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.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


You may not be aware, but we own a cat. Many people in our marina who have been there for three years don't know this.

Gollum came to us about 4 1/2 years ago as a strange, nearly hairless beast living under my car in Michigan. I love animals, so I instantly began feeding her, giving her water, and slowly gaining her trust. The last one took awhile, and even when I felt I could trust her, she still scared the crap out of me with the noises that came out of her. She sounds similar to Chewbaka or Gollum from the Lord of the Rings movies.

Gollum decided on Monday night to wander out of the boat - a very rare occurrence. Because she is often in hiding and sleeps her days away, we didn't realize. It wasn't until the next day when I realized she hadn't touched her food that I knew something was wrong. I looked all over the boat, but she was nowhere to be found.

I ventured further and started looking in the water, expecting to find a fuzzball floating in the water. There were a couple other people who noticed me looking and after explaining that yes, we have a cat, they started looking too.

I was just about to give up when suddenly I caught site of her, next to a dinghy stored on the dock less than 20 feet from our boat.

I'm sure she had a COLD night, but she seemed happy to be back home and I'm sure she'll never venture out again.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pirates of Halifax invade Boston!

Or something similar to that anyhow. Pirate themed tour ship Liana's Ransom usually tours Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is on her way south to warmer climates to give tours over the winter, and she has decided to stop here in Boston for a few days. We met a couple of the crew members and they were very nice. Must be quite an adventure, sailing south a pirate ship for the winter!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

employment, self

In January 2008, Justin and I began Jigsaw Indexing, as a way of living a bit more simply and being a bit more self sufficient with our lives. Also, I love indexing, so it has been a wonderful experience for me and I've been grateful for all the work that has come our way.

Since living aboard, we have come across many people that work out of their own boats. There is something about moving on a boat that gets a person obsessed about working for him/herself and when it goes into motion, the person will do whatever it takes to make it happen.

We know a lot of people who work for computer companies and can do most/all of their work from home.

Others have started their own businesses doing boat related things. One person at our marina sews flags, and another has a fuel polishing business.

A couple of weeks ago, we came across the most interesting business ever - boat acrobats.

Justin met me partway on my commute home. He started talking about the boat that had arrived in our marina all the way from France, and how he wanted to show it to me. "La Loupiote" is beautiful! One of my favorite things about her was the fact that the owners very clearly found ways around spending $500 for this part or $1000 for that. With a little thought, they were able to craft a lot of things on their own and save money in the meantime. It made for a better looking boat, too.

The next day, Justin met Franck and his wife Delphine. Franck needed to get to a marine store to pick up some bottom paint and Justin was on his way there anyway. This is where Justin learned of their profession, and we found out that in a couple of days they would be performing their show for us all at the marina!

No one quite knew what to expect out of this couple - they and their two children were very intriguing, but spoke more French than English and we weren't quite sure what the show was going to entail.

The show was spectacular, and it made me so proud to be among a community of people who dare to break the rules of living a normal life, of going to a 9-5 job, and finding a way to make their performance work, even with raising two kids aboard all the while.

This way of living is all about simplicity and self reliance to both me and Justin, and a lot of things that once meant so much to us now seem quite silly. We know for certain that we want to be more like the French acrobats and less like all the people we see bustling about the city streets, rushing to make it to their jobs they don't really enjoy, working too many hours out of their day and not getting any time to do things that matter most to them or be with the people they love.

So, many thanks to La Loupiote for putting on an amazing show and living life to the fullest.

Here is a link to a video of them performing a different show on YouTube - I taped them but the videos aren't yet ready to go online.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tania Aebi and Jessica Watson

I am reading a fantastic book right now called Maiden Voyage written by Tania Aebi. When she was 18 years old, Tania's father told her that in lieu of college, she could go sailing around the world. She had very little sailing experience (and no boat), so they bought her a 26' boat and she sailed away from New York harbor with her cat Dinghy. She learned about the boat and sailing along the way, avoiding disaster through pure luck. Very quickly she learned how to navigate by the stars, fix her own engine, and battle brutal storms without a single soul to help her.

Her journey began in 1987.

22 years later, I have picked up this book and can feel the seasickness as she sails to the French Polynesians, and cry when I read of her mother's death along the way. It is a book I cannot put down, yet I don't want it to end, either.

On October 18th, another young soul set out to see if she could follow the same journey. Jessica Watson, at just 16 years of age, plans on becoming the youngest person to sail around the world unassisted. Her boat, a 34 footer is much larger than the 26 feet that Tania had to handle, but probably much better equipped. Regardless, it is fantastic to see these people going out there and taking on the world, literally. I plan on following her blog along the way, and hopefully she will have as interesting a story to tell as Tania did.

