~Paul, Amber (and unfortunate for our road trip - Kali the cat!)
Greetings people! A lot has been going down in our world these days as we've sold our dear Kingsley and are trekking across the USA towards the East Coast and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We won't be blog posting until after the adventure is over, but be sure to check in to our Twitter and/or Instragram to see how we're doing!
~Paul, Amber (and unfortunate for our road trip - Kali the cat!)
It was perfect timing. My wife Amber and I just sold our liveaboard sailboat/home. My wife assures me that there is no place more pleasant than North Carolina in August…so we're heading there. After a decade in the Pacific Northwest it's time for new adventures. I can't believe we sold the boat.
Let's back up. Three years ago, I finally caved. Amber had been wanting to leave the Pacific Northwest for warmer climates. It was probably our second gloomy winter that did it for her. My promises of this being a temperate land wasn't exactly what she had hoped for. Our original plan had us living here for only a few years (it's been 11). Fine - her turn.
She generously gave us three more years here - to enjoy, adventure, and then close down our careers and say farewell to all of our friends. We were renting a small land house, as we had been for 8 years in Seattle. The house was close to Lake Washington and I had managed to join a few other neighborhood sailors in a boat-share of a 27 foot sailboat. We learned so much on that boat. Amber and I both loved sailing and dreamed of buying a boat when we finally moved back East, or South, or wherever she wanted to go that was warm.
Then we had an interesting idea. Let's buy a sailboat, get rid of tons of stuff, and move aboard. We'll learn everything we can in three years, then sell the boat and be on our way. I let Amber make the final call - I knew that the quickest way to sailing in warmer climates might not be purchasing a sailboat in the Pacific Northwest…but hey, it sounded fun.
We looked on Craigslist and with brokers until we finally found a boat that suited us. We got a marine loan from Peoples Bank, stayed with friends while we had the boat surveyed, found a liveaboard slip quick (good timing for that due to the recession) and then, all of a sudden, we were living on a boat.
We learned a lot. Cleaned a lot. Sailed a lot. In the boat buying process, the bank had been steering us towards a boat we could sail easier. A turn-on-a-dime coastal cruiser instead of a heavy, stubborn-to-turn blue-water boat. They were right. S/V Kingsley, a 2000 Hunter 320, was perfect.
Fast-forward to last year. We knew selling a boat would take awhile and that we definitely wouldn't get what we had put into her - people don't generally flip boats like they do houses. We listed her at the end of the summer on Craigslist and in the local 48 Degrees printed boat classifieds. We had some interest that Fall, not much over Winter, and quite a bit in the Spring. We had a few low-ball offers but as the weather got warmer the offers got better. Then, with only 6 weeks before we were planning on heading out - she sold. Boom. Done.
We were surprised, sad, excited, relieved. We learned so much over 3 years of living aboard and sailing and we learned a lot while selling her.
Things we learned while selling our sailboat ourselves:
1. Some boat brokers are slimy. Super-slimy. Lies, insults, borderline email harassment, you name it - they tried it. They knew we had a great boat and they wanted a piece of it. It seems brokers can take up to 10 percent of a boat sale. With a boat as clean, new, and nice as Kingsley, it would be easy money. We were honest with all of the brokers that approached us - we were going it alone and dropping the price each month. When the time ran out and we were leaving, we would end up listing Kingsley with a broker. We didn't have to.
2. A clean boat matters. Great, current pictures of your boat matter. If you want a laugh, just go on Yachtworld or Craigslist and look at the pictures that people post in their listings. Pictures with date stamps from 10 years ago. Pictures with captions that say, "this is an old picture, everything you see in this picture has been totally remodeled". You'll see sideways pictures, pictures with empty pizza boxes in the background, you name it. We spent time taking great pictures and made a free Kingsley for sale website to show them off.
3. List your boat at a price expecting a good deal of negotiation. In our situation we started high knowing that we'd tick the price down each month. Also, we knew if we left we'd need to list with a broker so we priced accordingly.
