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23' mini-trawler
by Schucker

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

Trawler life on a nickel budget is possible.
I'm doing it and you can too.

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

This is the year 2014 Archive ...
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2013 Archive or year 2015 Archive

The current year Archive can be found HERE

  • Building a Locker (Part 2) Well, the canning locker aboard Seaweed is complete however I must admit I'm less than satisfied by the results. It's done however there is definitely room for improvement. Let me tell you what I did wrong, and what could have been better. Still, know this: The locker is in use and useful.
    Categories: Characters, Galley, Gear, Locations, Recommendations
     

  • Windlass is Necessary (for me) Online recently a discussion came up about windlasses. Are they a necessity or a frivolous albeit wonderful-to-have waste of money? From personal experience, having a windlass from the get-go will enhance your life at anchor. It is not critical if you're a marina bunny though and there are some caveats.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Gear, In the Bilges, Locations, Recommendations, Security
     

  • Electrical Field versus Compass (Captain Murphy) Guest author Cap'n Mike Lauman on M/V Beachcomber. This piece is written by an online associate and took place in the early '70's when Mike was in the USAF and stationed in Anchorage, Alaska. It tells how Captain Murphy can become a part of your crew when he's least expected.
    Categories: Boats, Characters, Locations, Security, The Writer's Block
     

  • Bookbinding for Beginners. Now, you've read the title of this article no doubt and thought "What on earth or at sea has this to do with boating life?" However, if you consider the size of Chapman Piloting and Seamanship you'll know exactly why having bookbinding skills is almost essential, at least for me.
    Categories: Books, Characters, Gear, Locations, Money, Recipes, Recommendations
     

  • Night Crossing. Guest author Kevin aboard in M/V Lisas Way. [This piece originally was posted live during a night crossing of the Gulf of Alaska.] I have to admit, its been a long time since I operated a boat at night. Imagine this...You're in a sea that is safe but moves the boat around quite a bit. OK you can imagine that. Now take away all of your visual references. You cannot see. You do not know when a wave is going to hit. But you learn. You get a feel for the rhythm. You begin to anticipate the next set. 
    Categories:  Boats, Characters, Gear, Locations, The Writer's Block
     

  • Music aboard Seaweed (Alzheimer's too) Although by no means can anyone call me a musicologist, I do enjoy tunes on occasion. Especially during the holiday season, hearing the crooners of  yesteryear brings back memories of an earlier time. I do so love listening to songs like "It's a Marshmallow World" along with Burl Ives' "Frosty the Snowman" and Bing Crosby's "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer".
    Categories: Characters, Entertainment, Gear, Locations, Money, Recommendations
     

  • Whew! Engine O-U-T. Of late Seaweed has been strewn with s-t-u-f-f. Nothing is put away and it's nearly unbearable. I like order, a tidy home and calm. What I've had is workmen aboard, the disaster of the canning jars, and, well, chaos. I don't like it one iota, and have been concentrating on maintaining sanity while under construction.
    Categories: Characters, In the Bilges, Money, Recommendations
     

  • Building a Locker (Part 1) This week I opened a kitty litter container (one of the plastic ones that are so great for storage in the bilge) and discovered it wasn't working out quite as well as I'd anticipated. You see, I kept four dozen canning jars in there and condensation bit me on the can tops. Fortunately nothing broke, but one jar lost it's seal.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Galley, Locations, Recommendations
     

  • Dallas and the Pelican. It started out a less than spectacular day aboard Seaweed. As readers know, water is an ongoing issue. And last night I ran out. Fortunately I had some in a jug for just such emergencies. For the record, my nightly spot of tea was not a victim of the situation. But Sunday morning, well, things went from not much fun to just awful.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Entertainment, Locations, Pets, Wild Things
     

  • The Helm. Folks have asked what my helm looks like. It's like Seaweed: not fancy, but it works. Mine is an older trawler. She was built in 1983. The cost of a modern electronics suite could easily eclipse the price of the boat. Thus my controls are simple. They are also easy to understand, even for a neophyte.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Gear, Pets (in comments), Simplify
     

  • Cuban Conch Chowder. Of late I've been more than a little nostalgic for the days of my youth.  Growing up aboard a 40'er in an age when few children were aboard did at times become lonely. Reading of course helped and my folks taught me to read when I was quite young. Thus entertaining myself was simply a matter of opening a book and visiting other worlds.
    Categories: Books, Recipes, Recommendations
     

  • Glass-bottom Dinghy. An online associate made reference to the Cruising in Comfort book by James Skoog recently. The boater asked about installing a viewing port in his tender's hull. Skoog suggests when building a dinghy to make one plank out of Lexan. Then you can see through the boat to what's underwater. My buddy asked if that was true.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Books, Characters, Fishing, Gear, Recommendations
     

  • Warm Fuzzies (winter bedding) As a southerner I hate being cold. The approach of November winds and frigid temperatures is looked toward with trepidation. A couple years back though I bought Skipper a fuzzy piece of fabric so she'd have a nice place to snuggle on the dinette seat next to me. Sitting on it a couple times myself sparked an idea for staying warm during the harsh winter weather.
    Categories: Comfort, Money, Recommendations, Vignettes
     

  • Sewing Kit Saves Time. All of us have probably developed some tricks for saving time and making minor things easier to handle. For me, one is a simple little sewing kit I made up a while back. I have found it quite useful over the span of years. It's not fancy. It's not perfect but it is definitely good enough. And mine is handy.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Locations, Money, Recommendations, Simplify, Vignettes
     