Maybe someday, Justin and I will be so lucky as to sail as we please, not tied down to land (hence Jigsaw Indexing), but for now I am happy that I can sit down next to the fireplace and curl up with a wonderful story of a young girl learning of life and happiness as she sails the high seas with her head held high.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Winter Slip

Well, it is official - we are in our new winter slip! I still can't believe that summer is now officially over.

Since the boat is moved in so far, we won't be able to go out sailing on our boat, because we're packed in like sardines and they throw storm lines from boat to boat which makes it impossible to get out.

We're starting to see familiar winter faces show up once again and it's strange - that will be us next year.

It has been a fantastic year and a sailing season I'll never forget.

Justin started a shrink wrapping job at the marina today, so very soon all of the boats are going to be wrapped and the quiet of the winter begins.

Winters are always very fun at Constitution Marina though - lots of dinner parties and pool parties. Also, our friend Hugh takes his boat out quite a lot in the winters and we're sure to go out with him quite a lot. He has a great lobster boat, and since he is a rigger for Northeast Rigging, he is always too busy to go out boating until winter hits and the jobs go away.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thayer's Landing

Well, it's official. Jenny and I have decided to move Madrigal to a new marina next spring. We love Constitution Marina and have only good to say about it, but it is time for some change. We bought a boat so we can move around a bit, so we might as well. Also, we are both growing tired of being in the city 365 days a year.

With that in mind, we've kept an eye out for a marina that happens to stand out a little. Well, a couple days ago a craigslist posting appeared advertising one open slip in Thayer's Landing Marina in Weymouth Mass. I've never heard of the place before. So far as I can tell, neither has anybody else. There is a good reason for this. The marina only has about 8 real slips and then a long dock that fits about 8 more boats. I don't think there has ever been an opening at the marina. Jeff Thayer, the very nice gentleman who runs the place, said he usually has a 3 year waiting list and he's never really had to advertise before. I can tell it is true because I can't find ANYTHING about this place online.

I think we got very lucky. It is a beautiful place, located up theWeymouth Fore River. Jeff Thayer's house was built in 1680. Dr. Cotton Tufts (pun intended?), founder of Tufts university and doctor of Abigail Adams built the house. It is old, large, and beautiful. However Jeff came to own it is currently unknown to me, but 20 some years ago he built this small marina in his back yard. It is peaceful, quiet compared to our current downtown Boston location and wonderfully, deliciously, green colored. There are trees down both sides of the river. There is a park just across the water from us. The house has a fenced in yard. It is very quaint and should be a nice change for us.

We'll still spend the winter seasons in Charlestown at Constitution Marina with all our friends. All the friends here are seriously going to be the hardest part of spending a summer (and perhaps many) away. There is a great community here, and we've gotten quite close with some people. It is nice to know that we can come and go though. Thus is the real freedom of living aboard.

This is the monstrous Fore River drawbridge that we will have to go under. The picture doesn't do justice to the size of the thing. Our boat can sail right under it. It has a 55 foot clearance at high tide before the bridge even goes up. The bridge gives a pretty industrial look, and the waterfront right there really is industrial. It was home to the Fore River Shipyard. Luckily we are upriver a ways and it gets nicer and nicer up the river. Neither of us have ever spent much time in Weymouth. I've only been there because of Monahans, the fantastic marine store that we will now only be 1 mile from! (I'm not sure if that is good or bad). But from driving around there the past few days it seems like a very nice town. Lots of good looking cafes, restaurants, and coffee shops. Seems upscale, but not snoody and annoying. It also puts us close to quite a few good outdoor areas. Blue Hills Reservation is close by as well as Wompatuck State Park, which is the park Jenny and I camped at when we vacationed to Boston for an inspection tour to see if we wanted to move here almost 4 years ago. We'll also be about 1 mile from Bare Cove Park, an excellent place to walk Willie off leash.

Getting out to sail will become easier as well since we won't have to beat through Boston Harbor and get tossed constantly by the ferry boats and hordes of powerboats. In all, I think we'll enjoy it. Life will quiet down in the summers and move a little slower, but that's OK by us.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Moving to the East coast from Michigan, there were many things we had just never encountered before (the ocean, being one of them!)

So when people started talking about the big Nor'easter that was going to hit, we had assumed (for awhile) that this was going to be one BIG storm. We'd always get a little nervous about it, especially once we were on the boat, and then it never ended up being much more than some winds, rain and a little chill in the air.

Now that we understand what a Nor'easter actually is (a storm that blows in from the North East), we are well aware that they CAN be big storms but they aren't necessarily anything to fret about.

