Disco Stu doesn’t advertise

You guys are going to have to get used to me waxing poetic about all sorts of weird stuff or alternatively going on rants or raves. You see, now that we’ve moved on the boat and we’re wrapping up the final projects there has just been *no* motivation from team Sundowner to write more technical articles or refit posts and I’m guessing that everyone is tired of us shouting, YAY IT IS HAPPENING. Sad I know… In any event, I have been chastised in the past for not writing about “other” stuff that involves life and “connecting” with the audience. I mean hell, isn’t that what Dani is good for? I just kinda slip a post in here or there about odd ball boat refit ideas. But the time has finally come to start blogging about life instead of fixing a boat. Getting in the mood for it has been a challenge for me, but inspiration landed in my inbox yesterday.

–Begin stream of consciousness–
 photo Blogging-For-Money.jpg

Over the past few years, we’ve met a lot of really awesome people online. People that share in our triumphs and pat our backs in defeat. We feel like we practically know a lot of participants on our blog. This community spirit has done two things that I’d like to talk about. One, we have people write us occasionally asking us where our “donation” button is, or if they can support us, or how they can donate to the cause, etc. The second is that our website has a LOT of traffic on it. A lot more than I ever expected. And that attracts advertisers looking to advertise to a select market.

Yesterday we were offered a sizable sum of money to write a blog post and link back to another site. We’ve also been asked to write articles for other publications. We’ve been offered lots of money to review products. (We haven’t had a sponsorship offer yet, but we don’t ask). This is all totally unsolicited on our part. Its flattering to my vanity, but at the same time, No. Back on day one when I started this website I told Dani, “Zero commercial interest”. I refused on principles that I don’t like seeing ads, I don’t like seeing “beggar buttons”, and I really don’t like seeing people review products that they’re being paid to review. Therefore, I shall not do these things.

Now please please, those of you that do these things, don’t get too ruffled. I don’t begrudge people making money or taking donations or writing articles or anything of the sort. I just have a personal aversion. Personal, as in for me.

I recently read a thread over on the cruisers forum about blogs and the writers in the thread said things like, “There are two types of bloggers, those that write for money and fame and those that are just putzing about to keep up with family.” I’d like to be a third type. One who writes for the love of writing and sharing and fellowship with others that seek adventure. So my response to all of the commercial interests has been a polite decline. But to those of you that continue to blast us with your kindness and your dollars, I say this to you… Take whatever you may have asked to give or might have in the future and spend it on something awesome. Dani and I busted our humps to be financially prepared for our journey, and so we blog and share without expectation of reward, but more than that… We want other people to do the same! Go do something awesome.

I know this is a highly controversial topic that can make someone seem either beggarish, miserly, judgmental, arrogant etc. But please don’t take it that way. Its just my thoughts on why you’ll never see an advertisement, a paid review, a sponsorship sticker, or a donate button here on our blog.
–End stream of consciousness–

There. How did I do? I blogged about something non boat related. Let me hear your thoughts.

Nobody ever said it would be warm

OH yes they did! Cruising was all about swimsuits, palm trees and low amp draw 12V fans. At least that is what the brochure said, I swear it. For weeks we’ve had no rain and perfect 70 degree weather, the thing dreams are made of. The absence of rain made the whole moving process easier and we were lucky to have had such a long period with nice temps while getting acclimated to our unairconditioned and unheated new home.

Normally the FALL in Louisiana (please note that it is STILL FALL) is a mix of 70 and 80 degree temperatures with the occasional 40 to 50 degree evenings but not this FALL. Since we’ve moved aboard nearly 3 weeks ago we have lived through 3 “wind storms” (that’s what I call them) with the one last night gusting to 30 knots which chilled the watery air down to 36 degrees IN NEW ORLEANS. The cold air here is not like most other places. Ever had a glass of ice cold water poured on your head? It’s pretty much just like that. It’s 2 weeks to Thanksgiving for peaks sake and my family on the other side of the lake is dealing with hard freezes.