  • Hayes is Here (bell housing update) After practically forever (an extra two weeks -- okay, I can be dramatic when it comes to my newest engine swap) my new bell housing and flex plate have arrived. And yes, the celebration is ongoing. What a wonderful way to start the holiday season. But first I had to learn what a bell housing was -- besides expensive that is!
    Categories: Boat Talk, In the Bilges, Locations, Money
     

  • Spook-tacular circa 2014. As many of my friends know, I love the holidays. Starting when the Christmas decorations hit the stores (before Halloween for goodness' sake!) and on through the winter, this is by far my favorite time of the year. And for the record, my Christmas decorations don't go up until after Thanksgiving. In the meantime, Halloween is first in the autumn line-up and Seaweed is becoming Spook-tacular again.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Pets, Recommendations,  Security, Vignettes
     

  • Renting versus Selling. Periodically I'll get a note from an individual with a house who is considering renting versus selling said home. The theory (and everything works in Theory) is the rent can fund the cruising kitty. While that sounds wonderful on the surface, there are pitfalls. And though some have had favorable experiences, I did not.
    Categories:  Boats, Characters, Locations, Money, Simplify
     

  • Head Hints (and engine update) When going to the store is a problem and the brands I want are impossible to find, solutions must be considered. Those of us living on boats do a bit of thinking dirt dwellers probably don't consider. For me, that manifests itself when it comes to shopping for and stowing quantities toilet paper.
    Categories:  Characters, Locations, Recommendations, Unmentionables
     

  • About Douglas Pollard, Sr. [Our most prolific Guest Author speaks of growing up on the waterfront.] I was raised of parents (Fred and Ruby) that allowed me the freedom to wander the county, Baltimore and the Chesapeake Bay. We kids built things: boats, model airplanes, kayaks and other toys.
    Categories:  Boats, Characters, The Writer's Block
     

  • Birds on Boats. Recently I met Sam, a pretty little yellow canary who lives aboard Lily Maria. That is a beautiful bird, who also happens to be slightly spoiled. For instance Sam likes Romaine lettuce and is well supplied with a fresh leaf each day by his provider-of-all-things-good, aka Jean. But what I liked best about that canary is he is quiet, unlike a critter I met over on the east coast!
    Categories: Boats, Characters, Humor, Pets, Vignettes
     

  • Emergency Anchor Up (OpenCPN info too) A fellow boater asked "Your anchor alarm goes off and your anchor is dragging,....(and it is happening at 2:00AM when its really dark with no moon) and to make thing worse the wind is blowing you really hard toward the unwanted shore and its also starting to rain), what do you and your crew do?" Here is the routine for Seaweed, when the anchor isn't holding:
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Gear, Security
     

  • Trash Solutions. All too often I read things such as "our human species is basically too lazy to properly destroy our own refuse" when referencing the new regulations designed to encourage folks to forego plastic shopping bags. As a long-term boater I don't want excess trash aboard. That's not just because I prefer not to carry it out to the boat but most importantly because I've got to get rid of the trash too and that's w-o-r-k. In the meantime I've developed some solutions that might work for your life too, be it on dirt or aboard.
    Categories:  Characters, Fishing, Galley, Locations, Pets, Unmentionables
     

  • Life onboard Lily Maria (Thompson 44 M/V) At C-Quarters Marina [http://c-quartersmarina.com] when visiting friends I ran into the nicest couple. You see I'd admired a boat with beautiful lines (a Thompson44) and was hankering for an invite aboard her. The boat is gorgeous with lots of features worth duplicating in any boat. However, it's the owners Colin and Jean who give the vessel life, and love.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Comfort, Galley, Gear, In the Bilges,  Locations, Pets, Recommendations, Relationships, Security, Sojourners Saloon
     

  • Doing Our Thing. Guest author Douglas G. Pollard Sr. aboard in S/V Sea Legs. This piece is for The Writer's Block. It was written by an online boating friend and describes the varied life we have onboard boats. Not all are destined to live afloat, yet all can enjoy it in their own ways.
    Categories:
     Boats, Characters, The Writer's Block
     

  • Leaving Steinhatchee (and engine update) While chatting with a friend who lives aboard a 34' Mainship, we discussed helpers who lack skill and create worse problems than they solve. Often stopping and calling in a professional is by far the better choice than continuing down the nickel-and-dime aisle. And that's where I've been a time or three. Of late though, I've been blessed to not deal with too many without the brain cells necessary to function. There are exceptions however.
    Categories: Boats, Characters, Locations, Money, Pets
     

  • Soloist Dinner Dilemmas. For the most part I like being a soloist. Should I wake up at 0100 there is no one aboard except Skipper to disturb. I might get up and work on a project, surf the internet, read a book or simply go out to the cockpit and watch the stars march across the sky.
    Categories: Characters, Galley, Locations, Vignettes, Wild Things
     

  • Showers Aboard (water saving tips) Although many sailors and those who are interested in conserving water opt for baby wipes, I didn't go down that path aboard Seaweed.  Yes, I do have some in the head and have used them on occasion but mostly it's into the shower for me. I feel cleaner and because a full shower takes less than one gallon of water, I'm comfortable with that level of water usage.
    Categories: Comfort, Money, Recommendations, Unmentionables
     

  • Flavored Coffees (economical versions) As autumn begins to be felt in the air I look forward to one of my favorites: Flavored coffees. I used to buy packages from the Dollar Tree (five cups per box) and liked them. However the price along with my coffee consumption levels... well, suffice it to say I needed to come up with an alternative. One I could afford to indulge in without concern. And I have.
    Categories: Boats, Characters, Galley, Pets, Recipes, Recommendations, Vignettes
     

