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23' mini-trawler
by Schucker

Janice aboard Seaweed,
living the good life afloat...

Trawler cruising on $14 per day is possible.
I'm doing it and you can too.

Janice Marois, nautical journalist.
Accredited member of Boat Writers International.

Here, I share my views on living aboard a small boat with very limited resources. Hopefully my successes will help others achieve the life. And yes, I'll share the things I did wrong too -- though not everything 'cause a girl's got to have her secrets!


Christmas is coming. Please be sure to use my Amazon links
when ordering your holiday gifts. Thanks so much!

Date: 3 December 2018. Mistakes Made - Pick the Right Boat.


Online websites such as Cruisers Forum and Trawler Forum often have posts by enthusiastic couples wanting to join the water world. Folks are gung-ho to buy a boat and get right out here. Then a few months later we see the boat listed For Sale on YachtWorld. Today I detail some of the mistakes I've seen made, and how you might avoid the same pitfalls.

First of all, DO NOT be totally
focused on what you want.


Southbound with wind and rain on the nose...
Nobody's having fun this day. Photo by Irene in Titusville.

Pay Serious Attention to what

Additionally, few women have ever had an epiphany because her wise husband decided that XZY was fine. The same is true in reverse as well. Agreement comes with time and consideration of all the possibilities.

Life at anchor is my preference. It is peaceful and quiet.

Couple A: They were living aboard a boat that was destroyed by a hurricane. They bought another trawler with a DIFFERENT LAYOUT. The wife LOVED to cook. The new galley was a dungeon. It was Truly Dreadful. Frankly, I don't believe it could have been much worse.

He told me the boat they
bought was a bargain.


It wasn't, at least not if you liked to cook. For instance, in order to open the oven door the wife had to step out into the companionway. They enjoyed dining on the sundeck. That meant walking up four steps (galley dungeon, remember?) to the salon, out the starboard door, down the side deck, up two or three more steps to the aft deck. Serve.

This was a huge problem. If the husband had really listened he would have heard her say the galley was wrong. Alas, he did not. About a year later they were ashore in a condo. The boat for sale.

Couple A loved entertaining. A boat such as M/V
Edge (Atlantic44) might have been better for them.

Aboard Edge you go from the galley to the salon and then up a few steps to the aft deck. It's easy. Plus you're enclosed, inside the boat while moving between levels. It feels safer and more homey.

Couple B: Wife told hubby "I hate passages longer than 3 days" I'm not sure how it happened but she was aboard for a terrible NINE DAY voyage bashing into the northeast trade winds of the Caribbean. Guess who jumped ship? Frankly, he would have been far better off to put her on a plane and hire a crew member to help with the trip. But he didn't.

Island hopping through the Caribbean is a blast. The
return trip bucking the prevailing NE winds is rough.


Couple C: They are friends (good ones!) of mine. He was an old sailor with forty-plus years of experience afloat. She was new to boating, and LOVED IT. Underway though she was a nightmare. She worried and was frightened even, without cause to be honest. Every time they moved the boat there was an argument.

Finally I convinced her to meet him at the destination. Then all was well. For about three years though things were Very Rocky. She was simply a bad traveler however she was a wonderful mate. They made their life afloat work by not moving the boat together.

If one partner doesn't like being underway, then let them get to the next destination via car or plane. Seriously, boating is supposed to be fun. If both are not enjoying the journey, then change something.

A boat is a small space when a relationship hits a
rocky patch. Getting along is crucial for happiness.

Couple D: He wanted and they bought a sailboat. She agreed to a one year test trip. For their inaugural cruise he chose the Bahamas as a destination, in the winter. While there they met another couple who LOVED sailing. While there they met another couple who LOVED sailing. The wives got along as did the husbands. Both boats traveled in *tandem. By the end of the trip Couple D wife was fully on board for a part time life at sea. Now they boat six months of the year. The rest of the time she does the Grandma thing.

*Tandem: Cruising in tandem means that two boats are heading the same way and follow along as a pair. Sometimes two boats, sometimes more but all heading in the same general direction

Boating should not be an all or nothing experience. Folks that are happiest have options. Captain D was a smart fellow. They lived in the snowy north. He took his wife to the Bahamas in the dead of winter. That was no doubt a key component of his planning. The other part was fortuitous: meeting another cruising couple expanded the possibilities and enjoyment for both couples.