4. Where's your slip? Knowing about how your slip (boat parking space) works can add to the sale. Although some people in the Northwest own their slip, most rent. Some slips are transferable, others require the buyer to be on the wait list while the seller sub-leases the slip (basically, the new buyer buys the boat, then pays the old owners slip rent until the buyer comes up on the list and takes it over).
5. Once a offer is made, the survey comes back clean, and all is said and done, you've got to move the money and transfer all of the title stuff. It is possible to do this yourself, with cooperation from the buyer and banks (if you have a loan). However, most use a third party title company. The benefit of this is getting it done quick without the worry of missing paperwork. It's best to communicate about title company fees with your buyer before they get to work - you don't want any surprises.
With that, we farewell to S/V Kingsley and boat living for now. We had a blast and our only regret is that we lived in Seattle for so long before buying and moving aboard a sailboat!
Don't worry! Everyone's Travel Club lives! We will keep blogging here as we begin our migration to warmer climates, first with a road trip and later with kayaking and sailing in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and beyond (I'm already Hobie Cat shopping). You may have noticed we've reorganized our blog a little - moving our mostly NW kayaking posts to a PNW section. Be sure to check out the maps section if you are looking for some great paddling spots in Western Washington.
All new posts will be here in this blog and we hope you continue to stop by and say hi! We'd also like to say thank you to ThreeSheetsNW for continued support over the years and for bringing our stories to more and more readers!
~Paul, Amber, Kali
My wife already knew about bioluminescence. It's probably because she's from tropical locations where one might find themselves out frolicking in the sea well after dark. Unfortunately for me, I had never noticed the seawater around me swirling with little specs of magical blue-green light - like underwater fireflies. It may of had something to do with the fact that I grew up in the Midwest, conveniently located between two oceans.
I guess normal land fireflies technically count - they have bioluminescence. We didn't have a lot of them but I remember a few getting accidentally squished on the windshield of my first car as I sped out of town to climb forestry towers or perhaps take a nice group of ladies snipe hunting. Glowworms count too. My sister had a stuffed animal one of those. She wouldn't let me play with it.
Well, eventually I discovered my first sea bioluminescence right here, in the Puget Sound aboard my floating home - Kingsley the sailboat. One night, I found bioluminescence in my toilet. That's right. Poor little guys. A local dinoflagellate called Noctiluca to be more scientific. These super small one-celled organisms live in the sea and create light when disturbed. It disturbed me as well. I stood there, staring down at a glittery, glowing, green toilet bowl. It appeared I was pissing magic.
Captain Wifey awoke to me standing in front of the toilet, in the dark, looking down, and giggling at the magical situation I thought was unfolding in front of me. The moment you realize you're some sort of super hero is very special. She quickly informed me of the actual situation. Our head, like a lot of toilets on sailboats, uses seawater. The little guys were getting pumped into the toilet bowl and my...midnight disturbance...was disturbing them.
Later that summer, I noticed neighbors in a dinghy going by the back of our boat just after dark. It was the same effect. There was a trail of bright, magical, green light behind them. The underwater portion of their outboard motor was glowing. Why I didn't throw my dinghy down into the water then and play is anyone's guess, but the next summer I finally organized a simple kayak exhibition.
I invited the friends over, got my gear together, waited for dark, used the back of Kingsley as a kayak launch…and started paddling.
The bad news for any armchair adventurers out there: it turned out to be pretty hard to get photos of the magical green stuff. I tried and failed. Bioluminescense was everywhere beneath us, visible after each paddle. We circled the Shilshole Marina breakwater. It was better on the other side, away from the marina, mainly because the rock wall blocked a lot of the street lights. Yet another vote for less light pollution - not only does it steal stars from the sky but also stars from the sea!
A few tips for night kayakers - take some waterproof/kayak/night-lights for your boats, dress warm, check the forecast for calm water/wind, go in groups - it's sometimes safer (unless your group members are crazy;) and you'll see more bioluminescence when you follow the other boats.