  • Survey a Free Boat. A while back I met a walker who dreamed of owning a boat. He visited Seaweed while I was on the hard* and we spoke of his desires for a life such as mine. There was an abandoned boat in a boatyard which interested Stanley. I could see why at first glance a fellow might like her. The price was perfect: free. But, free isn't necessarily affordable.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Characters, Money
     

  • Dresses and Yeses. Guest author Eliza in New England. Hello Again... it's been a while since we last corresponded however I was touched by the article about people who use little boats to play on the water. Especially that *Ida lady and her man Michael.  I admire people who do things and are open to new experiences. That's what I try and I've got to tell you "Yes" works very well for me.
    Categories:  Characters, Relationships, The Writer's Block
     

  • Ten Dollars a Day. A website visitor asked about how I manage to live on $10 a day. And quite frankly I live very well aboard Seaweed even on a limited budget. Because I've always been broke it's something I'm more comfortable with than an individual who has grown up with a ready supply of Stuff. Still, there are a few things I do that help keep expenses down so I can afford to live this decadent life.
    Categories: Boats, Characters, Locations, Money, Unmentionables
     

  • Outboard Option. Eric aboard M/V Louisa says "OB's have one distinct advantage. Anything that goes wrong with it can be fixed with the "four bolt tune-up"!!!" And as I continue to fight it out with the BOB engine -- and repair does not look likely, other options were being considered. And frankly, having a motor that can be removed and repaired certainly has a level of appeal.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, In the Bilges, Locations, Money
     

  • Schooling for Vagabonds. Guest author Joy in a Minivan. [A group of us were discussing schooling for children while living a mobile lifestyle, and this letter struck such a chord in me that I suspect others may find it useful as well.] Traveling across America is exactly what I am currently planning to do with my 9-year-old son in the coming months.
    Category:  Characters, The Writer's Block
     

  • Flares Expire (my solution) Just a couple weeks ago I was reading a post from a fellow who was bemoaning the fact that when the Coast Guard checked his safety equipment he failed the inspection. What caused the problem? Expired flares. Well, that can't easily happen aboard Seaweed, and here's why:
    Categories: Boat Talk, Gear, Vignettes
     

  • Diagnosing a Blown Bearing. After twice being dragged into Steinhatchee at the end of a TowBoatUS line I can assure you that departure was looking better and better. But first, I needed to determine why the latest breakdown occurred and how to remedy the situation.  In that regard, I was blessed.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, In the Bilges, Locations
     

  • Romanticism versus Reality. An online associate, Sealaskan, recently said "I believe a lot of wannabees get caught by the romanticism and don't realize how demanding it really is." Truer words than those are seldom found when it comes to the boating world. So many want the sunlit day sails while dragging a lure, the evenings at anchor surrounded by playful dolphin and mornings spent swimming in crystal clear waters. Who wouldn't want all that?
    Categories: Boat Talk, Characters, Vignettes
     

  • Room for Improvement. I suspect it's worse for me than many other boaters. You see, I've got this website thing, and whenever I see pictures of other people's bilges, they are pristine. Everything is freshly painted with no grime. The engine rooms are simply beautiful with all items on their own specially designed shelves or racks. Labels too -- can't forget them!
    Categories: Boats, In the Bilges, Vignettes
     

  • Apple versus Microsoft. Recently an associate wrote saying "My wife and I would like advice on whether to get a Mac or a PC (laptop) for use on a long range trawler. The motherboard on my wife's HP laptop died and she needs a new machine." As over the years I've had more than one computer go belly-up, I offered Jonathan the following advice:
    Categories: Recommendations, Vignettes
     

  • Hot Engine. In the morning after leaving  Westsail-32 [see Three Miles Out (Thursday's Child) article] off Pepperfish Keys I continued south along the Gulf coast.  The forecast of one to two foot seas was wrong. It was not even close to reality. On the beam I was taking 2-3' seas with occasional swells even larger.  And it's my fault too.  Let me explain.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters,  Locations
     

  • Cherish the Memories of the Night. Guest author Colin Day aboard M/V Lily Maria. This piece is for The Writer's Block. It's written by a fellow cruiser and speaks to a short voyage he and his Jean took recently. It's why we should, as Colin says in an email, cherish the memories of the night. This life can be yours too.  It's not fancy, but it surely is filled with simple pleasures.
    Categories:  Boats, Characters, Locations, The Writer's Block
     

  • Afternoon Entertainment. Back in 1993 I gave our television away and have managed quite nicely since then. You see, the children (ages 10 and 13 at the time) were arguing over a TV program I did not want to listen to in the first place. When I suggested they stop, neither thought that was a good idea. It didn't take them too long to realize that was a mistake.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Entertainment, Recommendations, Vignettes
     

  • Budget Spice Shelf (costs less than $1) I met a fellow who invited me over to his home for several meals and boy, oh boy, that man can cook! Moreover, he used spices with aplomb. I want to be like that some day so bought a variety of additional spices. (If only buying them would have improved my cooking...) The problem I ended up with was that I didn't have a safe secure place for the bottles and that simply won't work aboard a boat.
    Categories:  Boat Talk, Galley, Money, Organizing, Recommendations
     

  • Three Miles Out (Thursday's Child) The Gulf Coast south of the Big Bend tends to be long stretches of desolation.  You can well imagine yourself the only human on earth -- or at least in the region. I rather like it, but then again I'm a fan of Jean Auel's Earth Children* series. Afloat I can almost picture the world in the days of pre-history.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Books, Characters, Entertainment, Locations, Recommendations
     