It’s really funny actually and to be quite honest I’m enjoying it. Remember as a kid when you wanted to go camping in your yard no matter what the conditions? Or how about when you NEVER wanted to leave summer camp in the woods? This was me as a kid. I LOVE to camp…always have and I suspect always will. There is something thrilling and fulfilling to me about “roughing it”. I can’t really explain it but this article about a woman who hiked 10,000 miles in 3 years discusses rather well the topic of people who thrive on putting themselves in harsh conditions. I am no where near this extreme and don’t desire THAT much discomfort but this article strikes a cord with me.

Now about this “roughing it”…I wouldn’t really say we are roughing it, things are just “roughER” than they were on land. In fact things are quite cozy and this is the nicest cabin I’ve ever stayed in, so I wouldn’t really call it camping but the feeling of being “out in the wild” is the same to me. It’s like the nicest portable cabin out there in the middle of the woods. I’m sure once we start sailing and getting into weather the cushy little pillows and nice blankets will be stowed away in favor of waterproofing fabric. But so is the life cycle of a sailing sailboat.

I have gone through and rearranged things on the boat multiple times to the point now that I am feeling pretty comfortable. The things we use everyday are easy to get to and the less used items are harder to get to. I don’t feel like the boat is cluttered and everything feels very homey to me, exactly what all my hard work on the interior was trying to accomplish. I FINALLY got to cover the old Green cushion covers with the NEW slip covers my mom and I made way back when. I really like how the covers brighten up the place, are super soft, easy to spot clean and even easier to take off completely to wash since they just go right over the old ones.
Original slipcovers in Green
Slipcovers in Tan

I also got some brown electrical tape and wrapped the white salon lighting wires that went up the walls with it to match the wood and then covered the wire up completely with a flag on one side that can be changed.
Cuban flag and trim up

On the other side I hung Tate’s grandmother Buddy’s hand painted swamp painting that she painted specifically for our boat when we got married. Swamp scenes hold a special place in my heart growing up nearly on one and spending countless days as a child on boats where I could see them and all the wildlife, alligators, birds, frogs, fish, possums, crickets and the like. It’s so special that we get to take the memory of Buddy and scenery from our home state around the world with us.

We also found out the oil lamps still work:) Very exciting. Tate can enjoy his pipe inside with some really nice smelling aromatic tobaccos. The open portlights suck the smoke right out where I can barely smell it. This kind of “fruity” tobacco is a far cry from his favorite singe-your-nostril variety so I’m happy we can compromise.
Tate smoking his pipe with the lantern on

Last week before my membership card expired I headed out to SAMS and loaded up on food. I made a provisioning trip and wasn’t even planning on it. It wasn’t really all that bad.
Food in trunk

I bought a bunch of canned veggies, meat and soups and then got pasta, rice, coffee beans, cereal, crackers, nuts, granola etc. In my effort to not bring any cardboard on the boat I took most everything out of it’s boxes before I hauled it down the dock.
Food in cart

I actually ended up taking off most of the paper labels (I read that somewhere) but found the glue which insects likes to eat was still on the cans so at some point about an hour into this process I said screw it and just left the rest of the labels on. I carried most of the food in using a huge duffle bag packed with stuff. This allowed me to only make 3 trips from the dock to the boat.
Dani Provisioning

Once on the boat I put the food into different cabinets. The cans are stored in 2 gallon plastic bags until I can figure out a better way to catch leakage in the low and to the center cabinets.
Food in cans

I store most other food in the cabinets with Bulk going behind the settees and daily food going by the stove.
Food in Cabinets
Food in Tupperware

I really like the few smaller Lock and Lock containers I have bought and have ordered some larger capacity ones to house the bulk food storage. I did a rough calculation based on the staples we’ll need on board and bought the right sized containers for those. Our day’s of eating out are over. I know there are many Galley books out there to help with this sort of thing but I haven’t been compelled yet to purchase or read one. I find it enjoyable to research on my own and trial and error. Maybe one day I’ll get one like The Boat Galley Cookbook that many have recommended.
Dani's food storage calculations