Ladies find solutions to things you fellows might not even consider a problem. We share our experiences. Those insights can make a world of difference. For instance, knowing how to keep my hair soft when swimming a couple times a day is important to me. A guy might not care, but I do.

Hint: use way less conditioner than you think you need, and leave it in. My hair is waist length and thin. I use a dab about 1/2" by maybe a 1/4" high. That treatment plus fresh water showers keeps my hair soft and silky.

Cruising in tandem offers a way for cruising boaters
to socialize and experience camaraderie while underway.

NOTE: Please be open to new folks too. Sometimes I've seen cruisers so enamored with their group that they close off meeting new people. That gent who rowed up to your vessel just might be someone you will like, so do say hello.

Side Note to Visitors: DO NOT come by a boat that has just anchored. Offer the new boaters time to unwind, wash up and relax before stopping by.

I've met writers, scientists, computer geeks, missionaries, divers, entertainers and more. One thing I love about boating is the variety of folks out here. Though we come from diverse backgrounds, that seems to make little difference. Friendships are made and experiences shared. It is a wonderful life.

A few years ago I met Cynthia of Pier 17 over in Jacksonville. I knew her Daddy over 50 years ago!

This is Cynthia of Pier 17 in Jacksonville, FL. Pier
17 was a favorite store of mine since practically forever.



Memory Lane: When I was a little girl Daddy would stop by various marine hardware stores along the coast. One place I looked forward to visiting was in Jacksonville, FL. The business was called Pier 17. I remember that Daddy and the owner would sit down smoking their pipes and shooting the breeze. I wandered around peeking into buckets of brass hardware. Perhaps that is where I first became enamored with brass.

Decades later I saw the store name and went inside. The same family owned and operated Pier 17 as I knew all those years ago. I was fortunate enough to be invited by Cynthia and her mom to dinner at their home along the Ortega River. Gosh that was wonderful.

Cynthia's mom (Miss Grace) and her daddy began the store eons ago.

Cynthia's dog Reesa and I.


It is these experiences that end up meaning more than one can realize at the time. They make up the fabric of our lives. I have been blessed. Someday I hope to again visit the Ortega River. It would be fabulous to see Cynthia again too. She is quite a lady.


But I digress...
All boats are a compromise. Finding one both partners can enjoy is important. Few ladies of a certain age (mine, for instance) are going to be willing to downgrade their life of decadence to live aboard a boat. Make sure your vessel is comfortable for her too.

Camping is for kids.  The level of decadence I now experience is thoroughly enjoyed. Aboard Seaweed I am content.

A lot of my happiness is as a direct result of the improvements made to my boat over the years. Initially I could not afford everything, so I made a list. Now, ten-plus years into the journey, many of those original wishes have become my reality. I am truly blessed.


IF you want this to be a success, listen, really listen to each other. Neither of you should win the competition to pick a boat. It should be something you both can enjoy. If cooking is more important to one partner, that person gets Total say-so on the galley. If mechanics are critical to the other, that individual gets to Rule the engine room decision-making.

Seaweed anchored off Ellison's Fishery in Steinhatchee,
FL. The successful fisherman by the traps is TJ.

The couples mentioned above are just a few I have met. Most boaters appear to be happy people. Be mindful of your relationship and treat it with care. Alcoholism can become an issue, especially for single males out here.

I've been aboard Seaweed for ten-plus years. She is my last boat. Now that I have the accoutrements of a wonderful life-style, I can assure you nothing less will suffice. I could not go back and start over where I was ten years ago.

Back then I had a plan. And I'm almost there now. Truly, this is a wonderful life. Pick the correct boat and you too can be out here having fun. Happy hunting!

In case you wondered: I've been getting ready for Christmas. I love this holiday, the music, lights and more. Seaweed is partially decorated. Tonight I'm listening to a recording of Campbell's Playhouse. Lionel Barrymore is playing Scrooge. It's wonderful.


This week and next I'll be writing out my Christmas cards. Last year I received three cards. That was great fun!

Thanks for reading.

Comments welcome and encouraged on the
Mistakes Made - Pick the Right Boat page.

Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Locations, Relationships,


Announcement: Folks who want to be notified when I post are welcome to become subscribers. I email readers every time a new article goes up. That's usually once or twice per week. If you'd like to be included via BCC* simply drop me a line to janice@janice142.com and I'll add you. It's free.

*BCC - Blind Carbon Copy. Basically no one but me will have your email address and the list of subscribers is not available.

Now this is not fancy. Basically I copy off the top three items in my Archive file. That way you can catch up if life gets in the way of your reading fun.

Secret: If you want to know what's what, start in the Archive. It offers you the title, first paragraph and topics (Categories) covered in each article published on my website.

Something a new reader might not realize: Almost every picture on this website can be clicked. The photo will get larger when clicked. Do that a second time and the picture should be full size. Enjoy...

My Cruising Kitty earns money each time you buy on Amazon through my links. It costs you nothing and helps supplement my cruising funds.

Thanks for your support, and heck, just for being here. I appreciate that more than you can imagine.

Paypal Tablet link:  CRUISING KITTY.


Pet of the Week: Angus
aboard Evan

Submit your pet's photo.
Please email pictures of your crew!

More canine, feline and feathered crew members can be found on the The First Mate Gallery page.


The Archive holds a chronological list of every item published on my website. It includes a brief synopsis (not just the title) along with the topics covered in each article.

Click on the title and voila: you're there. Enjoy!

Skipper, First Mate extraordinaire

Of course every boat needs a Deck Swabbie. Mine, born in 2008, is a papillon mix. She weighs in at five pounds.

Coming soon ...


Topics of Interest:
You can achieve a simple satisfying life

Oh, a wondrous bird is the pelican!
His bill holds more than his belican.
He can take in his beak enough food for a week.
But I'm darned if I know how the helican.
(Poem by Dixon Lanier Merritt, 1879-1972.)


For years I've been collecting short pithy statements otherwise known as aphorisms. If you're like me and enjoy the weird, go ahead and CLICK!

These are previously posted at the bottom of each article -- for new, you'll have to come visit again.

Seaweed is in St. Pete right now.

The above chart (#411) can be a wish book of sorts as you look over your domain and wonder where to go next. And yes, I do have the originals (sans red arrow) as jpeg's for download should you desire your own for closer perusal. Enjoy!

The Writer's Block

It's my belief that other folks who boat are some of the most interesting in the world. Inside every boater is a story. Let yours out! I'd love to post short stories, vignettes, or even longer articles that focus on some aspect of our life on or near the water. Suggested topics include:

1. I Remember When...
2. My First Boat
3. Who inspired you to be a boater?
4. Fishing Trips or Tricks
5. Or another subject of your choosing

For the novice, here's how to write: Simply pretend you're sending a letter to a friend. Tell about an event or a memory from years ago that you still recall.

Life has changed so much on the water since I was born aboard. Personally I'd love to hear your memories of life when you were younger. Boats were smaller, narrower, and much slower. Kids were kids and our families often shaped the adult we have become. Here are my two aboard the tow boat my dad ran for a time:

Your pictures would be wonderful too. I posted one of Boot Key Harbor taken in 2001 that has gotten quite a few downloads and really, that's not so terribly long ago... Do you have any photos to share? Email me.

Do you want to help out?

Often an article for the website will be completely written yet lack photographs. I like pictures and am looking for some for up-coming pieces:

  • Pets afloat (include pet and boat name please)

  • Any picture of boats underway or at anchor

  • Photos of people enjoying life in or on the water

Size: a minimum of 1000 pixels across please. If that doesn't make sense think bigger versus resized for emailing. I prefer the full-size version. Also, the name you'd like me to use when I add the copyright stuff to your picture. And thanks bunches!

My email address is janice@janice142.com

23' Schucker mini-trawler, circa 1983.

Thanks for visiting. If you happen to see my boat along the
waterways, give a call on Channel 16. I'm always listening.

click picture to enlarge

My home is not fancy by any means, however you cannot imagine how wonderful it is to come back to her after an expedition on shore.

If I can live this life, why not you too?

Skipper, First Mate

Aphorism Alert: Begin doing what you want to now. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand, and melting like a snowflake. Marie Beyon Ray.

Contributions to my Cruising Kitty
are always appreciated.

Every gift helps.

The Cruising Kitty is what boaters refer to as spending money. There's never enough aboard Seaweed!

I am also an Amazon Affiliate.


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