  • Pet Poop Primer (it's not horrid!) More than once I've had folks ask about how I manage with Skipper aboard Seaweed. Specifically, pet owners want to know how we handle the daily walks. The how's, where's and what we do to keep things clean afloat while still allowing Skipper to do her business is the subject of this missive.
    Categories: Characters, Pets, Unmentionables
     

  • Boating Changes over the Decades. Boating has gone through many changes over the decades I've been enjoying same. In the early 60's boats were much smaller and the boaters we met were predominantly retired folks. As a matter of fact, during my entire childhood I remember just a half dozen other children living aboard boats and none had been born aboard.  I was alone. Still am...
    Category: Boat Talk, Vignettes
     

  • DeWalt Drill Fix. All of us have tools aboard our boats. That comes with the territory.  One of my favorites was gifted to me by Oremae* and it's a DeWalt 12-volt rechargeable drill. I especially appreciate 12 volts as I know that if I had to, I could make it work right off my batteries.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Gear, Money, Recommendations
     

  • In the Rain. Heading out the Steinhatchee channel in the rain is a wonderful way to start a day if you're fortunate enough to have a pilothouse and can stay dry. Visibility was good and I did enjoy watching the waterfowl on various markers as I went by. Although all markers are due respect, trying to "cut the corner" is not a good idea here.  Put it this way: the area you're in is called Deadman Bay.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Books, Locations, Recommendations, Wild Things
     

  • Anchor Up (painting the chain) [The Anchor Down article may be of interest too.] I'll admit right now that I miss being underway with the freedom to simply haul in the anchor and leave! Er, and by "haul in the anchor" don't think I'm on the bow hoisting away with muscles rippling. That's for the fellows to do, and does gives us ladies something pleasant to admire. Besides, I'm past the half-century mark and basically physically phfittt!
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Gear, Organizing
     

  • Boat Buying with your New Partner. All too often I hear couples consider pooling their funds to buy the boat of their dreams. Both often younger and neither partner has the funds to buy outright. But together they can "swing it".  It's the ticket for boat ownership today versus at some point way down the line. And doesn't that sound just splendid?
    Categories: Boat Talk, Relationships, Vignettes
     

  • Mosquitoes (engine room vent screening) Recently I was bemoaning the arrival of the first hungry mosquitoes of the season with a friend. [He's slightly sane. Of course anyone who owns two boats that are live-aboard capable must has some issues, but we won't go there today.]  Anyway, Michael suggested one reason some mosquitoes could be getting inside Seaweed, and he had a low-cost solution to my dilemma.
    Categories: Characters, Gear, Locations, Money
     

  • Canning Stuffed Green Peppers. There is something quite decadent about living life on the hook. Relaxing after a hard day pushing buttons on the Kindle as I read yet another story is tough. And of course there's the pouring of chilled drinks (I'm on tea kick at present featuring Constant Comment) ... I tell you, it's a rough life. Somehow I manage.
    Categories:  Galley, Recipes, Recommendations
     

  • Water System and Filter Fix. Boating and active cruising often means fixing things as they break in various locales. Actually, it usually means fixing things -- and there is always something that needs repair. Occasionally the issue comes up the day before a scheduled departure. That's exactly what happened to me with my whole-boat water filtration system's filter assembly. Here's what happened and how I fixed it.
    Categories: Gear, In the Bilges, Locations, Money
     

  • Seldom Bored. This retirement thing is so amazing I wish I'd done it sooner.  Many boaters are asked what we do all day and folks (including my child) wonder how we can fill the hours. Especially when anchored in remote areas with little outside entertainment, boredom and loneliness seem almost to be expected. And that is plain wrong!
    Categories:  Boats, Books, Characters, Comfort, Entertainment, Pets, Recommendations, Relationships

  • Bearing Bad News. Alas, the latest engine news regarding Seaweed is about as bad as you can get: it's most probable my bearings are blown, and that means the engine has to come out to repair same. I'm disappointed, and picking up the pieces of my shattered heart. Perhaps not quite that dramatic, but this is a serious blow.
    Categories: Boat Talk, In the Bilges, Locations, Money
     

  • Budget Boating. Boating does not have to mean mega-millions, or even thousands of dollars.  There's another way, and the fun is available for those of modest means.  I know some of the friendliest of folks I've met have been exploring and enjoying the waters in much smaller boats than mine.  If they can do it, why not you?
    Categories: Boats, Books, Characters, Fishing, Locations, Money, Recommendations
     

  • Tyranny of the Tiller (pre-purchase advice) There is a term know by many sailboat captains as the Tyranny of the Tiller*.  Alas, such a thing is not only relegated to wind-machines, but also to power boats.  Seaweed has it's own version and it's not pleasant. That fact, and that I didn't know prior to purchase is something you can learn from. Don't make my mistake!
    Categories: Boat Talk, Characters, Locations, In the Bilges
     

  • Deal Breaker (galley gear in thrift store) A while back I was walking along a road and an acquaintance pulled up in her car next to me. It was a gal I'd met in one of the stores I frequented, and we'd had fun chatting about life, children and more. I liked her -- still do, except for that one thing. And it's a doozy.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Characters, Galley, Money, Vignettes
     

  • Expert Advice versus Intuition (spare parts inventory) A friend asked "Where you bound for, Janice?" I was taking advantage of this weather window we've been having. For twelve days we have been blessed with one to two foot waves in the Gulf of Mexico. Truly, seas do not get much smaller. BUT I took the advice of an expert, and it bit me on the keester.
    Categories: Anchorages, Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Gear, In the Bilges, Locations, Money, Relationships
     