Summer, especially August, is a good time to see the green, although I've noticed it around other times in the year. I stepped out just now (April) and stirred the water around at the dock and there's a little bit, nothing too spectacular. Location matters too. Nutrient-rich waters are said to attract more life and thus more organisms that have bioluminescence. I've noticed a few tours in the San Juan Island's and also on Vashon. Planning a night when it's cloudy or the moon is gone is a plus too - the darker the better. As with every PNW post I've ever written about kayaking - know that the water here is always cold and you won't last long if you're in it and can't get to safety - plan ahead and paddle safe.
I'll be more prepared to catch a picture next time. Until then, check out the links below to get a better view and plan your own bioluminescence adventure!
~Paul, Amber, Vic, Keith ETC
Cool links for more info about bioluminescence!
Description of Bioluminescence with stories from the PNW
How Stuff Works article
Wicked National Geographic video
Dearest land people,
We have been observing you. We too have lived on land, for most of our lives actually, but after just three short years living full-time aboard our 32 ft sailboat, land living seems different...land people seem a little different too. We notice and think about these little (and big) differences because we're also, like many liveaboards, the go-to house-sitters among our land living friends. Living in someone's house a week or two every couple of months is refreshing - a moment to spread out, cook intricate stuff, shower, & do endless laundry - but it also highlights a few land/boat differences.
1. The weather.
Do land people notice the weather? When we're on land we quickly forget about what's going on outside. Wind storm? What wind storm? It's sprinkling? Who knew? On the boat we feel it. Our entire house moves with the wind and water like a giant hammock. We hear every rain drop, every sprinkle...especially on the long walk down the dock to our car.
Land people have a lot of forks...and way too many pens/writing utensils of all types. To be honest, they have way too many duplicates of a lot of things.
3. Ice cream.
Ahhhh, ice cream. It's tricky to keep ice cream frozen in our small boat fridge, it even has a freezer! It's cold enough to make ice, but ice cream turns to ooze. Enjoy your ice cream land people!
We've never felt so welcome and gotten so many friendly "hellos" then when we moved aboard. Over the last few years we've given sailors we barely know rides back to the marina from town, attended our next door neighbor's wedding, and we always make eye contact and say hello when passing fellow sailors on the docks - that's what you do. We've lived in multiple land neighborhoods across Seattle that weren't like this. Do they exist? We hope so!
I kinda forgot about the giant brown spiders that scurry across the basement floors of Northwest land houses. While house-sitting last month, I was working on a project in the basement...in my bare feet...and then I was reminded of these little (giant) guys as one ran across the floor. We don't seem to have spiders on the (inside) of the boat. The family is pretty happy about this.
6. Quiet…or, rather, not quiet.
We have grown accustomed to the ambient noises of the marina and our boat. The creak of the lines that tie us to the dock, the birds (sometimes even swimming under our boat!), the water hitting the stern. Land dwellings have their own sounds but a lot of them are super quiet...too quiet.
7. Where do the drains go?
When you live aboard you quickly realize where the kitchen sink drains. It drains into the Puget Sound. The storm drains in the parking lot? The Puget Sound. Wash your car? Wash your boat? Puget Sound. It makes you think...and watch what you let roll of the boat or run down the drain. I wonder who else is dumping things into the Puget Sound...
No contest. Land power rocks. Make toast while leaving the heater on - no problem. Charge every electronic device all at once - easy. Long, hot showers - easy. Problems with land power? Oh yeah, when it goes out. When Kingsley's shore power goes out we can still run quite a bit off of the batteries. Like the lights…lights are good.
Observations complete…for now. It's maybe not so much that there's land people and boat people, it's more about how we tend to live on land vs. living on the sailboat. Even with the back and forth between land and sea, I know one thing: ice cream never tasted so good:)
~Paul, Amber, Kali (the cat…who prefers boat living for sure)
P.S. Surely we missed something? Let us know in the comment section!
Clothes. Not the most aquatic topic, yet, being a liveaboard and having to be presentable every once in awhile (a.k.a. work a 9-5) means dealing with clothes and clothing storage aboard. In this case I'm not talking about clothing and cruising, but keeping clothes aboard at the home marina.
