Aboard

When you live aboard a forty-foot boat as we do, the coming of spring is welcomed differently than those who live in a house. As soon as it’s somewhat definite that there will be no more snow, off comes the winter cover. Once that’s done, the outside of the boat is cleaned, the bottom washed, then, after the mandatory insurance survey, she is secured in her summer slip. This year, with having to deal with the nasty virus that seems to have taken over our lives, things are a bit different. I doubt I’ve ever heard the phrase, ‘Social distancing’ before, but it’s touted in just about everything we hear or read these days. The Blonde, my wife, who is employed in a ‘non-essential’ profession, is home with me. The yard is very quiet, being non-essential as well. We are staying pretty much out of sight, not knowing what would be the result of someone in authority seeing us here. The yard owners do, of course, know our situation. And they appreciate that we are able to keep an eye on things. I have given some thought to getting underway and sitting at anchor somewhere out of sight, but that will need a bit more contemplation. Meanwhile, we are safe, away from anyone and have enough vittles in our larder to last quite a while. Being behind locked gates, it’s not easy to get any delivery but I might have found way around that, using my Friend Ritchie McGill’s address. I was scheduled to have one of the cataracts in my eyes removed on the first week of the month, but due to that being considered non-essential as well, it’s been put off indefinitely. ‘Non-essential’ is another word that seems to be overused these days. We both have been reading a lot; thank goodness for E-readers. That and the Internet, where we get the vast majority of our news. I can remember when the evening news lasted a half hour, then went to an hour and now has become mostly full time in this time of crisis. The Blonde’s family has been in touch and her sister has offered to put us up for the duration of this stay-at-home decree. But to tell the truth, I think I’d rather suffer the virus than deal with them twenty-four seven. We politely declined, although her sister became adamant that we were “Putting ourselves in harm by staying on that old boat!” She is convinced that we live like this because I cannot provide for her sister. This has been an issue ever since we sold our condo and moved aboard. I suppose when you live off the grid so to speak, there are going to be those who cannot understand. The “Golden Handshake” that allowed us to pursue this, lifestyle has kept us quite well. I’ve kept current in my field and can, and have, done a bit of consulting from time to time. There is more of that out there than I care to do, but I’m content with what I’m doing. The Blonde’s Architectural firm, she’s an architect, once hired me to revamp their IT system. It had suffered from gross incompetence by their last IT manager. I was offered the job full time, but declined. Not really interested in joining the rat race again. Once in a while, is just fine thank you very much. I have also been composing a list of items that need work on both boats, Patty O’, our 40 foot Huckins, that was new in 1954. And the little Century Runabout we tow behind us when we travel, and use like a car. Both are in remarkable shape and require only minimum maintenance. The topsides of Patty O’ are due, at some point, to welcome some attention. This is usually a light sanding followed by a coat of paint that’s mixed half and half with thinner. It goes on like water, and runs a bit, but doing it this way prevents buildup. Not that it doesn’t, but it takes several years before it’s noticeable. The bottom gets pressure washed twice a season and depending on its condition, the decision is made whether or not to just apply a coat, or indeed, take it down to bare wood. Over the years, we have had our share of deck leaks. Living aboard, leaks are noticed quickly, and can be dealt with before they cause problems. This wasn’t always the case. There have been a few times over the years, before I became educated in ‘leak discovery’, that we have discovered a deck leak that had gone on long enough to require some major repair. One in particular resulted in us taking up residence in a local motel, while Ritchie and I replaced not only two planks, but two frames as well. Lesson learned: a careful inspection, armed with a hand held Moisture Detector is like the old adage, ’A Stich In Time Saves Nine.’ A Moisture Detector is a wonderful tool recommended by Ritchie that lets you look beyond the surface for any indication of un-wanted moisture. The number displayed is relative, but will show what the moisture level is above the surrounding area. It doesn’t take a lot of time to do this, once I’ve figured out just where to look. Now, a day or so after we get a heavy rain I’ll get out the meter and check for moisture. After much consideration, we did get underway, planning for a few days at anchor at one of our favorite spots on the east end of Long Island. We were only there one day before the local police came by and asked what we were doing. After we told them, they insisted that we meander back to where we came from. Entering the harbor we were again accosted, by the Coast Guard this time, who asked a lot of questions. We told them we had left before the shelter in place order came out. We were then summarily escorted to our yard, where they sat and watched us tie up. I’m sure the Chief running the forty-foot Coast guard boat recognized us. It could have easily resulted in our being quarantined for two weeks. So here we sit, like almost everyone else in the Country, awaiting the passing of this nasty virus. But, as I mentioned before, we have all we need and the means to make the best of an unpleasant situation. “What’s for dinner?” I asked. “Reach and grab.” Was her answer. So I did. Tri-tip steak does well on a hot grill. “Don’t forget to wash your hands!” she said “Not a chance.”

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