  • Some Crabbers are Perverse. As I continue down the west coast of Florida I have come to a conclusion about fishermen. Not all fishermen, mind you. Specifically, I am talking about one particular crab fisherman. The individual I'm dealing with I suspect to be a perverse so-and-so. Today I'm going to tell you why I believe that is an accurate assessment of the situation as it pertains to Seaweed.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Characters, Locations, Vignettes
     

  • Dolphin Visits. While cruising along off the coast of west Florida I have been enjoying looking at the wildlife. Yesterday's shark [see Shark Changes Plans article] was well and good, but frankly not exactly my cup of Earl Grey or Constant Comment tea. Today was much better.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Books, Fishing, Recommendations, Vignettes, Wild Things
     

  • Shark Changes Plans. It's early -- just 1400 hours into the day however I'm tired so have chosen to anchor here versus continuing onward.  Though coastal hopping along the shore (albeit three miles from land) is not stress-free, it still takes stamina. And after I hit the half-century mark my Stamina went to visit my Grand* permanently.
    Categories:  Anchorages, Boat Talk, Locations, Vignettes, Wild Things
     

  • Anatomy of a Gulf Crossing (departure planning) Deciding on how to cross the Gulf of Mexico is important, and there is no one correct option though goodness knows there are lot of choices.  Initially I'd planned on skirting the edge, following a coastal hopping itinerary so that I could sleep each night safe and secure at anchor.  Then, the new engine was in and plans changed.
    Categories: Characters, Gear, Locations, Money
     

  • Sausage Canning Recipes. Aboard Seaweed I enjoy eating well a variety of tasty foods that are not loaded with chemicals I cannot pronounce. Fresh is best, however I love those out of the way anchorages where my nearest neighbors are dolphin, turtles and fish.  There, life is peaceful, quiet, and picturesque. Few of my favorite spots have a nearby grocery store.  That's why canning meats helps make my lifestyle amazing, and delicious.
    Categories: Galley, Recipes
     

  • Beside the Marshy Reeds. Guest author Douglas G. Pollard Sr. aboard in S/V Sea Legs. This piece is for The Writer's Block. It was written by an online boating friend and describes a time years ago when life on the waterfront moved at a much slower pace. I was pleasantly reminded of days gone by, and hope you like it too.
    Categories:
     Boats, Characters, The Writer's Block
     

  • Solar Regulators (Standard vs. MPPT) Living off the grid often means making sacrifices, but I'm not into that nonsense. Not at my age. I want and expect to have my indulgences and power plays a part in my happiness quotient. Solar panels and the regulators that go with them make a difference.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Gear, In the Bilges, Money, Recommendations
     

  • Celebrate with Me! The engine swap is complete -- or nearly so.  For the past few of days I've been on a rack at Dockside Boatyard [http://msdockside.com] run by Eric and Shiloh here in Carrabelle for the final tweaks and boy, oh boy, it's great to be afloat again! And golly gee, it's so wonderful to be alive.  My cheeks hurt from smiling so much.
    Categories:
    Boat Talk, Characters, In the Bilges, Locations
     

  • Processing in Pressure Cooker (Preserving Meats, Part 2) [Part One, Canning Primer is recommended for neophyte pressure cooker users as a First Read.] In the years I've been canning or processing meats I have learned a couple of tricks that ensure good results. It's important to note that the old canning books (circa 1920's era) had different standards than we use today. The following is how I do it, but of course you must make sure it works for you. Your local County Extension Program (think "agriculture") will have details on how they do things. This is what I do aboard Seaweed:
    Categories: Boat Talk, Galley, Money, Recommendations
     

  • Canning Primer (Preserving Meats, Part 1) I enjoy eating a variety of healthy foods and prefer those hidden and out of the way anchorages far from civilization. Thus I've had to come up with a way to have the foods I like without access to a grocery store. Canning meats allows me to enjoy a wide variety of foods bought on sale, processed aboard, pre-cooked and not loaded with salt. Plus, they taste good. [Part Two, Processing in Pressure Cooker tells how I preserve meats aboard Seaweed.]
    Categories:  Galley, Recommendations
     

  • How to Access Galley Storage. Seaweed is a wonderful home, but like all boats access isn't always the best. Big areas in my galley were difficult to get to, and a gigantic cavern does not equal the best use of space in my opinion. But I fixed that and for less than $10 (the price of hinges and some latches) you could do the same.
    Categories:  Boat Talk, Boats, Books, Characters, Galley, Money, Organizing, Recommendations
     

  • Boat Bums.* Life on the water is wonderful and it can be inexpensive, but all too often a bum will buy a boat. Buying a boat doesn't make you a boater any more than sleeping in a garage makes you a car. Anyway, the bum will buy a boat and then take her to a port, anchor unsafely, then abandon the boat when life gets a bit tough. Wimps -- and bums -- ought not to be out here.
    Categories: Anchorages, Characters, Locations
    *Newspaper article by Lois Swoboda published 28 May 2014 in The Times.
     