That being said, it's been cold and wet, and rain is in the forecast for another couple of days. Willie is most pathetic and refused to even get out of bed until I made him at 11:30 this morning. He HATES the rain.

We're thankful that we're dealing with this storm instead of Hurrican Rick, and are thinking of all the sailors and dirt dwellers over on the west coast. Hopefully the storm begins to calm itself and everyone has found a safe place to go to ride out the storm.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gearing up for winter

Every year at the marina, the buzz begins to get louder as October 15th slides on by. Everyone wants to know how you are heating your boat for the year.

Its a big deal...not only for the warmth, but for the fact that at our marina, October 15th is when we start getting charged for electricity, so space heaters are not always the best option.

For us, we always have to factor into the equation that we have a pup and kitty to keep warm, even if we're not on the boat.

While aboard the Fitz, we heated the boat with a nice little woodstove. While we loved it, it was hard to keep a consistent heat and the stove wanted to be fed every half hour or so. That meant waking up to a very cold boat. Needless to say, the bed was full of warm bodies during the winter on the fitz, because there is nothing like warmth to keep a cat and dog happy!

Last year, Justin installed a Dickinson propane heater, and we love it. The flame makes for very cozy evenings, but we have noticed that when it gets to be very cold, the fireplace alone can't keep us too warm. We also had an oil filled heater and a regular space heater. Oh, and a mattress heater too.

This year, we're taking a bit of a different route. The oil heater broke, as did the space heater. We decided we'd replace those with two small space heaters, because really those are what help out the most especially when we're gone and don't want to leave the propane running.

To add a bit more comfort to the boat this year, we bought a rug heater which is a 2' x 7' strip. We bought some rugs to lay over it, and so far it is VERY nice to have a nice warm floor to walk on. The dog and cat have already discovered the heat and have been laying on it when its chilly.

The last heat source has been our new oven. What better way to get warm than to get warm with smells of cookies or stew lingering in the air! It's been a nice excuse to do more baking.

Now that October 15th has come and gone, another thing is abuzz at the marina - they are moving the boats in for the winter. We have a very nice winter spot, but once we're there, we can't go out sailing. We've been tempted to keep our outside slip for the winter, but I know I'll be very happy when I need to take Willie for an evening stroll and I can get to the grass in 20 steps or less.

And here is how Willie keeps warm, thanks to my mom!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Again it's been a long time since we've updated, but not without excuse. Indexing is busier than ever, and I've roped Justin into helping me get some of the projects done. He did his very own book and we're pretty darn excited because now that we can both index, we'll be able to take on more jobs and the business will grow.

Justin has been busy with school and working lots of extra shifts at work. He's also had a chance to do more boat projects - always exciting.

One of the great projects that came about unexpectedly was the acquisition of a nearly new Origo 6000 oven. Our friend was kind enough to do a swap with us, since he's getting rid of his boat and we're LOVING the new oven. I can honestly say that I've never loved an oven more than this one, and it bakes better than any oven I've ever used before, on land or on a boat. Anyway, we decided that it was the only stovetop/oven that we needed, so we ditched the microwave and the electric stovetop. Justin had to do some rearranging, but re-installed the gimbals so that the oven has plenty of room to move when we're rocking around (like right now) and that way everything stays even and doesn't slide off when we're tipped at an angle.

The other project that Justin has been working on is a seahood. This is the cover for the main sliding hatch which protects us from getting rain/sea water splashing in through the hatch, and allows him to be able to build a dodger on top of that, which will help prevent rain/sea water from coming in the hatch at all, even when it's wide open. It will also allow me to sew up a bimini which will protect us even further.

A project I decided to tackle yesterday was sewing a cover for the propane tank, since we bought a nice one and it will always be attached to the rail. There were a few things that seemed would be difficult to work out, but in the end I came up with a very nice cover for it and we just need to pick up some snaps so that we can attach it with those.

Boat projects aside, we're wrapping up another sailing season here as the winds get colder and the days get shorter. It's sad to see the summer fade away so quickly, but we're still both happy that we were able to get out as much as we did this year. We even did a sail up to Gloucester, which we had planned on extending to Rockport, but with 8 foot seas and 30-40mph winds forecasted, we decided to play it safe and stay in the anchorage instead. It was a fantastic trip and it was so nice to have five days to sail, explore the town, and just enjoy everything.

We've been decent at updating our photos to flickr, and here is a set from the trip to Gloucester.

Well, the bread has been baked for the marina party and I'm just waiting for Justin to get home so we can go have some turkey and whatever else they have in store for us! More soon.