Our days of eating out are numbered as we approach unemployment. While I’m looking forward to cooking with fresh ingredients such as fish and cabbage I heard nary a complaint about my tuna, pea, mushroom and noodle Alfredo meal I cooked last night. It was nice and hot and we were cozy inside the boat protected from the icy 30ish wet wind blowing directly on our starboard quarter.
Cooking on the Stove top

In anticipation of the winter I bought some really warm Pendleton Camp Blankets and keep one in the salon and one on the bed. These along with wool socks and long johns will get me through a predicted cold winter and keep me dreaming about the Caribbean and warmer days. Tate and I don’t have TV or internet on the boat so we round up sometimes and play cards, or chess or if we have lots of time Scrabble.
Dani playing cards with wool blanket

It’s a simpler way of life and things like showering, washing clothes and cooking take longer but not by much. So far it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done and I’m totally digging the new lifestyle. But of course there is refit…Since moving aboard I haven’t really had the desire to blog about many refit topics, I’m not sure why. But I’ve painted the cabin well and around the hatch and two strips on the cabin top where we removed the handrails and filled with epoxy and also varnished this and fixed that and shined the wood and oh who cares. You want dolphins don’t you? Dolphins and mojitos…don’t worry, I do too.

Baby steps, giant leaps, and life changes

Its funny how things all seem to run together in a rush at the end of a process. You know what I’m talking about. When the tub is draining and it gets low there is suddenly a great slurping noise as the water forms a whirlpool. Well such is my life now. I had begun to wonder if it would ever happen and now that it is happening it seems to be in a great rush. I mean that both figuratively and literally. How so?

The great literal rush is the wind. Since we’ve moved aboard, two great cold fronts have moved through bringing with them high winds and a bumpy marina. Life aboard is different. I’m more in tune with the weather and the day/night cycles. I find that I go to sleep much earlier and that I wake up much earlier. I sleep like the dead though, slowly rocked to sleep at night with the sound of wind in the rigging and waves gently lapping at the sides of the boat.

The figurative rush has been much less restful though. You see, for many years now, I felt like we were taking baby steps.
Toy Sailboat in front of a painting

We bought a boat. We fixed up the boat. We sold a house. We did things. We made preparations. But we had crossed no real threshold. Everything could be stopped. We hadn’t crossed that line… The point of no return. I’m sure the point of no return is different for everyone, but for me it was/is my resignation. Dani had a job that would end at some point, a project based employment, but not I. I have a job that I’ve been at for over 10 years. A long standing position of seniority in a company that requires a high degree of knowledge of the internal workings. In short a position that is not easy to replace someone.

Over the years I’ve loved what I do, but at the same time, it was overly stressful. When I took a two week vacation my blood pressure dropped 15 points! My boss (the CEO/owner) and I had a working but difficult relationship. I didn’t know how resignation would work. Would it be ugly? Would he become enraged and fire me on the spot? Would he try to get me to stay on with offers and bonuses? I just didn’t know. Then there are “my guys”. A team of IT workers that I helped organize and build. Anytime a leader departs there can be sort of a “jump ship” mentality in IT. Would the team be rocked by my departure? I didn’t want that, I love my company, warts and all.

Well on Oct 31, I finally did it. I crossed the point of no return by putting in my resignation. To my great relief, it went smoothly. The conversation with the owner was amiable and the team was happy for me when I announced that I’d be taking a long sabbatical. My fears never materialized. The stress of it all was still real though. I had given my months notice and crossed into that strange space of impending unemployment.
I resign

Leaving a career and depending on your prior financial planning and saving is hard. It takes a lot of confidence mixed with a real desire to do >something<, and for us, that something is our sailing trip. And I've finally done it. It feels real now. It feels like it is actually going to happen. The months leading up to that moment have drug out. Days felt like eternities as our ticker slowly counted down the months. Sometimes I felt like hours were days. But now time is flying. The last week has passed me by like it was only a single day. Time compression and expansion is an interesting side effect of grand life changes.