  • Prop Problems (lesson learned) This week the engine is in and running well. Originally, when under load (in gear) she would overheat. There are several possible solutions but the one we're working with at present is that the thermostat has been removed. And now, Robert no longer gets too hot -- at least when in neutral.
    Categories: Characters, Gear, In the Bilges, Locations, Money, Recommendations
     

  • What Used Boat? Recently I was corresponding with an online associate who was debating various used boats that seemed to suit he and his wife. When he asked for advice immediately I knew which I would chose, and told him why. When you're looking at two identical boats, the one that's been lived aboard and called home is often the better choice over the lightly used dock queen.  You too may wonder why that's so.
    Categories: Boats, Characters, Comfort, Gear, Money, Recommendations
     

  • After Easter (pot luck idea) Just a quickie alert for those of you that enjoy the whole pot luck and boater's get-togethers that are so frequent this time of the year.  Yesterday I was at the local Dollar General store and found they had the Easter Egg kits on sale for 90% off.  Well, I bought a few and now have a stash.
    Categories: Entertainment, Galley, Money, Recipes, Vignettes
     

  • Gender Guff. Far too often I read statements by women boaters such as this one seen recently: "I'm a woman. Captain. Equal participant. Women, if you're not, you're missing out. Men, if you're not encouraging her, you're one day dooming your continued boating." Well, there's another way, and I'm here to tell you that there is no One-Size-Fits-All for boaters.
    Categories: Boats, Characters, Locations, Relationships
     

  • Bilge Pump OUCH. Onboard Seaweed I have a monthly regime of maintenance checks that are done on the first of each month. Today I learned something, much to my chagrin.  Let me share with you what I do, and what I did not know -- until I had an expensive lesson today.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Books, Gear, In the Bilges, Money, Pets, Recommendations, Security
     

  • Anchor Down. At the end of a day safely anchoring is the key to a good night's sleep. In that regard I've got a system that ensures my beauty sleep. Because I'm over fifty that's an important factor for me.  But before the anchor is lowered, there are a few things I do to set the stage.
    [The
    Anchor Up article may be of interest too.]
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Gear, Security
     

  • Sadder and Wiser. Guest author Eliza in New England. The article Dating after Decades spoke to me. I am divorced and it's awfully hard to be a woman who has passed through the nubile stage of life and essentially become invisible to men. Though I am looking for that special fellow, there is the realization that my shape isn't the greatest. I'm older, Reubenesque, have some wrinkles and am no longer young.
    Categories: Characters, Relationships, The Writer's Block
     

  • She runs, however... Wednesday was a very good day.  For the first time the engine started and ran in Seaweed. She's a bit noisier than on the dock -- more vibration and I've got some learning to do too.  Things like how to bleed the engine, etc.  That's not hard and is something that every boater needs to know for their diesel.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Characters, Gear, In the Bilges, Money, Recommendations
     

  • Manatee Moves. I met the coolest boat couple a little bit ago -- and gosh, it's amazing the feats that ordinary folks can accomplish with a combination of naiveté and determination.  It all began back in 1986 when Ted and his bride Sarah lived in Michigan on the water. Life was grand and they enjoyed boating, albeit in small (16') runabouts versus yachts.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Comfort, Entertainment, Gear, Locations, Money, Pets, Security, Sojourners Saloon
     

  • Cooler Handle Repair. A few years back the Kidlet called and asked if I wanted a drink cooler for Seaweed. She knew mostly I buy ice because I love iced tea -- that it keeps food chilled is secondary to my summertime Lipton tea addiction. I was delighted and have carried it back and forth to shore for ages.  But after a time the handle developed a crack.
    Categories: Characters, In the Bilges, Money, Pets, Recommendations
     

  • Organizing Humbug. I am concerned about a phenomenon I'm seeing more and more of in the media, and it speaks directly to the life I lead -- and the one you too can have!  It's about "organization" of which I am a proponent. HOWEVER what I see advertised is not so much organization... What it is actually is repacking and storage of Stuff. And we do not need all we have -- guaranteed!
    Categories: Becoming Clutter-Free, Books, Characters, Organizing, Recommendations
     

  • Engine Update (swapping motors is complicated) Seaweed is having surgery this week. Yes, finally, her old gasoline beast of an engine is being removed and the new one is going in. She is going to have a sweet little Volvo that will push her along at hull speed. Yes, I know that Volvo parts are $$, but then again, they are available -- something that cannot be said for all engines.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Characters, In the Bilges, Locations, Money, Vignettes
     

  • Blue-Water Boats. One sure-fire sign of a beginner is the desire for their first vessel to be a blue-water boat. It's got to be set up to take them any place they can imagine. And what imaginations!  They dream of sailing across the Atlantic, island hopping in the Caribbean Sea, traversing the Panama Canal and then onward across the Pacific Ocean.  All without knowing if they even like the motion of a boat.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Gear, Money, Wild Things
     

  • Project Proliferation (Hella fan fixed) There is a phenomenon in this country that affects mainly the older folks. I'm referring to the inability to throw out something that is simply broken -- because you're going to fix it and thus, save money.  I was raised by a man who fought in WWII and know that repair is the First choice when something breaks.
    Categories: Becoming Clutter-Free, In the Bilges, Recommendations
     

  • Unconventional Money Making. Guest author Everywhere Man. This post is the result of a conversation I had with a guy this morning where I'm current camping in Tonto NF [National Forest]. I had been watching him while my coffee was brewing as he was going through the dumpsters. He had a big huge red bag, that looked to be about 48 to 60 inches in diameter that he had fixed up to hang on the side of the dumpster in an open position. He was using one of the mechanical hands used for reaching things on high shelves to go through the bags in the dumpster to remove the cans and bottles.
    Categories: Characters, Locations, Money,
    The Writer's Block
     

  • Dating after Decades. In the continuing series of how to find your cruising compatriot, we've discussed various scenarios to meet and entice potential  partners. [See the Relationships page for previous articles.] Not all acquaintances blossom into friendships nor do all friendships take that next step and become lovers.  Still,  after decades "out of the dating loop" there are some challenges that we didn't have years ago.
    Category: Relationships
     

  • Anchor Light Fix. Each night shortly after dark I look forward to the bow where I confirm the anchor light is working by the reflection in the stainless rail.  I can also check the wind generator -- if it's lit, the anchor light is functioning. Alas, earlier this week darkness prevailed, and that is unacceptable.
    Categories:
    Boat Talk, Characters, Gear, In the Bilges, Locations, Recommendations
     

