Saturday, December 19, 2009

2009 - a short summer, but a memorable one.

This summer was defined by so many things. First and foremost, Jenny and I were married on July 18th at her family's camp in Michigan's northern peninsula.

It was an outdoor wedding on a small lake in the middle of a national forest. We even managed to ride away from the wedding in a "Just Married" banner festooned pontoon boat. It was a splendid weekend and I'm very happy to be married to such a sweet girl.

Hamheads, married at last.

Before the wedding, April, May, and June were horrible rainy nasty months as far as the weather was concerned. Sailing time aboard Madrigal was minimal at best. Jenny and I had opposite schedules most of the summer and we were lucky to get 1 day a week off together. In the meantime, our friend Mark has a Catalina 42 with a full bimini enclosure, so we did manage to get a good amount of sailing time in the rain. It lacks something when it isn't on your own boat though and it was often with friends and not with each other. Not ideal, but we still got on the water, and most often had a blast in doing so. Can't complain too much.

Of course, even when we aren't using our own boat a whole ton things find a way to break. :) I can't even remember what was wrong that I needed to be in this lazarette. I think it was something to do with the throttle cable acting up.

The weather broke around the time of the wedding, but then I had to go to Florida for a couple weeks with the RSN crew that I blogged about last. So I was MIA for the first two weeks of my marriage. oops. Jenny was very supportive though, and I thank her for it. Here is me on the R/V Weatherbird doing the Steve Zissou point.

When I got back from the research trip Jenny's brother Jason and sister-in-law Andrea came to visit.

We finally got in some nice sailing. A couple of calm days on the water with an overnight at Peddock's Island and a beautiful sunset sail home. Jason even braved the cold water for a while.

Dave and Christina, who live on our previous boat, The Fitzcarraldo, were also able to get out to the island with us that weekend. It was fun to have us all out there and as a bonus I got a nice shot of our previous boat and our current boat happily bobbing along together. (just ignore the trawler at left-- I really should just crop it out.)

I think for both of us though, the real highlight of the summer was our trip to Gloucester in mid-September. We didn't get a real honeymoon, and this was our first 3 full days off together all summer aside from the wedding. We left one evening and anchored at a nearby island just to get a jump on the harbor traffic the next morning. The sail north was splendid. Perfect beam reach, one tack all the way there. When we got there a 30kt northeast wind pummelled down for two days and we stayed holed up in the harbor loving every minute of it. It was such a nice cool breeze and Gloucester felt so quiet and comfortable.

Anchoring in Gloucester gave Jenny her chance to master the Zissou point as well.

Then to cap it off, the sail home was AMAZING. The northeast winds had died down to a manageable level, but had left a sea of 5-10 foot swells that were on our port stern quarter all the way home. It made for some seasickness if you looked anywhere but the horizon, but it also made for some great fun. As a swell would take us from behind we'd rise to the top of it and surf at 8 knots then slide down the backside at a miserable 4 knots. It was a ton of fun and looked incredible as the whole world would disappear behind water for a moment then reappear as we rose with the next one. We made some sandwiches, relaxed, and enjoyed it all the way home. And the best part was passing only ONE other boat all the way to Boston harbor (which was clogged as usual). So peaceful.

Most of the rest of the fall was spent trying to find ways to entertain ourselves on our few days off together and enjoying life at the marina. Willie got a new pet rat, which Jenny promptly named Santa Maria. It tried to sneak up on Jenny one day, but she was too quick for it.

Before I knew it people were talking about shrink wrap and there I stood one day on the docks as I saw my own boat towed past me... and into its winter slip. It was a short summer, but we managed to make it pretty great.

There was nothing left to do but for Jenny to fire up the oven and make some northern Michigan style pasties. Warm food makes for warm and happy sailors.

Last but not least, the discovery of Jeff Hanson made for a very pleasant summer. I usually have one album or artist which completely defines every summer for me. It just kind of happens that way. The mood will strike, and I'll listen to something all summer. I've never really heard a guy with a voice like this, but he knows how to make it happy and forlorn all at the same time. Kinda like a small sailboat on an open ocean....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

NOAA Ocean Explorers

As I believe we blogged about back in August, I went to Florida for a couple weeks on an offshore archaeological expedition "Researching the Submerged New World". Since then, quite a bit of info has been placed on the NOAA website.

It is a pretty fun site to browse around, and if you click on the "explorers" link I have a little blurb written about me.