The same day that I tendered my resignation notice, Dani and I had a furious "final move" as we cleaned out the condo and turned in the keys. After that we were truly living aboard with no place on land to go, well almost. I have been working from a friends home, who was lovely enough to lone me some space to use an office during my final month of employment. And after the final steps of leaving land based housing I immediately had a big birthday celebration with my best friends and my Dad. Nothing quite says, "I'm free!" like getting sloshed in the French Quarter with your family.
Group pic of Tate and friends at Adolfo's on Frenchman Street NOLA

Now I’m working my way through the final steps to close out my position at my job. Every day is a million little “final” steps to ensure a smooth transition. And every night is a walk down a long pier to a cozy little boat. One of the surprising things is just how easy living on the boat has been for both Dani and I. In a way, it feels like an upgrade from our humble little condo. Despite having less space, it is OUR space. The stove is gas, not crappy electric. The lighting is cozy, the wood is welcoming, and the sleep is divine.

I suppose that soon “new experiences” will become normal. Its only a couple of months before we take in the dock lines and head off in the wild blue yonder. Besides some wrap up boat projects and closing out my position at work, I expect it will be filled with visits from friends and family. And so it goes.

I live on a boat.

Well we’ve finally done it. This past weekend we moved all of our stuff aboard Sundowner and now we officially live on a boat! It’s completely wild and awesome. In short I LOVE IT. Five years in the making and it’s actually happened…I almost can’t wrap my head around it. So was the move stressful? What did we do with all of our stuff? How did we make it happen? Is it cramped? Have I thrown Tate overboard yet? Have we taken a shower yet? These are questions I asked myself about the future over the years, in the future tense of course.

What about all of our STUFF? It’s funny but even before I met Tate in 2009 I had begun the “downsizing” process. When I moved away from college in 2007 I had TWO giant truckloads full of stuff, enough to fit a 2 bedroom house fully furnished and enough clothes to clothe a sports team. It was at this time I had sort of an epiphany. Look at all this stuff I said to myself…I hardly use any of it. After a while I got tired of lugging it around and in late 2008 I made the decision to move into a New Orleans studio apartment with just me myself and I and my little dog Snuggles. I was single and ready for a new life with cheaper rent and not so much clutter. It was a liberating experience to throw or give away the things I didn’t really need. My life was more consolidated and I was more discerning about what I bought in the future.

Then I met Tate and all of his stuff in his 1900 SF house. We dated, decided to buy a world sailing boat and then moved in together in an 1100 SF condo. This meant Tate had to downsize and I had to downsize further. We went through everything and really just tried to bring the bare minimum we needed to live.

This brings us to this past weekend. We shifted any contents of “easy access” lockers on the boat to other areas and then started the BIG MOVE. Crunched for time with a funeral on Saturday (my dear Great Uncle Bob) and work during the week we basically tore through the condo like tornadoes, taking only the things we thought we needed and hauling them to the boat. EVERYTHING else is being given away or set by the side of the road. Was this process hard? NOT. AT. ALL. Easy peasy as most of our stuff is kinda ragged anyways from years of frugal living.
Tate's moving truck

With most all of our stuff on the boat now what sticks out to me the most is how much stuff we left behind. How much stuff we didn’t need. Oodles of pots, pans, cups, plates, clothing, furniture, bath stuff, trinkets etc just didn’t make the cut. We took about 4 pots/pans of different sizes, 8 cups, 5 plates, a little bit of plastic ware, bare essential cooking ware, a certain number of shirts, pants, shorts, underwear, socks, shoes, outerwear, bath stuff, medicine and bedding. That’s pretty much it.

