Category Archives: Living Aboard

The Day after Kitty.

11154738_10152897368202807_3102775492272619754_oThe day after Kitty’s 5th birthday was my birthday. It was also the day that she died.

The morning that Kitty’s body was found beside her family’s boat, my body went… numb. Waves of grief wash up , filled me and spilled out.

Then I made two pots of soup, baked two loaves of bread and made a double batch of cookies. It was clearly a bit neurotic of me. But I needed to do something.

As I sat down to a bowl of soup and a piece of bread, I realized I had made the soup for her, for them, but also for me. After a great sorrow, we need nourishment.

I think of the half-drawn art that Kitty must have left, the pockets of play tucked away in corners. And as I folded Gabrielle’s laundry, the grief overwhelmed again. Kitty’s clothes that Cidnie had generously sent up to us months ago.

Once I joined this tribe of women, when I moved onto a boat in a very pregnant state, I did not know we would laugh together, cry together, bleed together. I didn’t know these friendships would be life-shaping. But they are.

Here are some words from other friends as we process the hole left behind. A giant gaping hole fringed in sparkles, ribbon, bubbles and balloons. All the bits left over from a great birthday party.






The ways I am a Hippy.

Oh boy. So I was looking through my pictures from this fall and winter, and I came across so many that would provide plenty of evidence of my hippy nature, that it was overwhelming. I am actually convincing myself that I have well-earned the title of Hippy. As my friends commented, labels schmabels, it doesn’t matter. But it’s funny. So shall we begin?

I live on a Gulf Island.
The Gulf Islands are known for their alternative ways. There is an excellent book by Brian Brett called Trauma Farm, about his farm on Salt Spring Island. (One of the islands in the Gulf Island conglomerate.) He confesses (or exalts) that he often goes off for brisk jaunts late at night wearing only gum boots. Only gum boots. I’ll let that sink in.





On that note, my kid is naked a lot.
yup, a lot. I have quite a few pictures to prove it. And we believe in communal baths among the wee ones…. because apparently I have a lot of pictures of Gabrielle bathing with other children.




(I might have to give Gabrielle double hippy points for the photo above. Naked Toddler Yoga is a whole new level)

I knit and I keep my knitting in a basket.
This is like a chic hippy fad on Pender. Get a cool African basket and put groceries, Farmers Market produce or knitting in it. I totally bought into this fad. And I feel cool when I do it.





I take photos of the following because I think it’s funny…



Ok perhaps the mustache picture isn’t very hippy. But I couldn’t work out any better excuse to get this picture into a blog post. Isn’t that bumper sticker awesome?? And the fact that it is on a PT Cruiser. It was a great moment.

I’m totally sold on baby-wearing.



Gabrielle also chooses to wear her baby. Clearly it is amazing!

I keep bees.


I lived on a boat.
We were on that boat for 13 months. Most of Gabrielle’s first year was on the boat. We loved living small and consuming little. Even though we are land-living now, we still consider ourselves to be living small and consuming little and that is part of the hippy lifestyle we are certainly on board with.


Kale chips are one of my favourite snacks.For serious. They are tasty.



Not only do I drink out of mason jars, but yesterday I tried to felt a cover for one of them so I could use it as a travel mug.I’m not sure if this hippy move can be overstated. I had this brilliant thought and this brilliant idea. So I phoned up my friend for a play date and we felted mason jar covers together. Yes, for real. And yeah, she had all her own felting stuff too. My felted cover is ugly as a three-horned toad and needs some decorating but it was worth a try. Now, I’m working on knitting a sleeve for my mason jar. I haven’t given up yet.



I accessorize with feathers.
This basically seals it for me. I just renewed my passport and Marc opened it up to see the picture and laughed at me. “You have your feather earrings in your passport picture!” He teased. Yup. That’s what kind of good hippy I am.


I avoid consuming electricity when possible.


Alright, this one could be because I’m pretty cheap. I hate spending money where it doesn’t need to be spent. So heat, I prefer a wood stove. I prefer to hang dry my clothes.


This is a manual coffee grinder. I own one from when we lived on the boat and did not have power. I do not use this now unless I have no other choice. The fact that I own one has to give hippy points in itself.


I’m incredibly attacted to VW Westfalias.I have owned one. We sold it when it constantly broke down on us. But we have regretted selling it and it would not be surprising to find ourselves in the possession of one again. When I drove my westfalia (when it was not broken down on the side of the road) I was grinning ear to ear. I couldn’t tell if strangers were smiling at me because I looked so darn happy, or because it was such a cool vehicle.

The simple fact that this post is much longer than the one previous may speak for itself. We may have a mushroom identification book next to a New York Times best seller but nothing in this world is completely here or there anyway. Being very present, making time to enjoy each other, and living small are values that are very important to us. They lean us toward that hippy lifestyle. I suppose if you were gonna give us a label, I could live with that one.

Oh and how could I forget this one. One of the ways I am most hippy is that I am a doula!

End of story.

A Completely Failed Sailing Attempt and “New” Friends

Have you ever attempted sailing with a toddler? A toddler who is past her nap, in lumpy seas? Then you may have sympathy for us, or wee Gabrielle during our Saturday morning experience.

