On Living Aboard
Years ago, when we started this lifestyle, there were many who were convinced we had lost our minds. And honestly, there have been times when I’ve thought so too. It got so that we would avoid answering questions about where we lived because to do so would invite questions, mostly of a condescending nature. There are a lot of people in this country who live full-time on their boats. There are the ones who wander from place to place, enjoying what they see before heading off to new horizons. On terra firma, those who live full time in their RV’s are subjected to many of the same questions. Our decision to embrace this lifestyle was based solely on our desire for change and not, as so many thought at the time, for any fiscal reason. It’s easy to see why people would think that. The year prior to moving aboard, I had left my job at the tender age of 48, having been offered the so-called Golden Parachute. Before that the Blonde, my wife, and I lived conservatively, well within our combined incomes. We spent almost a year doing over Patty O’, our 1954 forty foot Huckins Sedan Cruiser. She was in pristine shape when we bought her, being only the third owner, so most of what we did was to modernize her living systems for our comfort. We are quite happy with her. We have a rule that states that we be able to get underway in fifteen minutes or less in summer, and somewhat more than that in winter. So far, we have been able to meet that requirement. I have seen live aboard boats that haven’t moved in years. That’s not for us. We have friends who live full time in their 39-foot motor home who are subjected to many of the same questions. There will come a time when we roam up and down the coast, but that time is in the future. The past winter has been one of ups and downs weather wise. There have been a few glorious days when we have been tempted to get underway and see how our summer haunts look in winter, but it never happened. There always seemed to be something that took preference. Not that we were suffering, far from it. The most exciting thing that happened to the boat was an unknown flying object that poked a hole in our winter cover. Of course, it was in a spot that wasn’t accessible, so the cover had to be folded back to gain access. That took the better part of a day and I was fearful that the wind would freshen, which would cause more damage. Luckily, it did not and I was able to repair the tear with a strip of aircraft duct tape, also known as “100 MPH tape”. The next day, we were rewarded with a nasty snowstorm that was not predicted to occur until a day later. There was also a bit of electrical work done for the boatyard, which I welcomed, not that the money wasn’t, but in order to maintain my electricians license, it’s necessary to use it from time to time. It was while doing that, when I noticed my vision seemed to be getting a bit blurry. I’d been thinking it was age related. I finished the job, relying on drug store reading glasses, but that didn’t seem to be totally effective. Time for a checkup. One of the bennies that accompanied my buy out was medical insurance, although my dental plan didn’t follow. Making an appointment with the Blonde’s eye doctor, I resigned myself to most likely having to wear glasses. In the past, I’d enjoyed having 20/15 vision, and the thought of having to depend on visual help was a bit disconcerting. The exam didn’t last long. “You have cataracts in both eyes.” He said. “There isn’t much I can do except recommend a good ophthalmologist.” The guy he recommended was quite busy, which was OK with me. A busy Dr. is a good doctor. From the time I made the appointment to the actual visit was just shy of two weeks. They recommended that I get there a good half hour before the scheduled time to fill out all the necessary forms. It was a good thing we got there early; there were a lot of blanks to fill in. When I fill out forms like this, I list what I think is pertinent, and leave the others blank. I have found that this works quite well; if there is something they think they need that I don’t, we can discuss it later. The exam went well, they dilated my eyes and shined lights in there and asked me to look down a picture of a country road. End result was that I indeed have cataracts and they needed to come out. He told me he could restore my vision to 20/20 in both eyes. Also, that I would be able to read without glasses. The procedure for the first eye was scheduled for almost a month out. The Blonde drove me back to Patty O’ and guided me down the dock. The dilatation made it pretty hard to see. It took several hours before my vision returned to normal, normal that is, for the present time. This time of year is when I like to have Patty O’ hauled for whatever bottom work is needed, and to do a complete inspection. This is done for several reasons not the least of which is to catch any little problems before they become big ones. It’s also time for the annual insurance survey that our underwriter insists on. In the past we’ve gone round and round with insurance companies over this. Most companies insist on the survey being done before launching, and we have had to change companies over that issue in the past. The fact that we live aboard year round seems to be lost on a lot of people. And then there is the problem of surveyors themselves. Luckily, the current guy does indeed have a clue on what constitutes good condition for a wooden boat. All the upgrades we’ve done have been sanctioned by the American Boat and Yacht Council, the agency that develops standards for the industry. A date for hauling was set and with that information, I called the insurance company expecting to have to give a lengthy explanation as to why the boat was in the water before the survey. Surprisingly, the person answering the phone remembered me, and the whole thing took just a few minutes. She called me back later that day to confirm the date, and to give me the name of the surveyor, whom I recognized as the same guy who had done the job for the past few years. He knows wooden boats very well. Seeing as how the day went so well, I decided it would be a good idea to prepare something special for dinner. Grilled scallops with a beurre blanc sauce, along with roasted asparagus would do the job. “What’s the occasion?” she asked. “It’s a great day!” I answered. “Sure is! I’ll open the wine.