In roughly 8-10 dock carts we loaded all our worldly possessions onboard. Another thing that REALLY sticks out to me is just how much space we have left in the boat for more things! The Westsail 32 is HUGE for storage. I’m confident that you could pack enough stores for 2 people for 6 months on this boat with everything stowed away in cabinets and drawers. Incredible.
The nav table area with all our stuff
The galley area with all our stuff

So was this stressful? To me it was not. I was ready, so so ready to move on the boat and start this much simpler life. Already living on the boat has been an incredible experience. I have every little thing I need right at my finger tips. No excess garbage to go rummaging through. I no longer have two places to clean and let me tell you, cleaning and organizing our boat can be done in 30 minutes including dusting and vacuuming. This is a feature I greatly look forward to as I have spent so many hours in my life cleaning…SO many ever since I was a little kid.
The salon area with all our stuff
The salon area with all our stuff

It’s hard to explain but even with Tate onboard and everything not yet put away into it’s new home the boat doesn’t seem to feel cramped, to me. I’m not sure what Tate’s take on the boat life is so far but I’m sure he’ll enlighten us. Perhaps it’s because there are different “rooms” with the galley, salon, head and vberth all kind of separate.

We also now have the best outdoor patio ever something that was lacking so much from our last place. I think many many nights are going to be spent out there looking at the stars and talking while Tate smokes his pipe. There are Great Blue Herons and Kingfishers that hangout on pilings nearby and we have a unobstructed view of the horizon which leads to beautiful sunsets.

So far we have mostly slept with the hatches open and screens in place letting in wonderful fresh air that makes me feel great. We don’t have an air conditioner or heater onboard but I haven’t felt the need for one yet and the temperatures are still quite mild. 80 degrees or below with them falling all the time. When it gets cold I put my long johns and wool socks on and when it’s warm I wear little and turn our fans on which work great and are quiet.

For showers right now we walk over to the bath house late in the evening although we could shower on the boat with hot water from the kettle and our pump sprayer. To quench my need for hot water in the morning to wash my face we boil water the night before in our awesome kettle on the stove and put it in this fantastic Bunn carafe that keeps the water piping hot for the next day. I use a little bowl and mix the hot water with cool from our tanks to make a wonderful wash basin for my morning ritual. I LOVE that thing.
The head area with all our stuff

Right now we sleep in the vberth with the little triangle insert in to give us some more space. This is very comfortable but we have to get used to (Tate has to get used to) me crawling over him in the middle of night to get to the head. We are working on that. The first night was pretty restless for the both of us with all the new noises and creaks but each night it gets better. Last night I slept like a baby all the way through the night! Maybe it’s because the boat is rocking with the cold front we have coming. Saturday we are looking forward to 30 knots of wind driving the temps down to the 40’s.

Ahh, life on the water, always an adventure. Right now I keep my work clothes hanging my car along with my shoes and belts. For laundry we’ll go our dear friend Michele’s house and bum loads. Later I plan to plunger wash them in a black bucket I got with salt water first and a fresh water rinse, wringing them out in between to minimize fresh water usage and aid line drying.

Another neat benefit of living in a marina is all the people we meet. We have met and talked to more neighbors here in the last 4 days then we have in 3 years at our condo. Just yesterday as I was leaving the boat for work at 8am I saw a new boat just adjacent to us. It was two youngish cruisers who had just sailed this tiny little boat (24 feet I think) from New York to New Orleans via rivers and they has JUST arrived that night. Such interesting people out here I tell you what.

This weekend we’ll finally get some time to put everything away and then rearrange it and put it back away. Hey we might even carve a pumpkin, a little late but you know we are some busy folk these days! Also we don’t have internet on the boat yet so posts will have to be written at home then uploaded somewhere else, leading to less than consistent post intervals. I suppose it’s better to get used to it now as this will no doubt be exaggerated when we leave. I’m super excited to be finally here and can’t wait for what future holds. We are leaving in just about 2 MONTHS!!