Monday, December 14, 2009

end of an era

The semester is almost over. The last few weeks have been killer in the amount of reading and writing I've had to do. But the silver lining is that this is the last week of class... ever! At least as far as my master's degree is concerned, that is. I may or may not do a PhD. I'm leaning away from it (grad school is so expensive and financially, the payoff for an archaeology doctorate is minimal- not to mention the extra years of unproductivity as grad school draws further on). Though, I would still love to have my PhD, so one never knows... Anyhow, I'm not quite in the clear with my master's yet. I still have to write a thesis and that will take about a year to complete. Nonetheless, I'm thrilled to be done with the class aspect of this degree. Things are working out, slowly but surely. This graduate program was one of the main reasons Jenny and I moved out to Boston nearly 3 years ago. We also knew we wanted to liveaboard. So, as a whole, things are working out rather well. Grad school is taking a while, but we are living a nice life in the meantime, happily married, on a boat we love, so I'm in no hurry. Nonetheless, the end of an era is a good feeling.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hot Dog

I couldn't resist uploading this picture real quick. It is cold, rainy, sleety, snowy outside. This is Willie, who almost refuses to go out and even pee. He is sleeping between a 750 watt ceramic heater, an 11,000 BTU propane fireplace, and on top of a radiant rug heater! Even more cute is the fact that he somehow got one paw underneath a rug. That must be one hot dog.

and, btw, that rug heater that we bought is awesome! It is the RugBuddy. As a 2x7.5 runner it fits perfectly on most of our floor right down the centerline of the boat. Getting out of bed and stepping on warm rug instead of on cold bilge radiating floor is the best thing ever. I think we might have blogged about this thing before but I'm so happy with it I wanted to post again. It is also water resistant and we got some bathmats from IKEA that we put together to form a waterproof runner. Nobody can ever tell they are bathmats.

Monday, December 7, 2009


It snowed in Boston over the weekend, and Willie LOVES it. It's mostly gone now, but it came down fast and our shrink wrap held firm. Let's hope that we get more of the white stuff soon!

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Along with the winter season shrinkwrapping tasks comes the task of winterizing the engine.

Last year, I didn't bother with it. Our engine is under the port settee (as seen in one of the pics below) and it stays plenty warm there since we have to heat the boat for us and the pets all winter anyhow. Winterizing really just helps things not freeze when you will be away from the boat, but we are never gone for long enough to care. We just leave a small heater on and have a friend watch in case the power goes out.

However, our engine is seawater cooled and winterizing has the added bonus of clearing the corrosive seawater out and replacing it with fairly neutral engine coolant for 4 or 5 months. That little bonus makes winterizing worth it to me, so today I changed the oil (done every spring and fall), flushed the system with coolant, put some sta-bil in the fuel tanks, and put some preservation gunk in the spark plug holes (is there a better name for those? I'm sure there is)

In this picture you can also see the 120 amp alternator we put on this fall. Our old 40 amp motorola was dead and even when it was alive it could barely put any juice into our battery bank, so I replaced it with this monster. Works great, and it's so clean and shiny! Made specifically to fit the Atomic 4 :)

Willie is never quite sure what to think when the cover is off of the engine.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nice days in the fall.

So far, this autumn has been a very mild one. It is kind of sad that we can't go out sailing due to shrink wrap being on the boat, but we can still make good use of the weather. I made a temporary rig to hold up a cockpit table that we got for free as scrap from a fellow boater who installed a new one. I'll put the table in the right way in the spring, but for under the shrinkwrap it makes a great place to sit and enjoy some hot coffee. Around 40-50 degrees outside it is 60 something under the wrap. Perfect :) Just like summer....

Friday, November 20, 2009

Constitution Marina Pool Parties

The most frequently asked questions by far from dirt dwellers revolve around one thing - the winter. With the cold and snow fast approaching, I thought I'd take a moment to let people know how the liveaboards at Constitution Marina beat the winter blues.

On any given day in the winter, the marina may look like this:
Or it may look like this:

Boston winters are very random, and you never know what the weather will be like. In any case, this is generally what the liveaboards look like on any given Friday in the winter months:

And really, I'd show more pictures of the pool party itself, but this is as clear as they come:

We can't thank Constitution Marina enough for hosting these parties for us every week. Some are not this one, because they don't always provide the free food and drinks, but the fact that they are willing to heat that pool up to hot tub temperature and the fact that they stay after hours to let us goof off and melt the stress of work and winter away is just one of the many reasons we're able to make it through winter alive.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Monahan's Marine

Justin, Willie and I took a trip to Weymouth last night when I got out of work to go check out the new neighborhood. For some reason, it reminds me a lot of some of the towns/areas of Michigan (maybe it's the fact that there's a place called Bucks Bar and in Escanaba there's the Buck Inn)...anyway, we drove around for awhile to see what was nearby to Thayer's Landing.