For every liveaboard friend I have there seems to be different way to deal with clothes, but there seems to be two popular methods. The first is keeping some or all of your clothes off the boat, whether in a space at work or in your vehicle in the marina parking lot. This makes a lot of sense for a lot of people - their clothes stay fresh and dry and many people shower in the marina showers - close to the car and parking lot. Quite a few folks bike to work as well, nothing like having clean, wrinkle-free clothes in a locker when you get there.
The second popular method is to keep clothes aboard, limit what you have, and wash them regularly. This one sounds pretty straightforward, but getting rid of enough clothes to fit can be a challenge (cough-captain wifey-cough). Different spots on your boat require different methods to keep things dry and moist-air free (a.k.a. mold & mildew). I know one liveaboard who washes all of his clothes every two weeks no matter what - whether he wears all of them them or not.
We tend to fall in to this second group - get through your clothes in a couple weeks so that everything gets washed. Dress clothes that we don't wear that much? Summer clothes (we don't have that many since we live in the Northwest:)? We keep them in a storage bag in the trunk of the car. Surely there are some interesting liveaboard keep-your-clothing-fresh ideas that we haven't tried yet…let us know in the comment section!
~Paul & Amber ETC
I can't believe it. I've been taking pictures around the Northwest for over a decade! It started as a hobby - and I guess it still is - but over the past two years I've added a new twist: LEGO photography. We'll call it nautical-northwest-landscape-toy-photography.
Well, I'm very excited to announce that my secret hobby is going to start appearing on walls around Ballard and in other little spots in Seattle. Anchored Ship Coffee Bar - a great little nautical-esque coffee shop on Ballard Ave, agreed to show 4 of my prints till the end of the month!
I'll be there this Saturday evening (1/11/14), from 6-8 pm for the Ballard Artwalk. Every little print in this post will be there too…come in and say hi:) Enjoy a cup of joe, sip some fine espresso, and get an up close and personal look at the diverse toy population that inhabits Shilshole Marina, Shilshole Bay, & Golden Gardens!
~Paul [everyonestravelclub] & [bricksailboat]
Living aboard a sailboat means letting go of a few things…but not Thanksgiving!!! Captain Wifey and I are firm believers that cooking as liveaboards doesn't have to go the way of long hot showers & jumping on the bed. When we first moved aboard we were skeptical of our Force 10 propane stove. It didn't take long, however, for Captain Wifey to prove that she is not just a domestic goddess, but an aquatic domestic goddess! But does our sailboat's lack of counter space, only two burners, and a small oven make it impossible for even her to make due on the most important eating day of the year? Let it begin!
The first thing she did is find recipes that she felt comfortable preparing and combine recipes that best utilize our cooking areas. She searched online for these recipes using foodgawker. Also, there's some good apps (Simply Cookin) that save multiple internet recipes in one place so you don't have to worry about the websites refreshing while cooking.
To make the actual day of cooking more manageable, Captain Wifey prepped the day before - basically, a lot of chopping. There is only the two of us to cook for but we wanted lots of leftovers. Most of the recipes prepared serve 6-8.
The Captain always likes to try new recipes, so for the menu she chose traditional recipes with a twist. Instead of green bean casserole, we had Roasted Parmesan Green Beans. Instead of a pumpkin pie for dessert, she made a Savory Pumpkin Spiral Pie with Goat Cheese (above) as a side dish. Other side dishes included Sweet Spice Roast Carrots, Mashed Potatoes, Sausage & Apple Stuffing (below), Cranberry Orange Sauce, and Buttered Rosemary Rolls. Since there is no way we'd be able to fit even the smallest turkey in our oven, she cooked a cornish hen as the meat course. To end the meal, the Apple Pie Parfait can be cooked in the microwave (our boat actually has one) or on the stove and topped with whip cream instead of ice cream (ice cream doesn't stay frosty aboard…for some reason).