  • Tired Captain. I'm an inveterate kibitzer, and Seaweed always has the VHF radio turned on. There is a world out there and I'm interested in what others do and say. One day recently I heard SeaTow responding to a fellow who apparently was having fuel/engine difficulties.  That is not uncommon in the Gulf of Mexico, and it is often a preventable problem.
    Categories:
    Boat Talk, Characters, In the Bilges, Locations, Recommendations
     

  • Stages of Life. There are distinct stages of life we all pass through and often the middle stage takes such precedence that future enjoyment is curtailed.  That's a mistake and there is a remedy -- albeit slightly painful in the beginning.
    Categories: Becoming Clutter-Free, Characters
     

  • (Joshua Slocum's) Spray replica Anja. Gosh, it's a good to be alive, afloat and at anchor.  The other morning was misty. It was raining just enough to get everything damp and cool.  The tide was incoming so as I made another cup of coffee I scanned the harbor.  [Situational Awareness, and all that entails.] A beautiful ketch was coming in, slowly poking thru the mist. There is a special pleasure watching a captain handle a boat with infinite ease -- and Fokke certainly did so.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Books, Characters, Entertainment, Gear, Locations, Recommendations, Security, Sojourners Saloon
     

  • Food in Foil. Food onboard a boat is an important component for a successful, comfortable life on the water.  Contrary to some of the sail-around-the-world and tough-it-out crowd, there's a whole 'nother life available: one filled with delicious foods and scrumptious treats.  Dehydrated whatever, canned goods and rice by the fifty pound canisters is only for those with a penchant for suffering.  As for me? I prefer decadence -- and eating well is a part of that.
    Categories: Boats, Comfort, Galley, Recipes
     

  • In the Head. When I bought Seaweed she had no medicine locker in the head though there was an inadequate, small area tucked under the sink that might have sufficed if I were male. Fortunately Chris (of Rust Enough) came to the rescue with an old electrical panel box that he gifted me. Turned on edge it's perfection indeed.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Gear, Money, Unmentionables
     

  • Kindle Reads. I don't own a television, and haven't since 1993. Quite frankly, when I read the synopsis of TV "hits" I wonder just how prevalent drug usage is in America. I cannot believe that sane and sober people would waste their time with the idiots portrayed on these shows. In my mind, if I wouldn't have you over for dinner I certainly don't want you in my home, and that includes via broadcast television shows. Thus, I do quite a bit of reading.
    Categories:  Books, Entertainment, Money, Recommendations, Vignettes
     

  • The Fishing Boat. Let us step back in history to 1956. That was a very busy year for one Massachusetts couple.  Ed Marois and his wife were building a steel fishing boat for use in local waters of New England. At least that's the story they spread around to friends and family. You see, not all see the advantages of life afloat.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Fishing, Locations, Memory Lane,
     

  • I Did It. Guest author Charlotte in R/V Western Woman. I am so, so sorry about your friend. [Refers to the Time Stopped article.]  It was the loss of too many friends in the past few years, topped by the loss of my parrot (which I realize sounds silly, but I'll explain), which spurred me to finally take the plunge and apply for the loan for an RV and just DO it last month, after wanting to for eighteen years.
    Categories:  Boat Talk, Characters, The Writer's Block
     

  • Dreamer to Boater: Books. Often I have been asked to help pick a boat for a couple, one they can live aboard inexpensively. It should be cheap to cruise long distances.  Of course eventually folks want to go "blue water" so they might as well get that Last Boat first. The vessel should be 40-50 feet, which in my mind moves from boat into Yacht category. The questions speak eloquently of a level of learning yet to be.  And here's where I can help! Professor Janice, at your service:
    Categories: Boats, Books, Characters, Recommendations
     

  • Music in the Morning. This morning I realized I'm still a "mom" even though Kidlet (my girl child) is far from here.  You see, I got up early to make a cup of coffee and had left Skipper asleep on the bunk. Once in the galley I spotted a dolphin by the river bank and immediately worried!  Skipper goes bonkers when she hears dolphin and I wanted her to sleep in a bit. The solution was easy.
    Categories: Pets, Vignettes
     

  • Time Stopped.* Bob Winter is the sort of person who personifies a man determined to prepare his boat for the very worst that could happen at sea. When younger he owned an eTap day-sailer and spent 19 years in New York waters gaining experience sailing and enjoying boating on a recreational level.  But eventually there grew in the back of his mind the realization that the time on his eTap was in preparation for real cruising.
    Categories:
    Boat Talk, Boats, Books, Characters, Gear, Humor, Locations, Recommendations, Sojourners Saloon
    *Republished: http://americanathebeautiful.com/ ~ 14 February 2014.
     