By far, the most exciting thing is Monahan's Marine, which is 1.2 miles from the marina. I haven't been in it yet, but Justin has gone a couple of times and says it is absolutely amazing. We tried to stop by last night but by the time we decided to go in, it was already closed. This place is huge though and will be a great place to spend way too much time and even more money.

The other thing we saw while driving by was a park, which we later found out to be House Rock Park. Here's an interesting blog post about it. Apparently the rock is the largest glacial erratic boulder in all of New England. We couldn't see it in the dark, but here's a photo I found online.

Otherwise, we just looked around at the restaurants, convenience stores, laundromats, malls, grocery stores, etc. There's a lot of stuff super close by and it is appearing that we're going to have an awesome summer, and all in all, Weymouth sounds much more down to earth than Boston (in my opinion), and I'm really looking forward to that.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

sea hood

This year, Justin built our shrink wrap frame out of pipe instead of wood, and he built it VERY tall, because he has a lot of plans for the winter!

One of the projects he has been working on for a few weeks now is making a sea hood for the mainc ompanionway hatch. This is for a couple of reasons - one being that no waves, rain or draft can come in through the hatch due to this protection. The other is that he plans on building a hard dodger (a windshield of sorts) so that we are even more protected while sailing, and when it is raining, we'll be able to keep the hatch open and not get rained on in the boat!

This is a picture of the seahood in progress. It's actually further along than this, but this was the picture I had on hand.

Another project we have in mind is to paint the topsides. That's why he wanted such a large frame this winter, so that we can both clamber around on the deck without having to crouch down for hours on end while we paint.

Madrigal keeps getting better!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It is cold, wet and rainy.

Even Willie is grumpy about it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Living Aboard Magazine (and website)

A lot of people who come to our blog are here because they are interested in living aboard (often in Boston) and are interested in the lifestyle.

A few years ago for Justin's birthday, I bought him a subscription to Living Aboard Magazine. This is a wonderful resource for anyone who is interested in living aboard or already lives aboard and is packed with useful information. I have never been more excited about advertisements in a magazine in my life - they are by far the most relevant ads I've ever come across!

They also have an amazing forum online, which has grown insane amounts since we first joined. This is also packed full of useful information and is set up in a very user friendly manner. The best part about it is that it really feels like a community of people, and we've gotten to meet quite a few people that we've talked to on there. I've never quite gotten that feel with any other forum before.

That being said, if you're interested in living aboard and are interested in talking to others who do it, visit the forums or subscribe to the magazine. You'll learn a ton and get to meet an awesome crowd of people.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Willie

Yesterday (Halloween) was Willie's 2nd birthday (as best as his paperwork documents :) He has become a great sailboat dog, and has proved himself adaptable to all sorts of goofy boating environments that a dog wouldn't normally expect to find himself in. In celebration, here are some pics from throughout the last year.

Happy B-day Pup!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Who lives aboard?

I recall years ago when Justin and I decided we wanted to live on a boat, thinking of what kinds of people lived on boats.

What we imagined and what was reality were entirely different truths.

In our imaginations, divorced, rich, retired men would be our new neighbors, with little room for any sort of conversation that we'd really connect with or relate to. We thought there was little chance we'd actually make any friends while living aboard.

Less than two seconds after stepping into the marina, I realized how wrong we were. I had joined the group Boston Liveaboards and had been e-mailing him back and forth for a week or two prior to us moving onto The Fitzcarraldo. Mike He was just a regular guy....and he was our age! I was amazed.

Mike quickly became a good friend and it was one of the very first nights we lived at the marina that he invited us over for drinks. We quickly met Melissa, Nicola and Jim - also liveaboards...and none of them were rich old men! We were absolutely amazed, and it quickly came to be that the majority of the people we met were in their 30s and if they weren't, they all acted like they were in their 20s. Marina living brings out the youth in people. This is a group of people who all wanted to, and are, "living the dream". No matter the background, everyone can relate to accomplishing a huge goal and let's face it, we all have had problems with the head at some point and when there is nothing else to talk about, we can talk about toilet troubles.

In the years we have been here, we have learned quickly that age is irrelevant, and that living aboard is about sharing common interests, living as a community and helping anyone who may be in need. We also expect that we will be helped with no questions asked. It is about trust, love and respect...and a LOT of fun.

With that being said, here are some pictures of us having a good time at Constitution Marina, the place we call home.