The meal is going great, here's a few tips if you try on your vessel:
- Have a second fuel tank full in case the first empties before you've finished cooking
- Fill water tank
- Try to find recipes for the oven and stove top to utilize all cooking areas at the same time
General tips for cooking larger meals:
- Pre-prep as much as possible the day before
Rinse & cut all fruits, vegetables & herbs & store amount for each recipe in separate
Measure and mix seasonings for each recipe
Label all items
Don't forget to thaw frozen items
- Read through recipes multiple times to become familiar with them
- Create a timeline for when to do specific steps
- Make sure all pots, pans & dishes to be used are clean & in reach
- Make sure all ingredients are easily in reach and pre-measured if possible
Voilà! Thanksgiving aboard!!! Anything is possible! Next year: maybe we should cook the meal while sailing?!?!?!?
~Paul & Amber [this post = all Amber!] ETC
Roasted Parmesan Green Beans
Sweet Spice Roast Carrots
Savory Pumpkin Spiral Pie with Goat Cheese
Sausage & Apple Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes - boiled & then roughly mashed with seasoned salt, sour cream, butter,
Parmesan cheese & chopped parsley
Cranberry Orange Sauce
Pioneer Woman Buttered Rosemary Rolls
Chicken Tabaka Recipe ~ replaced tomato juice with water
Apple Pie Parfaits with Whipped Cream ~ cooked on stove for 15 minutes
5 medium potatoes
2 firm apples, chopped
fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves minced or nicely chopped
4 tbsp of cilantro chopped
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
zest of 1 orange
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
12 oz green beans, trimmed
1 cup celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 onion, grated
1.5 teaspoons sage
1 bunch of parsley
2 lb of pumpkin, peeled and cut in small cubes
800g baby dutch carrots
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (more or less, depending on what you like)
2 1/2 tbsp of ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp of ground cumin
2 tbs honey
2 tbsp of oil
coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tablespoons seasoned salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp of coarse semolina
frozen, unbaked dinner rolls
1 egg, beaten
450-500 gr. of phyllo pastry sheets
2 oz sour cream
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
6 oz goat's cheese, crumbled
1 whole cornish hen (8 oz, i use two hens to feed the family)
1 pound italian sausage
1-2 cups of tomato juice or water
1 loaf whole wheat bread
Total cooking time: 6 hours
0:00 Cranberry sauce on small stove & sauté onions for pumpkin pie on large burner
0:30 Boil pumpkins on large burner & preheat oven
0:45 Toast bread
1:00 Start making savory pumpkin pie
1:30 Cook stuffing on large burner
2:00 Savory pumpkin pie in oven
2:15 Boil potatoes on larger burner
2:45 Make mashed potatoes
3:00 Stuffing in oven
4:00 Carrots and beans in oven
4:45 Cook hen on large burner
5:00 Rolls in the oven
5:30 Cook apples on stove & whip cream
I'm getting old. The hints keep coming. It might be the light colored hairs that have been showing up in my beard lately (grey) or maybe the ritualistic grunt I make every time I get up out of a chair. When did sitting on the floor become so uncomfortable? I'm not that old, but I definitely feel older. What's good about getting older? Old man boat talk*.
When I first moved aboard our sailboat in Seattle I was introduced to Dan - our next-boat neighbor. Dan's older than me and has lived aboard for quite some time.
"Did you get rain last night?" Dan asked one morning.
"Nope," I said.
"Well I got 6 inches," said Dan.
"Wow, that's crazy, I didn't get a drop!" I exclaimed.
"Yep, I got two drops on deck, six inches apart!" quipped Dan.
There you have it. Old man boat talk. Older dude dishes zinger to younger (but getting older) dude. I didn't even see it coming. I guess technically it was weather talk in this case - but around boats, on the dock, and from an old man.
As the years go by out here on the docks I've heard a lot of old man boat talk, not all zingers, some just plain funny.
"What's the date, it's the 28th, right?" asked one sailor to another.
"It's not the 28th," said the older sailor with certainty, " it's the 3rd".
It turns out they were both wrong - it was the 6th! One of those guys was a week off! That dude lost a week!