  • Fog. Too many experts will tell you that all boats should have a GPS or two aboard. They are enamored with the whiz bang of electronics.  I am of the old school however and though I have embraced the marvels of electronics, it's the compass that is most used instrument aboard Seaweed.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Gear, Security
     

  • Men Buy, Women Shop. There is a fundamental difference between the genders and it can most reliably be witnessed whenever  shopping occurs. I've seen a man (specifically Bob Winter on Maverick) walk into a Wal-mart Superstore with a list. He picks up the half dozen articles he has written down and heads straight for the check-out. To my feminine eyes it's an aberration to do such a thing.
    Categories: Characters, Money, Recommendations, Relationships
     

  • Boat on Fire!* 31 January 2014 at 1939 (7:39 p.m.) I'm sitting at my dinette in the galley and looked out over the harbor as is my usual habit. Directly astern of me I saw a fire. From my angle initially I thought the second sailboat back, Gypsy Rose, was ablaze. Immediately I got out the binoculars to take a closer look. And yes, there was a fire, but fortunately not on an occupied boat.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Locations
    *Linked: http://cruisersnet.net/  and http://ghtacruising.com/
     

  • Heaters Debunked. If you read the boating journals and logs you'll see lots of folks who claim to use flower pots to heat their boats.  The theory is (and everything works in Theory -- we should all live there!) that by turning on a burner, inverting a clay flower pot atop it, that miraculously you'll warm your boat and make it comfortable during the winter.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Books, Characters, Comfort, Gear, Locations, Money, Recommendations
     

  • Hunting Nowadays. Well I'm crushed! Yes, all my preconceptions have been blasted to smithereens and life may never be the same.  "Why?" you may ask.  Okay, let me tell you about it. Aboard Seaweed the VHF radio is my source of entertainment.  When stuck someplace (like now, while waiting for the engine swap to be completed) I scan all the channels on the VHF. [Normally just Channel 16  is keyed in when I'm actively underway.]
    Categories: Books, DVDs, Recommendations, Vignettes
     

  • Bits about Birds. I'm not sure about dirt dwellers but do know that as a boater I take a great deal of interest in the world surrounding my home. Perhaps that's because at anchor the view changes often. At night there's nothing like looking up at the stars.  Orion's Belt and the Little Dipper belong to me -- my daddy told me so.  I do share, so enjoy. Still, it's the wild life that fascinates me most.
    Categories: Books,
    DVDs, Locations, Recommendations, Wild Things
     

  • The Heat Index. Guest author Tom on S/V Gone Tropic. I was working outside yesterday bundled up in a parka, and the temperature had really fallen. The wind was howling like a whole glee club of banshees. I was cold enough, until the DJ on Oyster Radio announced that with the wind chill factor, it was minus 23 degrees. My shoes froze to the ground on the spot. Unlacing my iced in kicks, I dashed to the car, trying to escape that deadly chilling wind, losing my socks, and nearly a couple of toes in the process. I made it, but it was a close call.
    Category:  Boats, Characters, The Writer's Block
     

  • Blowing Bubbles. You know it's a cold day in Carrabelle when you come up into the galley for that first cup of coffee and notice frost on the windows. A glance at the temperature gauge didn't help. This morning it was warmer inside the refrigerator than in the cabin! Brrr. 
    Categories: Entertainment, Pets, Vignettes
     

  • Spices. In the continuing Becoming Clutter-Free series on clearing out your dirt dwelling and preparing for life afloat, this week we begin to concentrate on spices and condiments. Examine your collection and anything dusty you can safely assume is landfill material. Get rid of it. Now, as we start the year begin keeping track of what it takes to make the meals you love.
    Categories: Becoming Clutter-Free, Galley, Money, Organizing
     

  • Beryl Lessons. Tropical Storm Beryl came ashore in Jacksonville Beach, Florida in May of 2012. I, along with several other boats were in an anchorage just north of there in a small tributary called the North River. Eight of us chose to stay aboard and ride out the storm on our homes. During the time of the Beryl some lessons were learned.
    Categories: Anchorages, Boats, Books, Characters, Gear, Recommendations
     

  • Pelican Visits Algae. I had another visitor the other day -- and this time the fellow who stopped by didn't come aboard Seaweed. Instead he hung out on Algae. Quite frankly, what with Skipper on Alert I could certainly understand his reluctance to come inside. Though weighing a mere four pounds, there are times when my First Mate forgets she's a well-behaved Papillon. 
    Categories: Anchorages, Boat Talk, Entertainment, Locations, Pets, Wild Things
     

  • Progress on Engine. It seems like so very long ago that a friend offered to sell me his spare diesel. Bob is the sort of boat owner who believes if you need one of an item, two is better. Having a rebuild kit is also a good idea and generally speaking that's the way Bob's sailboat Maverick is set up. It's a good way to go, especially when contemplating departing the United States. There are no spare parts mid-Atlantic, and yes, Maverick has *crossed the pond.
    Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Gear, Locations, Money
     

  • Pan-Pan Ponderings. Yesterday was an exciting day on the radio and not in a good way. As friends who visit know, my VHF radio is always turned on. And yes, I do believe that startled Lynn and Dave [Overnight Guests] the other night. Oops.  In any event, just after 0900 a 43' motor vessel called the Coast Guard with a pan-pan.
    Categories:
    Boat Talk, Characters, Locations, Security
     

  • Overnight Guests. Gosh, what a great way to start the new year! A friend called and said she'd brought her boat into a marina (in Daytona Beach, Florida) and was coming across the state via car. Of course I couldn't wait to invite both Lynn and David for a visit as Lynn is one of my heroes.  I'm inspired by her!
    Categories: Boats, Characters, Locations,
    Relationships
     

  • By the Shipyard. For most of us of a certain age, it seems that retrospection is almost a given.  I look back at the previous year of 2013 and wonder where the time went. It seems that the clocks spins far faster after fifty than prior to! Still, a lot of wonderful things have occurred and life afloat truly is amazing.
    Categories: Anchorages, Boat Talk, Characters, Locations


(this is the Archive for 2014)

2013 Archive ... ... 2015 Archive

The current year Archive can be found HERE

A favorite aphorism:  A good deed is like a pebble thrown into a pool of water. The ripples spread far beyond the point of impact. Dear Abby by her daughter Pauline Phillips.

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 extraordinaire

Contributions to my Cruising Kitty
via
are always appreciated.

Every gift helps.

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


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