We lasted half an hour. It was a beautiful day for a sail. The winds were 15-20 knots. And our boat just loves being out there. You can almost feel her smiling as we took off from our mooring buoy with the jib taut.

Then it began.

“No lumpy ocean! Back home! No up and down! Back home now!”

So yeah. We thought, oh this could be fun. We could do this for a 3 hour sail with no napping Brie (the ocean was much too rough for a nap) or we could turn around now and try to have a pleasant afternoon.

Upon arriving home, Marc began researching multi-hull boats to quell his frustration of missing such a beautiful sailing day.

“Maybe if the boat wasn’t rolling, she would like sailing?” He reasoned. I think she’ll grow out of it. We’ll try again soon.

On the upside, we were rowing out to our dock and a sailboat was coming in. The person on the bow shouted, “Amanda? Are you Amanda?” And it was a blog-reader who lives aboard with her Twins(!!) that are the same age as Gabrielle. Then, the same afternoon we got an email from Lara on Spirit of Kaizen and they were hailing Pender for the weekend too. What fun!

We spent Sunday with the crew from Kaizen and it was lovely. It was completely refreshing to connect with people that you don’t “know” but only virtually know and now that makes all the difference. I was thinking about it last night. It’s like the internet provides this make-believe place. And in this make-believe place you have these pretend friends who post pictures, who seem to like doing the same things as you, and they are the kind of people you’d love to hang out with every day. Then when these people materialize and are just that cool, well it kinda makes my head explode.

And now that we’re entering into September, Marc has begun wholeheartedly chopping wood for our early morning fires. I cleaned out Gabrielle’s drawers and put her shorts in a donation pile. We begin leaning towards Autumn in earnest, because it is our favourite season after all. And my doula work has begun to pick up again. Yay for sweet little babies about to enter the world!

Happy September wishes to my real and make-believe friends.

Our Feet in the Dirt

Last year at this time, we were doing this (above.) We were sailing a lot on our boat, we were living aboard our big boat. And we were enjoying the summer in the best fashion possible. — I have no idea what happened to those sunglasses! They were rockin’.

This summer, we are still having the most fun possible. But with different strokes.

Instead of sailing, we have been gardening. With our ocean-loving feet planted firmly in the soil, we are beginning to harvest in our garden.

Not by any means have we abandoned our boat-loving ways. The little boat is getting a refit right now. We have a new head to install and no bolts to install it. (We need to do a run into town.) We have been sanding and oiling the teak inside. C&C’s are known for their beautiful teak interiors and we want to spiff it up quite a bit. In the Autumn, we will have our cushions recovered by someone local. (We have fantastic material that I’m excited to show you.) And in a couple weeks, we’ll be hauling the boat out for a bottom paint. So we show you not a grungy half-put together boat. Instead we show you beautiful vegetables and our first efforts at canning green beans.

Marc read the instructions carefully. We have a huge pressure cooker that he uses for sterilizing mushroom jars when we were growing our own oyster mushrooms. This pressure cooker works beautifully for preserving our hard-earned veggies we’re growing. We wanted to get the beans beautifully sealed instead of freezing them because it takes more energy to keep something frozen year round than sitting patiently in the pantry.

What amazes me is the difference in activities from one summer to the next. We were feeling alright about not gardening last summer and we enjoyed sailing and not being tied to land. But how we love the land! Honestly I don’t think I could choose between them. When we talk about the advantages of living aboard again (mostly financially) we would sorely miss the growing fresh veggies and the bees, oh the bees. In our ideal life, we would do both. So maybe we shall!

Happy Summering to you.

My New Stuff Sack!!!

I know I’ve mentioned this great blog Rebelheart before. I know I mentioned how they have a baby near the same age as mine, and they are raising their baby on a boat. And I know that I already showed off some of her great sewing skills here and confessed that I may want to be like her or steal her mad talent.

Charlotte is a baby-wearing, sailing, insanely fit woman who is leaving cruising in August. And! She makes these uber-cool stuff sacks for soft baby carriers.

If you’ve read this blog at all, you know I’m crazy into wearing my baby. I’ve been wearing Gabrielle in an ergo since she was 6 days old. So my ergo carrier is with me at all times. It’s usually lying underfoot in the front entrance, or stuffed in a corner on the boat, or draped over the car seat. No longer does the ergo have to be sprawled like a drunk sailor on shore-leave. Ergo, now you have a place!

This amazing stuff sack carrier has gorgeous blue elephant fabric which I picked out myself. It has a convenient zipper pocket for my keys and cell phone, and it has a messenger strap so I can sling it over my shoulder when I’m chasing my kid into the ocean.

I’m so happy with my stuff sack. It’s well-made and the ergo fits in it perfectly. I thought it might be hard to squish in, but Charlotte has a great youtube video that showed how to stuff it in. Easy-peasy. Her very rockin’ shop is on Etsy at RedCharlotte. It blows my mind what new products she’s always coming up with. She just put out a wee carrier so the kidlets can carry their babies too! Seriously cute stuff!

Check it out! And while you’re there, you can tell her she’s one of my favourites.