At the end of the day I'm thankful for all of the funny talk around the docks. Living aboard can be challenging and a lot of serious things can be going with people and their boats at any given time. It's nice to laugh about the big stuff, the little stuff, the boat stuff.
*I'm positive there's old woman boat talk too, I just don't know any old women on my dock…nor would I dare call them out for being old!
Living on a sailboat for the past few years has taught us a lot about the unnecessaries - the stuff we don't need. It turns out that we don't need 15 forks and 3 bathrooms. A yard to mow and weed? Nope. The unnecessaries are really more about time than anything else. Time to wash 15 forks. Time to earn money to buy 15 forks. Time to drive down to Ikea and shop for forks in the first place. Time spent waiting on the plumber to fix the leaky dishwasher which you need…to wash the forks. Time to clean the 3 bathrooms. The time I'm not spending with my family because I'm in a separate wing of the house cleaning the 3rd bathroom. Do I spend more time working in the yard or sitting in it enjoying the work that I've done?
We did pretty well at getting rid of stuff before we moved aboard our boat. After two garage sales we kept a storage unit for awhile as we slowly sold things that didn't really matter anymore. A lot of the things I was happy to get rid of - why do we have so many pens?!?! Basically, if we only used something once or twice a year or had plans to use it but hadn't yet, we got rid of it. Bikes, books (lots of books), some holiday decorations. If stuff was too big it didn't have a place either. My 42 inch TV, blue-ray player, and video game console(s) - bye-bye. Wii-fit doesn't work so well in a 32 foot sailboat! Luckily we have great friends and they agreed to hold on to some important things that we still couldn't let go.
That brings us to the line. The line of what is necessary and what isn't. I know boaters' needs vary - what one boat owner needs another could do without. I also know that as liveaboards it's something we think about often, especially in the first few years, especially when you're cramming your stuff into boat lockers trying to make everything fit! What do I really need aboard? What do I need in my life? To be content?
As far as our boat goes, she has three beds, a head (toilet), 2 sinks, a small fridge & freezer, a two burner stove and oven, a shower, a hot water heater and water pressure (some boats you have to manually pump to get water). That seems like enough right? It's been feeling pretty normal for awhile now...and then our water heater broke. Was it necessary to fix? I mean, do we really need a hot water heater? Is it worth the time?
Well, for whatever reason, you get used to what you have. Some dream of more, some dream of less. We are the same people we were when we lived on land in a big house - just now with less junk, more boat projects, and with a lot more time to spend on the necessary (the water heater was deemed necessary - see below for fix pics).
I once heard a story of a captain on a giant sailboat trying to gain a little advantage from the judges before a race. He claimed that although his boat was rated a certain way he should get a little help because be had extra weight aboard. He had a grand piano…on the boat! Now, we love the sound of a good Steinway, but I'm not sure it would make it aboard! As we move from this adventure to another, these lessons will definitely come with us. What is necessary and how much time does it take to make it so?
Replacing the Hot Water Heater!
Shhhhhh. Can you keep a secret? I know of a secret Seattle beach. Rumors are that many bowsprits of old wooden boats have been sacrificed here. At low tide, on the outside of the Shilshole Marina breakwater, this secret beach appears.
The beach is sandy. It has lots of shells. It's very shallow around the beach and thus only accessible by paddle-craft or dinghy (pull the outboard up as you get close). It was extra big and sandy during the super moon low tides a few weeks ago. That's when we went. We actually go all the time. Here's how to get there (at low tide) by kayak:
directions to the secret beach
1. Paddle out of the marina. We like to head south first.
2. Paddle under this trimaran…even if your wife is screaming something about not doing it.
3. Hang a right at the big cranky that hangs out under one of the south docks.
4. Zip around the neighbors/breakwater and head north. Continue paddling north and look to the right...
There it is. You've made it! When you show friends pictures they'll think you're at nearby Golden Gardens…but they're wrong. You're at the secret Shilshole breakwater beach…let's keep these secret directions between you and…hey wait a minute...
…Ah great. I guess the secret's already out.
~Paul & Amber ETC